Thursday, October 06, 2005


August 24, 2005

Benicia Now is Home to Up-and-Coming Maker of Sports Drinks

By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer

Greg Pickett is the owner of Cytosport, Inc. in Benicia's Industrial Park. Cytosport is the maker of Cytomax, a sports drink, and Muscle Milk, a protein-based meal supplement. Cytomax is available now in GNC, 7-Eleven and Albertsons. Photo: David Pacheco/Times-Herald

BENICIA - Cytomax and Muscle Milk may not be the first names that come to mind when the average weekend warrior thinks of sports energy drinks or workout supplements.

But the products aren't hidden to many elite professional athletes who've consumed them, including Jerry Rice, Randy Johnson, Lance Armstrong and Jake Plummer, said Cytosport Inc. President Greg Pickett.

Pickett's Cytosport Inc. hasn't even been in business for 10 years and it's grown from a five-person operation in Walnut Creek to a more than 100-employee organization, located in the Benicia Industrial Park.

"It was a well-kept secret for a number of years," Pickett said of his Cytomax brand.

Pickett, 58, acquired the Cytomax brand from Concord-based Champion Nutrition. He'd worked for Champion for decades before establishing Cytosport Inc. in 1998.

In the past couple years, Cytosport Inc. has pushed to make a bigger dent in the energy drink market, which is dominated by more readily known brands such as Gatorade, Powerade and All Sport.

Pickett, in recent years, has made Cytomax available at GNC, 7-Eleven and Albertsons.

The company doesn't have the advertising money that Gatorade, which is owned by Pepsi, does, Pickett said. To make up for that, Cytosport Inc. sends sales representatives to

300 bike races, road races and triathlons each year, he said.

Those athletes may be catching on to what Garrett Giemont, head strength and conditioning coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he's known for several years now.

Cytomax isn't like any other sports energy drink, Giemont said.

Dr. George Brooks, an exercise physiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, developed a special designer molecule to be used exclusively in Cytomax, Pickett said. The molecule is nonsugar-based, which is a more efficient energy source than ingredients used in other energy drinks, he said.

Giemont has known of Pickett since the mid-1990s, when Giemont was the Oakland Raiders' head strength and conditioning coordinator. Giemont was with the Raiders from 1995 to 2002.

Giemont said he enjoyed products Pickett helped produce when Pickett was with Champion Nutrition in Concord in the early 1980s.

"He's good enough not to charge us," Giemont said of his arrangement with Pickett. But he doesn't use the products just because they're free, he said.

"I believe in them," Giemont said.

Giemont said Cytomax has a lot less sugar than any other sports drink, which helps alleviate fatigue better.

"They are really, really scientifically based," Giemont said of Cytosport products.

Giemont also praised Muscle Milk, which is a protein-based meal supplement that is beneficial during and after workouts, he said.

Pickett said he's concerned children aren't getting enough good nutritious food or drinks. He soon may do something about that with the help of two food and beverage industry giants.

Coke and "one of America's fast food giants" are talking with Cytosport about possibly making what Pickett calls more nutritionally complete products. In other words, he said the companies are looking to make nutritional beverages compatible with active lifestyles.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at or call 553-6833.

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