As the range of health benefits associated with staying active become better understood with research, more people than ever are looking to increase their level of exercise.
Catering to the increase in interest in being active, whilst also remaining healthy and helping with recovery, is the growth of the worldwide sports nutrition market. According to Statista, the worldwide market will develop rapidly to grow from being worth $44.4bn in 2021 to $85.7bn by 2030.1
As well as being marketed to athletes, there is a wide age range application for sports nutrition products. This is due to the increasing recognition of the importance of physical activity to many elements that make up a healthy individual. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that exercise has “significant benefits for hearts, bodies, and minds”, which extends into helping to reduce non-communicable diseases, preventing mental health issues, and enhancing thinking, learning, and judgement skills.2 A recent survey of 11,000 respondents from 16 countries found that 42% were increasing the amount of physical activity they were doing, and 80% intended to maintain or increase their spending related to health and fitness.3
With people looking to boost their levels of exercise and to lead healthier lives in general, the difficulty for many is managing to balance this with a busy working life. In a recent YouGov poll of UK adults, 35% of all age groups stated that one of the main reasons that prevented them from having a healthy diet and being more physically active was ‘feeling too tired’.4
Fatigue is just one of the challenges anyone engaging in physical activity faces. Athletes and non-athletes alike face issues of reducing muscle soreness, managing their weight, and seeking to boost their performance. This is also not limited by age, the athleisure trend extends into the elderly, who are taking greater care to remain more active later in life. Healthy ageing is a key talking point around the world, as the global population becomes progressively older. The WHO outlines that healthy ageing is the process of developing and maintaining functional ability, which includes staying cognitively healthy and physically mobile.5
As a result of these factors, there is a clear demand for sports nutrition products that are able to address some of these challenges. One area that has become an area of greater research is probiotics, and associated products are being explored as a means to help people in their athletic and exercise goals, as well as the ways in which they can promote better general wellbeing.
The gut microbiota has been linked with improvement in exercise duration,6 and has been shown in animal models to boost fitness and improve muscle thickness.7 Probiotics look set to become established as a key part of both performance nutrition, to perform well within exercise, but also in active nutrition, to improve overall health and enhance energy levels. Managing the intestinal microbiota may represent a next-generation solution to tackle sarcopenia, which is age-related progressive loss of muscle mass and strength.8
Boosting athletic performance
The sports nutrition market has grown rapidly due to the benefits discovered regarding products that can be used as pre- and post-workout. Though the area has previously been one focused on the performance of athletes, this has developed as people increasingly understand the advantages of exercise for health and general wellbeing that arrive with regular exercise.
Probiotics stand within this area due to the gut-muscle axis hypothesis, with research suggesting that the products improve the gut environment that then enhances muscle vitality.9 This is achieved through altering the gut microbiota environment by being supplemented with dietary fibre and protein, and producing short-chain fatty acids through beneficial gut bacteria. As a result of this, energy metabolism enzymes, such as PGC-1 and AMPK, are activated, and mitochondrial function and quantity is enhanced thereby boosting oxidative phosphorylation.
Beyond this, the microbiota balance promoted by probiotics can also improve metabolism, the immune system, and intestine barrier function. The end result is improved sports performance through improved muscle endurance, increased energy, weight loss and reduction in fatigue. All of these improvements are desirable to both athletes and individuals who are simply looking to improve their overall performance in their exercise routine.
Glac Biotech has conducted research in this area to learn about the advantages of taking probiotics, as it possesses a range of products in the area, through its PRONULIFE® blended probiotic series. In particular, Glac Biotech has applied its R&D process to PRONULIFE®Effenergy, a sports performance strengthening probiotic blend. This strain of probiotic was isolated from a healthy athlete – a former Olympic gold medallist.
The company conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study looking into the benefits of the product in a group of distance runners. The results found that those individuals taking PRONULIFE® Effenergy had enhanced aerobic endurance and physical fitness in the 12-minute cooper running/walking test, compared to those individuals receiving the placebo control.10
When examining PRONULIFE®Effenergy through an in vivo study, Glac Biotech found that the product elevated glycogen storage in the muscles and liver to improve muscular endurance. Additional benefits that were discovered include a decrease in lactic acid accumulation to relieve muscle fatigue and soreness after exercise, alongside a reduction in body fat and improvement in the density of muscle fibre.11
Though PRONULIFE®Effenergy provides a range of benefits for athletes and those looking to eke the most out of their athletic performance, the probiotic can be useful to a broader range of people, and has a wide age range application Due to the elevated basal metabolic rate, PRONULIFE®Effenergy provides daily energy and can fight the fatigue that was previously mentioned as a limiting factor for adults seeking to be more active. Broader than those seeking to increase levels of exercise, with modern lives busier than ever, the ability to boost energy levels in those taking the product is attractive of itself. The product is also just as effective in the elderly population, meaning that it can be effective at ensuring older members of society stay active and healthy for a longer time.
The probiotic’s ability to help with visceral fat reduction is also attractive to many individuals, and particularly as there is an overall push to improving the general health of the overall population – with efforts to reduce obesity a part of this effort. The in vivo studies conducted by Glac Biotech showed that PRONULIFE®Effenergy was able to reduce obesity-related liver dysfunction, and to improve obesity-related blood lipid abnormalities.
Based on science
Glac Biotech has focused its efforts on creating science-derived probiotics, which is why it has focused on continually performing R&D on its PRONULIFE® range of products, including PRONULIFE®Effenergy. This has led the company to produce a number of in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies establishing the efficacy of its probiotics. In addition, Glac Biotech has collaborated with the National Taiwan Sport University to develop a whey protein powder product, PowerLab-OLP-01. As well as providing nutritional whey protein isolate, the products contain Glac Biotech’s patented probiotic, and probiotic fermentation metabolite powder.
Involved in the process is leveraging the latest standards in bioscience technology, including next generation sequencing, and microarray assays. Glac Biotech has a further publication by the year-end on the efficacy of PRONULIFE®Effenergy in human trials, and a further two human clinical validations expected to be completed. Behind the science, Glac Biotech has strain patents for PRONULIFE®Effenergy that are effective in the US, China, and Taiwan.
As the efforts to improve the general health of society and individuals increases, the research invested into probiotics will continue. Glac Biotech has worked to create various products that can be boosted with probiotics, such as prebiotic energy bars, and meal replacement whey protein shakes. With the broad applications discovered so far showing the great potential that the area possesses to help in a range of areas – from energy levels to improved athletic performance to weight loss.
1. Statista. Sports nutrition market worldwide from 2021 to 2030.
2. World Health Organization. Sports nutrition market worldwide from 2021 to 2030.
3. Accenture. Consumers See Health and Well-being as “Essential” Spend Category, Accenture Survey Finds.
4. World Cancer Research Fund. New findings show ‘lack of motivation’ and ‘feeling too tired’ stops brits from being healthier.
5. Rudnicka, E.; Napierała, P.; Podfigurna, A.; et al. (2020). The World Health Organization (WHO) approach to healthy ageing. Maturitas. 139, 6–11.
6. Nature. Do microbes affect athletic performance?
7. Microbiome. Gut microbiota of the young ameliorates physical fitness of the aged in mice.
8. Liu, C.; Cheung, W. H.; Li, J.; et al. (2021). Understanding the gut microbiota and sarcopenia: a systematic review. Journal of cachexia, sarcopenia and muscle, 12(6), 1393–1407.
9. Przewłócka, K.; Folwarski, M.; Kaźmierczak-Siedlecka, K.; et al. (2020). Gut-Muscle Axis Exists and May Affect Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to Training. Nutrients. 12(5):1451.
10. Lin, C. L.; Hsu, Y. J.; Ho, H. H.; et al. (2020). Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum OLP-01 Supplementation during Endurance Running Training Improves Exercise Performance in Middle- and Long-Distance Runners: A Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 12(7), 1972.
11. Lee, M. C.; Hsu, Y. J.; Chuang, H. L.; et al. (2019). In Vivo Ergogenic Properties of the Bifidobacterium longum OLP-01 Isolated from a Weightlifting Gold Medalist. Nutrients, 11(9), 2003.