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2022 Nutrition Trends for Active Adults: What They Are and Why They Matter

The new active lifestyle consumer is driving mainstream growth in sports nutrition products. These everyday consumers embrace a proactive approach to health and are using sports nutrition products to meet these needs. Here’s a look at the 2022 nutrition trends for active adults. 

Who is the Active Lifestyle Consumer?

The active lifestyle consumer is someone who’s incorporated healthy fitness and nutrition habits into their lives. Active lifestyle consumers aren’t known for following intense workouts or strict diets to maximize body performance. Instead, they focus on good nutrition and regular exercise such as walking, jogging, or hiking as part of their long-term approach to health.

FMCG Gurus estimates 53% of the population falls into this group, which is evenly distributed across age and gender.1 To support their proactive approach to health, many active consumers are turning to sports nutrition products that offer the health benefits they seek. However, this growing active consumer segment has different nutrition interests than traditional sports nutrition consumers. 

The Top 2022 Nutrition Trends for Active Consumers

Active lifestyle adults are nutrition-savvy. They support their health by seeking ways to maintain a balanced calorie intake (i.e., enough energy and satiety to support an active lifestyle, but without excess calories) and by choosing products that can give them a nutrient boost whenever possible.

With that in mind, this year’s notable nutrition trends for active adults are: 

1. No- and Low-Sugar Hydration

The proliferation of flavored waters and unsweetened or lightly sweetened RTD teas and coffees is meeting a key need for healthy, enjoyable hydration. Active adults have fully embraced today’s no- and low-sugar hydration options which come in an endless variety of flavors.  

64% of global consumers think low- and no-sugar claims make a snack healthy,2 and since COVID began, 60% plan to reduce their sugar intake.3 For low-sugar beverages, those sweetened with fruit juice, honey, or maple syrup and with messaging such as “a hint of sweetness” are most likely to appeal to active adults.

woman with water bottle

2. Natural Energy Boosters

The demand for energy-boosting products has been growing fast, primarily due to lifestyle disruptions and stress from COVID. While traditional energy drinks address this need for some, active adults tend to prioritize natural sources of energy, which they perceive as healthier. 

Natural energy products include teas, coffees, juices, waters, and even bars fortified with natural caffeine sources, such as green tea extract, coffee extract, guarana, and yerba mate. B vitamins are also welcome as they support energy production in the body. With 62% of global consumers saying a natural ingredients claim makes a snack healthy,4 natural energy products have a bright future ahead.

3. Healthy Fats

Another major nutrition trend among active lifestyle consumers is healthy fats. Fat is no longer the enemy—as long as it’s the right type of fat. Fats from sources such as avocado and coconut are considered beneficial and are even being used in decadent products like frozen desserts to boost their health appeal.

Nut butters of all kinds, and now seed butters like sunflower seed and flaxseed butter, also meet this demand. The continued popularity of the keto diet is helping to sustain this interest in healthy fats, particularly coconut oil which is a good source of MCTs. In 2021, keto was one of the top diets to try, with 14% of US consumers either on a keto/high-fat diet or wanting to try it.5

coconut

4. Plant Protein

Any snackable food or beverage containing plant protein is likely to get noticed by the active lifestyle consumer. Plant protein has a strong health halo, with 81% of global consumers saying plant protein is healthier.6 91% of global consumers say they’ve tried sports nutrition products that contain protein.7

Besides sports nutrition products like plant-based protein RTDs and bars, active adults are also reaching for plant protein-fortified savory snacks and breakfast cereals as healthier options that can also provide satiety. 82% of global consumers think plant protein is better for the environment,8 making sustainability another important purchase driver for these products.

Download our Protein Guide to learn more about consumer preferences in protein.

5. Fortified Snacks

Whether the snack of choice is a bar, RTD beverage, or snackable cereal, better-than versions are a clear stand-out to the active lifestyle consumer. Added vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, fiber, and protein give active adults snack options they can feel good about. 

Since the emergence of COVID, consumers are especially interested in foods and beverages fortified with immunity-associated ingredients such as vitamin C, zinc, and botanicals like elderberry. Protein snacks, particularly those that contain plant-based or dairy protein, are appealing to active adults as they not only offer satiety but provide exercise support.

Creating Foods and Beverages for Active Adults

These nutrition trends are overwhelmingly positive and can serve as a reminder of the important role of the food industry in supporting healthy lifestyles. To create foods and beverages for the active lifestyle consumer, just remember that healthy nutrition is in! Our active & healthy lifestyle ingredients, from proteins to custom nutrient premixes to flavor solutions, have got you covered.

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References:

1-2. FMCG Gurus, Overview of the Sports Nutrition Market and the Growth of the Active Nutrition Consumer, October 2021.
3. FMCG Gurus, How has COVID-19 Changed Consumer Behaviour, March 2021.
4. FMCG Gurus, Overview of the Sports Nutrition Market and the Growth of the Active Nutrition Consumer, October 2021.
5. Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Study, April 2021. Base=398.
6-8. FMCG Gurus, The Potential of Performance Nutrition, February 2021 Global Report.

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