woman lifting weight

US Sports Nutrition Outlook for 2024

Here's a look at what’s in store for the 2024 US sports nutrition market, plus key trends and opportunities—like weight loss-positioned products and cleaner pre-workout energy drinks.

Highlights

  • There is high growth ahead in both protein and non-protein products.
  • Weight loss is the primary goal for many active and performance consumers.
  • Strength, recovery, and energy are top needs. 
  • Natural energy for pre-workout is a key opportunity.

US Sports Nutrition Market Overview

The $14.1 billion US sports nutrition market is doing well, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9% expected between 2022 and 2027.1 Sports protein powders make up the largest segment at $6.1 billion, with growth forecast at 5.3%.2 Segments outpacing the total market include protein/energy bars (est. CAGR +10.7%) and non-protein products (est. CAGR +10.2%), which include pre-workout and amino acid supplements.3

US Sports Nutrition Sales by Segment4

  • Sports protein powders ($6.1 billion)
  • Protein and energy bars ($4.4 billion)
  • Sports non-protein products ($2.1 billion)
  • Sports protein RTD beverages ($1.4 billion)

Sports Nutrition Trends and Opportunities

Consumers are using a range of sports nutrition products to support their goals, with performance consumers the most likely to use pre-workout products (61%), followed by post-workout products (52%), and finally intra-workout products (46%).  Active lifestyle consumers are another important target group, with about a quarter using these products.9

Our own recent consumer research offers insights into what these performance and active lifestyle consumers are looking for right now in sports nutrition products:

1. Weight Loss a Priority

Nearly one in four active lifestyle consumers and one in six performance consumers say their main goal in exercising is to lose weight.10 78% overall state that supplements are important to helping them achieve their goals.11 

Protein is an important ingredient in weight management due to its role in satiety. However, other clinically supported ingredients like Prolibra® bioactive whey protein and CapsiAtra® dihydrocapsiate, with targeted messaging around weight loss, could appeal to these consumers.  

2. Protein in Demand for Strength and Recovery

Products for strength and exercise recovery remain critical needs for sports nutrition users—particularly performance consumers. Performance consumers over-index on muscle-intensive exercises such as CrossFit and lifting free weights,12 with many using protein shakes from powder (39%) and RTD protein shakes (35%) for support.13

woman with shaker bottle at gym

A similar proportion of active lifestyle consumers use RTDs, while protein powder use is slightly lower.14 Among generations, Millennials are the biggest regular users of protein and recovery products, followed by Gen Z.15 The most preferred post-workout products are protein RTDs and protein powders (though bar use is common),16 while dairy is the most preferred protein source.17

3. Interest in Pre-Workout Natural Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are the most used pre-workout product by performance consumers (51%) and active lifestyle consumers (36%) alike.18 However, only 18% and 16%, respectively, cite energy drinks as their preferred pre-workout product.19 Consumer research reveals a tension point here: energy drinks are convenient and effective, but they’re not the ideal choice. 

Both the ingredients and the experience can be improved. 42% of those who stopped using energy drinks say they didn’t like how it made them feel.20 Milder, more natural energy drinks would also satisfy the 69% of pre-workout product users who say all-natural is important to them in deciding whether to buy a food product.21

Get Your Portfolio in Shape

Addressing consumers’ needs for weight loss support, strength, recovery, and natural energy to help them get the most out of their workouts requires smart formulations with the right ingredients. To get your sports nutrition portfolio in tip-top shape, Glanbia Nutritionals' sports performance solutions include the ingredients you need to take your brand into the future.

Contact us to learn more about formulating for the active and performance-focused consumer.

Frequently Asked Questions

A functional beverage is a drink that provides a beneficial effect beyond basic nutrition. These health and wellness benefits can come from a wide range of bioactive ingredients—from adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha to MCTs for the keto diet to tryptophan for sleep support.

Some examples of functional beverages are energy drinks formulated with caffeine and B vitamins, sports drinks with added electrolytes and antioxidants, yogurt drinks that have probiotics, and beauty-from-within beverages containing collagen. The functional beverage market continues to grow as more people look for benefits like energy, relaxation, immune support, cognitive support, muscle building, and more.

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.

Dairy is the main source of calcium in the American diet, making it the top food group for supporting healthy bones at all ages. Dairy is also a source of high-quality protein, with all the essential amino acids in the right proportions to meet the needs of the body—especially important for muscle building and maintenance for active, sports performance, and aging consumers. Dairy also contains several beneficial bioactive proteins such as lactoferrin, which supports healthy iron levels.

Dairy alternatives such as plant-based milks and plant-based yogurts are often fortified, making them a good calcium source for those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. Some are also high in plant-based protein. In addition, both dairy and dairy alternatives are often fortified with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption. Dairy/plant-based milk blends are a trend that combine the high-quality protein of dairy with the phytonutrients and lower calories of plant-based milks.

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.


References

1-7. Euromonitor, US Sports Nutrition, September 2022.
8-12. Glanbia Nutritionals, Performance Nutrition U&A Study, 2022. 
13-14. Glanbia Nutritionals, Healthy Snacking U&A Study, 2022.
15. Innova, Health & Nutrition Survey, 2021.
16. Glanbia Nutritionals, Performance Nutrition U&A Study, 2022. 
17. Glanbia Nutritionals, Healthy Snacking U&A Study, 2022.
18-21. Glanbia Nutritionals, Performance Nutrition U&A Study, 2022. 

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