Got milk? Go ahead and make it chocolate

After enduring almost a year-long dose of negative media coverage, flavored milk and its supporters are pushing back against critics who want only the traditional white option served in school cafeterias.

The Milk Processor Education Program, the D.C.-based advocacy group that represents the nation's milk processors, reported this month that reformulation over the past five years has lowered the calories and sugar so that this fall the average 8-ounce carton of chocolate milk will have 150 calories -that's just about 30 calories more than low-fat white milk.

The processor group, who are also the ones behind the milk mustache Got Milk?' ads, argue that when flavored milk is taken out of the school lunch program - kids don't drink the alternative and thus receive fewer overall nutrients.

Meanwhile, a study released in July, found that drinking chocolate milk after a workout proved beneficial to improving endurance, building muscle and reducing fat.

The findings, sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, came from researchers from the department of kinesiology at the University of Texas.

John L. Ivy, lead author of the UT study, told WebMD that chocolate milk seems to have the right combination of carbohydrates and protein to promote recovery.

"When recovering from exercise, two things you want to do is replenish sugar stores in the muscle and turn on protein synthesis and stop protein breakdown," Ivy said.

The rebuttal from the milk producers comes after a number of school districts across the country have removed flavored milk from student meal programs largely over concerns over growing obesity rates among children.

Among them, Los Angeles Unified - which made the decision after new Superintendent John Deasy came on board following an extensive and much-publicized battled over the issue by the previous administration with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

That said, only last week, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District decided against removing chocolate milk from school lunch menus - mostly because of worries that many low-income students who rely most on district nutrition , would drink less milk overall.

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