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Advancements For The Active

K2VITAL®
 
Albion Minerals®

Although the sports nutrition industry is never one without controversy, safer methods and more clinically proven ingredients are helping a growing market expand even more.

Despite being attacked in recent years for its alleged ineffective regulatory support, the sports nutrition industry rebounded in a big way in 2010. By adding nearly $2 billion in new U.S. sales, the sports nutrition and weight-loss market grew nine percent last year. Over the past 13 years, the category has produced an impressive compound growth rate of 10 percent, according to Nutrition Business Journal research.

Room for Growth 

Although the sports nutrition category has seen considerable growth lately, industry consensus is that there is still plenty of room for expansion.

“There is absolutely room for growth in sports nutrition,” said Vladimir Badmaev, MD, PhD, director of medical and scientific affairs at P.L. Thomas (Morristown, NJ). “Look at the category name—these supplements are nutrition for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to help them maintain a lean physique, strength and endurance, and to decrease recovery time. And probably most of all, maintain good health.Whether it’s traditional sports from football to golf to new extreme sports to new workout routines, there are numerous opportunities to help people achieve their sports/workout goals—and to keep them healthy while doing so.”

According to research from BizAcumen, Inc., sports and fitness nutrition products are gaining momentum primarily due to changing consumer attitude towards health and well-being. Products meant for athletes and body builders are now finding their way into mainstream consumer markets. The role of sports nutrition products has witnessed a paradigm shift from “muscle building” to one that promotes good health and stamina.Innovative energizing concepts, foray into emerging markets and aggressive positioning of products with strong marketing back up have also bolstered sales.

While the majority of sports nutrition products cater to the extreme body builder and weight trainer, there aren’t too many companies marketing to the active sports athletes in cycling, running, rock climbing, golfing, tennis and other sports, said Chase Hagerman, business development and marketing manager for Chemi Nutra (White Bear Lake, MN). “These can be lucrative markets since there are very few companies pursuing them.” 

There continues to be an expansion of the sports nutrition market, as more casual consumers and recreational exercisers move into it, added Greg Paul, marketing director of sports nutrition and weight management at Solae (St.Louis, MO). “This is forcing established sports nutrition companies to look beyond the core user group, which has historically been 18- to 35-year-old males, in order to stay relevant in today’s market.” 

Beyond Youth 

When it comes to sports nutrition, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers certainly try to appeal to the younger, athletic audience—and rightly so. But it would be foolish for them to ignore the older population. Baby Boomers are looking for both lifestyle-enhancing formulations that will help increase energy and promote lean muscle mass/weight management, and they are also looking for condition specific products that will support bone and joint health to allow them to stay active for as long as possible.

Boomers are leading the way for younger generations to remain active as they age, to be spry and as limber and as strong as possible, said Badmaev.“One of the key concerns among those who are middle-aged is recovery time.Aging just hampers the ability to bounce back after a very active day on the court or field, or a grueling workout.” 

Some sports nutrition products offer benefits beyond the gym, added Hagerman. “Not every Boomer consumer is going to be hitting the gym for three hours, six days a week. For many older consumers, a product can become much more valuable if it offers improved vitality throughout daily life.” 

Undoubtedly, targeted nutrition is going to be key for Boomers in order to expand the category. “Building formulas that combine weight, muscle and joint health attributes for those active Boomers that want to keep getting out and mixing it up on the courts, links and bikes,” added Chris Haynes, director of sales Safe Training (Carthage, MO).

Safe Training

Certainly, with a more widespread consumer market, there are lots of reasons for optimism in the sports nutrition market, but with the continuous controversy surrounding athletes and performanceenhancing drugs, safety remains the one black cloud looming over the category with which manufacturers of sports supplements must deal.

“The No. 1 question we get from customers and what they want us to confirm in writing is that our ingredients are not listed on the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) list. I think that will continue,” said Suzanne McNeary, president of NutraGenesis, LLC (Battleboro, VT). The prohibited list was first published in 1963 under the leadership of the International Olympic Committee.Since 2004, it is mandated by the WADA, who is responsible for the preparation and publication of the list “New players entering the market need a very clear understanding of the dos and don’ts of marketing sport performance products from a regulatory perspective.Having a good FDA/FTC attorney or firm review labels and marketing materials are very important,” she added.

The first step a responsible manufacturer should take to reduce the chances of experiencing a recall or being exposed to negative publicity surrounding a tainted product is to buy ingredients from reputable suppliers, said Solae’s Paul, adding that in most cases, it is the purchasing of ingredients from suspect companies that leads to contamination issues.

“Manufacturers should have their products tested and certified to contain what is listed in the nutrition or supplement facts panel and to be free of banned substances. Certifications from independent third parties like NSF can have real value in certain markets,” Paul said. “For example, Major League Baseball requires a product to carry the NSF Certified for Sport designation in order for teams to purchase the product for their players.” 

With the concern over banned substances in the athletic world, manufacturers should work to confirm and present to the sports nutrition industry that their products are safe and free of dangerous substances, added Micah Osborne, president of ESM Technologies. “Attaining NSF’s certification, Certified for Sport, is an excellent way to promote a quality product and counter any negative criticism,” he said, adding that Core Health Products, an ESM customer, has received NSF Certified for Sport on two of its new products which include ESM’s NEM® (Natural Eggshell Membrane) and ESC® (Eggshell Calcium). “This certification reassures athletes and coaches that these products are completely free of banned substances.” 

The sports market is cautious of products intended for this industry, and rightfully so, Osborne continued.“However, the negative events have caused a paradigm shift in requirements for creating quality, sports nutrition products—the bar has been raised for future products. New NSF Certified for Sport products will establish trust in the industry again. Growth in this category will come from those products that are certified and highly trusted.” 

Effective Ingredients 

With a more widespread market, ingredient suppliers have been aiming to formulate more efficient ingredients for consumers’ wide variety of needs.

Chemi Nutra offers a few ingredients that hit several aspects of athletes’ demands, including its Nutra’s AlphaSize® Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC). A-GPC turns into phosphorylcholine (which is an active form of choline) and synthesizes and releases acetylcholine (which is an important neurotransmitter in the brain and muscle tissue). “Acetylcholine plays a very important role in the body by activating the muscles, and the end result is increased agility, speed and strength,” said Hagerman.

Many athletes compete at high levels and often struggle with mental fatigue, which can impair judgment and accuracy.As such, Chemi Nutra offers PhosphatidylSerine (PS) under the name SerinAid® PS. SerinAid PS is in the company’s IQ Plus Golf Bar, and was reported to be an effective supplement in a study looking at effectively managing exercise induced stress (cortisol).

Cortisol reduction is critical in the production of lean muscle mass because cortisol literally eats muscle and physical exercise mimics the fight or flight stress response, which leads to increases in cortisol levels, according to McNeary. “It is extremely important to mitigate cortisol increase,” she said, adding that her company’s flagship ingredient, Sensoril®, is clinically proven to reduce serum cortisol by an average of 26 percent. “We have a number of sports performance companies that use Sensoril specifically for this reason.”

Additionally, P.L. Thomas’s GliSODin® was recently shown in a study to confer significant impact on endurance athletes; the human clinical study was published in The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. The present trial confirms the findings of previous studies demonstrating the benefits of GliSODin for lessening inflammation resulting from strenuous exercise. The C-reactive protein (CRP) level differences between GliSODin-receiving subjects and the placebo group were quite remarkable, with CRP being an important measure of muscle inflammation.The higher levels of SOD, after strenuous exercise in the dosed group, is a positive measure of broad human health, said Badmaev.

Further, Solae’s Paul suggested that a combination of proteins that have different absorption rates can prolong delivery of absorbed amino acids to muscle, which is key to supporting muscle growth and recovery. “Whey protein is referred to as a ‘fast’ protein because it is rapidly absorbed, whereas casein is a ‘slow’ protein that takes several hours to be digested. Amino acid concentrations in blood peak somewhat later following soy protein isolate ingestion compared to whey, but its digestion rate is quicker than casein,” Paul explained. “Thus, ingesting a combination of the three proteins helps prolong time muscle growth is stimulated by the muscle uptake of amino acids coming from the ingested proteins.” 

Trends

One trend that is driving sports nutrition market growth is bar and beverage consumption by non-exercisers, said Paul, citing a Datamonitor statistic showing that more than $1 of every $4 spent on sports nutrition products is by individuals who don’t exercise at all. “In most cases, these individuals are overweight and are using the higher-protein sports nutrition products as meal replacement products,” he said. “These products fit well into these individuals’ need for something low in calories and carbohydrate and higher in protein that will keep you feeling full longer.” 

There’s no doubt that beverages are becoming an emerging trend in the category. “Consumers are looking to beverages and sports beverages, in particular, to give them an added boost either in their daily workouts or in their training, said Sarah Hines, market analyst for Danisco USA (New Century, KS). “They are looking for those items that have added protein, vitamins, minerals and all around boosts that will re-hydrate and create less soreness from their workouts and help rebuild lost muscles.” 

Enter Danisco’s Beta Power Natural Betaine, an ingredient for sports drink formulations. BetaPower is a purified form of anhydrous betaine that has been shown to improve physical performance, especially strength and power. As an osmolyte, betaine plays a key role in protecting cells against dehydration and stress-related water loss.

Chemi Nutra’s Hagerman agreed that having products in a variety of delivery forms would be a good strategy for manufacturers. “Consumers can become overwhelmed by too many products in one particular form. This is especially true with athletes that ‘stack,’ or use a combination of products to boost results. The human stomach can only allow so many liquids each day before feeling weighed down. Similarly, some consumers can’t stand chocking down pills.”

Essentially, according to Badmaev, it all comes down to personal preference.“Remember that those who are highly active and sports-minded are very dietconscious.They know how to load up on carbohydrates and proteins, and know how to avoid bad fats. Strengthand power-oriented fitness enthusiasts often lean toward powder formulations and will supplement with formulas in pill form.”

K2VITAL®
 
Albion Minerals®