Two graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Madison turned to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research to help them create a protein-rich, isotonic beverage with no artificial colors or flavors called BadgerMax.

Andrew Berns and Brandon Duck, graduates of the UW-Madison Executive MBA program, became business partners in a sports drink venture. They met with several coaches, companies and R&D specialists to gain insight into the sports drink market. After their research, Berns and Duck determined that their line would need to consist of an isotonic beverage, high pH premium spring water and a protein-rich isotonic beverage that could be manufactured in powder form as well as in a ready-to-drink bottle.

“We contacted CDR in April of 2012 and we were put in touch with K.J. Burrington,” said Duck. “K.J. was able to do what no one else could. She formulated a protein-enhanced sport drink that athletes will enjoy drinking.”

CDR Dairy Ingredients and Functionality Coordinator Burrington had been working on the development of protein-rich isotonic beverages since 2005, so she was prepared to help BadgerMax develop both the powder and RTD protein products they needed for their line. Whey protein isolate was chosen as the source of protein for the drink.

“It was also important for the product to have a clean label, so we worked hard to limit the number and types of ingredients and also create a clear, heat-stable product,” said Burrington.

BadgerMax and CDR developed a grape flavor and a fruit punch flavor. A bottle contains 12 fluid ounces and 12 grams of protein, a similar ratio to the protein available in milk (approximately 1 gram per 1 fluid ounce).

“Protein-rich recovery drinks are an excellent option for athletes as they generally contain a 4 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein,” said Burrington. “The combination of carbohydrates and protein equals a better recovery for athletes than just carbohydrates alone and the isotonic elements provide electrolytes to the athletes.”

 — Adapted from CDR’s “Dairy Pipeline.”