Sports Nutrition Explained

What is Sports Nutrition? 

The concept of a Sports Nutrition Supplement is a food-based product consumed to enhance physical performance in a given sport or activity. Due to the physiological demands of exercise, the body requires extra nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals) to support the growth of new muscle and elicit physical recovery.

Essentially, a Sports Nutrition Supplement allows the consumer to add specific nutrients to their normal diet to support their increased physical activity. This is generally achieved through convenient and enjoyable delivery formats such as shakes, bars, tablets and even fortified foods.


Types of Sports Supplements

Sports Nutrition Supplements come in many forms in today’s modern market. Largely based around convenience you will see the following across the most popular brands on the market…

  • Powders

The most popular form is a powder supplement, where the consumer mixes a specific amount of powder with water, milk or another liquid to create a drinkable supplement. Powders can essentially cover all genres of supplement including protein, pre-workout, recovery, weight loss, weight gain and meal replacement. These powders are commonly contained in large plastic tubs or resealable foil pouches.

  • Snacks

The fastest growing format of Sports Nutrition Supplements are snacks such as bars, cookies and even crisps. Much like other snacks, they are built for taste and convenience but with the added bonus of containing controlled levels of nutrients such as protein.

  • Drinks

The format best known for energy drinks has expanded to other product types such as protein shakes, amino acid drinks and also pre-workout drinks. Built around convenience, taste and refreshment these types of beverage are ideal for the mass market as a familiar and reliable format.

  • Tablets and Capsules

This delivery format is often used for ingredients or nutrients that are required in small doses. Vitamins and minerals are a great example and most commonly consumed in this format, although more specific ingredients such as caffeine, amino acids and herbal extracts are also more relevant in this form.


Market Information 

Sports Nutrition Supplements are one of the most exciting and fastest-growing markets in the UK. With continued growth throughout the last 2 decades, this category has become of mass-market interest and crosses a large demographic target.

The overall UK Sports Nutrition Market was worth in excess of £800m in 2017 with strong growth projected to continue.

Whilst the majority of sales have been generated through e-commerce channels and specialist online brands, the UK has seen the fastest growth rate in retail sales throughout Europe. Sales through leading grocers and chemists have grown in excess of £100m in 2017 from £66m in 2016. Some retailers, including pound shops and discounters, are now becoming destination shops for sports nutrition consumers as the market becomes more and more accessible to the masses.

Convenience products have shown the strongest growth in value and volume (ready to drink beverages, protein bars, etc) in recent years. This highlights the relevance and importance of ‘grab and go’ products to the mass market. Recruitment of consumers in to this category is heavily influenced by these convenience products, before upscaling and investment into powder-based products. Powder-based products continue to be the most popular product format throughout the global market and makeup 65% of total sports nutrition products purchased in Europe.

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