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Kyowa Hakko benefits from Champion Sports' strategic shift

By Hank Schultz , 25-Jan-2013

The recent boost in sports nutrition product launches is benefiting functional food ingredient suppliers, among them Kyowa Hakko, whose Sustamine ingredient is featured in a new beverage offering from Champion Nutrition.

Champion’s new Invigorate sports drink features the ingredient, and is part of a broad strategy shift at the venerable sports nutrition company.

Sustamine is a L-anayl-L-glutamine dipeptide, made via a proprietary process.  It gets around the thorny issue of glutamine instability in beverage formulations, but that’s not the ingredient’s primary benefit, said Karen Todd, marketing director for Kyowa Hakko USA.

“It provides hydration that basically improves performance or reaction time,”  Todd told FoodNavigator-USA.

“Sustamine’s health benefits include more rapid absorption of water and electrolytes in your intestines, the promotion of the synthesis of glycogen and muscle protein, as well as protection of protein once it’s formed. Sustamine can improve the uptake of nutrients in your GI tract,” she said.

Performance and coordination benefits

Kyowa Hakko has been developing the ingredient over a number of years, Todd said, and the company has invested in a number of studies elucidating the ingredinen’s benefits. A recent study conducted at the Univeristy of Central Florida with female college basketball players sought to measure not only the hydration benefits, by measuring weight lost during exercise, but muscular performance as well via shooting and passing accuracy. The players using Sustamine showed increased performance over the control group.

The study used two concentrations of Sustamine, 1 gram per 500 ml and 2 grams per 500 ml. The group taking 1 gram / 500 ml (dose based on total consumption was about 3 grams) increased their shooting performance and visual reaction time.  The group taking 2 grams / 500 ml   (dose based on total consumption was about 6 grams) had less fatigue.

Todd said as a result, Kyowa Hakko now supplies a stucture function claim for the ingredient that reads: “Rehydration with Sustamine™ appears to maintain basketball skill performance and visual reaction time to a greater extent than water only.”

Drink part of Champion’s new strategy

The new drink is part of Champion’s recent launch of an integrated sports nutrition line.  Long known as a provider of protein powders aimed at gym rats, the company has joined other sports nutrition product manufacturers such as Douglas Labs and Thorne Research in offering full-spectrum lines of products that seek to capture the weekend warrior market.

“Champion has been around for about 30 years and they were really primarily body builder focused and performance focused,” Forrest Haag, brand manager for Champion, said recently.

The new line is based on four different protein formulations, dubbed Fit, Endurance, Strength and Sport, each with different types of protein based on the application. But the company also introduced a line of supporting supplements and sports drinks, which is where the Invigorate product comes in.

Strong player

Sustamine has been a strong player in Kyowa Hakko’s branded ingredient lineup, Todd said.

“It has been GRAS since 2009, and since then it has shown strong, consitent growth,” she said.

The sports groups really like it as it is very easy to work with. It doesn’t give off any taste or odor.  They can put it in capsules and powders.  They can put it into ready-to-drink formulas.”

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