Sports nutrition goes back to basics

Sports nutrition goes back to basics

After weathering steroid scandals and an increasingly skeptical public, the sports nutrition category finds solace in old friends. Innovations in the old familiar protein and carb combo pumps up this important functional ingredients category.

The sports nutrition category has long been a source of big arms, big egos and big money.  And some big risk takers, too, as past steroid scandals have shown.  And it’s a category that seems especially susceptible to The Next Big Thing, whether it’s muscle building products, free radical scavengers or what have you, all hawked by celebrity athletes.

A recent scandal revolved around “geranium oil extract” used in sports supplements.  Patrick Arnold, the driving force behind the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), unearthed a compound originally patented in the 1940s as a decongestant that can function as a stimulant and goes by the names methylhexaneamine (MHA) or dimethylamylamine (DMAA).  He marketed pre-workout supplements under a variety of names containing the ingredient. Arnold cited DMAA as a constituent of the botanical geranium oil extract via a single scientific paper of dubious provenance out of China.  A review released by the American Herbal Products Association in early August states there is no evidence that DMAA a natural substance, even though it was being marketed as such.  Some in industry said it’s basically a lapsed drug, and the World Anti Doping Agency agreed, banning the substance in 2010.  It’s a sign that the envelope pushers are still active is this category.

But despite the black marks, sports nutrition remains a robust growth category, and the outlook is bright. According to Nutrition Business Journal, the annual growth in the sales of sports nutrition supplements averaged 7.5 percent from 2000-2009 before shooting up to over 9 percent in 2010.  NBJ predicts that growth to prevail at about that level least through 2013.


Pumping with protein

The mainstay of workout products is protein.  While many strength athletes have overdone protein in the past with 20-egg power shakes and such, there’s no doubt that a dose of high quality protein at the right time aids in muscular recovery and growth. Whey is the big winner, with a claim to rapid digestibility.  But casein and soy concentrates and isolates have big market shares, too.

Protein hydrolysates are another choice. “Sports nutrition products in general will see further growth.  As far as proteins are concerned, more companies and consumers are starting to look at the benefits of protein hydrolysates as opposed to regular protein concentrates and isolates,” said Reto Rieder of DSM Nutritional Products.  DSM markets a protein hydrolysate called PeptoPro, which is the sole protein ingredient in a new PowerBar powdered performance drink product called Isomax.  This is an entrant in a growing minisegment – recovery drinks.  The idea of adding protein to a recovery drink is old hat among amateur locker room chemists, but has only recently entered the mainstream.


Continuing with carbs

To build those muscles or win that race, you have to have endurance, and there are a number of functional ingredients in the carbohydrate category to help.  One superstar is ribose, a sugar metabolite that’s a building block of the ATP energy molecule. Ribose is only mildly sweet and adds only a few calories per gram but it has been shown to help the body better mobilize its energy reserves.  On the other end of the calorie spectrum is Vitargo, a functional carbohydrate derived from barley starch via a patented process that studies show enters the bloodstream faster than any other.  “The Vitargo molecule is pure and unique and actually has a patent on it like a drug does,” said Anthony Almada, CEO of Genr8, which markets a powdered product based on the molecule that packs 280 calories into each serving.


Condition Specific Directory


Albion, Human Nutrition Division

Creatine MagnaPower® (magnesium creatine chelate)


Algatechnologies, Ltd.

AstaPure natural astaxanthin



Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L)


Bergstrom Nutrition



Bioenergy Life Science, Inc.

Bioenergy Ribose

Bioenergy Ribose accentuates the body’s natural process of energy synthesis. It helps to reduce the loss of energy during stress and accelerates energy and tissue recovery.Through this action, BioenergyRibose helps muscles regenerate lost energy and potentially minimize any physiological consequences of this energy depletion situation.

[email protected]


Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


Bio Serae Laboratories SAS




Wellmune WGP

Clinical research indicates that Wellmune WGP may enable recreational and elite athletes to exercise longer and harder with less risk of immune system suppression that normally occurs following high intensity exercise.  Derived from a proprietary strain of yeast, Wellmune naturally primes the immune system to keep the body healthy.

[email protected]


Eagan, Minnesota, USA


Biotropics Malaysia


Clinically researched and shown to support overall health, energy, muscle strength, muscle mass and enhance masculine vitality. PHYSTA™ uses a patented water extraction and freeze-dried technology developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to deliver the purest and efficacious form of Tongkat Ali.

[email protected]

+60 3 2245 8000

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Draco Natural Products

Fruit phytoconcentrates of Lemon, Black Currant, Blueberry, Jack Fruit and Prunus Mume


DSM Nutritional Products


PeptoPro is a water-soluble casein hydrolysate high in di and tri-peptides for fast absorption that has gained popularity in sports nutrition. Back by seven published human studies showing benefits in performance,  endurance and muscle recovery, this unique protein peptide has become a firm favorite for weekend warriors and serious athletes.

[email protected]


Parsippany, NJ


Fonterra USA, Inc.

Clear ProteinTM whey proteins

Are your protein beverages heavy and milky, or don’t deliver the type of taste experience your customers are looking for? Fonterra’s Clear ProteinTM whey ingredients are your solution. Created to be formulated into today’s top RTD beverages, Clear ProteinTM  provides the difference by delivering better taste, texture and nutrition.


Power Protein dairy proteins

The challenge in delivering high-protein bars and snacks is that they can be poor tasting, hard and chewy. Fonterra’s Power Protein dairy proteins are formulated to provide solutions to these issues, delivering great taste, great texture and great nutrition, which will give you an edge in today’s marketplace.


Rosemont, Illinois, USA


Gencor Nutrients, Inc.



Humanetics Corporation



Improve USA, Inc.

Aloe vera gel and whole leaf decolorized

Consuming our daily supplements with aloe instead of water increases the bioavailability. A study at the University of California, Davis showed an increase in the bioavailability of vitamin C and B12 when consumed with 3 ounces of aloe. Get more from the vitamins and minerals you consume daily.

[email protected]


DeSoto, Texas, USA


InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Inc



Kyowa Hakko USA



Lonza Inc.


A special grade of L-carnitine, manufactured by Lonza. Carnipure™ is critical for fat and energy metabolism, as it transports long-chain fatty acids, the key source for energy, to the mitochondria.  An increasing body of research shows that Carnipure™ aids exercise performance, helping elite athletes and weekend warriors alike.

[email protected]


Allendale, New Jersey, USA

Nutratech, Inc.

Advantra Z®


OmniActive Health Technologies

Capsimax Capsicum Extract


Roquette America Inc.



Scientific Food Solutions



Trace Minerals Research

ConcenTrace Ionic Trace Mineral Blend


TSI Health Sciences, Inc.

PEAK ATP, Promilin (20% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine),  PromilinPro® (60% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine)

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