November 4, 2020

Is chocolate milk really bad?


Rach, is the sugar in chocolate milk really bad?

This recent question at a presentation I was giving to parents of young athletes created a bit of a debate.

Sugar is such a confusing and also controversial topic at the moment. Let’s see if we can help clarify a few things about sugar. What counts? And what doesn’t.

We all know that sugar is just not great so keeping an eye on our sugar intake is important for overall health and well-being. Recent updates to the recommendations suggest that children and adolescents over the age of 11 years should consume no more than 30grams of added sugar per day. Thats about 6 teaspoons per day.

Added sugar is all sugar that is not found naturally in foods e.g. sugar added to cakes, biscuits, muesli bars, chocolate, Milo, sugary cereals, confectionery, ice cream, soft drinks, energy drinks etc.

However there are no recommendations for naturally occurring sugars so those sugars found in fruit, vegetables and whole milk don’t count.

How much sugar you have across your whole day is more important than one high sugar drink or snack. If your daily routine has high sugar cereals or lots of sugar added to your Weet-Bix, packets of biscuits and muesli bars added to your lunchbox, bottles of Powerade or other energy drinks, then by the time it comes to having a chocolate milk for recovery you have totally blown the sugar budget.

If you total added sugar intake is pretty low then a chocolate milk for recovery will meet your recovery needs very nicely.

So what we say is if your chocolate milk is part of a solid recovery routine and you have been careful to sub-out some other added sugars in your diet then the sugar in chocolate milk makes good sense. Chocolate milk offers sugars for energy replacement, protein for muscle recovery, calcium for strong bones, and it even has a small amount of sodium and other minerals that serve like electrolytes.

It’s about the whole picture, not just a single food.

And that's how we help you athletes to EAT THRIVE AND PERFORM. Feel free to ask us any questions or contact us if you are needing help with your young athlete’s nutrition. Let us help make your life easier .

Blog post by

Rachel Svenson

Working with junior athletes and those who support them from the kitchen and the side-lines has always been a favourite part of my work and an area I have built expert knowledge around.

View profile→