Consumers Turn to Sports Nutrition to Enhance Mental Clarity glanbia nutritionals

Consumers Turn to Sports Nutrition Looking for Mental and Physical Health

Consumers are increasingly looking to sports nutrition products to help support their physical and mental wellbeing for optimum performance. Learn about this emerging trend and how manufacturers can address this need by choosing the most in-demand ingredients for their functional beverages and foods. 

Sports Nutrition Consumers Seek Physical and Mental Wellbeing

To better understand the needs of sports nutrition consumers, including their perceptions around mental wellbeing, Glanbia Nutritionals conducted its own consumer research study. The results revealed that most sports nutrition consumers place a high value on mental wellbeing. 71% of U.S. sports performance consumers and 64% of active lifestyle consumers strongly agree that “mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.”1

In fact, consumers across generations are turning to exercise itself as a strategy for improving their mental wellbeing. In a recent study, Innova found that 67% of Gen Z and 56% of Baby Boomers have increased their physical activity specifically to improve health and wellbeing.2 Exercise is becoming more widely known for a number of benefits beyond physical health, such as improving mood, reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving stress.

Opportunity in Sports Nutrition Products for Body and Mind

Sports nutrition consumers recognize the value of mental wellbeing since having a clear and focused state of mind before working out or competing can influence performance. In addition to mental wellbeing, aspects of brain functioning such as focus and processing speed can also be especially important to sports nutrition consumers.

man punching bag

With the growing awareness of ingredients that may offer benefits in these areas, some sports nutrition consumers are starting to seek out sports nutrition products that can support optimal physical and mental health. This interest signals an exciting opportunity for sports nutrition companies to develop functional beverages and foods that include nutrients and ingredients linked with brain health.

Ingredients Associated with Brain Health

Science is emerging around some already familiar supplement ingredients and their potential roles in supporting brain health. These ingredients include choline, creatine, GABA, L-theanine, resveratrol, and brahmi.

Choline studies have shown some support around boosts in neurotransmitter levels that can support focus, as well as learning and short-term memory. Creatine, according to some initial evidence, may improve reasoning and short-term memory by increasing the energy available to the brain cells. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has been potentially linked with a calming effect—relieving anxiety and improving mood.


L-theanine, an amino acid naturally found in green tea, may also promote calmness and has shown some indications at improving focus. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in foods such as grapes and berries, is a strong antioxidant that has shown some evidence of slowing age-related cognitive decline. Bacopa monnieri, also called brahmi, is an Ayurvedic herb potentially associated with improved information processing and memory. 

Give Your Products a Functional Boost

As sports nutrition consumers become increasingly knowledgeable about ingredients that may be able to give them an edge, functional beverages and foods that meet these needs will hold strong appeal. From our All N™ Off-the-Shelf Cognitive Blend to our PepForm® Tryptophan with proven next-day cognitive benefits, Glanbia offers solutions that support the body and mind—including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and more.

Contact Glanbia Nutritionals to learn about choosing the best functional ingredients for your sports nutrition products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Athletes require all the essential macronutrients and micronutrients but often have higher demands for certain nutrients. These include high-quality protein for muscle building and recovery and any nutrients that are readily lost through perspiration, which include iron and electrolytes like potassium

B vitamins can also be very important due to their role in energy production in the body, while sufficient calcium and vitamin D are essential for athletes to maintain strong and healthy bones. Adequate hydration is also a must for athletes to support all of the body’s systems, making water another key nutrient.

Many different nutrients support sports performance due to their roles in muscle building, endurance, or exercise recovery. High-quality protein is the most important nutrient for building, repairing, and maintaining muscle since it contains all the essential amino acids. One amino acid in particular, the branched-chain amino acid leucine, is known for activating the protein synthesis process.

Endurance athletes also need to consume adequate water and replenish their electrolytes, including potassium and magnesium, to prevent muscle cramps and fatigue. Like electrolytes, iron—which plays key roles in oxygen transport and energy metabolism—is also lost through perspiration. Iron requirements are often much higher for endurance athletes and those engaging in high-intensity exercise, making iron another important nutrient for optimal performance.

Protein-fortified bars, bites, cookies, and brownies are all good protein snacks. Protein snacking is growing more and more popular, appealing to people on many fronts. Protein snacks are a healthy way to tide you over until mealtime; they provide satiety to help with weight management, and they support muscle recovery after a workout. The sweeter protein snacks like protein cookies and brownies also offer permissible indulgence.


1. Glanbia & NMI. Proprietary Active Lifestyle Consumer Study, January 2020. Base: 79 U.S. consumers categorized as sports performance focused based on activity level and nutrition choices.
2. Innova. Market Trends in Supplements & Nutraceuticals, October 2019.

Take our poll

Enter your email on the next step to receive the articles as soon as they go live.

Hello! It looks like you’re using Internet Explorer. Microsoft is phasing out this browser, so we are no longer supporting it and some parts of the page may not look right. To enjoy the full experience, we recommend you use one of these browsers: Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Brave.