“Our theme at this show is life is too short for slow proteins,” said Troels Laursen, business unit director of health & performance nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients at the SupplySide West 2016 show. The company recently launched four new products in its whey protein hydrolysate portfolio of Arla’s sports nutrition arm.
“We have a long history of developing hydrolyzed whey proteins for the infant formula industry and medical nutrition industry—we are now taking those quality learnings [and benefits] we can see in those segments and bringing into sports nutrition,” he added.
What Laursen is talking about is a whey protein that has been hydrolyzed with an enzyme, breaking it down into smaller pieces before it even enters the body. “That’s where a lot of the benefits come from—the smallest part of these proteins, they don’t need any further digestion. They can be absorbed directly into the blood,” he added.
Protein gels are the future
Protein shakes have been the default for sports nutrition protein intake, but Arla sees a future in other formats. “We believe that protein gels will be a format that we see more often going forward,” he said. “This [is] linked to protein moving more and more into endurance sport, and we could say sports gels are already a popular format within cycling and running.”
This point of view is reflected through Arla launching Hydro.gel, a “mildly hydrolyzed whey protein tailored for use in protein gels” with 91% protein, 0.1% fat, and 0.8% lactose. The company has promoted more use of whey protein in endurance sports, funding studies to prove whey protein hydrolysate’s benefits to improve performance in elite runners.
The other products launched were Hydro.clear (for clear RTD beverages), Hydro.power (for shake powders), and Hydro.milk (for milky RTD beverages)
Whey protein’s direct benefits to performance in sports like cycling and running is still being studied, with some researchers finding protein supplementation only beneficial to increase muscle growth but not performance.