The Chocolate Milk... Diet?
Have you heard of the Chocolate Milk Diet? It's not really an official diet, it's a series of articles that have been running over the last few months promoting chocolate milk as, "one of the most powerful weight-loss tools in the nutritional universe."
It's high praise and a lot of big names (like Men's Health) are behind it. I've had numerous questions from clients about it, so I decided to take a closer look. But before I start, I need to lay a little groundwork first. To look at the nutritional value of a food or diet plan, there are a few things you need to know. For a statistically average person, these are the numbers of what you should take in every day.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says you need between 2,000 and 2,400 calories a day.
- Between 200 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day.
- About a gram of protein per pound of body weight, if you engage in both weight and endurance training.
- For people eating a 2,400 calorie a day diet, the World Health Organization (WHO) says you should be getting about 10% of your calories from sugar. That's about 60 grams of sugar a day.
- Got all that? Remember, those figures are for a statistically average person. You may need to take in more, or less, depending on your body size and activity level.
Now let's look at that container of fat-free milk. An 8-ounce package (about 1 cup) has 91 calories, 300 milligrams of calcium, 8 grams of protein and about 12 grams of sugar. That means it's relatively low in calories, has a little bit of protein, packs a lot of calcium and holds about 1/5 of your daily dose of sugar. It's also a good source of vitamin D.
That's what generations of people grew up drinking and there wasn't a problem. But to boost sales, you have to make kids want more. The simple solution was to add chocolate, which changed the nutritional values.
For those of you who think strawberry milk might be better, a cup of that packs 31 grams of sugar, over half the daily MAXIMUM allowed in your entire diet. Promoting traditional chocolate milk as a diet aid isn't just irresponsible, it's a lie. Should somebody actually follow that advice and drink two cups of chocolate milk a day, they've just consumed ALL the sugar they're allowed to eat without touching a single fruit or vegetable.
If you want the health benefits that come in a glass of plain, fat-free milk, but the TASTE of chocolate or strawberry, there is an option. You need to build it yourself. Buy the plain, fat-free variety and add the flavoring. It's easy to find.
I went on a field trip to my local grocery store to find some alternatives. Within minutes I had several that worked.
The most "natural" choice is to take cocoa powder and mix it with Splenda or a plant-based artificial sweetener called stevia. It makes a drink that tastes like traditional chocolate milk, while adding 4 grams of healthy fiber and no extra sugar.
If you want a richer taste, go for the mixes. Hershey's, Waldern Farms and Publix all sell sugar-free chocolate syrups that you can pour right into your glass of milk. Hershey's even makes a sugar free strawberry.
Traditional chocolate milk is NOT a diet aid. Skip the traditional versions and mix your own for all the taste without the sugar downside. It's not a miracle diet, but it is a perfectly reasonable thing to have first thing in the morning or right after a workout. Just keep the serving size to a single cup.
For a very well written study on the use of MILK as a muscle builder and sports drink replacement, CLICK HERE for the PDF file.
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