Whey protein: New opportunity for sports drinks makers

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Whey protein Metabolism Amino acid

Incorporating whey protein into exercise recovery beverages could open a lucrative new market for sports drinks manufacturers, according to research commissioned by performance nutrition company Volac.

Nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of 1,000 consumers, aged between 18 and 60, who take part in sport or exercise once a week said they would be interested in a product containing whey protein to aid muscle recovery after exercise.

More than half (53 per cent) of those interested in whey protein said that a bottled drink would be their preferred method of delivery.

Although consumers’ understanding of the link between whey protein and exercise recovery was low, once the benefits were explained, considerable interest was revealed, claim the researchers.

In England alone, 1.66m consumers could be interested in such a product, a spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com.

But to unlock the potential of this new market, the report recommends a targeted education programme focusing on the importance of whey protein to the recovery process.

Recovery process

Including whey protein in an exercise recovery beverage improves the recovery process by enhancing rehydration and helping to build muscle protein, according to Volac.

Whey protein contains the highest natural concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are necessary as substrates, or building blocks, for building new proteins and therefore muscle.

Whey protein also contains the highest levels of the BCAA leucine – an amino acid which plays the key role of triggering muscle protein synthesis. And it can be absorbed by the body faster than some other proteins.

Milk, from which whey protein is derived, is better at rehydration than water or isotonic beverages, according to recent research from Loughborough University, UK.

This is attributed to naturally occurring electrolytes and increased nutritional density delivered by protein, which helps to restore fluid balance after exercise.

The company claimed that its product Volactive Hydrapro helps to solve the problems of adding whey protein to clear beverages. The challenge has been to develop a protein that withstands pasteurisation and remains clear in solution throughout the shelf life of a typical near water beverage.

High solubility

Volactive Hydrapro is an enhanced, fat-free whey protein isolate which combines high solubility with heat stability and a long shelf life, claims the company.

Mark Neville, the firm’s head of Head of Lifestyle Ingredients, said: “With the barriers to using whey protein in a ready-to-drink format now overcome by Volactive Hydrapro, and the potential market among mainstream consumers revealed by this research, the time is now ripe for drinks manufacturers to bring innovation to the sports drinks category through an all-in-one solution that delivers the triple benefits of rehydration, refuelling and reconditioning while meeting consumer demands for taste and convenience.”

The study is entitled Exercise Recovery Beverages: New Opportunities in the Sports Drink Category.

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