“Whether you’re at the elite end or an everyday athlete, people are looking to recover in order to regenerate and perform better subsequently, and also to feel better over the next few days,” said Nick Morgan, founder of consultancy firm Sports Integrated. His firm works with ingredient companies and finished product brands to stay afloat of the latest nutrition science, develop products, and more.
The recovery sports nutrition category is dominated by protein, “and quite rightfully so,” he added. Its role in muscle protein synthesis ensures that muscles can recover.
But increasing attention is being placed on other ingredients that can play on anti-inflammation and soreness recovery.
Curcumin is one ingredient that Morgan highlighted during his presentation at the inaugural NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit in San Diego last month.
“Curcumin has a huge commercial market already in dietary supplements, known as a very potent anti-inflammatory,” he said.
“There’s some nice evolving research for curcumin in recovery, particularly for reducing markers of muscle soreness, both physiologically and subjectively. And it’s interesting to look at products on the market, it seems like [curcumin] isn’t being used [in sports nutrition].
Another ingredient is palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA, which Morgan said is still in its early stages of research. There’s pre-clinical data on osteoarthritis patients regarding reduction of pain scores.
There’s some research looking at PEA supplementation in exercise environments, especially in terms of pain management.