Protein Isn’t the Only Game in Town for Sports Nutrition (Page 2)


Photo © Rao

Photo © Rao

Performance and Recovery

Athletes and amateurs alike seek products boosting muscle enhancement and protection. While “protein will help you pack on muscle,” says Janice Brown, technical sales/support, AstaReal Inc. (Burlington, NJ), “consumers are searching for supplements they can add to their protein regimen that will give them all-around performance benefits.”

On the non-protein front, post-exercise benefits were reported by KD Pharma (Bexbach, Germany) in a study3 of its new KD Active omega-3 oil, launched at Vitafoods in May. In the study, the ingredient was found to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness, the feeling of stiffness and soreness that hits 21 to 24 hours post-exercise.

Meanwhile, a recent 60-subject study4 found that a combination of Kyowa Hakko USA’s (New York City) Setria glutathione and L-citrulline may support athletes post-exercise. “In this study, we were able to determine that combining Setria glutathione with L-citrulline not only increased blood levels of nitrite and [nitric oxide], but sustained the increases for a longer period of time, compared to placebo,” said lead researcher Darryn Willoughby, PhD. “The results of this first-of-its kind study indicate that Setria glutathione and L-citrulline may play a role in muscle protein synthesis and muscle performance when combined with resistance exercise.” Elyse N. Lovett, MBA, MS, marketing manager at Kyowa Hakko USA, points out that although most amino acids are sourced from protein, “they are generally positioned as working in conjunction with a protein.”

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that supports the synthesis of muscle carnosine, helping to delay the onset of muscle fatigue and failure. It combines with histidine in the body to form carnosine, and it also helps buffer hydrogen ions that keep muscles contracting longer. The effect is not only recovery but endurance and peak performance.

The CarnoSyn brand of beta-alanine continues to ramp up research, says Mark LeDoux, chairman of the board and CEO of Natural Alternatives International (NAI; San Marco, CA), CarnoSyn’s distributor. The ingredient already has 55 clinical studies under its belt, and NAI has several in progress, including one in military populations to be published in the journal Amino Acids. The company recently launched a sustained-release version of the ingredient, SR CarnoSyn.

At October’s SupplySide West trade show, LeDoux said, “We discovered over the past couple of years that this isn’t just for bodybuilders anymore. There’s a huge market in aspirational athletics, people that go out and do a little workout on the weekend, decide they want to mow their lawn by pushing a lawnmower rather than riding on it, who are starting to get into shape by walking more.”

Also at SupplySide West, Ralf Jäger, cofounder of consulting firm Increnovo LLC (Milwaukee, WI), highlighted several promising ingredients during a sports market presentation.

One of the ingredients is beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), which has been shown to minimize muscle damage, decrease muscle protein breakdown, and increase protein synthesis. HMB is a naturally occurring metabolite of leucine. Jäger noted that “5% of leucine is converted to HMB” and that “it would take 60 g of leucine or 600 g of whey protein to get 3 g of HMB.”

He lauded an improved, better-absorbed format introduced recently by Metabolic Technologies Inc. (MTI; Ames, IA), branded BetaTOR. It is a pure, free-acid form of HMB (HMB-FA). A 2014 study showed that BetaTOR minimized or eliminated losses in strength and power during a two-week period of intense training. With this new form, Jäger said, “you have more HMB that gets into the bloodstream; as a consequence, more HMB is retained, so it’s a more efficacious form of HMB.”

Another ingredient Jäger highlighted is MediaTOR, a recently launched phosphatidic acid (PA) phosholipid ingredient from Chemi Nutra (Austin, TX). MediaTOR activates the body’s mTOR pathway, thereby stimulating muscle synthesis and resulting in muscle mass and strength gains. PA “directly binds and activates mTOR response to resistance exercise, causing muscle growth,” Jäger explained. He pointed to the ingredient’s most recent study5, which he coauthored, published in 2014 in Nutrition & Metabolism and showing significant improvements in total strength and lean body mass.

Jäger said it’s not often that “a really good new ingredient” comes along in sports nutrition-creatine is one example, he said-but he called the beginning research on these two ingredients, BetaTOR and MediaTOR, “very promising.”


The Joint-Health Connection

Joint health is integral to sports performance, and it is where several ingredient suppliers are extending their research.

In 2013, a study6 published in The FASEB Journal looked at the effects of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplementation on 23 moderately exercised-trained men and found that supplementation may help reduce muscle soreness by way of increasing antioxidant capacity. More recently, in August, new study results presented by University of Memphis researchers indicate that MSM supplementation may help quicken joint recovery following knee-damaging exercises such as downhill running. The researchers studied the OptiMSM brand from Bergstrom Nutrition (Vancouver, WA).

MSM’s benefits for joints are largely due to its high sulfur content, which helps maintain joints, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. According to Rodney Benjamin, director of research, development, and technical support at Bergstrom Nutrition, the new University of Memphis study, which is now undergoing peer review, further illuminates MSM’s potential in the sports nutrition space.

“The new study looked at trained individuals and reinforced the potential benefit of MSM attenuating muscle soreness following exercise,” he says. Compared to the earlier The FASEB Journal study, he says, “there are some differences found in this study that suggest there may be additional mechanisms at play that fall outside of increased antioxidant capacity. This new study will also include some performance measurements, a component that was missing in the earlier studies,” not to mention the fact that the new study was conducted for much longer and in more subjects. Bergstrom Nutrition will continue exploring sports opportunities, he says, with studies in marathon runners and in downhill runners.

Last December, BioCell Technology (Newport Beach, CA) published a proof-of-concept study7 on the potential of its joint- and beauty-health ingredient BioCell Collagen to protect muscle tissue. The eight-subject, six-week study found that BioCell Collagen may protect connective muscle tissue from damage and improve recovery times after intense workouts. “This opens up a new category in sports nutrition regarding connective tissue protection and recovery from post-workout soreness and limiting repetitive, overuse-related injuries,” said Suhail Ishaq, president, BioCell Technology.

At SupplySide West, Albion Human Nutrition (Clearfield, UT) showcased a powdered-beverage version of its magnesium lysinate glycinate (MLG) ingredient targeting sports. The lysine in MLG helps increase muscle synthesis and provides energy for endurance, but it also plays a role in collagen synthesis, said Albion consultant Max Motyka. “Lysine is a component of collagen, and when you increase lysine intake, you increase collagen formation,” he said.

Chondroitin sulfate, major in joint health, also shows promise for sports, says Deanne Dolnick, science director for TR Nutritionals (Alpharetta, GA). “Chondroitin sulfate has always played an important role for athletes. Just because somebody focuses on purchasing sports nutrition–type supplements does not mean that they don’t also purchase supplements being used by the general population,” she adds.

“Athletes are well aware of the stress that they put on their joints and so they are more likely to buy joint-health supplements,” she asserts. “This market is going to continue to grow as more and more people stay active into their later years. We think of the sports nutrition market catering only to bodybuilders, but that is no longer the case. There are many great supplements in the sports nutrition market geared towards both men and women who simply want to maintain a healthy, active body.”




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