How do athletes optimize performance throughout the entire sports journey?
- Nutrition is key for athletes to be able to function at their best, with requirements varying significantly before, during and after exercise.
- Sports enthusiasts wanting to optimize performance are increasingly looking to targeted nutritional solutions that address muscle function, endurance and recovery.
Ready, set, go
There is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach to sports nutrition. The varied requirements of athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts have meant that consumers are increasingly looking to tailored products and customized solutions. From muscle function, to endurance and recovery, nutritional ingredients are being selected for their ability to offer targeted health benefits throughout the entire sports journey.
For professional and amateur sportspeople, energy generation remains a large part of preparing for exercise and being able to achieve peak performance and endurance. B vitamins are crucial to cell repair and production and continue to be a popular choice in sports nutrition supplements. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of certain B vitamins in contributing to normal energy metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, making them a widespread addition in many nutritional products aimed at preparing the body for sporting events or exercise.1
How to efficiently boost recovery and adaption
Exercise at a high intensity can cause the body a significant amount of stress. When the heart rate reaches 82% of its maximum, thrombin and epinephrine are released – better known as adrenaline – into the blood stream, activating blood platelets after only three minutes of intense exercise. When platelets are activated, they act as an early warning system by the body – causing inflammatory stress and affecting the recovery phase.
These actions can contribute to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), poor sleep quality and extended periods of tiredness, slowing down the recovery and adaption processes for up to 48 hours after exercise. As such, the speed and quality of recovery are as crucial as muscle function and endurance for ensuring consistently high performance in athletes and a stronger immune system.
Keeping platelets from becoming activated during exercise is therefore key to improving sports performance, as the body does not have to expend as much energy on dealing with the resulting inflammation. DSM’s scientifically backed, proven ingredient, Fruitflow®, is a natural antiplatelet that can be used in sports nutrition to reduce the toxic effects of exercise by more than half. Made from tomatoes, the ingredient contains over 30 water-soluble and concentrated bioactive compounds, and has proven effective in more than eight human trials, as well as successful pilot tests in rowing and standardized treadmill tests demonstrating its use in sports nutrition. Fruitflow® was also the first natural cardio-protective functional ingredient to receive approval of an Article 13.5 Health Claim from the European Commission.2 As part of DSM’s partnership with professional cyclists Team Sunweb, Fruitflow® was used by the team for the first time at this year’s Tour de France, to aid faster recovery between races.
Optimal muscle function to fuel performance
During periods of intense effort, it is vital that athletes maintain optimal muscle function to be able to perform at the best of their ability. In the second hour of exercise, the body gets 5-15% of its energy from amino acids. However, if there are no amino acids available, it turns to the energy from its muscles, which degrades muscle tissue. To prevent muscle damage, effective delivery of amino acids to muscles is important both during and after exercise.
DSM’s PeptoPro® is a highly advanced peptide formulation derived from dairy protein, containing all 20 amino acids needed for muscle protein synthesis, in the form of di-and tri-peptides. The all-natural ingredient has molecules that are small enough to be absorbed without the need for digestion, supplying amino acids directly to the muscles for support, exactly when they need it. As part of DSM’s partnership with Team Sunweb cyclists on the team consumed an isotonic beverage containing PeptoPro® before races during the Giro d’Italia events in 2017 and 2018, to accelerate muscle protein synthesis and fuel performance.
“Towards the end of an event, keeping the power output high is a challenge,” comments Tom Dumoulin, Team Subweb cyclist. “By adding Fruitflow® and PeptoPro® to our nutrition regime, it contributes to feeling stronger in the final days. Effective recovery makes a significant difference to my overall performance. It is a relief knowing that I can rely on Fruitflow® and PeptoPro® in events as important as the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.“
1 EFSA Journal, ‘Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12 and red blood cell formation, cell division, energy-yielding metabolism and function of the immune system pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006’, vol. 7, no. 9, 2009.
2 EFSA Journal,