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Chocolate milk may sound sinful and fattening but nothing could be further from the truth, writes SUZIEANA UDA NAGU 

MALAYSIANS are not fans of milk.

Research shows that they drink milk only once a week or only 30 litres a year. This is 70 per cent less than the amount Westerners take.

That locals are not making milk part of their daily diet means that they are missing out on the many nutritional values of the dairy drink, say experts.
Although Mazlinda Mat Sab (not her real name) knows that milk is a rich source of calcium that will, among others, prevent osteoporosis in old age, she cannot stomach the taste of the opaque white liquid.

”Despite forcing myself to drink milk more often, I still have not acquired a taste for it,” she says.

However, Mazlinda finds the creamy sweetness of chocolate milk palatable.

”But I am afraid I’ll gain weight if I drink too much chocolate milk,” she adds.

Drinking chocolate milk may sound sinful and fattening but nothing could be further from the truth.

Chocolate milk is — as American nutrition health expert David Zinczenko puts it — a ”childhood staple (that) may be the ideal vehicle for your body’s most neglected nutritional needs”.
In his Yahoo! Health column Eat This, Not That recently, Zinczenko wrote: ”Each bottle delivers a package of micro- and macronutrients that can help you shake off body flab and replace it with firm muscle.” The editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, a men’s lifestyle magazine, recommends consuming three 226g servings of chocolate milk at key points throughout your day — one when you wake up, a second before you exercise, and a third directly after your workout.

”If it’s your day off (from exercising), just pattern them for morning, afternoon and night,” adds Zinczenko, also author of New York Times best-sellers Abs Diet and Abs Diet for Women.

Here is how chocolate milk can help you lose kilos: A series of recent studies shows that calcium not only builds strong bones but also impedes your body’s ability to absorb fat.

It is estimated that consuming 1,000mg of calcium can melt away 8kg of flab.

”Knock back three servings of brown cow and you’ll reach that crucial 1,000mg threshold,” says Zinczenko.

Drinking chocolate milk may also prevent a deficiency of Vitamin D, which is a nutrient vital to keeping a svelte figure as it moves ”calcium from your food to your body”.
Although the body produces Vitamin D naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight, the risk of skin cancer has made people less keen to stay outdoors.

”The solution is to drink chocolate milk, which like most milk, is fortified with Vitamin D,” says Zinczenko.

The best chocolate milk option, says Zinczenko, is the low-fat variety.

”It has the fat you need to absorb crucial vitamins — such as Vitamin D — yet at three cups a day, it will save you 120 calories over whole milk,” he adds.

While chocolate milk may aid weight loss, it is not a magic bullet. To lose weight, you still have to exercise.

”Drinking chocolate milk can improve your (fitness) gains,” says Zinczenko.

In a study published in The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, subjects given chocolate milk before hopping on the stationary bikes were able to ride 49 per cent longer than those given a generic carbohydrate-replacement beverage.

”This is because milk has naturally occurring electrolytes that keep you hydrated — more than water — and its natural sweetness helps push more energy into your muscles,” he adds. On top of that, chocolate milk contains protein — estimated at 8g per cup — which helps build muscle.

”Muscle burns more calories than fat, which leads to weight loss,” says Zinczenko.

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