Pass the electrolyte aisle and proceed to the cereal aisle for your next post-exercise recovery meal. The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition printed a research article this past May comparing a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink with whole grain cereal and nonfat milk in their effectiveness of recovery.
They used a small sample size of 12 trained cyclists and triathletes performing two hours of cycling at 60-65% maximum oxygen uptake. Post exercise, they consumed either a sports drink or a bowl of cereal and nonfat milk. The researchers took a muscle biopsy from the lateral quadriceps muscle immediately after exercise (and before the drink or cereal) and then again 1 hour after the drink or cereal to determine muscle glycogen synthesis. In addition to the biopsy, blood was also drawn at the end of exercise, and then at 15 min, 30 min, and 60 min post exercise to test for other recovery markers.
• Both the drink and cereal raised muscle glycogen (although not significantly differently between the two) one hour after exercise.
• Blood insulin was significantly higher after consumption of the cereal and milk versus the sports drink.
• mTOR, a muscle signaling protein, was significantly elevated after consumption of the cereal and milk, but not the sports drink. mTOR is known to aid in muscle growth and repair and initiate protein synthesis.
Of course, more research is needed with a bigger sample size, different sports and various exertions. However, if you are cycling at 60-65% maximum oxygen uptake for two hours, you may want to try having a second breakfast to aid in your recovery.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 May 14; 6(1):11