The effectiveness of chocolate milk as a post-climbing recovery aid

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Dec;55(12):1438-44. Epub 2014 Oct 6.


Aim: Recovery is essential to effective performance in climbing competitions which often involve repeated bouts, and sport climbing where climbers may work a route over a number of days prior to a complete ascent.

Methods: This study employed a cross-over design to compare water with chocolate milk as recovery aids following an exhaustive bout of high intensity endurance climbing. Ten male climbers (age: 22±1 years; height: 178.5±7.9 cm; mass: 74.7±11.3 kg) climbed a Tredwall (Brewer Ledge M6) until volitional exhaustion. The participants consumed either water or chocolate milk 20 minutes after the climb and then again with their evening meal. The exercise protocol was repeated 24 hours after the original climb. The second condition was completed 7 days later. Workload indicators of heart rate, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), blood lactate and muscle soreness scores were recorded alongside climbing performance measures of duration and distance of the climb. A improved performance was found after the consumption of chocolate milk, with both a greater distance climbed (F(1,9)=11.704, P=0.008) and duration (F(1,9) =10.922, P=0.009), there were no differences in end of climb heart rate or RPE.

Results: Muscle soreness scores were lower three days after exercise following chocolate milk (t(8)=3.773, P=0.005). Chocolate milk as a recovery drink resulted in further sustained climbing, a decrease in muscle soreness, compared to water. It may be pertinent for climbers to consider its use as a recovery aid during repeated climbing bouts. Chocolate milk is a relatively unexplored recovery aid and warrants further attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Chocolate*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Milk / physiology*
  • Mountaineering*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myalgia / physiopathology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Water / physiology


  • Water
  • Lactic Acid