Studies on recovery on the cutting edge of sports nutrition, expert says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Paul Bradburry
Getty Images / Paul Bradburry
Ingredients that can help manage inflammation to speed recovery sit on the cutting edge of new science in the sports nutrition realm, an expert says.

Richard Kreider, PhD, is a professor and head of the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Texas A&M University. Dr Kreider sat down with NutraIngredients-USA to talk about what’s trending in science in the space in advance of his talk on the subject at the upcoming Sports Nutrition Summit on January 23 and 24 in San Diego, CA.

Dr. Kreider has published three books and more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on sports nutrition. Among his many professional accolades, he is a co-founder, board member and Fellow of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and is the founding editor of the society’s scientific journal.

Polyphenolic players

“A big emerging category is recovery nutrition,”​ Dr Kreider said. “These are things that can help deal with the recurring inflammation that comes with exercise. Things like tart cherry, or a lot of other natural sources from fruits and vegetables that are being looked at for their polyphenol content.”

In recent research, tart cherry was shown to enhance recovery from exercise induced muscle damage​ among healthy, active young women. Another study saw microbiome changes among a group consuming tart cherry juice compared to placebo, which opens the question of how gut metabolites might play a role in the health effects of ingredients high in polyphenols​.

Another recent review article found positive effects for pomegranate supplementation in exercise recovery​. An additional recent study that looked at green tea extract​ (GTE) had this to say: “GTE supplementation may have potential to serve as a strategy to improve performance and recovery in conditions of cumulative exercise.”

Dr Richard Kreider PhD

Another area in which Dr Kreider has seen a lot of activity is in looking at how cognition figures into performance. For the supplement industry, this is specifically focused on which nootropic type ingredients show the best effects in helping to maintain mental focus under conditions of fatigue and/or the high inflammation (pain, if you like) that comes with extreme exertion.

Dr Kreider said this line of research is now overlapping with an even bigger concern, that being the issue of traumatic brain injury. The research on the incidence of what became known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) started in the NFL, but has since spread to other sports like hockey and soccer where repeated blows to the head are a concern. (In fighting sports, the obvious choice here, participants seem to have always known they were putting their future cognitive health at risk.)

Three stars for brain health

Dr Kreider has frequently spoken on the science behind ingredients that have shown neuroprotective potential. Three superstars in this category are creatine, citicholine and omega-3s.

These ingredients have a role both in ameliorating the risk of CTE, but also in helping to protect against the after effects of the more garden variety traumatic brain injuries, which can result from auto or industrial accidents or from soldiers being exposed to blasts during combat.

One recent review noted that there is limited evidence linking creatine to neuroprotective effects, but what there is, is promising and warrants further research​. Dr Kreider goes beyond that in his enthusiasm for the ingredient.

The ingredient unfortunately has acquired what Dr Kreider believes to be an undeserved dodgy reputation and has lurked round the fringes of various banned lists for sports federations.

“I believe the data on creatine is so strong in preventing and reducing the incidence of brain trauma and spinal chord injuries that I could see any groups banning creatine getting sued for negligence,” ​he said.

Interested in Sports Nutrition?


The inaugural NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit​, in association with the International Society of Sports Nutrition, will bring together leading scientists, brands and retailers, market analysts, and innovators in a unique, market-leading face-to-face event. 

The key themes of this event include: 

- The “size of the prize”
- The power and importance of social media
- Positioning and differentiation
- Sports nutrition and the military - product use survey data and enhancing the performance of Warfighters
- The State of the Science: Sports, fitness and exercise Nutrition
- Sports Nutrition products and Elite Athletes 
- Alphabet soup: Everything brands need to know about GMPs, NDIs, AERs, DASCA, SARMs…
- Bacterial boosts – The microbiome and sports
- Personalization and the digital revolution
- Nootropics & sports nutrition

Register now to make sure you are there!

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