Cereal and Milk Is the New Sports Supplement, Says Study

May 14, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — A bowl of whole grain cereal is as good as a sports drink for recovery after exercise. Research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has shown that the readily available and relatively inexpensive breakfast food is as effective as popular, carbohydrate-based "sports drinks."

Exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer, from The University of Texas at Austin, led a group of researchers who investigated the post-exercise physiological effects of the foods. Kammer and her team studied 12 trained cyclists, 8 male and 4 female. In contrast to many sports nutrition studies, however, the exercise protocol was designed to reflect a typical exercise session. After a warm-up period, the subjects cycled for two hours at a comfortable work rate, rather than the more frequently seen test-to-exhaustion.

"Our goal was to compare whole grain cereal plus milk—which are ordinary foods—and sports drinks, after moderate exercise," said Kammer. "We wanted to understand their relative effects on glycogen repletion and muscle protein synthesis for the average individual. We found that glycogen repletion, or the replenishment of immediate muscle fuel, was just as good after whole grain cereal consumption and that some aspects of protein synthesis were actually better."

"Cereal and non-fat milk are a less expensive option than sports drinks. The milk provides a source of easily digestible and high quality protein, which can promote protein synthesis and training adaptations, making this an attractive recovery option for those who refuel at home."

The researchers concluded that, for amateur athletes and moderately physically active individuals who are trying to keep in shape, popping into the kitchen for a quick bowl of whole-grain cereal with a splash of skimmed milk may be a smarter move than investing in a high-priced sports drink.

Kammer and her colleagues are scientists in the College of Education's Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. This study was supported by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.

For more information, contact: Kay Randall, College of Education, 512 471 6033.

18 Comments to "Cereal and Milk Is the New Sports Supplement, Says Study"

1.  Rick said on May 21, 2009

So, is Cheerios an appropriate example? It does lower LDL.

2.  Michael Brunner said on May 21, 2009

Would like to get some names of cereals that would fit this bill.

Thank you,


3.  Michael Adame said on May 21, 2009

Interesting article relating the effectiveness of recovery of a cereal versus sports drink. Some questions arise: 1) objective parameters used to determine "recovery"; 2) methodology to determine repletion and protein synthesis; 3) What are training adaptations?; 4) Why was cereal chosen as a comparison?; 5) Does General Mills have anything to do with the impetus? Do they have anything to gain? i.e. Will they now market cereal as a bona fide recovery option on their cereal boxes?

4.  Blake Murray said on May 21, 2009

Cheerios is a whole grain cereal. I'd imagine it would fit the criteria. Shredded wheat would be a winner as well.

5.  jonas said on May 21, 2009

All of your questions are answered in the "Cereal and nonfat milk support muscle recovery following exercise" research article on the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition Web site.

6.  Kay Randall said on May 21, 2009

Wheaties is one that fits the bill, I know, but let me alert Lynne Kammer, the researcher, that you guys have some questions and have her weigh in. She certainly knows more than I do.

7.  William Shellorne said on May 21, 2009

Any time I see a headline like this, I ask myself who sponsored this research, because you get what you pay for. At the end of the complete article it says, "This study was supported by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition." Both cereal and sports drinks are a load of sugar.

8.  Stan said on May 21, 2009

These days, "sports drinks" seems to encompass a wide variety of products. In this study, are they using a Gatorade-type drink or something like Muscle Milk, which many athletes use for recovery?

9.  claude monet said on May 22, 2009

I suspect that raisin bran and skim milk is what they used. It works best for me and the Hill Country (HEB) cereal has less sugar and tastes better than the more expensive national brands.

10.  cesar said on May 22, 2009

The research misses the point. It is convenient to use a bottle of liquid to get those nutrients back. It is not convenient to eat a bowl of cereal if you're on the basketball court, football field or just about anywhere outside. We pay for convenience in every aspect of our lives.

11.  A. Gemp said on May 24, 2009

My 15-year-old track runner loves cereal and milk but right after a race a Gatorade is a much more convenient replenisher.

12.  Joe said on May 26, 2009

Are we able to generalize these findings with a sample of 12--only four females? Are cereal and milk as easy to transport and store as a bottled sports drink? Cross the finish line of a marathon and grab a spoon? It seems as though a low sugar sports drink might still be a good option for immediate needs, followed by cereal and some other options later.

13.  Food Coach said on May 26, 2009

Firemen and emergency response professionals required to train daily while remaining "on call" will find this very useful. The cost factor weighs more than convenience for more active athletes than you realize.

14.  Patrick said on May 26, 2009

This is a good recovery food for a MODERATE workout and mainly for cardio-related workouts. For a more intense weight training workout, a faster-digesting protein would be much better. Whey Protein Isolate is ideal, but for those afraid of powders a good steak or chicken breast would be great with any type of high glycemic index carbs (such as dry cereal, bread, pasta, smoothie or even candy).

15.  Drew said on May 27, 2009

All General Mills cereals are whole grain, as are most other widely available breakfast cereals.

16.  Lynne Kammer said on June 1, 2009

Thanks for your comments. Any whole-grain cereal with a relatively low amount of sugar would be appropriate. Wheaties, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat and some of the "natural" brands would work. If it gets soggy fast, then it probably isn't whole grain. Granola and heavily sweetened cereals contain a lot more sugar than our test cereal, so the effect may be different.

17.  peanut butter said on Nov. 20, 2009

Go Fruity Pebbles!

18.  Greg Peterson said on May 14, 2012

There are a few different supplements I would use for sports, if I played more than I do. Right now it's just bball once or twice a week.