5 trends in sports nutrition and
how to make them work for your Brand (with actual examples!)

The sports nutrition market is very appealing with opportunities and space for growth. According to Businesswire, it is expected to reach USD 26.11 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 10.09%.  However, sports nutrition market entry strategies need to be hyper- tailored to your key segment in order to make your innovation a success. The HMT can help you get from science to market and in this article we highlight 5 trends mapped out across the consumer maturity stages and how to make them yours.


1. Microbiome: The next wave of sport nutrition

This is a new and upcoming area that can draw the attention of what in HMT we call the “Technology Stakeholder”. These are those consumers who are really savvy and on the look out for anything new that fits their need. In the sports world, these would be more the professional or more “serious” athletes.

There are many benefits of probiotics supported by recent research, which include:
a. Improving athletic performance & endurance​
b. Shortening of the recovery time, stimulating muscle growth and fat loss​
c. Helping improve antioxidant capacity and facilitating amino acid absorption​
d. Alleviating symptoms of stress through the gut-brain axis​

Featuring example: Nella by Fitbiomics (US). The Performance Probiotic designed to support gut health for active lifestyles pushing to a new frontier of personal fitness, from the inside out. Each capsule contains 15 Billion CFU+ blend of the proprietary athlete-derived Lactobacillus probiotics that identified, decoded, and patented using cutting-edge meta-genomics technology.

You should consider this innovation for your brand if….you are already an established and credible name in the sports world and looking to create a new segment in a category, addressing the savvy consumer with the athletic lifestyle.

2. Plant based and pre/ probiotics

According to Backery & Snacks, “The future of sports nutrition is going to be a bigger shift of active people looking for plant-based nutrition & supplements. ​Many large sports nutrition brands have expanded their vegan ranges ​to cater for this”. Sustainability is a key driver for many consumers ​to adopt a plant-based diet and according to Nutrition Insight: “Sport-friendly food should be delicious, nutritious and ​good for the planet”.

Featuring example: Plant Powerd Protein by NB Pure x Earthy Andy (US). Ready-to-mix powders made from all natural ingredients with pre and probiotics.  Targeting excercising and clean label consumers. The brand focuses on better health by learning to trust nature, embrace balance and use plant-based nutrition to fuel the body. ​Plant protein provides benefits from recovery after exercise to gut health, skin health and more energy.  ​

You should consider this innovation for your brand if you are looking to launch a new brand targeting the sustainability- conscious and/or younger consumer or if you are considering launching an extension of your current brand with plant based products to attract an additional type of consumer, beyond the mass market (it could allow you to command higher retail price).

3. Physical to mental

“Two-third of European sports nutrition consumers were looking to improve congnition in the last six months, and that 82% identified ‘improving cognitive health’ as an important factor when seeking out sports nutrition products”, according to Nutraingredients. The Tokyo Olympics changed the conversation about athletes´ mental health which the perception going from weak to strong and mental health days being celebrated.

Featuring example: Klean Focus (US). Specially formulated to help athletes dial in to their mental game and keep it as strong as their physical one. ​The antioxidants Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid provide cognitive support by assisting mitochondrial function and neurotransmitter production, while Alpha-GPC helps to protect cellular membranes. In addition, lutein helps support visual acuity, which is key to the body’s ability to adapt, process, and respond in the moment. ​

You should consider this innovation for your brand ifyou are an established sports nutrition name amongst consumers with a very active/ almost professional athlete lifestyle or if you are a brand who is active in mental wellbeing/ balance supplements and now looking to expand into sports. This is suitable for the Technology or Lifestyle consumers, according to our 4 factors methodology (for more information please see https://www.thehmt.com/fourfactors/).

4. Crafted & personalized

In a recent issue of Forbes, the magazine asked: “The sports nutrition world has begun to focus on particular nutrient and vitamin needs for exercise goals. Obviously, a marathon runner and power lifter are putting different strains on their body, so why are they putting the same nutrients in their body?” And we couldn´t have said it better ourselves. ​

Featuring example: Abnormal (UK). The world’s first personalised, nutritionally complete meal. Customers complete an online questionnaire on their diet, health goals, allergies and lifestyle to receive a bow of portion-packed meal replacement shakes, contains an optimal balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, fat, complex carbs and other active ingredients.

You should consider this innovation for your brand if you are looking to launch a new sports brand but do not want to compete with what is already existing. The personalization aspect allows you to play away from the mass competition.

5. Real food & clean energy

Consumers are concerned about the contents of their food, and are pushing industry to increase label transparency to do this. This is very true also in the sports nutrition products with more and more brands doing clean label claims.

Featuring example: OWYN Protein Power (US). Delicious plant-based 20g vegan protein powder providing superior health benefits through a synergy of 3 different protein sources, probiotics, and greens blend for maximum protein absorption and easy digestion.

You should consider this innovation for your brand if your strategy is to grow into mass- market. You can leverage hidden nutritional assets and highlight the nutritional value and the benefit of the plant- based alternative. It can allow you to move to a holistic sports nutrition approach with multiple actives and multiple benefits and be more competitive in the market place.

Need more information? Contact Maria at maria@thehmt.com and feel free to ask us anything! Our expert consultants would be happy to work with your team and bring winning products to the market.