“In order to receive the most benefit from exercise you need to optimize nutrition,and more specifically, that nutrition needs to target the both muscle that’s being exercised as well as the brain,” explained Matthew Kuchan, PhD, a research fellow and brain health scientist at Abbott and co-author of the study.
To maximize the benefits of exercise, the Air Force partnered with the University of Illinois and scientists at Abbott who designed a nutritional supplement containing specific ingredients to target both the body and the brain, such as lutein, DHA, B vitamins and specific amino acids.
“All of these nutrients are known to target the brain, and they each have specific roles in the brain that would influence the reaction of the individual to the exercise,” said Kuchan.
The researchers studied the effects of the supplements along with a high-intensity workout regimen on airmen. But those who used Abbott’s nutritional supplement saw benefits beyond exercise alone.
“You can generally hold between about four to seven individual pieces of information in your mind at one time. What we were able to do is show that with the nutritional supplement and the exercise training, you were able to increase that by two pieces of information on average,” explained Adam Strang, PhD, from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing. “Those who took the active ingredient supplement had a higher working memory capacity, put on more muscle mass, and had lower resting heart rates.”
Indeed, the study showed that those who took the supplement experienced an 11% improvement in working memory, put on 2 lbs of lean muscle mass and lowered their resting heart rate by 8%.
While the Abbott supplement helped air force personnel perform better, the findings of the study can be beneficial to weekend warriors, yogis, and others in the mass market as well.
Kuchan told NutraIngredients-USA that the study shows that everyday people can make small lifestyle changes to optimize their diet and fitness routines for improved physical and mental performance. “People who are facing long days and situations where focus and attention is critical can keep their bodies and minds sharp by incorporating more healthy foods in their diet that promote muscle and brain health like: protein, HMB, vitamin D, essential fatty acids and lutein. Whether you’re a student, business professional or busy parent, proper nutrition – not multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks – is the essential resource you need to maximize productivity and power through your day.”
Abbott, who provided the video, told us that they plan to use key insights from the study to inform future product developments.
To learn more details about the study, click here.