In an effort to target the hardcore athlete and male and female mainstream consumers incorporating exercise into their lifestyles, sports nutrition products need to be created that address a wide range of specific needs.
Many suppliers are creating ingredients that are multifunctional. Because of busy lifestyles, there is an increase in products that are cross between functional foods and supplements such as mints, gums, and transdermal creams. If multiple benefits are achieved through a single product, it has an immediate market advantage.
The following condition-specific sports nutrition compounds, among others, will not only provide a wide range of benefits, but also address the blurring demographic lines:
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): L-luceine, L-Isoleuceine and L-Valine make up approximately one-third of muscle protein and are important for building and maintaining muscles. BCAAs have been called “stress amino acids” because muscles have a greater need for these aminos during physical stress and intense exercise.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Refers to a group of eight isomers that is structurally similar to linoleic acid, also known as omega-6. Research shows that CLA has a wide range of important biological effects, including enhanced immunity, cardio protective, helps to build muscle and promotes fat loss. CLA inhibits the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase. This is an enzyme that breaks down fat particles in the blood so they can be taken by fat cells (adipocytes) and stored. Thus, CLA helps to prevent the deposition and buildup of fat in the body.
CoQ10: An important nutrient in the human body that plays a key role in energy and endurance. CoQ10 is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound that is also known as ubiquinone. CoQ10 compounds are synthesized in the cells of all living organisms including plants, animals, and humans. There are 10 coenzyme Q compounds that occur throughout nature, but only CoQ10 is synthesized in humans.
However, aging reduces access to Co-Q10. Although it can be obtained from the diet (mainly from fatty fish, organ meats, and whole grains) as well as synthesized in small amounts, both of these routes decline with age. The body’s declining capacity to extract and assimilate CoQ10 in later years plays a role in the development of various cardiovascular conditions.
The latest in Co-Q10 technology is “Ubiquinol,” a reduced form of CoQ10 and the most highly absorbed. It is directly used in human metabolism as a lipid-soluble antioxidant. While ubiquinone supplements can be converted into ubiquinol in the body, this conversion can be less efficient in some individuals, based on age, genetics, blood sugar status, or level of oxidative stress.
Creatine: Plays an important role in the production of energy and the process of building muscle tissue. Creatine can be produced in the body from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. However, because of the role it plays in creating energy and muscle, many athletes use creatine as a performance-enhancing agent. Creatine enhances the performance of high-intensity, short-duration exercise, but does not provide profound endurance benefits.
L-carnitine: An amino acid that is synthesized from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Because it can be synthesized in the body, L-carnitine is not considered an essential nutrient and can be incorporated into a sports nutrition product to reduce muscle soreness. It is an important factor in energy metabolism.
Whey Protein: Typically a mixture of beta-lactoglobulin (~65 %), alpha-lactalbumin (~25 %), and serum albumin (~8 %), which are soluble in their native forms, independent of pH. Whey is a much sought after protein in the sports nutrition industry. It is rapidly digested, which significantly contributes to the building of lean muscle mass. It can be utilized in a product that targets muscle growth, as well as satiety for weight management.
Suppliers continue to innovate and bring compelling new sports nutrition products to the market. Manufacturers are keenly aware that a wide range of demographics is taking a serious look at sports nutrition supplements. With the rising popularity of fast and inexpensive processed foods, consumers struggle to get all the nutrients they need from their diet. That said, many remain either confused about what to take or are skeptical.
The global sports nutrition market has been benefiting from changing consumer habits. Many consumers who are not technically part of the sports nutrition community are opting for sports nutrition products in an effort to maintain good health. Demand is also growing in tandem with disposable income as the economy recovers from the global recession. All these factors point to continued growth in a category that continues to be innovative, science-based, and compelling.