While whey protein long has held its position in the ingredient lists of many sports nutrition prod-ucts, new protein ingredients sourced from soy and wheat are challenging for a spot in those lineups, too. Solubility, glutamine content, digestion and pH all may factor into decisions made by food and beverage formulators.

Optein, a new lightly hydrolyzed wheat protein from MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., has been shown to support muscle recovery and help reduce stress. Recommended applications include nutritional and protein drink powder mixes; sports beverages; smoothies; protein, energy and meal replacement bars; and vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Optein is soluble in water, has a neutral pH and has higher glutamine content than whey or soy, according to MGP Ingredients. Humans store glutamine, an amino acid, in their muscle tissues, said Mark Haub, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at Kansas State University in Manhattan. A drop in glutamine is associated with soreness and fatigue, he said.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., offers Clarisoy, a soy isolate that is 90% protein, said Tom Burrows, director of strategic marketing for ADM Soy Proteins in Decatur. The ingredient is milder in flavor than other soy isolates and transparent in high acid beverages such as fruit juice.

“Using soy protein in sports nutrition products has numerous benefits,” Mr. Burrow said. “One of the most powerful benefits is that soy is digested more slowly than whey protein, another common sports nutrition protein. This enables more prolonged absorption, which improves recovery and muscle development. Soy also has different amino acid ratios than whey, including greater levels of glutamine and arginine.”

Clarisoy 100 allows for 100% soluble protein fortification in beverage applications with a pH below 4.0. Clarisoy 150 is processed for use in beverage systems with a pH of less than 4.0 with cloud systems or beverages neutralized to a pH of 7.0 or higher. Clarisoy 150 allows manufacturers to use more soy protein in mildly flavored neutral beverages such as meal replacement and weight management products.

More ways to use whey

Innovation has come in dairy protein sources, too.

Davisco Foods, an international cheese and food ingredient company based in Le Sueur, Minn., produces over 10 million lbs of whey protein isolates annually. The company now offers BioZate, a line of hydrolyzed whey proteins that contain smaller peptides for ease of digestion and absorption. Potential applications include protein-fortified nutrition bars, protein-fortified beverages, baked foods, dairy items, dry mixes and nutritional products.

Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, Wis., offers a BevWise range of ingredients. The BevWise I-302WM ingredient, a milk protein and whey protein blend, is designed for the processing requirements of intermediate pH ready-to-drink protein beverages, said Loren Ward, director of R.&D. for Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho.

“The ability to increase clarity in high protein beverages is a key innovation in recent beverage formulation,” Dr. Ward said. “Using the wrong whey protein ingredients for your product can lead to insoluble and aggregated protein, which would result in turbidity or a white precipitate. The BevWise A-100 series has been designed for use in high acid beverages, where manufacturers want to achieve a clear, thin beverage without cloudiness.”

Badger Max products, which include whey protein isolate as an ingredient, now are being sold at University of Wisconsin athletic facilities in Madison, according to a recent issue of the “Dairy Pipeline” from the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. The products came about after University of Wisconsin graduates Andrew Berns and Brandon Duck wanted to create a protein-rich, isotonic beverage with no artificial colors or flavors. They received assistance from K.J. Burrington, dairy ingredients and functionality coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in Madison.

The resulting isotonic, protein-rich beverages contain 12 oz and 12 grams of protein. The amino acids in whey include leucine, a branch chain amino acid linked to muscle protein synthesis, according to the “Dairy Pipeline.”

Arla Foods Ingredients, based in Denmark, has developed a new protein water beverage concept to show how soft drink companies potentially may incorporate whey protein isolate into a beverage. Arla Foods Ingredients will show the protein water concept during Food Ingredients Europe in Frankfurt, Germany, Nov. 19-21. Each 500-ml bottle of the water contains 25% of the recommended dietary allowance of protein.

“The attraction of protein as an ingredient has broadened among consumers,” said Peter Schouw Andersen, business development manager for health and performance at Arla Foods Ingredients. “Once the domain of hardcore sports and workout enthusiasts, dairy protein is now seen as a wholesome and nutritious ingredient sought out by mainstream consumers, something the success of Greek yogurt has testified to.

“Our protein water concept has been created to show soft drinks companies how they can tap into this market and reap rewards.”

Targeting individual sports

Manufacturers of sports nutrition products may target a large percentage of Americans. According to the report “Sports nutritionals market in the U.S.: Sports drinks and nutrition bars” released June 28 by Packaged Facts, there are 77 million users of sports drinks and 28 million users of nutrition bars in the country.

The report revealed people in individual sports are more likely to consume sports nutrition products. The largest U.S. market is 6.3 million fitness walkers. Other top markets are mountain bikers (1.5 million) and people taking yoga classes (1.3 million).

Men account for 64% of high-volume users of sports drinks.

“Yet, marketers need to face the fact that the population of males under the age of 25, their most prized marketing target, will decline over the next decade as the aging of America begins to accelerate,” Packaged Facts said.

Among people who eat at least one nutrition bar over a 30-day period, 55% are women and 45% are men.

According to Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago-based market research company, U.S. retail sales of nutritional/intrinsic health value bars reached $2.3 billion for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, which marked a 14% increase from the previous 52-week period. The sales covered supermarkets, drug stores, mass market retailers, gas stations, convenience stores, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains.