“What we have designed is a product that provides a balanced source of energy for your muscles, both fast energy and the typical sustained energy that you get with a lipid and that is why this product is unique and so interesting,” Dr. Emiliano Rial Verde, vice president of Bunge Loders Croklaan Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-USA.
Founded as a Dutch trading company in 1818, Bunge has largely catered to the food industry for the last 200 years but entered the nutrition category in the 1990s with its infant milk formula oils. Awaiting self-affirmed General Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the U.S., which it received last month, NuliGo first launched as muscle energy ingredient for active adults in Europe and China in 2021.
The novel structured molecule
To create its brand of balanced energy, the company combines long-chain fatty acids derived from canola and medium chain fatty acids from palm kernel through a process called interesterification. This creates novel structured molecules that travel through the circulatory system to the body’s tissue instead of the liver like traditional medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to deliver energy to the muscle.
As proof of the improved efficacy of structured triglycerides, Dr. Rial Verde pointed to a 2017 study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition that compared a molecule like NuliGo to a MCT/LCT blend administered as medical food in post-surgical and critically ill patients.
“We found the administration of STGs [structured triglycerides] to be significantly associated with better nitrogen balance, higher levels of plasma proteins, lower plasma triacylglycerol, improved parameters of liver tolerance, lower adverse event incidence and a trend towards a reduced length of hospital stay,” the study authors wrote.
As Dr. Rial Verde explained, a more positive nitrogen balance in the body indicates increased protein building and therefore muscle health, particularly when combined with protein intake and exercise in more active individuals.
Sparing amino acids for sports nutrition and active aging
Bunge presents the novel molecule as an easily accessible source of energy for muscles, one that helps “to spare amino acids”, the building blocks of protein, leaving them available for muscle building, maintenance and recovery.
“We know this type of energy molecule results in better protein synthesis because the muscle will not use amino acids for energy, they will use this, therefore we have more amino acids available for protein synthesis,” Dr. Rial Verde said.
As such, NuliGo is primed as an ingredient in oil and powdered formats to boost physical performance, endurance and post-activity recovery and to enhance mobility by contributing to muscle strength and muscle mass maintenance. Bunge is currently evaluating the effects in a semi-professional and professional endurance athletes but sees applications across active adults at any age.
“Energy is about what makes your muscles work in a healthy way,” Dr. Rial Verde added. “It’s not about feeling jittery. Energy is what will make you have better endurance, whatever that limit is. This will help you stretch that endurance limit.”