How Covid-19 affected Sports Nutrition

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.

A popular movement

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.

We recently interviewed Balazs our Senior International Sales Manager at Vector who is an avid sport and gym-goer, to provide us with his views on the future of sports nutrition.

5 mins with Balazs ‘view of the future of sports nutrition’:

“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.”

Our thoughts:
The sports nutrition industry is moving away from traditional to healthier snacking with natural ingredients. Since Covid-19, more people have had a little bit more time to discover a new world of health and fitness from eating more plant-based food to attending fitness Zoom classes and getting stuck in by joining in with Joe Wicks. There has been an evident shift by many body coaches who were used to training indoors and inside gyms, but the lockdowns have caused some challenges around this. Forcing trainers and coaches to offer free advice and classes and with this, in mind, there has been an increase in eating better and consuming less meat which could mean the continued rise of plant-based product category to grow. The plant-based market in 2019 was USD 5.5 billion and is expected to grow to USD 5.9 billion (4).
The sports nutrition industry will also be looking for more sustainable animal alternatives, as people become environmentally aware meaning, we could see a rise in insect protein in the upcoming. Insect protein is good for the environment, compared to other meat sources, as insects take up less land, and emit fewer greenhouse gases, compared to conventional beef.
If you want to learn more about sports nutrition and the products that we are involved with, please feel free to contact Balazs.