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Sports nutrition: market gains a new consumer profile

July 7, 2023

Reading time6 minutes

The sports nutrition market arouses interest even from those who are not athletes, but seek a proper and healthy diet through supplements.

Sports nutrition products are no longer exclusive to high-level bodybuilders and athletes. Created to improve performance and stimulate muscle growth, in recent years they have begun to find space among consumers seeking a healthier lifestyle. This trend reflects a change in the consumer profile for this market.

Is health the new wealth?

Recent research and studies show a substantial increase in health prioritization: 79% of the 7,500 consumers surveyed by McKinsey for the “Future of Wellness” survey in 2021 said they believe wellness is important; and 42% consider it a priority.

Therefore, consumers’ inclination towards physical activity is expected to increase further, which should in turn accelerate the growth of the sports nutrition market in the coming years.

Not just athletes, but anyone who practices physical activity has an interest in sports nutrition solutions. In addition, due to the benefits it offers, the trend is for customers to adjust their preferences for nutritious foods, which should increase total demand. This is one of the main factors driving the market: health is a very valuable asset and there is a willingness to pay more for healthy alternatives that enable lifestyle changes.

Why sports nutrition is so important

Supplements are a widely used resource for physical activity practitioners, especially those who perform high-intensity activities, with the aim of improving sports performance. They range from traditional macronutrients such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, to more specific nutrients such as creatine, caffeine, branched-chain amino acids, among others.

Consuming adequate amounts of macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – to fuel the body is critical to optimal exercise performance. Micronutrients and specific compounds, such as vitamin D, caffeine, and calcium, have important benefits for boosting results. Therefore, nutrition plays a fundamental role in maximizing performance during physical activities and without these nutrients, sports performance can be impaired.

The most important nutrients for physical activity

Proteins – Proteins are the stars when it comes to physical activity, as they provide amino acids for muscle synthesis, in addition to being important for the repair and recovery of bones, joints and ligaments after a workout. Whey protein contains good amounts of amino acids, which signal the production of muscles, such as leucine, and is therefore well studied and widely used in various products. In the plant-based aspect, pea protein follows the lead, also due to its amino acidic profile.

Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are another class of macronutrients that remain at the forefront of sports because they provide the energy needed to maximize workouts and athletic performance and ensure energy storage from the glycogen supply. Ingredients such as beetroot juice and/or extracts and maltodextrin are part of these components that are priority in activities above one hour in duration.

Fat – Fat provides energy, aids, protects bones and joints and contributes to the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K.

Calcium – Calcium is especially important for physical activity practitioners as it can be easily lost, as well as other minerals, through sweating. In addition to being important for keeping bones strong, it is necessary for muscle contraction.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D has a positive impact on muscle growth and cell differentiation and can also increase sarcoplasmic calcium absorption, leading to greater muscle contractility.

Caffeine – Caffeine before a workout or sporting event can help slow fatigue and increase muscle strength and power.

Creatine – Creatine acts by producing energy quickly during activities, stimulating the ability of muscles to perform their functions, increasing strength and power.

In addition to nutrient intake, proper hydration is critical to overall health and exercise performance. The loss of water through normal bodily functions, such as breathing, digestion and sweating, also impacts the loss of electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium and, therefore, the replacement of these nutrients, with the aid of isotonic and energy drinks stands out.

See which foods and beverages generate the most energy, disposition and focus.

The supplements market

According to the research report published by Vantage Market Research, the size of the global sports nutrition market is expected to reach $ 62.7 billion by 2028, with an annual growth rate of 8.1%. In 2021, it was valued at $ 39.3 billion.

The increase in numbers is attributed to the increasing consumption of products such as whey protein and the accessibility of various plant proteins such as pumpkin seed, soybeans, spirulina, hemp, rice and peas.

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region. Changes in the lifestyle of local consumers, particularly in countries such as India and China, are contributing to the growth of sports nutrition as a convenient food option to satiate hunger and provide nutrients after sports or exercise.

According to a research report published by the Global Wellness Institute in February 2022, the wellness-related economy in Latin America and the Caribbean was estimated at US$ 235.4 billion in 2020. By comparison, the Asia-Pacific market was estimated at US$ 1.5 trillion. The North American market is at US$ 1.3 trillion and the European, US$ 1.1 trillion.

What is sports nutrition market segmentation

The sports nutrition market is segmented into four main categories: Pre-workout, Intra workout, Post-workout and Weight loss. Based on the formulation, the products are sold in tablets, capsules, powder, soft gels, liquids and gummies. And finally, segmented based on consumer groups, adults and seniors. Considering the type of product (sports supplements, sports drinks and sports foods), the Sports segment holds the largest market share.

The growth is attributed to consumption by consumers in the age group of 18 to 64 years, heavily involved in physical and sports activities.  In addition, the increase in the female working population has also influenced the demand for sports nutrition for this age group.

The role of formulations

Nowadays, RTD beverages dominate the market. However, it is expected that gels, bars and powders will increasingly participate in this scenario. Manufacturers are increasing the nutritional value of their products by adding new flavors and natural ingredients. There are also options enriched with caffeine and reduced sugar.

Ready, a sports nutrition company, launched a beverage with superfruits and B-complex vitamins in flavors such as blue raspberry, mango, peach, lemonade with berries, fruit punch, passion fruit with orange, banana with strawberry, mixed red fruits and black cherry.

In the market, it is possible to find several products aimed at sports. Here are some examples:

Swisse (Australia)
Swisse launched the Swisse Active line with 3 SKUs to prepare individuals for exercise, help them with their performance and post-workout recovery. The “Prepare” version offers energy from the extracts of green tea, guarana, Korean ginseng and B-complex vitamins. “Perform” contains beet extract, maca powder and minerals that increase hydration and support muscle function. Finally, Swisse Active Recover has BCAA in its formulation to build and repair muscles, in addition to turmeric extract and magnesium citrate. All versions are gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar and without synthetic additives.
Gym Weed (USA)
Gym weed is a line of hemp-infused energy drinks, launched in the United States market with three flavors: Pear Pineapple, Stone Fruit and Tropical Berry. Drinks provide balanced energy without the nervousness and anxiety typically associated with energy drinks. With zero sugar and just 10 calories per can, GYM WEED's additional ingredients include L-Theanine and Lion's Mane, compounds that help give a heightened sense of alertness and focus, along with B vitamins and electrolytes. Free of THC, gluten and transgenic fats.
Good Sport (USA)
Goodsport is cow's milk, but with protein and fat removed through ultrafiltration, leaving a clear sugary liquid loaded with vitamins and electrolytes such as calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and phosphorus. It is a drink that provides its carbohydrates from the natural sugar in milk, which is broken down by the lactase enzyme into glucose and galactose, creating a lactose-free drink.
Vievé (United Kingdom)
The English brand Vievé, which already sold water with animal proteins, has now launched water with plant proteins to meet the demand of the vegan and flexitarian public for an easy and fast protein boost. They are available in wild cherry and peach with orange flavors and each bottle has 10g of pea protein and just 50 calories, in addition to being sugar and fat free.


Product innovation is an important trend that is gaining popularity in the sports nutrition market. Large companies operating in the sector are focused on developing innovative options to strengthen their position.

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