Football players walk a fine line between optimal training and overtraining. Manipulating nutrient intake has the potential to maximize the biochemical environment necessary to induce peak performance and proper recovery. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of supplementing the diet of Division I football players with a proprietary nutraceutical recovery drink on changes in performance, body composition, anabolic status, muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress over the course of a 7-week conditioning period immediately prior to preseason camp. At the beginning (trial 1) and end (trial 2) of a 7-week training phase, body composition, vertical jump and 225 lb bench press were assessed in Division I college football players (n = 25). A 30 s Wingate Anaerobic Test plus eight 10 s intervals was used to examine power and biochemical responses. Blood samples were collected pre-, 0 and 60 min post-test for analysis of interleukin-6 (IL), 8-isoprostane (8-iso), cortisol (CORT) and resting testosterone:CORT (T:C) ratios. Athletes were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (EXP) receiving the nutraceutical drink (n = 13) or a control group (CON) receiving an isocaloric equivalent (n = 12). EXP had a significantly greater increase in peak power (P < 0.05) and significant decreases in percentage body fat and fat mass (P < 0.05). Multivariate ANOVA for repeated measures (RM MANOVA) revealed a significant test × time × group interaction (P < 0.05) for changes in CORT, IL-6 and 8-iso from trial 1 to trial 2. Follow-ups revealed no significant differences between groups at trial 1 for any of the variables. At trial 2, EXP had significantly lower CORT at rest (P = 0.01) and 60 min post-test (P = 0.001). Additionally, IL-6 was significantly different between EXP and CON at 0 (P < 0.01) and 60 min post-test (P < 0.01), with CON having an elevated IL-6 response. There were also differences in both 8-iso and creatine kinase at all time points at trial 2, with CON having higher levels (P < 0.02.). There were significant differences between groups in T:C ratio changes (P < 0.05), with EXP having an improved T:C ratio. It appears that supplementing the post-workout diet of Division I college football players with a nutraceutical recovery drink has favourable effects on body composition, peak power output and biochemical markers. Based on differences between groups that emerged at rest at trial 2, it appears that this supplement positively impacts both acute and chronic physiological responses indicative of improved recovery.
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