The protein, which is being developed by New York-based technology startup Plasma Nutrition, is called ioProtein - Reduced Calorie. According to the company, the new protein has been tested to deliver the benefits of protein at a 26% better clip than standard whey protein isolate.
Study pins down absorption improvement
The study underpinning that claim was delivered as a poster presentation at the recent International Society of Sports Nutrition conference held in Phoenix, AZ. It was conducted by Dr. Bill Campbell, PhD, associate professor of exercise science at the University of South Florida. Dr. Campbell also is the director of USF’s Performance and Physical Enhancement Laboratory.
Dr. Campbell and his team tested the new ingredient on a double-blinded randomized cohort of thirty-two resistance-trained males over a period of eight weeks. The results showed a bioequivalence for body composition and strength between 20 grams of ioProtein and 27 grams of a standard whey protein isolate.
“Participants in our study responded very favorably to a reduced post-workout protein intake, gaining over sixty pounds of strength on their squat, bench press, and deadlift totals and gaining nearly two pounds of dry lean body mass," said Dr. Campbell. “Our data showed that one needs 26% less plasma protein in the post-workout period to achieve the same training adaptations as compared to standard processed whey protein isolate.”
Gas in plasma state key to process
Plasma Nutrition’s co-founder, Chris Flynn-Rozanski, said the ingredient’s increased efficiency is a result of a patented process he and his co-founder Steven Motosko have branded as Ingredient Optimized. Motosko, who has a background in mechanical engineering, said the process involves a step where the base ingredient, in this case a whey protein isolate, is treated with a gas in the plasma state. (The partners are testing the technology on other proteins, too.) The resulting ingredient has markedly different functional properties.
“On the powder level, we increase the surface area of the ingredient, and improve absorption that way. On the peptide level, we change the actual protein structure. If you think of a protein peptide as a jumbled up ball, we spread that out a bit, so it is absorbed a bit faster as well as more completely,” Motosko told NutraIngredients-USA.
Motosko said the company’s model is to own and license the intellectual property and to partner with existing manufacturers to install a machine to perform the transformation step. The machine itself is compact, so it can be relatively easily retrofitted into existing powder-handling facilities, he said.
Process keeps clean label, preserves taste
Motosko said that as the alterations to the base protein are of a mechanical nature, the company’s process sidesteps all of the sticky regulatory questions that have been raised by the Food and Drug Administration in regard to the chemical alterations of ingredients.
“Ours isn’t a chemical alteration. It’s a physical alteration. So it doesn’t trigger a change in the GRAS status of an ingredient, and it maintains a clean label. You can still call it whey protein isolate,” he said.
Motosko also said that the ingredient technology gets around some of the negative side effects of another way to boost protein absorption, by turning the underlying ingredient into a hydrosolate, or presenting it in a pre-digested form, if you will.
“If you have tasted hydrosolates, they tend to be very bitter. In our process, all of the underlying metrics of the ingredient like the taste or mouthfeel are the same or can be even better,” he said.
Flynn-Rozanski, who is more of the business-development partner, said that the company’s ingredient can appeal both to a lifestyle consumer and hardcore strength trainers.
“Your body only has about 90 minutes to do whatever it can with that protein shake you drink. Our ingredient can deliver greater results so they can achieve these theoretical maximums with high protein intakes. That’s on the high end performance side, but on the lifestyle side you can do more with less, meaning fewer calories,” he said.
The company’s technology is on the market with a recent launch of protein wagers from a brand called Performix. The bars are on sale on GNC.com.