Post-Workout Winter Recovery Hot Cocoa

Alina Rosanova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
Alina Rosanova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

The day I pull my running tights out of my closet marks the start of one of my favorite times of year. At the end of a blistering summer, cooler weather is a welcome change and, here in Texas, it means more opportunities to exercise outside without becoming completely drenched in sweat!

Even though you might not feel the need to quickly rehydrate after exercising in cooler — or even cold — weather, you still need to pay close attention to post-workout recovery. Here’s what you need to know about your body and exercising in cold temperatures.

  • Even when the mercury dips, your body still uses fluid to regulate body temperature. Without it you would never warm up when you step off the porch for a run!
  • Chilly temperatures usually coincide with cold and flu season and dehydration increases cortisol levels in your body which is linked to a weaker immune system. Proper hydration can help keep you from getting sick.
  • And, no matter the climate, your body needs nutrient-rich foods and beverages after an intense exercise session.

If you’re looking for a recovery beverage, I recommend drinking a cup of quick hot cocoa, made with cocoa powder and low-fat milk. Milk has always been one of my favorites for recovery because it is so nutrient-rich. Chocolate milk gets all the credit, but white milk has also been widely researched in sports nutrition for its benefits, including hydration and promotion of positive nitrogen balance and body composition. Finally, I like to top this drink off with a drizzle of honey to get the “quick” carbohydrates a body needs after a tough workout.

Quick Recovery Hot Cocoa

Recipe by Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD


  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 12 ounces low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Cinnamon, to taste, optional


  1. Measure cocoa power into a microwave safe mug. Pour milk over cocoa powder. Using a fork, lightly whisk the milk and cocoa powder until blended. Microwave for 1 minute on high.
  2. Whisk with the fork again to blend.
  3. Microwave for another 1 minute on high.
  4. Stir in honey and cinnamon, if using. Serves 1.
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Caroline Sullivan
Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, is a sports dietitian based in College Station, Texas. Connect with her on Twitter.