Sunday, June 17, 2007

Milk and Cereal Just as Effective as Sports Drinks for Athletes

As it turns out, a bowlful of cereal and a bit of nonfat milk may work just as effectively as specialized sports drinks in boosting recovery after exercise. Researchers at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) told attendees at this meeting that the benefits they discovered have been linked to the protein and carbohydrate content of the whole-wheat cereal used in the trials, which may aid the rebuilding of damaged tissue after exercise.

Lead researcher Lynne Kammer from the University of Texas at Austin says "We were surprised that blood lactate was lower after cereal, possibly due to glycogen storage," she said. "In addition, the muscle was ready to store additional glycogen after the cereal-and-milk regimen, even after glycogen had already been synthesized."

There is a huge convenience factor associated with sports drinks, so it may not be possible to market a whole-wheat cereal and milk package for this market. But, it is really interesting to many athletes that there is no real advantage to the drink other than the convenience.

"We wanted to look at a realistic exercise scenario and test the effectiveness of whole foods that might be acceptable for muscle recovery," said Kammer. Here are the facts of the trial:
The researchers recruited 12 cyclists (eight men) and asked them to fast for 12 hours prior to a two-hour cycling exercise. After working on the bicycle ergometer, the volunteers were given either a whole-wheat flake cereal with skimmed milk or a sports drink containing carbohydrate.

Both interventions were found to raise blood glucose and insulin levels, but during the recovery phase, cereal raised insulin significantly higher and blunted the rise in blood lactate compared with sports drink, Kammer told attendees. The cereal group also showed a significant advantage in protein synthesis and additional glycogen storage potential.
No mention was made of the specific cereal, but it's interesting to note that this research was sponsored by a grant from Wheaties and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.


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