Ask the Doc: Dr. Johnny Benjamin on a surprisingly effective supplement Dr. Johnny Benjamin, MMAjunkie.com Nov 21, 8:54 am EST Buzz Up PrintDr, Johnny Benjamin caused a bit of a stir with his latest “Medical Beat” column when he argued that supplements and energy “potions” are not only, in most situations, a waste of money but also potentially dangerous to a person’s health. In this week’s edition of “Ask the Doc,” he follows up on that topic and answers an often-asked question: Are any supplements actually worth a recommendation? MMAjunkie.com’s medical consultant and columnist does have a recommendation for a workout aid—one with scientific research that’s shown to rehydrate, replenish energy and rebuild muscle. And the surprisingly delicious supplement, which can be used for MMA or any other sport, does it all at a bargain price. Q. Doc, are there any supplements that you would recommend? (from Anonymous) Despite my better judgment, I will try again with this topic. I’ll offer one (there may be others) that has actually been reasonably tested and does not come with too much hype. Seemingly every athlete, regardless of his or her level, is looking for an edge, a little help, something with which to train and/or perform better. Hence, the tremendous sum of money being spent on “performance” products and supplements. In these trying economic times, I have an inexpensive little secret for you: chocolate milk. Yep, you heard it right: chocolate milk. The funny thing is this is not new information, but I guess brown moo is not exotic or sexy enough to pique the interest of serious athletes. That’s too bad because in several studies, cheap ol’ chocolate milk smoked some very well known sports drinks. I’ll paraphrase one of the studies for you. At the Indiana University kinesiology/physiology lab, high-level cyclists trained to exhaustion (depleting glycogen stores). Then, within 45 minutes, they drank 16 oz. of chocolate milk. The cyclists rested for four hours. They then pedaled to exhaustion. With the chocolate milk, they pedaled 49 percent longer and had a 57 percent increase in their work output as compared to the results after consuming a very popular carbohydrate sports drink (gator-something or another). Similar studies with similar results have been performed with swimmers and strength athletes (weightlifters). Since MMA requires both explosive strength and tremendous endurance, milk appears to be a well-qualified and modestly priced performance drink. Milk is 90 percent water, so it hydrates well. The four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio seems to be perfectly balanced for athletes (16 oz. of chocolate milk has 52 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein). The carbs replenish energy, and the protein rebuilds muscle. The extra sugar in chocolate milk also seems to help in the post-workout phase. As we all know, milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals that are important in proper growth and development. Babies drink it for a reason: Calcium: helps build strong bones Protein: vital in muscle, ligament/tendon and brain development Vitamin A: helps vision, immune system and healthy skin Vitamin B-12: boosts immune system Vitamin D: promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption in bone Potassium: important in regulating blood pressure, fluid balance and muscle contractions Phosphorus: necessary for the proper strengthening of bones Niacin: supports nervous-system development and proper function of enzymes Chocolate is also is rich in flavanoids that act as antioxidants that may protect against cell damage. Timing is very important. The milk needs to be consumed within one hour after the workout to maximize its potential benefits. For those that don’t believe in scientific studies and think that I have something to gain by misleading you, maybe you’ll believe Dana Torres. You remember Torres, the 40-something (years old) Olympic gold-medalist swimmer from Beijing. You’ll easily recognize her. She’s the one (with the chocolate, low-fat got milk ‘stache) that beat all of those girls half her age. (Funny, but I hear that a fairly good swimmer from Baltimore, Michael-something or another, does pretty much the same thing.) I realize that Olympic swimming and MMA are very different in a lot of ways, but a full tank of gas is a full tank of gas, regardless of the sport. Remember the “golden rule” of MMA: “It is far better to give an ***-whooppin’ than to gas out and receive one.” Dr. Johnny Benjamin is MMAjunkie.com’s medical columnist and consultant and a noted combat-sports specialist. He was also recently appointed to the ABC’s medical advisory team and will help review and refine the unified rules of MMA. In addition to the occasional editorial, Dr. Benjamin writes an “Ask the Doc” column every two weeks for MMAjunkie.com. To submit a question for a future column, email him at askthedoc [AT] mmajunkie.com, or share your questions and thoughts in the comments section below. You can find Dr. Benjamin online at www.drjohnnybenjamin.com, and you can read his other sports-related articles at blog.drjohnnybenjamin.com.