Normally I don’t advocate supplement use, especially not all the crap marketed to fitness buffs. In addition to a dizzying array of protein powders (soy! whey! pea! rice! hemp! vegan! insane!), you’ve got pre-workout beverages, post-workout beverages, beans, gels, gus, and a bar for every occasion including – and I kid you not – menstruation. Not to mention all the pills available. If one actually ate, swallowed or guzzled everything some doctor (defined as anyone in a white lab coat) or guru (defined as anyone with an Amazon ranking) recommended then you’d gain weight no matter how much you worked out.
But researchers save the day by discovering a new sports supplement that works just as well as all those pricey drinks. Breakfast cereal: whole grain, with milk, spoon on the side. I know! That carby crunchy goodness that you feel so guilty about eating? Now you have permission. From people with letters after their names!
Exercise physiologist Lynn Kammer reports, “Our goal was to compare whole grain cereal plus milk—which are ordinary foods—and sports drinks, after moderate exercise. 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.”
Not only does your Kashi Crunch (with flax!) taste better than Gatorade and replenish glycogen faster but it’s also more economical. “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”.
This is good news for me since I have long harbored a love of breakfast cereal. Up until I got pregnant when the only thing I could stomach for the first 3 months was bowl after bowl of Cheerios, I hardly ever ate boxed cereal. Normally I’m an oatmeal kinda girl – and I do love my cooked oats/groats/wheat berries/other random plant parts – but some days you just want Miniwheats in the a.m. you know?
The one downfall, for me, of this study is that I don’t really buy the theory that people other than hardcore athletes really need to worry about pre- or post-workout nutrition. I think if you are conscious to eat several healthy meals (and snacks, if you’re the snacking type) then you’ll have all your glycogen repleting/protein synthesizing bases covered, no extra effort needed. Plus, I’ve seen too many people burn 200 calories on the treadmill and then suck down a 500 calorie “recovery shake.” For most of us the math isn’t friendly. But hey, if you are the kind of exerciser who needs a post-workout snack or if it’s just meal time, bring on the cereal! And if you need suggestions, Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins are my personal fave (and my kids fight me over who gets to hold the box):
What’s your favorite cereal? How do you feel about post-workout refueling – necessary or just another marketing opportunity? Click here to check out more hilarious photoshopped cereal boxes.