The research, carried out at the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science at the University of Limerick, found boosted insulin response could be beneficial post-exercise.
Among healthy young adults Optipep produced 28 per cent higher peak insulin levels than native whey protein, and a 43 per cent increase in circulating insulin levels.
Circulating amino acid levels were also increased. “By enhancing the body’s insulin release, Optipep will assist rapid glycogen synthesis and, alongside adequate carbohydrate intake, increase the rate of muscle refuelling after exercise,” the company said.
The company said its ingredient, which had been on the market since 2005, had potential in cereals, protein bars, beverages and recovery powders.
Optipep was more expensive than regular forms of whey protein, said Paul Donegan, Carbery Food Ingredients marketing manager.
“There is a significant premium due to the fact Optipep is a hydrolysed whey protein. It is a high-end ingredient,” Donegan told NutraIngredients.com.
“This research has opened up new sectors to us and we have had some interest from major sports nutrition companies.
Carbery noted whey proteins have tended in the past to present certain formulation dilemmas but said Optipep dissolved quickly and had good heat stability. Shelf life had also been improved along with water retention.
Hardening, bitterness and cost had also been reduced.
“Traditionally marketed to hardcore bodybuilders, protein-fortified products are becoming more mainstream and must now deliver on nutrition, convenience and taste,” said Donegan.
Carbery Food Ingredients head of R&D, Aine Hallihan, added: “The combined effects of increased insulin response and elevated circulating amino acid levels demonstrated by Optipep in the critical post exercise recovery period point to the ingredient’s effectiveness for refuelling muscles and preventing muscle injury.
“In effect, the enhanced insulinotrophic response of Optipep relative to other proteins means that less protein is required to provide the same rise in insulin.”
Carbery is owned by four Irish co-operatives, employs 300 people and has a turnover of about €220 million.