In the world of sports nutrition, recovery and muscle-growth claims tend to reign supreme. However, energy and endurance claims are also important and are a major driver of the nearly US$2 billion non-protein products category and, increasingly, an avenue for differentiating protein products as well.
Protein products—consisting of sports-nutrition protein powder, ready-to-drink (RTD) and bars—are the bedrock of the sports nutrition market. In 2015, they accounted for $8.6 billion of the category’s $10.6 billion in global retail value sales. While these products have long been marketed around recovery and muscle growth, both large and small companies have increasingly been highlighting protein’s role as an energy-delivering macronutrient in new product launches.
While protein products offer a compelling new avenue for energy products, non-protein products—including combination pre-workout supplements, concentrated carbohydrate/electrolyte mixtures and other performance boosters—are the traditional domain of energy products in sports nutrition. However, producers have found it much more difficult to bring average consumers to the category. In general, many of the category’s key ingredients (beyond caffeine) are unfamiliar to consumers, while some, including category mainstay creatine, have been publicly demonized by popular media in the past.
Also once demonized by mainstream consumers, carbohydrates are making a comeback for their energizing effects. With the exploding popularity of distance races around the world, ranging from 10Ks to obstacle races, marathons and triathlons, the importance of carbohydrate intake in extended exertion exercise is gaining new relevance for a growing number of fitness consumers.
For a closer look at trending ingredients and innovative products in the sports-nutrition energy sector, read the article, “New Frontiers in Sports-Nutrition Energy," in INSIDER’s free Digital Issue, Energizing the Future of Sports Nutrition.