woman doing home workout

What's New in Sports Nutrition for 2021?

As the pandemic and lockdown continues to impact the way people eat and exercise, sports nutrition manufacturers are trying to understand the various ways this may affect the category. Check out our list of the sports nutrition trends for 2021 and what this means for manufacturers.

2021 Sports Nutrition Trends

Reduced access to gyms, fitness classes, and team sports has disrupted sports nutrition consumers everywhere. In response, many have purchased home gym equipment, joined online workout classes, or taken up jogging around their neighborhoods. While some have been more successful than others at staying on track with exercise, diet is yet another factor that has posed challenges—particularly due to stress eating and at-home snacking. Sports nutrition products play an important role in providing consumers with the healthy nutrition they need to support their fitness goals. 

Here’s a look at 2021 sports nutrition trends and how manufacturers can meet the needs of today’s sports nutrition consumers:

1. Plant Proteins

Demand for plant proteins is growing across categories, including the sports nutrition category. While consumer interest in a sustainable, healthy lifestyle is driving the broader trend in plant proteins for mainstream and active lifestyle consumers, the sports performance consumer also has an eye on performance benefits thanks to the buzz around celebrity plant-based athletes. Pea protein is the rising star in plant-based sports nutrition and is often combined with proteins such as sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, and chia seed proteins for optimal amino acid balance. 

2. Mental Health Support for Focus and Performance

With bouts of anxiety and depression so common during the lockdown, there’s been a public dialogue underway about the importance of mental wellness to overall health. Public health recommendations have included exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques. In addition, some consumers are looking for supplements that can help them with energy and concentration. Sports nutritional supplements (particularly pre-workout products) that include these benefits offer the additional advantage of supporting a focused workout for optimal performance.

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3. More Diversified Consumer Segments

Sports nutritional supplements are being used by an increasingly diverse consumer base. In addition to active lifestyle consumers gravitating toward sports nutrition products like grab-and-go protein bars and RTDs, core consumers themselves are becoming more segmented. Beyond weightlifters and long-distance runners, for example, we now have CrossFit athletes and triathletes, each with specialized needs. Sports nutrition supplement manufacturers need to be clear on who they’re targeting to ensure they’re offering the right products.

4. Social Media Engagement

As many consumers switched to e-commerce to buy their sports nutrition products during the lockdown, it became clearer than ever how important social media is to the category. Consumers are using social media to get more information about sports nutrition products and brands, as well as recommendations from influencers. Social media is also proving to be an effective way for direct-to-consumer sports nutrition brands to find and connect with their target consumers.

5. Sleep Support for Recovery and Wellness

The new focus on holistic wellness has also put attention on the importance of healthy sleep. Sleep support products have been gaining traction, particularly functional beverages that aim to help consumers wind down before bedtime. In sports nutrition, a product with added sleep support benefits appeals by also supporting exercise recovery through deep, restful sleep. Ingredients being used in sleep support products range from melatonin to L-theanine to chamomile.

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Winning in Sports Nutrition

As the sports nutrition category continues to grow and evolve, it will become increasingly important for companies to focus on truly understanding the needs of their target consumers so they can offer the right type of products and ingredient benefits to meet those needs. 

We have extensive experience and knowledge in formulating nutritional sports nutrition foods, beverages and supplements. From our extensive portfolio of dairy and plant-based proteins, health beneficial bioactive ingredients, flavor masking capabilities and custom nutrient premix services, we are here to help you create winning sports nutrition products. Contact us to learn more. 

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