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5 Important Sports Nutrition Supplement Trends to Watch in 2021

Last updated: January-30,2023

Sports Nutrition Supplements - 5 Ingredient Trends to Watch in 2021

Sports nutrition[i] is one of the primary considerations for every sportsperson and athlete. Recent advancements in both science and research have led to the rapid growth of innovative options in sports health and nutrition.

What is Sports Nutrition?

Sports nutrition involves the study and practice of fueling and hydrating the body for improved athletic performance.[ii] High-quality sports nutrition supplements offer a range of benefits, such as:

  • Enhanced performance and endurance
  • Reduced likelihood injury
  • Improved recovery
  • Delayed onset of fatigue
  • Ability to focus
  • Improved body composition
  • Healthy immune system

Growing consumer awareness regarding health, environment, and effects of diet on health has drastically shifted the sports nutrition market.[iii] While a majority of them base their purchasing decisions based on various sources such as social media, brand websites, recommendations from their peers, product labels, and reviews, some also pay close attention to and prefer specific ingredients.

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I encourage you to read this article and watch this podcast that I recently recorded with our Vice President of Sales and New Business Development Manager. Throughout the episode, we discussed the five sports nutrition ingredients that I believe should be included in your sports nutrition supplement line:

Sports Nutrition Ingredients Brand Owners Need to Know About

Various types of proteins, especially those with an organic origin, have made it to the list of trending ingredients in sports nutrition.

Whey Protein

With all 9 essential amino acids, whey protein is the most popular single source for complete proteins.[iv] As there are very few vegetarian foods that provide lean protein, whey protein is one of the most preferred protein sources among vegetarian sports nutrition alternatives.[v]

Casein Protein

Derived from cow’s milk, casein protein is comparatively less popular sports nutrition than whey.[vi] It’s particularly useful when recovering from tough workouts and building muscle mass.

Soy Protein

As it’s not derived from dairy, soy protein is ideal for vegetarians and vegans alike and also for individuals who want to avoid dairy, with very little saturated fat or no cholesterol. It’s also among one of the few sports proteins that are complete with all the essential amino acids.[vii]

Plant-based Proteins

With veganism on the rise, plant-based proteins such as pea protein, hemp protein, and rice proteins are gaining popularity as sports supplement ingredients.[viii] In addition, they are richer in protein than meat and are heart-friendly. Plant-based diets are also considered to be more conducive to recovery. Out of the various plant-based protein sources, pea protein is the most popular choice thanks to its numerous benefits.

Pea protein is high in lysine, has arginine in abundance, and contains a comparable amount of leucine to some animal proteins. Pea protein has a mild flavor profile and offers functional benefits, including vital muscle protein synthesis and muscular functions.[ix]

On the other hand, hemp protein is gaining in popularity as a complete protein source, and brown rice protein is known to contribute to a high-profile blend of other plant-based sources for a balanced concoction.[x]

Sports Nutrition Supplement Consumer Trends

Sports Supplements Trends by Type

The present-day market is flooded with a wide range of sports nutrition supplements. The traditional products like protein powders, creatine, and BCAA capsules and tablets are the established players in the market.

According to the market analysis, out of the various sports supplement forms, protein powders accounted for 64% of the protein supplements’ market revenue in 2019.[xi]

In the global dietary supplement market, tablets were the most popular supplement delivery format, followed by capsules. At the same time, the demand and consumption of the packaged nutritional foods like protein bars and ready-to-drink products has increased due in large part to consumers having busier lifestyles.

Key Consumers of Sports Nutrition Products

Traditionally, athletes and bodybuilders were the primary consumers of sports and health nutritional products for enhancing their muscle growth, performance, and overall health. Even today, the market consists of a wide range of supplements for professional athletes and bodybuilders. At the same time, though, the market is widening with the entry of a consistently increasing number of recreational and lifestyle users.[xii]

Sports Nutrition Market Overview

In 2019, the global sports nutrition market was valued at $15.6 billion. It’s anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 8.9% from 2020-2027. Rising demand for different types of dietary supplements, protein bars, and energy drinks among bodybuilders and athletes primarily contributes to growth in this sector.[xiii]

Additionally, rapid urbanization, rising disposable income, and growing numbers of fitness centers and gyms are major driving factors for the sports nutrition market growth.

While animal protein supplements accounted for 67.9% of the revenue, the plant-based protein is expected to expand at a CAGR of 8.8% and reach $11.05 billion by 2027.

Further, this surge in demand is influenced by sports nutrition supplement flavors, which is emerging as an essential purchase driver.[xiv] According to Mintel, more than 75% of customers purchase a sports nutrition product based on its flavor. Thus, flavor innovation can be a criterion that can help a nutrition product stand out in the market.

Additionally, new areas like personalized nutrition and microbiome can shape the future of sports nutrition.[xv]

5 Sports Nutrition Supplement Trends to Watch in 2021

Here are 5 sports nutrition supplements trends that I highly suggest brand owners watch in the upcoming year:

    • Consumer demand for plant protein is expected to increase because it’s viewed as a sustainable alternative to animal proteins. As most plant proteins lack the full amino acid profile, the right blend of plant protein sources can do the trick.[xvi]

    • As the number of sports nutrition supplement consumers increase, brand owners must cater to a diverse audience in the expanding and evolving sports nutrition industry. Some examples of these new market users include adventure seekers, cross-fit athletes, and tri-athletes. Deciding and focusing on your target audience is imperative to creating high-quality products that cater to their specific needs and demands. Over time, this will help you earn their loyalty and will result in repeat sales.

    • As previously mentioned, innovative supplement flavors are proving to be an essential driver in the consumer decision-making process. While standard flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are still popular, brands that are able to offer uniquely flavored products (e.g. blue raspberry lemonade, salty peanut butter, banana split, etc.) will thrive in the future. To learn more about flavoring protein supplements and the mistakes you should avoid making, I highly suggest watching this podcast episode.

    • Having a presence on social media is no longer optional; it’s mandatory for a sports nutrition brand. Need proof? Pre-workout supplements are gaining in popularity on social media with the #preworkout hashtag, gathering 4 million posts on Instagram alone.[xvii] If you need help getting started, we’ve created two in-depth guides for marketing dietary supplements on Instagram and Facebook that I highly suggest checking out.

    • Brands will continue to make clean label statements on their product labels.[xviii] Currently, 1 out of every 5 sports nutrition products contain at least one clean label claim. It includes the anti-doping linked ‘no banned substances’ besides ‘no artificial sweeteners’ and ‘No GMOs’. If you’re a brand owner reading this article, you should know that consumers are willing to spend 25% more on sports nutrition products that make clean label statements.

5 Sports Nutrition Trends to Watch in 2021 - Infographic

Wrapping Up...

NutraScience Labs can help supplement brand owners or budding entrepreneurs to manufacture effective, clean label sports nutrition supplements. We are one of the leading sports nutrition supplement manufacturers in the U.S.A. with over 120 years of experience in sports nutrition contract manufacturing. We can help you with the trending formulation, flavors, and world-class turnkey services to make your brand stand out in the highly competitive supplement market.

Call us today at (888) 544-0480 to speak with one of our representatives or send us your request to receive a free price quote!


[i] https://www.nutraingredients-latam.com/Article/2019/10/14/Sports-Nutrition-key-trends-for-2020

[ii] https://www.iinh.net/the-importance-of-nutrition-in-sports/

[iii] https://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/view/whats-driving-sports-nutrition-consumer-purchases

[iv] https://www.stratumnutrition.com/blog/post/protein-use-in-sports-nutrition

[v] https://blog.decathlon.in/articles/benefits-of-whey-protein-in-everyday-life

[vi] https://bodynutrition.org/casein-protein/

[vii] https://us.myprotein.com/thezone/nutrition/benefits-side-effects-soy-protein/

[viii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2020/02/29/five-reasons-why-sport-is-going-vegan/#3f35b0876649

[ix] https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/14465-picking-a-protein-for-premium-performance

[x] https://www.nutrex.com/articles/the-advantages-and-benefits-of-using-plant-based-protein-powder/

[xi] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/protein-supplements-market

[xii] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200319005426/en/Insights-Global-Protein-Supplements-Market-2020-2027

[xiii] https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/sports-nutrition-market

[xiv] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200319005426/en/Insights-Global-Protein-Supplements-Market-2020-2027

[xv] https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2018/11/08/Flavour-hotlist-The-emerging-sports-nutrition-trends-set-to-excite-shoppers

[xvi] https://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/view/sports-nutrition-2020-plant-proteins-and-beyond

[xvii] https://www.nutraingredients-latam.com/Article/2019/10/14/Sports-Nutrition-key-trends-for-2020

[xviii] https://www.nutraingredients-latam.com/Article/2019/10/14/Sports-Nutrition-key-trends-for-2020

September 22nd, 2020

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.