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Working out the 'Red Whey'

Posted by - UW Madison Athletic Department on Nov 13th 2018

Dec. 20, 2012

MADISON, Wis. -- When you say, "Wisconsin," you've said it all. Well, at least when it comes to Red Whey, a new recovery drink that is made in Wisconsin, with Wisconsin products, for Wisconsinites, namely UW-Madison student-athletes.

The Red Whey (cherry juice and whey protein beverage) and Rapid Red (100% cherry juice) was developed thanks to a collaboration between the UW -Madison Athletic Department, the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR), a Wisconsin whey processor and Wisconsin's own Country Ovens, Cherry De-Lite.

"We are always looking for ways we can all work together, especially as a dairy state," said John Dettmann, Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Badgers and one of the masterminds behind Red Whey. "We knew that we wanted to develop a natural, nutritious recovery drink for our student-athletes and with CDR, one of the world's best dairy research institutions less than five minutes away, we were happy to have an opportunity to collaborate with someone on the UW campus as we assign value to those partnerships."

Dettmann contacted CDR Dairy Ingredient Applications and Coordinator, K.J. Burrington to assist in formulating a natural recovery drink that would provide UW student-athletes with a delicious whey protein option that also meets the NCAA nutritional requirements. Dettmann also contacted Mike Johnson, President of Country Ovens, LTD, in Forestville, Wis., to see if he would be willing to provide the cherry juice for the drink as well as manufacture the end product.

"We were so pleased to be approached by the UW Athletic Department," said Johnson. "As a Wisconsin sports fan, farmer and manufacturer, I am happy to work with our partners at UW-Madison to develop a product for UW student-athletes, using Wisconsin ingredients."

The end product, Red Whey, contains 100 percent tart cherry juice from Country Ovens and 12 grams of whey protein, making it an ideal recovery drink for athletes but also a locally made, natural, nutritious sports drink for the general public.

"There are very few products out there that contain 100 percent juice as well as a significant amount of protein," said Burrington. "We've formulated a simple product with a clean label that contains a unique balance of amino acids that aid in muscle recovery."

Amino acids are the building blocks of the human body aiding in everything from protein synthesis to energy production. Of the standard 22 amino acids present in the body, nine are essential amino acids, which mean that they cannot be made by the body and must therefore be obtained through diet.

Whey protein is unique in that it contains the highest amount of branch chain amino acids (isoleuceucine, valine, and leucine found in food. Leucine is directly linked to muscle protein synthesis, which is an important part of recovery for all athletes. In fact, a 2007 study showed that as little as 10 grams of whey protein in a recovery drink will stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Tang et al., Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 32:1132-1138, 2007).

Red Whey also provides athletes with carbohydrates for energy, potassium for electrolyte replacement and nutrients available in the cherry juice. Cherry juice, the new `Super Fruit', is high in Anthocyanins (anti-oxidants) that counteract the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation and help reduce post-exercise muscle and joint pain. Tart cherries anti-inflammatory benefits reduce pain from gout and arthritis and have an extensive list of heart health benefits. It also contains significant levels of Melatonin that can promote better sleeping (

"In the end, we have a great product that has been a big win for the UW Athletic Department as well as the state of Wisconsin," said Dettman. "The product is outstanding and it passes the ultimate test, the student-athletes love it. I think our biggest challenge will be keeping enough in stock."

NOTE: This story, written by Bekah Gillespie of the CDR, was reprinted with permission. The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, are dedicated to supporting the U.S. dairy industry through innovative research, technical support, training and education.

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