2016 Sports Nutrition Ingredient Trends

Oct 17, 2016


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A considerable market exists for nourishing trained and untrained athletes. According to market researcher Euromonitor International, the biggest sports nutrition markets today are in North America (currently with a $7.6 billion value), followed by Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Eastern Europe.

Dietary supplements are still in highest demand for sports nutrition. Sophisticated ingredients that go into supplements are oftentimes more viable in a bulk powder or capsule than in complicated environments, such as bars, juices, and other food-friendly consumables. Ahead are some up-and-coming ingredients in the sports nutrition world.



The importance of leucine in sports nutrition cannot be understated. As an essential amino acid, leucine is necessary for protein synthesis, the growth and repair of muscle tissues, and numerous other biological functions. All of this gives reason for us to consume leucine frequently, which is why leucine is often incorporated into protein powders and other sports supplements. What consumers may not realize, however, is that a metabolite of leucine may be worth supplementing with, too.

Leucine’s conversion into the metabolite β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) is critical for completing biological functions. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that the conversion of leucine to HMB can decline with age in both humans and other animals, potentially leading to lean mass and strength loss in adults of all ages.1,2

Already, numerous reports link HMB use to enhanced workout recovery, especially after high-intensity exercise.3,4 The ingredient may be useful for seasoned athletes pushing their training programs to higher intensities, as well as untrained sports consumers just starting an exercise program.

Research continues on HMB supplementation alone and in combination with other sports nutrients such as creatine and whey protein.4-6 Although HMB supplier Metabolic Technologies Inc. (Ames, IA) says that sports nutrition is HMB’s primary market, the company also adds that there is growing awareness around HMB for addressing sarcopenia and maintaining muscle mass later in life. For this reason, HMB should gain interest from older consumers as well.



Although casual consumers may not be familiar with a substance called α-glyceryl phosphoryl choline (A-GPC), its utility relates to a better-known nutrient: choline. Choline is an essential nutrient in part because it helps the body make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in muscle control and brain memory. A-GPC comes into play by increasing free choline in the bloodstream, according to recent data.7

The benefits of increasing the production of acetylcholine via A-GPC supplements appear to be both physical and mental. In recent exercise studies, A-GPC use was associated with improvements in strength and power (broadly categorized by one researcher as “explosive performance”), as well as improvements in mood and cognitive function comparable to the effects of caffeine.8-10 In response to such findings, Chemi Nutra LLC (Austin, TX), a global supplier of AlphaSize A-GPC, recently filed a patent application for replacing, displacing, and/or augmenting caffeine with AlphaSize.

A-GPC is available in powder form and, at least in the case of AlphaSize, can also be used in beverages because it’s completely water-soluble. While young men make up A-GPC’s primary purchasing group, Chemi Nutra says that “vitality” and well-being marketing are creating opportunities to appeal to older consumers who aren’t necessarily the sporting types.



Probiotics are gaining attention in the sports world. New study results11 shared by probiotics firm Ganeden (Cleveland) suggest that the Ganeden BC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) strain may be an effective partner to casein protein for delivering certain sports-related benefits. Compared to casein protein alone, the combination of Ganeden BC30 (1 billion CFU) and casein protein was found to be more effective at significantly reducing indices of muscle damage and soreness.

Researchers assessed the effect of the probiotic and protein combination in 29 recreationally trained men. “Ganeden BC30 with just 20 grams of protein was able to protect the muscle from damage as shown by perceptual measures and blood work, resulting in improvement in five protein utilization endpoints: decreased recovery time, decreased soreness, reduced swelling, increased power, and decreased blood kinase,” Ganeden explained. The probiotics-and-casein group was also able to maintain athletic performance in subsequent exercises; by contrast, the casein-only participants experienced a significant reduction in athletic performance following the damaging exercise bout.



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  2. Giron M et al., “Conversion of leucine to β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate by α-keto isocaproate dioxygenase is required for a potent stimulation of protein synthesis in L6 rat myotubes,” Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia, and Muscle, vol. 7, no. 1 (March 2016): 68-78
  3. Wilson JM et al., “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB),” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 10, no. 1 (February 2, 2013): 6
  4. Hoffman JR et al., “β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate attenuates cytokine response during sustained military training,” Nutrition Research, vol. 36, no. 6 (June 2016): 553-563
  5. Jówko E et al., “Creatine and beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) additively increase lean body mass and muscle strength during a weight-training program,” Nutrition, vol. 17, no. 7-8 (July-August 2001): 558-566
  6. M Shirato et al., “Effects of combined β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) and whey protein ingestion on symptoms of eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Published online February 29, 2016.
  7. T Kawamura et al., “Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults,” Nutrition, vol. 28, no. 11-12 (November-December 2012): 1122-1126
  8. Bellar D et al., “The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Published online November 17, 2015.
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  11. Jäger R et al., “Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and increases recovery,” PeerJ. Published online July 21, 2016.
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  22. Lever K et al., “Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on an acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance trained males,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 12 (November 2015): 41
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