Development of a novel high protein, polyphenol enriched Dairy beverage for athletes and physically active individuals (RubusElite)
As global markets for food-based solutions to support performance nutrition continue to expand; there is tangible opportunity to provide innovative functional beverages underpinned by robust scientific evidence to this rapidly broadening sector. This multi-disciplinary project proposes to develop and test for physiological efficacy a novel high–protein dairy-based beverage, tailored for performance nutrition which incorporates the antioxidant-rich blackberry-polyphenol extract developed as part of the previous FIRM Cardio-Rubus project. Critical hurdles for the development of functional foods with plant-based bioactives will be rigorously addressed through the study of advanced food technologies which support the stabilisation of polyphenol compounds within foods. Optimisation and validation of polyphenol delivery systems within food matrices and the recycling of polyphenol by-products post-beverage production will be investigated. This project will deliver the RubusElite proof-of-concept sports randomised controlled-trial (RCT) in moderately active adults to investigate if the incorporation of an antioxidant-rich polyphenol extract into a high-protein dairy beverage delivers additional benefit for muscle recovery, muscular stress, gut microbiota, and central stress processing thus, providing robust scientific evidence of physiological efficacy to support health claim substantiation. While this RCT will be conducted within a setting modelled to demonstrate muscle damage and recovery, its application and commercial appeal could be readily translated to all physically active individuals. Additionally, pertinent qualitative consumer preference data from Irish athletes and physically active individuals will be collected to meaningfully inform market intelligence on the development of future bioactive-based functional foods within the performance nutrition setting.