Irish researchers to assess role for hydrolysates in faster recovery

New study to explore whether a unique dairy based protein ingredient will lead to a faster recovery after exercise

Jens Bleiel, FHI

At the forefront of improving health, wellness and quality of life through world-class food innovation, Food for Health Ireland (FHI) announces the start of a new study to explore if a unique dairy based protein ingredient will lead to a faster recovery after exercise.

FHI unites world-class science and industry expertise to improve health through innovation in food. Its purpose is to identify novel milk-derived ingredients to develop functional food ingredients which will offer health benefits to consumers.

Established in 2008, FHI is one of the biggest technology centres on the island of Ireland. One area of research that FHI is focusing on is sports nutrition. FHI scientists based at University College Dublin are currently investigating a hydrolysate to see if it will enhance metabolic responses in the body and lead to a faster recovery compared with other protein and carbohydrate drinks.

Eating a combination of carbohydrate and protein sources soon after exercise is seen as the optimal recovery meal because this provides both glucose (sugar) and amino acids to support recovery and repair. However, the type of protein can also affect the insulin response to the meal, and understanding how insulin works and how it influences metabolic processes during recovery can pay enormous dividends for athletes. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood glucose levels and pathways of muscle growth, and has the potential to speed recovery and build lean body mass.

Exercise, by its very nature, induces a form of stress on the body that requires restorative processes. These include recovery of fuel stores, repair of damaged muscle, restoration of fluid and electrolyte balances, lactate removal, and inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses.

The replenishment of muscle fuel stores and the repair, growth and remodelling of muscle are the two main processes, which are the subject of much research and directly influenced by nutrient intakes during recovery from exercise and sports performance.

The repair and remodelling is central to training adaptation and optimising the recovery is paramount to sports nutrition strategies. Jens Bleiel, CEO FHI points to how research has evolved with a greater understanding how the composition of nutrients and their timing are essential for recovery.

'We see a strong trend in sports nutrition to substantiate new products with excellent scientific rationale proving a benefit for performance athletes in high quality human intervention studies. Our new study will focus on taking advantage of improving the post-exercise nutrition profile and insulin activity, so athletes or recreational exercisers can optimise muscle recovery and achieve significant improvements in subsequent performance,' he said.

Jens continues: 'FHI aims to identify bioactive ingredients from milk, ensure that any components found satisfy real consumer needs and accelerate their commercialisation through FHI’s industry partners. The sports nutrition market has a lot of potential for novel ingredients with a proven health benefits.'

Carbery, one of FHI’s industry partners, supplies dairy ingredients and flavours (through its taste division, Synergy) to the global sports nutrition industry. Carbery’s Sales and Marketing Director, Noel Corcoran, emphasises the importance of clinical evidence to substantiate health claims.

'As the market for performance nutrition grows, so too does the need for robust science to support the health claims of both nutritional ingredients and the end products they are used in. At Carbery, we are proud to work with Food for Health Ireland and independent academic and scientific organizations such as University College Dublin and University of Limerick. These partnerships ensure we can provide customers clear and persuasive evidence of the efficacy of our specialist whey proteins for very specific performance benefits, especially in the realm of elite athlete nutrition,' he said.

For more information about the role of dairy in recovery from exercise and sports performance, visit the eBook written by FHI and the National Dairy Council Ireland (NDC).