GoodSport Nutrition, a Rosemont, Ill.-based startup, said it launched GoodSport — a sports drink that is 97% dairy and aims to compete nationally against leading brands. This first-of-its-kind natural sports drink made from the goodness of milk and backed by science will be available this month at and; broader retail distribution is planned for later this year. The product launched with support from the dairy checkoff and other industry groups.

GoodSport Nutrition Founder and CEO Michelle McBride said she conceived the concept after being frustrated with the sports drink category options. 

“I didn’t want my son drinking sports drinks filled with artificial ingredients that were being offered to him at his baseball games,” she said. “I gave him chocolate milk as a healthier alternative after his workouts, and it provided the inspiration to look at milk as a source of hydration during physical activity.”

According to GoodSport, milk is a natural source of the essential electrolytes and carbohydrates needed to provide effective hydration. In fact, scientific studies have shown milk hydrates better than traditional sports drinks and water. However, milk’s consistency and protein content, which slowly digests, were barriers for athletes before and during exercise.

GoodSport’s patent-pending formula and process cracked the code to provide naturally powerful hydration in a clear, thirst-quenching beverage. It delivers three times the electrolytes and 33% less sugar than traditional sports drinks, McBride said. All ingredients are from natural sources, and the beverage is a good source of calcium and an excellent source of B vitamins. It is lactose-free and shelf-stable.

To bring the idea to life, GoodSport said McBride engaged with experts in sports nutrition and from across the dairy industry. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, assisted McBride with category insights and provided contacts to accelerate speed to market. State and regional checkoff teams also offered support. Gregory Miller, Ph.D., of National Dairy Council serves on the company’s scientific advisory council, and McBride also participated in the Dairy Farmers of America Co-Lab Accelerator for startups. The 90-day program offers training, growth opportunities and mentorship.

Additionally, McBride worked with the checkoff-funded Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. There, Kimberlee (K.J.) Burrington, dairy ingredient, cultured products and beverages coordinator at the time, showed the GoodSport team how ultrafiltration could harness milk’s electrolytes, vitamins and carbohydrates and remove its protein to create a clear, light beverage with a mouthfeel that consumers expect from a sports drink. GoodSport comes in four flavors in 16.9-ounce bottles: Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, Wild Berry and Citrus, the company said. .

“GoodSport carries dairy’s healthy halo,” said Pennsylvania dairy farmer Marilyn Hershey, who serves as chair of DMI. “It not only offers delicious refreshment and nutrition from dairy, but it supports our industry’s sustainability mission. This is giving people a new way to talk about milk, and that’s exciting for dairy farmers.”