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New ingredients, research, boost sports nutrition

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A whey protein gel, novel probiotic strain, and ingredients for muscle health and energy enhancement are among recent sports nutrition innovations.

In industry, the engine driving development of exciting new products is innovation at the supplier level. This is the case in many CPG markets, and especially so for a sports and active nutrition segment forever in search of the latest and greatest.

While the successful brands in this segment are responsive to change and strive to deliver new, exciting products, a dire need exists for the bigger and better promises (i.e., claims) to be backed by supporting science and research, not just for regulatory compliance but also for consumer confidence.

Truly new and novel ingredients have been hard to come by in recent years—at least legal ones and those not in danger of running afoul of doping tests. The pandemic and related economic struggles of the past year or more have only heightened this challenge to innovation. However, bright spots shined for sports nutrition in terms of new ingredients and new research.

Ingredient launches widen the scope of the market

Innovation didn’t totally grind to a halt during the pandemic, as several new ingredients launched, either squarely or partially aimed at active nutrition brands. Of course, new ingredients don’t spring up overnight, as these were all under development before the pandemic hit, but many brands decided to delay launches during 2020 and 2021.

Enfinity paraxanthine, an energy enhancement ingredient from Ingenious Ingredients, received self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status this past November for use in food and beverages. According to company co-founder Ralf Jaeger, Ph.D., the status allows for its use in energy beverages, nutrition and cereal bars, and decaffeinated coffees and powders, in amounts up to 300 mg. Enfinity paraxanthine is described as a downstream metabolite of caffeine—70% of caffeine consumed is metabolized into paraxanthine.

Shawn Wells, fellow co-founder of Ingenious Ingredients, explained, “This metabolite of caffeine offers much of the benefits of caffeine. Paraxanthine avoids the downsides, especially the bio-individuality of the caffeine metabolism gene (CYP1A2) issues that most people are fast and slow caffeine metabolizers … both of which see little benefit.1 It also is more neuroprotective because it increases dopamine levels, which also means it’s going to enhance focus, productivity, confidence and the “flow state” better than caffeine.”2

Also new from Ingenious Ingredients is its patented dileucine peptide, brandedRAMPS (rapid action muscle protein synthesis). This ingredient for muscle health was granted a U.S. patent (US 11026991B2) in August 2021, following the publication of a study showing it had elevated intact plasma dileucine concentrations 42% more than leucine, which means it increases muscle protein synthesis (MPS) at a greater, more desirable rate.3

Based on the results, Wells stated dileucine peptide is 86% more efficient than free leucine ingestion at improving MPS gram for gram.

Leucine is also a focus of a new beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) ingredient from Arla Foods. Lacprodan BLG-100 contains 45% more leucine, 26% more essential amino acids (EAAs) and raises MPS higher than whey protein isolates on the market.4,5

In late 2020, FrieslandCampina debuted its whey protein gel, formulated with the company’s Nutri Whey Isolate Clear. This high concentration protein offering provides up to 15% protein content, which the company said allows brands to claim “high protein” in the U.S. and EU. Further, the gel’s portion size enables brands to consider novel formats such as squeezable pouches and spoonable pots.

In late 2020, Lonza launched a novel probiotic strain, branded TWK10, derived from Taiwanese kimchi and designed to help elite athletes and active consumers improve endurance, body composition and energy. The new ingredient is vegan and can be used in dietary supplements and foods, according to Lonza.

Supporting these targets is a Taiwanese study on the ergogenic effects of Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 in healthy adult males and females undergoing an exercise protocol.6 The research compared two doses of TWK10 (100 mg/30 bn CFU and 300 mg/90 bn CFU) to placebo, finding that the probiotic significantly extended exercise performance in a dose-dependent manner, as well as improved fatigue. The researchers noted the results “suggest that TWK10 has the potential to be an ergogenic aid to improve aerobic endurance performance via physiological adaptation effects.”

To read this article in its entirety, check out the “Cutting-edge change in sports nutrition innovation” digital magazine.

Lisa Schofield is a veteran writer and editor who got her start interviewing rock stars for national music magazines. She now writes and edits content for B2B media and suppliers in the natural health product industry. She has served as editor for Vitamin Retailer and Nutrition Industry Executive, and prior to that as associate editor for Whole Foods.  

References

1 Dante X et al. “Dose-Response of Paraxanthine on Cognitive Function: A Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Crossover Trial.” Nutrients. 2021;13(12):4478.

2 Choongsung Y et al. “Acute Paraxanthine Ingestion Improves Cognition and Short-Term Memory and Helps Sustain Attention in a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial.” Nutrients. 2021;13(11): 3980.

3 Paulussen KJM et al. “Dileucine ingestion is more effective than leucine in stimulating muscle protein turnover in young males: a double blind randomized controlled trial.” J Appl Physiol. 2021;131(3):1111-1122.

4 Gorissen SHM et al. “Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates.” Amino Acids. 2018;50(12):1685-1695.

5 Phillips SM. “Current Concepts and Unresolved Questions in Dietary Protein Requirements and Supplements in Adults.” Front Nutr. 2017;4:13.

6 Huang WC et al. “Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 on Exercise Physiological Adaptation, Performance, and Body Composition in Healthy Humans.” Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2836.

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