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Athletic Fuel: Why chocolate milk is good for you


Written by Nancy Clark MS RD has a private practice in the Boston-area where she teaches athletes one-on-one how to eat to win. She is author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Question: “Nancy, which brand of amino acids should I buy? On amazon.com, there are 16 brands, ranging in price from $18 to $40. Help…!”

Answer: What makes you think you need to buy essential amino acids? You can easily get them in protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, milk, chicken—any animal-based protein has all the essential amino acids your body needs.

The protein supplement industry has done an excellent job of making consumers believe they need to buy essential amino acids. Wrong! If you fuel-up your workouts with a protein+carb combination, such as a yogurt and banana, and then recover afterwards with another protein+carb combination such as lowfat chocolate milk, you’ll be doing a fine job of getting all of these building blocks of protein. Rest assured you could more wisely spend your money on food, not amino acid supplements, and get the results you want from your workouts.

Just to define the “lingo”: Proteins are made from many amino acids, just like words are made from many letters. Some of these amino acids— the essential amino acids—need to come from food, because the body cannot make them.

Here are a few ways to get two of the essential amino acids, isoleucine and leucine. Because pure amino acids taste nasty, I’ll get mine in chocolate milk any day!

Protein source

Chocolate milk, 16 oz — 1.2 grams Isoleucine, 1.9 grams Leucine
Tuna, 6 oz can — 2.0 grams Isoleucine, 3.5 grams Leucine
Cottage cheese, 1 cup
— 1.6 grams Isoleucine, 2.9 grams Leucine
Met-Rx Whey Protein, 1 scoop — 1.4 grams Isoleucine, 2.3 grams Leucine

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