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Five Sports Nutrition Trends

Runners lacing shoes

Sports nutrition was once a niche category – the exclusive domain of elite athletes and bodybuilders. Not anymore. Today’s sports nutrition trends show a consumer is more likely to be a casual gym-goer downing an isotonic beverage after a brief weekly work-out.

This mainstreaming process has driven phenomenal growth in the category. Between 2004 and 2018, the global sports nutrition market grew by 190%.[1]

However, continued expansion depends on new thinking and an understanding of the trends shaping the future of the category. So what’s the “next big thing” in sports nutrition?

Here are five areas where we see potential for innovation

1. Focus on immunity.

Protein currently dominates the market, but a changing consumer base means there is scope for disruption. Not every active consumer is interested in muscle-building, and the understanding of sports nutrition has expanded to include areas such as immune health.

2. Keep it personal.

Active consumers are used to products and services tailored to their individual needs. Modified training programs, whether created online or at the gym are now the norm.

Similarly, consumers increasingly expect personalized nutrition products targeted at their specific requirements. As sports nutrition shelves become more crowded, treating consumers as individuals can be an effective differentiator.

3. Meet the needs of different demographics

older woman stretching

Broader sports nutrition trends show a consumer base that now encompasses a wide range of demographic groups and need states, some of which are underserved. Reportedly, less than 1% of new sports nutrition product launches in western Europe are aimed at seniors, indicating an urgent need for innovation.[2] Similarly, the industry could do much more to meet the sports nutrition needs of women. One analysis found that just 2.1% of sports nutrition products are targeted at women.[3] As well, consumers increasingly seek products with multiple benefits that are complementary to immune health, and sports nutrition is a strong vehicle for accommodating these needs.

4. Adapt traditional applications.

The boundaries between sports nutrition and traditional food and beverage categories are blurring. There are now opportunities to incorporate functional benefits into an increasingly wide range of food and beverage applications.

One area where there is potential for adaptation may be in beverages, which fit the convenience niche and can be customized with nutrition ingredients in a way some foods cannot. Many time-starved athletes also turn to snacks as a way to fuel up before a session, or to replace a missed meal.

White paper – Game Changer: The next big thing in sports nutrition?


5. Explore new formats.

In order to meet the needs of an increasingly mainstream audience which demands both convenience and great taste, it is often necessary to innovate new formats. Examples of innovative new products include My Whey’s Matcha Green Tea Flavor protein drinks.pie chart

What they have in common, along with a growing number of other innovative products for active consumers, is that they include Wellmune®. Scientifically proven, versatile, and on-trend, it is the perfect ingredient for rapidly evolving sports nutrition markets.

Wellmune® has several scientifically proven benefits for immune health in a sports nutrition context. For example, a recent study on adults of average fitness, for example, found that it helped them avoid the immune suppression that is common after exercise.[4]



[1] Euromonitor International, cited in Oster, M ‘Sports nutrition is expanding across consumers, categories, and positionings’ Nutritional Outlook, 25 March 2019

[2] Cash, Emma-Jane ‘What’s new for the European market of sports nutrition?’ 27-Jun-2017

[3] Cutler, Nikki ‘Stats revealed: Women’s sports nutrition fails to pack a punch’,, 8 Mar – 2019

[4] McFarlin BK, Venable AS, Carpenter KC, Henning AL, Ogenstad S ‘Oral Supplementation with Baker’s Yeast Beta Glucan Is Associated with Altered Monocytes, T Cells and Cytokines following a Bout of Strenuous Exercise’ Front Physiol. 8:786. 2017 Oct 20


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