The Center for Dairy Research and entrepreneur Michelle McBride are the team behind GoodSport, a new milk permeate-based sports drink. One of the center’s missions is to help companies and start-ups such as GoodSport bring innovative, nutritious and profitable products that use dairy to market.
McBride hatched the idea for GoodSport when her son started playing baseball.
“We didn’t want him drinking traditional sports drinks because they’re filled with artificial ingredients and too much sugar,” she said. “We tried some natural options, but he didn’t like the taste and I learned they provided no better hydration than plain water.”
She read about hydration and found that milk is one of the most hydrating beverages available. Of particular interest was the work of Ron Maughan, a professor at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. He developed the Beverage Hydration Index to compare the hydration efficacy of sports drinks, water, milk and other beverages. He found that milk was efficacious in rehydrating the human body.
“When I saw that, I thought, ‘Wow – milk is packed with electrolytes and other nutrients; I really should be able to make a sports drink out of it,’” McBride said.
She knew that developing a new product would be a serious undertaking. She enlisted the help of several experts. She worked with a laboratory to formulate prototypes made from milk.
“They tasted pretty good, but I knew it wasn’t quite right – they were still milky,” she said. “I started looking for a dairy scientist who could help me and someone suggested I contact the Center for Dairy Research.”
The Center for Dairy Research is located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. It offers dairy-food and beverage companies access to expertise in dairy research, technical support and education. The center is funded by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff program and partners such as the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the National Dairy Council.
McBride was connected with K.J. Burrington, who was the center’s dairy ingredients applications coordinator before moving to the American Dairy Products Institute. McBride also met Vic Grassman, manager of the TURBO Program, a business accelerator and business-support program at the center. When McBride shared her idea of creating a sports drink using milk at the initial meeting at the Center for Dairy Research, Burrington immediately knew she was on to something.
“I told her ‘I’ve been waiting 15 years for someone to bring this idea to us,’” Burrington said.
But she knew that using skim milk in the formulation wouldn’t provide the appearance, flavor or mouthfeel of typical sports-hydration drinks. She suggested that milk permeate would provide the right sensory experience along with the carbohydrates and electrolytes needed to make a shelf-stable, sports-hydration beverage.
So she and McBride created a new formulation using milk permeate. McBride said she was pleased with the look of the product. The next step was a taste test.
“K.J. and I toasted cheers with our sample cups and then tasted it,” McBride said. “Right away I knew we had done it. I cried tears of joy right there in the lab.”
Milk permeate is generated via the ultrafiltration of milk. The fat and protein is filtered and used in other applications. What’s left is milk permeate, which contains essential vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. It has a subtle, clean flavor with milk’s natural nutrients and electrolytes.
“It’s a great tasting, refreshing and effective sports drink,” Burrington said. “The beauty of it is that all the nutrients found in this drink are naturally found in milk.”
The use of milk permeate also boosts the dairy industry’s sustainability efforts. Some dairy companies dispose of their milk permeate because they don’t have a market for it. Products such as GoodSport will help increase milk-permeate’s value.
“We’re helping to create another beverage-use occasion for milk, which is refreshment and hydration,” McBride said. “This could be a big opportunity for dairy.”
Early results indicate that GoodSport is something of a revolutionary product. With support from Dairy Management Inc., Pennsylvania State University studied the hydration efficacy of GoodSport by testing it against water and a traditional carbohydrate-based sports drink.
“The study showed that GoodSport provides rapid and significantly long-lasting hydration,” McBride said. “The researchers found that GoodSport stays in the body and provides hydration more than two hours after it’s consumed. The results were significant.”
The study found that the combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates naturally found in milk permeate is effective at hydrating at the cellular level. It promotes cells’ ability to retain and hold more fluid providing superior hydration.
GoodSport is an excellent source of B vitamins and a good source of calcium. It contains three times the amount of electrolytes and 33 percent less sugar than traditional sports drinks.
“We don’t add any sugar; we just have the natural sugars from milk,” McBride said.
McBride’s project also received help from the Center for Dairy Research’s TURBO program.
“The program really enables entrepreneurs working in dairy to have access to incredible expertise," McBride said. "It really is almost unheard of.”