Sports nutrition is the diet required to help maintain a healthy and strong body alongside exercising. Sports nutrition comes in the forms such as; shakes, bars, tablets, and fortified food such as yoghurts and cereal. The sports nutrition market in 2019 was valued at USD 15.6 billion and is expected to grow 8.9% (1). Covid-19 has impacted sports nutrition positively by its increase in consumer consumption as more people have been working from home and taking their health more seriously. A significant 34% of UK adults said exercising has become a bigger priority to become healthier and reduce the risk of being affected by the virus (2). An astounding 76% of people during lockdown took up a new form of exercise through different means such as Zoom classes or purchasing a Peloton bike. (3)
Covid-19 has led to people’s focus changing from going beyond general fitness to an overall healthy lifestyle, creating an appetite within sports nutrition. However, there has been a movement in the industry away from traditional sports nutrition such as gels, powders, and shakes to more natural sources and food such as nuts, cereal bars, and yoghurt. Over the pandemic, there was a shift of focus on social media to getting the required protein and nutrients from natural sources and food.
Demand for plant-based products:
Since the pandemic (March 2020) 21% of 16-24s and 24% 25-34s in the UK said: “that a vegan diet has become more appealing,” as it is perceived to be healthy and sustainable for the environment (2). These are the age categories to which sports nutrition appeals the most too, as they use sports nutrition products the most, creating an increased demand for plant-based nutrition products.
With the movement away from animal-sourced protein products, it has led to different sources of protein to start trending:
• Pea protein
• Brown rice
• Pumpkin protein
• Insect protein
• Products naturally high in protein preferable to ones with added protein
Benefits of plant-based protein:
• High in carbohydrates
• Low in fat
• Plentiful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
These lead to better heart health and smoother digestion due to the promotion of good gut bacteria.
“The future for sports nutrition will be democratised across further demographics, blurring the divide between Functional Food, Sports Nutrition, and Fortified Foods, reaching more people than ever with the benefits that designed foods can bring. Also, as Designed Nutrition is growing as a topic among Millennials and Gen Z, and as food scarcity, crop yield decline, and nutrient bleaching will impact more and more of humanity’s food supply, nutritional science will have a central role in ensuring that more and more people have access to nutritious, healthy food.”