2020 was a year of canceled sports and closed gyms yet, according to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), the sports nutrition category didn’t experience a drop in demand and sales growth stayed steady. Not only did overall growth hold firm, but hydration and energy beverages grew by 8.3%.
The numbers suggest a lot more people are living an active lifestyle and are interested in the category than just extreme athletes and regular gym-goers. Whether catering to the early morning jogger or the Peloton biker at home, opportunities exist for the industry to help consumers looking for “active nutrition.”
This segment is also broadening as supplements and functional food options become more mainstream and accessible. And the market is seeing increasing demand for products that incorporate potential benefits across other categories, such as immune health and weight management.
The ingredients capsaicin and beetroot are positioned to provide support for consumers looking to start a more active lifestyle.
Capsaicin is the molecule responsible for the pungency of spicy peppers and research has found that it is able to play a large role in both energy production and expenditure.1,2 In itself, capsaicin is not a great source of energy. Rather, it helps to jump start a particular function called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which is an essential part of improving energy expenditure—calories burned—to help support an active lifestyle.1
NEAT normally occurs when doing menial tasks or non-sedentary activities not considered to be exercise, sleep or eating. By initiating NEAT, capsaicin helps to deliver more energy to the individual, but goes even further by also oxidizing and metabolizing fat stores, converting that existing fat into energy for better weight management.2 This means capsaicin supplementation may help overweight individuals to more efficiently improve efforts to start a healthier more active lifestyle while also delivering energy benefits to consumers that currently live active lifestyles. Even small doses of capsaicin may help improve exercise endurance and promote fat oxidation with the increase in energy expenditure.3
Beetroot is one of the most researched nutritional supplements for active nutrition and can provide powerful support because of it being a rich source of nitrates that help to increase levels of nitric oxide (NO).4 Increasing nitric oxide via beetroot supplementation can support cardiorespiratory functions and mitochondrial efficiency. It is essential that the mitochondria are functioning optimally because they are one of the largest producers of cellular energy within the body, synthesizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to be converted into energy. By improving blood flow, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, fuel can be quickly supplied throughout the body.
Additionally, beetroot has been shown to reduce the oxygen cost of ATP synthesis, so increased oxygen helps to decrease the time it takes to convert ATP to energy, and then fuel is able to be more quickly supplied throughout the body, helping to slow down the fatigue rate.4,5 This leads to improved power output for longer periods of time as a result of the reduced ATP cost of muscle contraction, greatly benefiting performance during both aerobic and anaerobic exercise or sports participation.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study supporting these benefits found that nitrate-rich beetroot juice is able to help reduce systolic blood pressure and improved muscle oxygenation for improved exercise tolerance and endurance in cases of moderate exercise—and potentially longer-term exercise as well—increasing measured stamina by up to 16%.6
2020 created a nationwide—and even worldwide—push to improve health, and incorporating regular exercise is an essential step to accomplishing that goal. Research has shown capsaicin’s capacity as a fat-burner via increased thermogenesis makes it a viable option for overweight people needing a boost of energy to help them turn a new leaf, and an excellent choice to aid endurance for those that have already made exercise and sports a consistent part of their lives. And formulating beetroot into active nutrition supplements may contribute to heightened physical performance and endurance in association with improvements in oxygen consumption and ATP synthesis, transfer and cost—making it possible to go harder for longer.
To read additional energy-focused articles related to the sports nutrition world, download the “Energy ingredients with market buzz” digital magazine.
President of Unibar, Sevanti Mehta was raised to value good health through diet and ayurvedic tradition. He made it his lifegoal to help mankind improve health through science-based solutions and now brings 20 years of experience to the natural products industry. Mehta provides active support for eye health and education in poor communities in India.
1 Chung N et al. “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditure.” J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2018;22(2):23-30.
2 Rogers J et al. “Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases% body fat and fat mass: adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis.” BMC Obes. 2018;5:22.
3 Janssens PL et al. “Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance.” PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e67786.
4 Domínguez R et al. “Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review.” Nutrients. 2017;9(1):43.
5 Cuenca E et al. “Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Performance and Fatigue in a 30-s All-Out Sprint Exercise: A Randomized, Double-Blind Cross-Over Study.” Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1222.
6 Bailey SJ et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” J Appl Physiol. 2009;107(4):1144-1155.