Many athletes are familiar with the perceived benefits of drinking dairy-based chocolate milk for recovery, but I am not one of them.
As an athlete who spends much of his time in the mountains ski touring, rock climbing and mountain biking I know a thing or two about exhaustion. After a long day on the rock, I can barley bring myself to make my favorite post workout drink. Knowing how it speeds up my recovery, I always muster just enough energy to get it done.
The purpose of post-workout recovery is to replenish glycogen (sugar) stores in the muscle and start the process of protein synthesis (muscle rebuilding) so that your body is ready for the next workout. Yes, dairy-based chocolate milk is loaded with carbohydrates and proteins to help with replenishing tired muscles, but where the problem lies is with inflammation.
Physical exertion creates inflammation. What is critical to enhance your performance is the ability to manage post workout inflammation. Using the right nutrient uptake is key to this occurring, resulting in more efficient recovery times and the ability to get back at your favourite sport being a little quicker and stronger.
In the world of high performance, whether that is sport or business, it is all about efficiency. If swapping out one ingredient for another makes you quicker or stronger, would you do it? I did just that over 8 years ago, swapping dairy based chocolate milk for the real thing. What do I mean by the real thing? 99.9% of the chocolate found in supermarkets across the globe are void of what once contained key recovery nutrients, with only sugar remaining. When something is void of nutrients, it acts just like a simple sugar and spikes insulin and can cause a rise in inflammation. Yes, it is critical to get a good dose of carbohydrates post workout, but ideally this does not come from a source that also compromises your results.
When I replaced real cacao and began making my own chocolate, dairy free, recovery shakes, my performance changed. What changed? I was less congested, had more energy, felt stronger and fitter and found my recovery times improving within days of the switch. Yes, you read that right. My results did not take years or months to achieve. Within days I felt the difference. I credit this with being less inflamed post workout. Yes, it had a lot to do with avoiding dairy (known in the plant-based athletic world to cause inflammation and reduce performance), but it was also the introduction of real chocolate, filled with key macro and micronutrients that gave me the results.
“So, if I add 75% or 80% dark chocolate into my shakes, that will boost my post workout recovery?” No. Just so we are clear, store bought chocolate bars labeled as 75% or 80% or even 90% dark chocolate are still heavily processed using a high amount of heat and void of most of it’s original nutrients. This is also true for cocoa as well.
What I am saying is to source out 100% cacao (not to be confused with cocoa) in powder, nibs or paste form and start testing your recovery by adding in small amounts to your recovery drink, until you learn the ideal amount for your body.
By ideal amount, I am referring to chocolates natural healing abilities that are best delivered when the right dose is administered. Have you ever heard the saying ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food? Like with any medicine, too little won’t get you the results you crave and too much can be troublesome. Chocolate in its real form (cacao) is medicine and needs to be treated with respect.
As one of the highest sources of antioxidants of any food known on the planet, cacao delivers a potent dose of ant-inflammatory polyphenols that can boost cellular health and aid in digestion. Cacao also contains a 3-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. And incase you needed another reason to give cacao a try, real chocolate has the power to lift your mood by releasing the ‘happiness neurotransmitters’ – serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. So the next time you find yourself unmotivated to get off the couch to hit the gym or the hills, grab a glass of my chocolate recovery shake and feel the power!
THE REAL DEAL
Chocolate Recovery Shake
Ingredients: makes 4 cups
¼ cup almonds
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 drop of Vitamin D
3 pitted dates
3 cups water
¼ teaspoon sea salt
How to Prepare:
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 20 seconds. Drink 1-2 glasses within 30 minutes post workout. Store any leftovers in an airtight glass mason jar and consume within 24 hours for the ideal workout recovery drink.
About the Athlete
At 26, Adam Hart was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Since then, he made a staggering life changing transformation that not only reversed his condition, but set him on a new path for life. Bestselling author, climber and husband, he is also the founder of Power of Food, a company dedicated to bringing abundant health and happiness into the world.