Breakfast cereals as good as special drinks for sports recovery?

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carbohydrate Metabolism Nutrition

A bowlful of whole-wheat flake cereal and nonfat milk may work just
as effectively as specialized sports drink in boosting recovery
after exercise, researchers told attendees at the 54th Annual
Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The benefits have been linked to the protein and carbohydrate content of the whole-wheat cereal, which may aid the rebuilding of damaged tissue after exercise. "We were surprised that blood lactate was lower after cereal, possibly due to glycogen storage,"​ said lead researcher Lynne Kammer from the University of Texas at Austin. "In addition, the muscle was ready to store additional glycogen after the cereal-and-milk regimen, even after glycogen had already been synthesized." ​Leatherhead International valued the total global market value for performance foods and drinks at US$19.37 billion last year, representing 50 percent growth in the past five years. A market report published by Mintel in September 2005 valued the UK sports nutrition market at £207 m (€301.9 m) - growth of 122.6 per cent since 2001. The market is currently dominated by drinks. However, whether the new research presented in New Orleans at ACSM's annual meeting could challenge the beverage-domination of the market is not known, particularly due to the convenience factor associated with the drinks. "Sports drinks may have an advantage in convenience,"​ said Kammer. "We wanted to look at a realistic exercise scenario and test the effectiveness of whole foods that might be acceptable for muscle recovery."​ 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. has not seen the full data for the study. Kammer and co-workers were not available prior to publication to confirm if the research is to be published in a peer-review journal. The researchers are reported to be already looking into continuing and improving the research. "One improvement in methodology for such research would be to replace muscle biopsies with other, less invasive procedures,"​ said Kammer. "Although our subjects were very cooperative, it would be preferable to collect muscle information without discomfort while testing in the future. We would also like to understand the effects on less highly trained athletes."​ This research was sponsored by a grant from Wheaties and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.

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