man lifting weights

The Tried and Tested Performance Athlete of Today

Though sports nutrition products have been going mainstream, there are still many performance-focused athletes out there with very specific nutrition needs to help them achieve their goals. Learn what’s driving today’s performance athletes and what they’re looking for in nutrition products. 

Top Activities and Motivations 

A recent report by FMCG Gurus1 breaks down performance nutrition consumers into high-performing athletes and high-performing regular gym goers who engage in strenuous exercise at least five times a week with the goal of maximizing physical performance. In exploring these two categories of consumers globally, different preferences in activities, as well as motivations for exercising, emerged.

For gym goers, the top reason for exercising is for optimal fitness (82%), with the most popular activities cited as:

  • Muscle building (70%)
  • High-intensity workouts (63%)
  • Training for long-distance/endurance events (32%)
  • Swimming (28%)

For athletes, the most common reason for exercising is for positive health/to stay active (89%), and the top exercise activities are:

  • Long-distance running (65%)
  • Short-distance running (59%)
  • Long-distance cycling (47%)
  • High-intensity swimming (40%)

Understanding Their Nutrition Priorities

Performance-focused consumers place high demands on their bodies on a regular basis. To support these demands, proper nutrition is essential—both to staying healthy under these conditions and to achieving performance goals. Muscle building is a top concern for these consumers, in addition to pre-workout support, whether for energy, endurance, or getting a “pump.” Products to support recovery are also important, as they allow consumers to exercise hard, day after day.

woman running up the stairs

Favorite Types of Products

FMCG Gurus also looked at the type of products global performance nutrition consumers are purchasing. They found these consumers buy a wide variety of nutrition products to support their workouts, with the most popular choices reported as:

  • Sports drinks (88%)
  • Protein snack bars (81%)
  • RTD high plant protein drinks (81%)
  • RTD high dairy protein drinks (74%)
  • Protein powder for use in shakes/beverages (73%)
  • Protein gel (63%)
  • Energy bars (55%)

FMCG Gurus reports that performance nutrition consumers have a higher awareness of sports nutrition products and benefits than other consumers and will make choices based on their specific needs (rather than for general health and wellness). This makes them less price sensitive and more concerned with product effectiveness.

High Performance Ingredients

Some key ingredients performance nutrition consumers are relying on to reach their goals are amino acid ingredients, including BCAAs and EAAs to optimize muscle protein synthesis—especially L-leucine, which is becoming known for its unique role in triggering protein synthesis. Other popular amino acid ingredients include L-citrulline and beta-alanine to support muscular endurance and creatine for pre- and post-workout use. Cutting edge solutions like AminoBlast® Technology (BCAAs, EAAs & Encapsulated Leucine) provides amino acids with enhanced capabilities, improving their functionality and application performance in RTD beverages, powder drink mixes, and gels.

man holding drink at gym

Creatine gives athletes an edge by increasing power and strength during high-intensity anaerobic workouts where ATP is quickly used up. Since the body’s creatine is broken down to make ATP, supplementing with creatine can top off the muscle’s creatine stores for optimum performance. Research is also looking into creatine’s impact on exercise recovery. Newer creatine ingredients like CreaBevTM offer benefits like better dispersibility and heat processing stability compared to traditional creatine.

Nitric oxide boosters are also in demand by performance nutrition consumers and include a variety of ingredients, such as glycerol, L-arginine, L-citrulline, and beetroot. These are known for increasing blood flow and are popular in pump products. Ingredient innovations in this area include, a highly concentrated glycerol powder, and FitNox®, a fast-acting, 100% plant-based nitric oxide ingredient.

Key Takeaways for Manufacturers

Brands seeking to appeal to performance nutrition consumers should be sure to provide complete workout support with product lines that include pre- and post-workout offerings, as well as different product formats. Using the most effective ingredients, along with communicating their benefits, is also key as these consumers are more concerned with a product’s results than price. Brands can also consider using innovative ingredient combinations, such as workout products with ingredients for healthy sleep or mental wellbeing, and incorporating sports nutrition trends, such as plant-based proteins and bioactive botanicals.

For Top-Performing Products 

As a global nutritional ingredient and functional product formulation company, Glanbia Nutritionals has the ingredients you need to succeed in the performance nutrition market. From our dairy-and plant-based proteins to bioactive ingredients, botanicals and amino acids, we have the solutions and expertise to help you in the development of your next performance nutrition product. Collaborate with us and learn more. 

Check out our on-demand webinar to learn how the pandemic affected exercise, sports nutrition and emerging sports nutrition trends.


1. FMCG Gurus, The Potential of Performance Nutrition in 2021, February 2021.

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