Evidence-based design, physiological efficacy testing and consumer analysis of an exemplar model of a fruit derived bioactive functional food for use in physical performance and exercise settings

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Carey, Conor C.
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University College Cork
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The overall aim of this thesis is to examine the new product development practices used within the scientific design, development and testing of new nutritional products in the performance nutrition sector. Despite recent growth in the area there is a general lack of publicly available information to guide the incorporation of nutritional science into the processes underpinning the design and development of new performance nutritional products. Performance nutrition provides a promising area for the creation of value-add products using Irish agrifood outputs, a key priority in Irelands Food Vision 2030 strategy (Gov.ie - Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021). In chapter 1, frameworks that were created as part of this PhD thesis to inform and guide the incorporation of nutritional science in the development of new products are introduced. These frameworks are applied throughout the subsequent chapters in the design and development of an exemplar model of a functional food to support post exercise recovery and endurance exercise performance. This exemplar model took the form of a blackberry polyphenol enriched high protein milk. Chapter 2 reviews the literature on new product development and discusses the role of polyphenols and protein in post-exercise recovery and supporting endurance exercise performance. The review confirms the efficacy of dairy protein, particularly in the form of bovine milk, for muscle repair and regeneration post-exercise. RCTs have consistently shown the benefits of consuming between 1.2-1.6g/kg/day of high-quality protein for those undergoing frequent exercise. While there's growing evidence to support the use of plant-derived polyphenols for exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) recovery and endurance exercise performance, gaps remain in understanding their mechanisms, dosing, and optimal dietary sources. Chapter 3 presents an online survey that assesses the nutrition priorities, practices and preferences of athletes and active individuals. This survey was designed as part of this thesis following a series of focus group sessions with athletes of various levels and backgrounds. This survey provides key end-user insights into the nutritional wants and needs of athletes and active individuals. Key findings highlight muscle recovery as the primary nutritional priority among the athletic community and reveal a clear preference for food product forms over supplements. The data collected provides invaluable guidance for new product development in sports nutrition and allows the meaningful incorporation of end-user insights into the process. Chapter 4 bridges a crucial knowledge gap by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the efficacy of flavonoid-rich polyphenols to support post-exercise recovery. The meta-analysis of 26 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) observed significant benefits in muscle strength and soreness recovery post intensive exercise. However, a notable limitation in the included studies was the inadequate characterisation of the polyphenol subclasses and dosages used, emphasising the need for more detailed reporting in future human studies. Chapter 5 presents an RCT assessing the efficacy of the RubusElite beverage prototype to support post-exercise recovery. Results suggest that this beverage augments recovery of muscle strength and reduces muscle soreness in comparison to both high protein and low protein milks. In collaboration with RubusElite project partners, this RCT includes detailed characterisation of the beverage's polyphenol content and a verification of polyphenol stability within the treatment beverage for the study duration. Chapter 6 further investigates the efficacy of the RubusElite prototype in relation to physical performance during a 15km cycling trial. In contrast to previous findings, no significant improvement in performance or exertion-related measures was observed. However, thorough polyphenol characterisation alongside these findings offers critical insights into the lack of observed benefits and provides direction for the reformulation of the prototype. This also provides considerable insights into future RCT design to reassess the efficacy of the reformulated prototype. In summary, this thesis offers a comprehensive investigation into the development of performance nutrition products through the creation of an exemplar model using novel frameworks which allow for the incorporation of scientific best practice. It provides innovative insights into the role of polyphenols and protein in supporting exercise and is one of the first undertakings to assess their efficacy in combination. By combining rigorous scientific evaluation, consumer insights, and product prototyping, the research offers a comprehensive roadmap for future product development in the rapidly evolving domain of performance nutrition.
Nutrition , Sport , Exercise , New product development , Food
Carey, C. C. 2023. Evidence-based design, physiological efficacy testing and consumer analysis of an exemplar model of a fruit derived bioactive functional food for use in physical performance and exercise settings. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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