According to one study, whole grain cereal with a little skim milk is just as good as Gatorade and other sports drinks for replenishing nutrients after exercise.
Cereal And Gatorade After Cycling?
The researchers, at the University of Texas at Austin, studied twelve cyclists. After warming up, they rode for two hours at a rate typical of weekend athletes. Afterward, some of the cyclists consumed sports drinks, others had cereal with milk.
The researchers found that both replenished the cyclists' stores of glycogen, or muscle fuel, to the same degree. Milk, especially, contains nutrients that are known to replace muscle glycogen.
Bad Incentive? General Mills Funds Study
But there are a few caveats. First, the study was small, involving only twelve subjects. Second, it tested the effectiveness of cereal and milk as an energy source only for moderate exercise. More hard-core exercise may require more than a bowl of cereal can provide.
And finally, the study was funded by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. General Mills is the company that makes Cheerios, Fiber One, and many other cereals. So there's some incentive for the researchers to find that you should eat cereal after exercise instead of chugging a sports drink.
Chocolate Milk Over Gatorade
That's not to say that the study's results are wrong. Other studies have shown reasons to avoid sports drinks. One found that energy beverages may cause cavities.
Another found that chocolate milk is better than sports drinks at refreshing muscles. But some studies have shown that sports drinks do provide unique benefits, like boosting brain activity.