Grandview Research last year estimated global protein supplement sales were around $17.50 billion, with protein powder the most popular form of consumption. Matthew Kuchan, Ph.D., a research fellow at Abbott Laboratories near Chicago, believes protein drinks’ overall health benefits will continue to drive the market upward.
He worked with researchers at Abbott, the U.S. Air Force Research Lab and the University of Illinois on a study aimed at determining protein drinks’ impact on physical fitness, cognitive performance and optimal nutrition.
“As we age, it can be difficult to get enough protein into the diet,” said Kuchan. “Drinks play an important role in filling the protein gaps.”
The U.S. Air Force Research Lab was interested in participating in the study because “if you can imagine, young men and women need to function at a high level under extreme stress,” said Kuchan. “Often they try to solve problems with caffeine and other stimulants. But the Air Force was looking for novel ways to improve performance.”
The double-blind study included 148 participants; all underwent a fitness training program yet half received a prototype protein drink and the other group received a placebo. Kuchan informed that the high-protein nutritional drinks consumed in the study resulted in the following benefits:
• Mental reaction times improved
• Memory improved
• Muscle mass increased
• Cardiovascular fitness was enhanced
Medicalnewstoday.com offered such additional pluses as:
• Weight loss, because of feeling fuller longer
• Muscle and tissue repair after exercising
• Added supplements in some products such as vitamins D and B, omega fatty acids, etc.
For people concerned about the higher prices of many protein drinks, Kuchan said, “in the big picture, when you consider how important your health is, protein drinks are affordable. It’s difficult to get completely balanced meals day in and day out. So cost is worth it over the long term.”
Kuchan said the amount of protein drinks each individual should consume “depends on how healthy and balanced one’s diet is.” Talk to your health care provider for personalized information.