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Sports Nutrition Ups Its Game

Sports Nutrition

How the category has transformed itself and is poised for powerful growth.

The panel:

Denis Alimonti, Director, Proprietary Branded Ingredient Department, Maypro, Purchase, NY, www.maypro.com

Shawn Baier, Vice President of Business Development, Innovative Products Division, TSI Group, Ames, IA, https://tsigroupltd.com

Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredients, Bradenton, FL, https://hpingredients.com

Leslie Gallo, President, Artemis International, Fort Wayne, IN, www.artemis-nutraceuticals.com

Tim Hammond, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Bergstrom Nutrition, Vancouver, WA, https://optimsm.com

Mariko Hill, Global Innovation Manager, Gencor, Hong Kong, www.gencorpacific.com

Brian Kaufman, Director of Business Development, Entera Health, Ankeny, IA, www.enterahealth.com

June Lin, Global Vice President of Marketing, Health & Wellness, ADM, Chicago, IL, www.adm.com

Elyse Lovett, Vice President of Marketing, Nutrition21, Harrison, NY, https://nutrition21.com

Marianne McDonagh, Bioenergy Life Science (BLS), Ham Lake, MN, www.bioenergylifescience.com

Sevanti Mehta, President, Unibar, Houston, TX, unibarcorp.com

Sam Michini, Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, Kennesaw, GA, https://deerland.com

Angie Rimel, Marketing Communications Manager, Gelita, Sergeant Bluff, IA, www.gelita.com

Ståle Søfting, Sales & Marketing Director, Kristiansund, Norway, https://vivomega.com

Mark Walin, Senior Vice President Business Development & Marketing, Troy, VA, www.bio-cat.com

Sports-nutrition products today are very different from the nasty-tasting synthetic-ingredient powders and bars of decades ago.

Not only that, but the science of sports nutrition has developed by leaps and bounds, too, becoming more sophisticated and complex for formulators and manufacturers.

According to some market research, the sports nutrition market was predicted to temporarily decline from 2019 to 2020 due to the pandemic.

Now, with an estimated market size of $15.6 billion, the market is expected, by analysts, to rise by as much as 8.9 percent (CAGR) between now and 2027.

In fact, some industry suppliers did not see any decline whatsoever in their sports-nutrition sales last year.

Here to help us with a market play-by-play is a distinguished panel of industry experts.

NIE: Although some companies saw a decline in sports-nutrition last year, the market is expected to rise between now and 2027. For manufacturers and suppliers, does this jibe with what you experienced and what you predict for the category?

Rimel: Yes, the pandemic created unprecedented changes in the sports nutrition market as consumers changed how and where they exercised and how and why they turned to sports nutritional supplements. That said, we believe there was a decline in the growth rate, but not necessarily a decline in the overall market. And yes, GELITA concurs with projected growth in the short and mid-term.

Eng: The lone spanner in the works is the uncertainty of how the nation will react to the continuing alterations of the pandemic, meaning that another quarantine/lockdown cannot be discounted in the nearer future. Beyond that, as the pandemic had spotlighted health and immunity, this brought on an attendant desire to get into great physical fitness.

Walin: BIO-CAT’s projections for growth are aligned with the analysts, and we believe we can contribute to accelerating that growth. With the shift toward better health overall, especially with a growing understanding of nutrition and how it affects the body, the desire for higher performing, safe and sustainable products will only increase.

Hammond: Athletes and general fitness enthusiasts are stepping back to consider their overall wellness, which has as much to do with productive recovery as it does with improved performance. Unfortunately, an over-used and depleted bodily system is going to have a hard time progressing, no less living to the same standards as their previous workout session.

Michini: As soon as it became apparent that the lockdowns were going to ease, brands positioned themselves to ensure that “released” consumers who found their way back to the fitness centers and courts were going to be supplied with nutraceutical products to help them regain strength, agility and endurance.

Kaufman: When the pandemic began almost no one saw it lasting this long. Because of that, many consumers took a health and nutrition vacation. However, as the pandemic stretched into 2021, there has been a massive refocus on increasing overall health in our society. For these reasons, we believe sports nutrition and the active wellness category is going to see major growth very soon.

Mehta: The pandemic may have caused gym closures and canceled sports, but it also created an active lifestyle movement as more consumers began to do at-home or outdoor exercise, committing to living a healthier life. This shift toward needing active nutrition solutions will push the category to grow as more and more people are looking for products that improve energy and help support weight management efforts.

McDonagh: Yes, this data is in line with what BLS experienced with this category in 2020 and the significant increase in demand we saw by the second quarter of 2021. As a major ingredient player in this space, BLS is prepared to help our customers capitalize on this surge in growth.

Søfting: I would agree there was a negative trend in 2020 driven by the pandemic and slowdowns or even stops in many supply chains. As consumers were forced out of gyms and training regimes, many nutrition habits were also interrupted. This seems to already be bouncing back this year and we have strong belief in the long-term growth of the sports nutrition category as personal health is as relevant as ever before. Part of this bounce-back will also come from increased reach from outside the original bounds of the category.

Hill: Yes, certainly. Despite COVID impacting the original, “core” sports nutrition ingredients—like protein powder, caffeine and so forth—it increased the demand for those ingredients that target the “active nutrition” industry, those who are more aware of their health for independence and longevity.

Sevanti: The future is definitely looking up for the sports nutrition category. One big reason for this is because of the category becoming more inclusive of a variety of activities beyond athletic performance and weightlifting. The pandemic may have caused gym closures and canceled sports, but it also created an active lifestyle movement as more consumers began to do at-home or outdoor exercise, committing to living a healthier life. This shift toward needing active nutrition solutions will push the category to grow as more and more people are looking for products that improve energy and help support weight management efforts.

Alimonti: Quarantine-caused weight gain, being cooped up for so long, and a move to even more sedentary remote-based work models have actually increased our customers’ demand for ingredients that maximize the value of physical activities.

NIE: What are the most important ways that the sports nutrition category has changed over the past few years?

Kaufman: Sports nutrition is no longer for musclebound men in tank tops. People of all lifestyles, genders and ages are understanding more and more that health is wealth. As this net gets cast more broadly and the consumers knowledge of the space continues to grow, CPG brands are no longer focusing just on protein and “pump.” Instead, they are adding new products that focus on gut health, immune health and formulations with science backed premium ingredients.

Walin: The category is moving beyond the arms race of who can sell the highest grams of protein per serving—now it is focusing on new protein sources, sustainability and protein performance of each source.

Lovett: In the past few years, suppliers and manufacturers have learned that active nutrition is here to stay. Legacy sports nutrition products continue to do well in the market, but we are seeing new products in the space that are tailored toward the mainstream “active nutrition” consumer both in-store and online do well. These products are being developed and marketed with attractive benefits that meet consumers’ overall fitness needs.

McDonagh: There is a significantly stronger emphasis on branded ingredients backed by science, as consumers want the assurance of safety, efficacy and clean label. As the sports nutrition category has expanded beyond competitive athletes to include various levels of fitness enthusiasts, there is also greater demand for sports nutrition ingredients that also support overall health. This has resulted in more innovation, both in terms of the branded ingredients themselves as well as some very interesting finished formulas.

Eng: There is much more emphasis and understanding of the role of testosterone support for active middle-aged men, especially among those who used to be highly athletic. This is a growing, underserved niche.

Gallo: Sports nutrition is not just for the athlete and has been migrating more and more to what in the past has been referred to as the “weekend warrior” but now really incorporates the healthy lifestyle consumer. From those who frequent an Anytime/24 Hr. Fitness to more hardcore CrossFit, to spin class and yoga participants, there are bars and ready-to-drink beverages to help you get through the workout. The market is much broader now and continues to grow.

NIE: A report from Mintel suggests that there’s been a blurring of the lines between nutritional, performance and weight-loss drinks. Briefly respond.

Lin: The global pandemic has transformed how consumers perceive holistic health and well-being, as they now recognize that physical, mental and emotional health are deeply interconnected. People are placing increasing importance on [healthy] foods, drinks and supplements as they take a more proactive approach to wellness. This behavioral shift is transforming the functional beverages category to meet consumer demand for active nutrition products with multifunctional benefits.

Functional beverages can help support immune function, metabolic health, weight management, sustained energy, cognitive focus and more. These drinks also can meet consumer demand for plant-based proteins, clean-label ingredients and convenient formats that taste great. Ultimately, active nutrition supports more optimized, healthy lifestyles, with a focus on being health-conscious rather than physically fit.

Gallo: There is greater focus on better nutrition—whether through foods or beverages—and in many cases they are designed to comprehensively support both better performance and weight management rather than focusing on a single goal.

Alimonti: Manufacturers want products that provide a multitude of benefits—products that offer more bang for the buck, and so that’s one reason you see more and more formulations that help with multiple areas. Another reason is that the science has expanded, so we now better realize how one ingredient or a synergistic blend of ingredients will affect several overlapping health areas.

Sevanti: Weight-loss products have often met with skepticism because of bad actors in the past that created ineffective products, so consumers now are more vigilant about and aware of what they consume.

This is why performance and weight-loss should go hand-in-hand, depending on the ingredients used and the benefits provided, for increased credibility and better health outcomes. For example, an ingredient like capsaicin can support the body by helping it to enter non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This process helps to metabolize and burn existing fat while also improving energy and endurance for better exercise performance, both of which can play a role in helping a consumer to manage their weight. There are other ingredients, too, that provide a combination of benefits that help to manage weight while making an active lifestyle more within reach.

NIE: Until very recently, sports nutrition products—such as powders and bars—were still medicinal-tasting, chalky and sticky. Broadly speaking, what strides has the industry made to change this bleak picture.

Lin: It was once acceptable for healthy food and drink to have sub-optimal flavor, as some people thought bad taste meant it was good for you. Today’s consumer knows better, and ADM offers solutions that can overcome challenges related to solubility, off notes and aromas.

Hill: Contract manufacturers have improved their in-house flavoring capabilities in order to provide broader format offerings and improve organoleptics of powders and bars.

Alimonti: Manufacturers who originally produced sports-nutrition formulas didn’t have the availability of very sophisticated flavor-chemistry capabilities and the wide range of customizable ingredient complexes and formulas that we see today. In those days, flavor and formulation sciences were in their infancy, but that’s fortunately no longer the case.

Gallo: Today it’s easier to buy good-tasting bars, low in added sugars, high in fiber, with plant proteins, and with that comes a willingness to consume them much more often. Flavoring of powders and bars, combined with major advances in texture, have made them much easier on the palate and more broadly appealing. And given the increase of healthy and active lifestyles, consumers are buying them in cases now versus just one at a time as needed hoping something better would come along.

NIE: Sports-nutrition products used to be dominated by whey protein and soy protein isolate. Today, we’re seeing very interesting compositions and combinations. What combinations or single ingredients do you find the most compelling, and why?

Hill: Combining botanical ingredients into tier one products (that is, core products in the sports nutrition industry such as protein powder) provides a more innovative and functional approach to targeting multiple benefits, for example water dispersible Curcuma longa extract with soy protein to offer a vegan solution for “holistic wellness.” Another example is the addition of fenugreek extract for an “anabolic WPI” or inclusion of a water dispersible palmitoylethanolamide with BCAA for an all-in-one muscle recovery product.

Sevanti: Beetroot is an underrated superstar in the active nutrition space that I believe is going to be getting a lot more attention now with the shift the sports nutrition category is undergoing. It is one of the most researched plant-based ingredients for an active lifestyle and is rich in nitrates and other nutrients that provide a strong variety of benefits that are perfect for consumers looking to improve their exercise habits and outcomes.

Beetroot and its actives provide essential support to the mitochondria by helping to support the processes that synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to create energy and decrease fatigue. And by improving blood flow, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, research has shown that muscles receive improved exercise tolerance and endurance. Plus, beetroot works when developed into multiple product formats, including beverages to meet the current demand and popularity.

Kaufman: Consumers want science-backed ingredients dominating the nutrition labels of the products they purchase. No longer can a company get away with sleight of hand marketing and proprietary blends with a simple dusting of ingredients.

For these reasons, the most compelling science-backed single ingredients out for sports nutrition right now are two bioactive collagen peptides from Gelita called BodyBalance and Verisol. Another ingredient with 40 clinical trials making noise in the sports nutrition space is an antibody concentrate called Immunolin. It’s packed with protein, growth factors and immunoglobulins for muscle building and recovery in a product from ManSports called Pro PF3.

Baier: As we learn more about vitamin D and the ever-growing list of benefits above and beyond bone health, it only seems logical that there would be synergistic benefits of combining HMB with vitamin D to improve muscle mass and function in a broad spectrum of consumers.

Alimonti: Some natural extracts have very compelling research behind them, including PurpleForce from Kenyan purple tea and Oligonol from lychee fruit; they help with energy production and exercise-induced heat stress, respectively. Marine-derived Juvecol is interesting, as well, as it supports both joint health and mobility.

NIE: Today, sports nutrition is about more that running and lifting weights. Now we see formulations geared to extreme sports and even e-sports. How has this change in the nature of sports changed the nature of products?

Lovett: Recently we have seen the sports nutrition branch out to different consumer groups that are looking for similar benefits to the hardcore users like energy and focus. The esports category is a perfect example in the sports nutrition category of how legacy sports nutrition benefits like energy has been incorporated with cognitive performance benefits like focus, accuracy and reaction time to create specific formulations that meet gamer demands.

Søfting: This diversification is also driving product innovation, though perhaps slowly. Yet we do see targeted products aimed at, for example, e-sports participants, where mental focus and wellbeing is important. The category is evolving beyond athletic performance and muscle recovery to become more inclusive of consumers that want to live an active lifestyle through different types of exercise and physical activity.

Hammond: With consumers of all ages engaging in an assortment of pursuits, from physically challenging to the rising popularity of e-sports, inevitably those with a competitive nature will seek nutritional support to keep them active, alert, mobile and free of injury.

Alimonti: We’ve seen the growth of non-canon sports, and we think it’s exciting. One of our PBIs, AmealPeptide, has been shown to beneficially modulate the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) to enhance physical performance. Brand manufacturers are increasingly looking for proprietary ingredients for formulas that can help athletes with their “head game” by supporting healthy cerebral circulation and cognitive function.

Eng: Both extreme sports and e-sports require more mental edge, and players understand this, as do athletes in traditional sports. Therefore, “mind-energy” or nootropic supplements and beverages are quickly rising in demand and use.

Hill: LipiSperse and AquaCelle delivery technology developed by Pharmako Biotechnologies are two of the most innovative delivery systems in the industry today. They both help increase the bioavailability of lipophilic actives—one for powders (LipiSperse) and one for oils (AquaCelle). Furthermore, they allow such actives to be incorporated into a larger breadth of formats such as in water-dispersible powders or beverages, respectively, which allows brands to innovate and expand the product offerings.

An example of an active that utilizes LipiSperse is curcumin (branded HydroCurc), which allows Curcuma longa extract to be in powder format and used with protein powders, tinctures, gummies and effervescents. AquaCelle Omega-3 is another example of a product with superior functionality, with AquaCelle helping increase absorption of omega-3 by sixfold and allowing it to be incorporated into RTD (ready-to-drink) beverages and gels.

Gallo: We used to see a larger focus on products that supported building muscle and/or supported healthy blood sugar. We now see a more broad-base focus on boosting energy—caffeine added to sports gummies for instance—and more focus on brain and eye support for the new e-sports category. The product offerings and target functionality are becoming more diverse, much like the sports nutrition category as a whole.

NIE: What are the newest delivery systems and forms you find the most exciting, and why?

McDonagh: While liposomal technology is being used more often to increase bioavailability, BLS is most excited about Function Stacking. We have developed various vehicles which also behave as beneficial active ingredients. Our approach, which uses co-crystal technology, provides our customers with a platform to engage the use of many otherwise unstable applications, while delivering added benefits to the consumer.

Søfting: Gummies have been driving growth in omega-3 products as more consumers find the delivery form simple and appealing. And, naturally, they are also very suitable for children compared to the traditional soft gel.

Sevanti: When it comes to a drink mix or RTD beverage, convenience is king. Yes, there are times when the mix will be the most cost-effective and convenient option, but over the last few years, consumers have been increasing the demand for RTD beverages because ultimately, they are more convenient. Beyond that, manufacturers can create a better tasting, better mixed drink than a consumer can typically do with a mix. I’m sure the industry will continue to innovate with the format to improve ways for these drinks to be more soluble, palatable and convenient over the coming years.

NIE: On a related note, what are the most important innovations in the category right now, and why?

Michini: Perhaps not so much innovation as far as technology, but consumer demand for fitness products containing ingredients that support immune function and digestive health is fostering category development. In a nod to the newly named “active nutrition,” whey protein products can also include enzymes to facilitate digestion and uptake of the protein while reducing gastric reactions to whey in those who are sensitive to large peptides. Endurance-promotion formulas may include an ingredient that protects immune function for people who may push themselves beyond the limit, which temporarily impairs immune activity.

Baier: Formulators and product developers are looking for ingredients that can differentiate or provide value to the commonly offered protein supplements. One example, HMB, scientifically known as β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate, is an excellent protein partner as it helps balance muscle protein turnover for optimal muscle health, both enhancing muscle growth through synthesis, and protecting against muscle loss in times of accelerated protein breakdown. Thus, HMB allows the protein/amino acids consumed to be optimally utilized by this muscle machinery to build muscle.

Sevanti: Supplements that address multiple pain points will be among the most important innovations in the next few years. By that, I mean sports nutrition supplements that are able to bring in benefits from other categories, because when it comes to active lifestyles, consumers are worried about their health in a more holistic sense.

They are aware of the need to incorporate cleaner and healthier diets to go along with an increase in physical activity, and more of them are realizing that supplementation can help in these efforts. In addition to supporting improvements in performance or energy, these consumers are looking to maintain a strong immune system, protect their cardiovascular health or manage a healthier weight. Ingredients that can perform in multiple categories along with sports nutrition will have a leg up on the competition.

NIE: Sports-nutrition drinks are huge; what do you see as the biggest advance in functional drinks for sports nutrition, whether ready to mix or ready-to-drink?

Gallo: We see an increased focus on great taste to equally match functionality. Individual stick packs of multiple flavor options allow for change and helps to eliminate flavor fatigue. Reduced sugar, increased electrolytes, vitamins and caffeine continue to rule the ingredient list.

The stick pack allows for quick just-add-water when-you-need-it approach, while ready-to-drink options will always be enormously popular because, let’s face it, many of us live grab-n-go lives and while stick packs offer many advantages—travel and portability being significant drivers—the ready-to-drink as you head out the door prior to your run or cycling is very convenient. Then you bring along the stick pack for that bottle of water you consume later.

NIE: Consumers want clean-label products without stimulants and athletes want no banned substances. Speak to this dual, yet related, drive.

Hammond: Bergstrom Nutrition began producing and testing material under the “Informed-Sport” certification in 2014 for distribution exclusively in the E.U. After four years of consistent results, we started offering OptiMSM under the “Informed-Choice” certification both domestically and to distributors outside of the E.U. Now LGC’s rebrand of Informed-Choice into “Informed-Ingredient” aims to provide sports nutrition suppliers with new marketing approaches to ensure athletes that their products are free of banned-substances.

McDonagh: As clean-label, stimulant-free products became essential for professional athletes, other consumers have come to understand their value for supporting performance and overall well-being. BLS helped to pioneer clean label in our industry with our long-standing, popular ingredient, Bioenergy Ribose. D-Ribose delivers the energy our bodies need and the recovery to keep going, train harder and to stay in the game. It’s clean label and stimulant free without the unwanted side effects associated with caffeine. It is approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as well as The Olympic Association. This is one of the few ingredients world-class Olympians take while training and competing.

Alimonti: We see this all the time from product developers and one solution many have been gravitating to is Oligonol which is natural, stimulant-free, on the WADA safe list while still providing significant science that allows brands to make strong sports nutrition claims.

Kaufman: Consumers want to trust and embody the decisions they make, and that includes the type of products they purchase. That being said, competition is no longer for pro athletes. Consumers want to ensure they are buying products that are backed by science and third-party tested. This is why you should only buy clean label formulations with premium branded ingredients.

Hill: The sports nutrition industry had been impacted in previous years due to brands spiking products with banned substances. This certainly led to the loss of trust amongst consumers, inevitably doubting athletes to purchase such products—particularly as their careers are on the line. For that matter, both suppliers and finished products brands have started testing with third party labs to deem their raw material/product absent of WADA-prohibited substances. Gencor’s Levagen+ has received “Informed Ingredient Certification” by LGC certifying every batch to be tested for WADA banned substances.

NIE: For ingredient companies, in a few paragraphs which one or two of your proprietary branded ingredients for sports nutrition should finished product manufacturers take notice of and why?

Lovett: Nutrition21 offers nooLVL, a patented complex of bonded arginine and silicon with an additional optimized dose of Inositol. nooLVL is a non-stimulant nootropic ingredient that enhances cognitive performance in fast-paced esports competitions. nooLVL has been clinically studied in a population of gamers and has been shown to work within 15 minutes to increase energy, focus, reaction time, and accuracy.

Nutrition21 unveiled new research on the cognitive benefits of nooLVL at the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s (ISSN) Annual conference in mid-June.

These new data strengthen the evidence behind nooLVL for improving cognitive benefits for esports gamers, who rely on quick reactions, focus, memory and fine motor skills to excel during competition. These skills are especially important when gamers are facing off against each other in high stakes tournaments and events.

McDonagh: Sports nutrition brands should take notice of our long-standing ingredient, Bioenergy Ribose. D-Ribose is the backbone of our ATP structure, the source of our cellular energy. It powers our energy, stamina and recovery so that we may keep going and become better. It’s backed by science, effective at low doses and is truly effective. This makes it a great ingredient to add into your formula or a perfect stand-alone product.

Søfting: The VivoMega Platinum range provides the highest potency oils to supercharge omega-3 formulations. Our new technology platform will enable customers to support the trend towards higher dosages and fewer capsules to achieve compliance. This is valuable to anyone looking to improve performance and recovery during physical activity because the higher EPA and DHA values help to increase muscle strength and endurance capacity while reducing muscle soreness. Omega-3 supplementation also contributes to a reduced recovery time after exercise because of its ability to support the body’s efforts to regulate the inflammatory response.

Eng: LJ100 is the premier tongkat ali ingredient for male wellness and fitness. We have two new published studies of specifically observing the link between testosterone and fitness in healthy middle-aged men with ADAM (androgen deficiency of aging males).

For a mental competitive edge, our IQ200 Kesum (Persicara minor and Polygonum minus) may help support intellectual performance and memory (function more than structure). Two human studies have shown that IQ200 exerted significant improvements in Cognitive Function Score in reaction time, working memory, and sustained attention as well as on Digit Span test, short-term memory and Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence score. Clinical studies show improvements in cognitive flexibility, processing speed and executive function in adults. Subsequent studies demonstrated improvements in working memory and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Alimonti: As mentioned before, PurpleForce is a Kenyan purple tea extract that improves exercise performance and reduces fatigue. It’s rich in functional ingredients and polyphenolic compounds such as GHG, which works to inhibit lipid and fat absorption while also boosting fat metabolism. It additionally helps activate AMPK, which increases energy levels and glucose absorption in the skeletal muscle.

Now regarding Oligonol, a patented and low-molecular-weight polyphenolic extract derived from lychee fruit (85 percent) and green tea (15 percent), published studies show that it can help the body more economically use body fluids to combat exertional heat stress, partly by reducing inflammation. Plus, Oligonol decreases fatigue, improves endurance and increases production of nitric oxide.

Baier: Whether a product geared towards the hardcore sport nutrition consumer or the older adult consumer looking to maintain muscle health as they age, the benefits of myHMB—otherwise known as Calcium HMB—on muscle protein balance makes it a critical nutrient to add to protein products.

On another front, supplemental ATP is an incredibly interesting nutrient in the energy category. PEAK ATP provides this ATP and is real energy, identical to the form our bodies actually use to power movement. While other ingredients are precursors to the body’s production of ATP, PEAK ATP actually delivers ATP directly to working muscles when the body needs it most. Lin: At ADM, we help brands provide microbiome support with the incorporation of BPL1 (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BPL1 [CECT 8145]), our award-winning probiotic strain that targets factors related to metabolic health.

Hammond: Whether muscle, joints, ligaments, or skin, sulfur-rich OptiMSM provides multiple benefits for manufacturers to consider for their fitness and health-focused customers. Human studies on OptiMSM suggest it helps support and preserve connective tissue, protects cartilage, supports joint health, and improves mobility. MSM also promotes muscle adaption while reducing muscle damage and oxidative stress, which bolster pursuits whether mental or physical.

Gallo: Artemis offers several ingredients that would be beneficial in sports applications. Our CherryCraft made from European-grown tart cherries supports a healthy inflammatory response, perfect to support muscle recovery from marathons, bicycling, yoga and weightlifting. Our ElderCraft, made from European black elderberries, can support a healthy immune system, which is key to sports performance as extreme exertion can reduce the immune system strength. In a preliminary study, when taken before working out, it delayed lactic acid production and subsequent fatigue during strenuous exercise. Our Cranberry Protein Powder offers 25 percent protein with 22 amino acids making it an excellent plant-based protein option.

Sevanti: CapZfuel is our enteric-coated capsaicin extract that is designed to deliver directly to the intestine where it can be absorbed without causing any damage or irritation to the stomach or gut. This has made it one of the safest and most effective capsaicin options available and does so without the use of any pharmaceutical excipients, surfactants and soothing agents. CapZfuel helps to initiate non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which helps to burn existing fat stores for energy to help for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Our pre-clinical research on CapZfuel showed significant reductions in weight and lipid parameters such as cholesterol and triglycerides because of a boosted resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure.

Coming soon, we will be introducing beetroot as part of our Univita line.

NIE: Briefly, what are your predictions for the sports-nutrition category, short-term and long-term?

Alimonti: We predict continued growth, with more formulas that also address such areas as joint health, bone health, cardiovascular health, respiratory health and beauty-from-within. Manufacturers will increasingly develop formulas geared to these demographics and these demands. In addition, as noted, ingredients that improve cognitive health—including support for the “head game”—will become increasingly important.

Gallo: Similar to the immune category which spiked due to the pandemic and has settled down some, I believe we will see a similar situation with sports nutrition as it will continue to grow but at a more measured pace. The blurring of lines between sports nutrition and healthy lifestyle will continue with high levels of protein and energy offered for the athlete “line” and lower protein offerings for the health-conscious consumer. Increasingly the story will be for brands to support the move toward a more health and fitness-aware consumer. NIE

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