The product was developed based on research that New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research Institute has been doing for the past 10 years.
Existing data found that drinking the product two hours before the desired peak performance is crucial because the amount of bioactives, the blackcurrant anthocyanins, is highest in the blood plasma at that point.
This also explains the rationale behind the brand’s name - 2before.
The product comes with a small bottle where consumers can mix the powder and water and drink it as a beverage shot.
It is currently sold online in the US and New Zealand since its launch in May and there are plans for Asian markets expansion.
“The product provides a small amount of stress to your system which switches on the cellular defence systems so that your systems are primed and ready to perform during the exercise and also to recover quicker,” CEO Brendan Vercoe told NutraIngredients-Asia.
The blackcurrant anthocyanins are said to confer the benefits by activating a central mechanism that goes on to produce a series of other outcomes in the body.
“We believe the one central mechanism is regulating a series of other mechanisms and it is activating these adaptive pathways within our bodies,” said scientist Dr Roger Hurst.
‘Stressing’ the balance
This central mechanism is triggered by both oxidative stress from exercise and a balanced intake of pro and antioxidants available in the blackcurrant anthocyanins.
Contrary to conventional beliefs, a balanced intake of pro and antioxidants is more effective in enhancing sports performance as compared to taking antioxidants alone, according to Dr Hurst.
Such a balance is found in New Zealand’s blackcurrants, which contain a nearly 50%-50% composition of red and blue anthocyanins.
Blue anthocyanins provide pro-oxidant benefits while red anthocyanins act as an antioxidant.
“This balance helps to appropriately manage, rather than eliminate stress – which is not always good for training,” said Vercoe.
Dr Hurst added that high doses of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E were not necessarily beneficial for exercises, as they could dampen the training effects.
“As such, this whole story about antioxidants being good for your exercise regime is actually more complex.
“This is because if the stresses from exercise are appropriate, then it helps provide the benefits. But if the exercise stress on the body is too much, e.g. if the exercise was unaccustomed or if you over-trained, muscle damage can occur.
“And so, what you need is the right balance between the pro and antioxidants levels and the ability to switch on these adaptive training effects,” he said.
Other pathways include the modulation of inflammatory processes so that tissue repair processes are activated.
Structural change in protein within cells and tissues is another pathway which can strengthen the tissues to prepare the body for the next exercise.
“These pathways as a whole, are regarded as defensive pathways and we believe blackcurrant with exercise is activating one of the key regulators of those pathways, which is nrf2,” Dr Hurst said.
A five-week consumption study led by Dr Hurst found that daily intake of New Zealand blackcurrants anthocyanins could maintain or even enhance exercise recovery by promoting cellular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Another meta-analysis, also involving Dr Hurst, found that consuming New Zealand blackcurrants at a dose of 105mg to 210mg daily for a week could improve sports performance by an average of 0.45%.
This effect is slightly higher than that of caffeine at 0.41%.
The difference provided by NZ blackcurrants might be small, but it is nonetheless significant.
“If you put that in the context of elite athletes, the average difference between the gold and silver medallist at the Rio Olympics was 0.54%, and so, these small marginal gains are very important for athletes to be at their best,” Vercoe said.
Moving forward, the firm has plans to add on to the existing product range, such as providing post-exercise recovery supplements and incorporating ingredients that could provide synergistic effects.