What are the growing trends in sports nutrition?
Sports nutrition is no longer confined to bodybuilders interested in performance nutrition. It has expanded to include more casual users too, interested in maintaining – and improving - health and wellness and leading active lifestyles. Figures for the global sports nutrition market reflect this increased uptake; it is expected to reach US $24.43 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR 9.7%.1 As a result of the changing demographic, the positioning of sports-related products has shifted to the mainstream.
Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen that energy and alertness remain a key trend in the sports nutrition category, as both active consumers and sports professionals seek ways to increase their mental, as well as physical energy. Innova Market Insights reports that claims for ‘energy’ and ‘alertness’ accounted for 31% of all global sports nutrition launches in H2 2018.2 Although interest remains high for traditional pre-workout blends typically used by fitness enthusiasts and serious athletes to boost performance, consumers are also recognising the benefits of combining ingredients for energy, such as creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), with nootropic ingredients (supplements and other substances that may improve cognitive function)
like caffeine, for energy and cognitive health. Again, this indicates that the sports nutrition category is expanding to include wellness and lifestyle benefits too, with interest in immunity, bone health and digestive health driving growth. This is a trend that is reflected in demand from our customers.
How is the way consumers consume high-protein changing?
I have found that high protein remains a key trend in sports nutrition. While dairy-based proteins, such as whey, continue to dominate the market, there is also growing interest in plant-based alternatives, in-line with rising demand for ‘natural’ and clean label ingredients. Plant-based proteins, such as pea and soy protein, are also gaining momentum for their perceived health and wellness benefits, as well as for ethical and sustainable reasons.
In terms of applications, consumers are increasingly looking for high-protein food and beverage products that fit into their busy and active lifestyles. Although protein powder is still a permanent fixture on sports enthusiasts’ shelves, my view is that more convenient products that can be enjoyed on-the-go, such as bars, breakfast cereals and healthy snacking bites, will continue to see sustained growth.
What are the challenges of formulating with creatine?
The market for creatine monohydrate is well- established and is now estimated to be worth US$100 million.3 Creatine is the body’s first choice of energy for anaerobic activity. Research studies have consistently indicated that creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations by approximately 15–40%, by increasing supply energy to muscles.4 This benefits the body through increasing cellular energy supplies, enhancing anaerobic exercise capacity, increasing training volume and providing greater gains in strength, power and muscle mass.
However, sports nutrition manufacturers are faced with numerous challenges when formulating with creatine. Creatine degrades very fast into creatinine in water. Creatinine is a metabolite which is biologically inactive form of creatine and provides no use to the body. Typically, creatine monohydrate also degrades in extreme processing temperatures and even recrystallizes, which makes it almost impossible to formulate in ready-to-drink applications. This low rate of solubility also makes it difficult to formulate ready-to-mix powders without encountering problems with sedimentation.