(NaturalNews) A bowl of whole-wheat flake cereal was found to be as or more effective than a specialized sports drink at aiding the recovery of the body after intensive exercise in a new study. The research was funded by Wheaties and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, and presented at the 54th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Researchers had 12 cyclists, eight of them men, fast for 12 hours before undergoing two hours of cycling exercise. The participants were then given either a carbohydrate-containing sports drink or a bowl of whole-wheat flake cereal with skim milk.
Both cereal and drink treatments raised the body's blood glucose and insulin levels, but the cereal was more effective at raising insulin and preventing a rise in blood lactate levels. The cereal was also more effective at inducing the body to synthesize protein and increasing its ability to store glycogen.
Lactate levels after exercise correlate with an increase in blood acidity but do not cause it. They formerly were thought to cause the muscle soreness often experienced days after exercise, but this theory is now mostly discredited.
Glycogen is the body's short-term energy storage mechanism, and is burned during exercise.
"We were surprised that blood lactate was lower after cereal, possibly due to glycogen storage," said lead researcher Lynne Kammer of the University of Texas-Austin. "In addition, the muscle was ready to store additional glycogen after the cereal-and-milk regimen, even after glycogen had already been synthesized."
The global market for athletic performance foods and drinks was $19.37 billion in 2006, according to the food research institution Leatherhead Food International. Drinks currently dominate this market.
Kammer does not necessarily expect cereal to challenge this dominance any time soon.
"Sports drinks may have an advantage in convenience," Kammer said.
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams isn't satisfied with either option. "The best recovery from physical exercise comes from drinking raw superfood smoothies made with celery, fresh greens, plant-based fats and nutrient-dense superfoods," he said. "Anything processed or made in a factory is a joke compared to what Mother Nature already provides us for recovery from physical exertion."