Review Article | Published:

Chocolate milk for recovery from exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2018) | Download Citation



Chocolate milk (CM) contains carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, as well as water and electrolytes, which may be ideal for post-exercise recovery. We systematically reviewed the evidence regarding the efficacy of CM compared to either water or other “sport drinks” on post-exercise recovery markers.


PubMed, Scopus, and Google scholar were explored up to April 2017 for controlled trials investigating the effect of CM on markers of recovery in trained athletes.


Twelve studies were included in the systematic review (2, 9, and 1 with high, fair and low quality, respectively) and 11 had extractable data on at least one performance/recovery marker [7 on ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), 6 on time to exhaustion (TTE) and heart rate (HR), 4 on serum lactate, and serum creatine kinase (CK)]. The meta-analyses revealed that CM consumption had no effect on TTE, RPE, HR, serum lactate, and CK (P > 0.05) compared to placebo or other sport drinks. Subgroup analysis revealed that TTE significantly increases after consumption of CM compared to placebo [mean difference (MD) = 0.78 min, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.27, 1.29, P = 0.003] and carbohydrate, protein, and fat-containing beverages (MD = 6.13 min, 95% CI: 0.11, 12.15, P = 0.046). Furthermore, a significant attenuation on serum lactate was observed when CM was compared with placebo (MD = −1.2 mmol/L, 95% CI: −2.06,−0.34, P = 0.006).


CM provides either similar or superior results when compared to placebo or other recovery drinks. Overall, the evidence is limited and high-quality clinical trials with more well-controlled methodology and larger sample sizes are warranted.

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The present systematic review was supported by the Research Council of the Nutrition and Food Security Research Center, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran.

Author contributions

AS-A and MA conceived the study. All authors contributed in defining the search strategy. MA and AS-A carried out the literature search and data extraction. MA and AS-A accomplished the quality assessment of the included studies and data analysis. MA, AS-A, and RG contributed in the interpretation of study results. MA wrote the first draft of the manuscript. MA, AS-A, MK, and SF facilitated with preparation of the manuscript, its finalization. All authors contributed to the study conception, design, and drafting of the manuscript.

Author information


  1. Nutrition and Food Security Research Center, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran

    • Mojgan Amiri
    •  & Amin Salehi-Abargouei
  2. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran

    • Mojgan Amiri
    •  & Amin Salehi-Abargouei
  3. Food Security research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

    • Reza Ghiasvand
  4. Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food Science, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

    • Reza Ghiasvand
  5. Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, School of Nutrition and Dietetics, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, Canada

    • Mojtaba Kaviani
  6. Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education, Brandon University, Brandon, MB, Canada

    • Scott C. Forbes


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Amin Salehi-Abargouei.

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