This summer's Olympics has a Longhorn flavor, with members of the U.S. Olympic swim team using workout and recovery sports performance drinks created by Dr. John Ivy, chair of the College of Education's Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.
Ivy developed the performance drink PureSport last year, consulting with Eddie Reese, head coach for The University of Texas at Austin men's swim team as well as the 2008 U.S. Olympic swim team. The goal was to create a beverage that had the optimal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio and would comply with the world's major governing bodies in sports.
The product has received enthusiastic endorsements by athletes, elite and amateur, with Olympian and All-American Michael Phelps calling PureSport "the best performance drink I've ever found." Phelps, who won six gold medals and two silver medals at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, used PureSport this past year during training at the University of Michigan. The drink also is being used by former University of Texas at Austin swimmers Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Aaron Peirsol.
Ivy is an internationally renowned exercise physiologist and an expert on when and what nutrients one should consume in order to maximize physical performance and recovery. His research has altered common wisdom in the field and set a new standard for how the human body should be fueled when engaged in strenuous physical activity.
"The key factor in a sports performance drink is the carbohydrate/protein/electrolyte blend," says Ivy. "Carbohydrates provide instant energy and proteins provide sustaining energy. That balance is critical and PureSport contains the optimal blend of carbohydrate and protein for better performance and faster recovery."
According to Ivy, another critical factor with respect to performance drinks is when you drink them and that is why he created two complementary performance drinks. PureSport Workout is used prior to and during exercise to improve endurance and reduce muscle tissue damage, while PureSport Recovery is used within 30 minutes of completing a workout to speed the storage of muscle and liver glycogen and promote muscle tissue repair.
"When you exercise," says Ivy, "the muscles become very sensitive to certain hormones and nutrients, and you can initiate many highly desirable training adaptations if you make sure the correct nutrients are present. This increased sensitivity of the muscles only lasts for a limited length of time, so the element of time becomes absolutely crucial. If you miss this window of opportunity, there's no way you can stimulate the muscle adaptations to that extent until after the next bout of exercise."
In addition to whey protein isolate, which is rich in essential amino acids and provides quick muscle recovery, PureSport includes Maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate for long-lasting, sustained energy; sodium to replenish losses due to perspiration; magnesium to aid in the protein synthesis that helps prevent muscle breakdown; and potassium to help keep body fluids in balance.
PureSport comes in powder form and only needs the addition of water, not milk, which is a benefit for those who are lactose intolerant. PureSport drinks also do not have caffeine.
Austin-based Human Performance Labs CEO Michael Humphrey developed an interest in PureSport in late 2007. Faith in the product and its research-based foundation convinced him to produce and market the drink, which went on sale to the public on July 1.
"The science was there, the results were there and the product was there and tasted great," says Humphrey. "The only thing left to do was to make it more widely available. Our goal is to make PureSport accessible to everyone who wants to enhance how their body deals with strenuous activity, whether that activity is competing in a triathlon, running on a treadmill, cleaning out the garage or chasing after your kids.