Food ingredients

What the market has to teach us about the formulation of fitness supplements

The number of gyms seems to multiply every day. Just as we have the impression that observing people in workout clothes everywhere has become a constant.

It’s not just an impression.

Market numbers show us that the fitness segment grows each year. An increased awareness about health and fitness is driving more people into the gyms.

Accompanied by the change in physical habits is also the change in eating habits.

Gym supplements have opened up a market segmentation that is a very profitable and rapidly evolving. Those who work with the formulation of this type of product need to be aware of the constant changes in consumption trends, as well as keeping an eye on the ingredients that will ensure the most effective supplements.

In this blog post, we will explain some of these trends and will address the main types of supplements in the fitness market, as well as the ingredients that can be used to formulate them.

Understanding a segment on the rise

The fitness market is on the rise. At least that’s what the data points to. Currently, this segment moves approximately $87.2 billion around the world, with 201.000 gyms and more than 174 million members. This number represents an increase of 20 million members compared to 2017.

Of course all of this rise is accompanied by major trends.

The fitness market has been presenting a change in its target audience. Historically more focused on men, this segment has recently focused its attention on women, who have become more and more interested in physical fitness and sports.

Another trend in the fitness market is the focus on protein. The number of products claiming to have a high protein content has grown a lot in the past years. However, in order for a manufacturer to make this kind of statement, at least 20% of the product’s calories must be derived from protein.

Much of this trend has a strong influence from media appeal on this type of supplement, in addition to a greater awareness of the consumers regarding aspects of health and physical fitness.

Speaking of protein, protein supplements are the sales leaders within this industry, demonstrating that the trend is already consolidated as a reality.

According to Grand View Research, the global market of protein supplements has raised 14 billions of dollars in 2018. Among the types of products, what stands out is the ready to drink beverages, being this the segment that grows faster. These drinks offer high doses of protein, quickly absorbed by the body to assist in building of lean body mass. They can be consumed before or after training.

On the other hand, whey protein is a classic of gyms, and accounted for 56.7% of all revenue of fitness supplementation. Considered the main nutritional supplement, whey has high acceptability by athletes and bodybuilders.

Whey is part of a larger segment, which corresponds to products of animal origin. In addition to whey, this market niche also includes the proteins of beef, chicken, fish, eggs and casein. This large segment had a 67.6% share of total revenue from fitness supplements last year.

The products of animal origin are beneficial for this target audience because they present all the essential amino acids, as well as the presence of vitamins B12 and D, essential fatty acid DHA, iron, zinc and other micronutrients.

Another interesting source of protein that presents itself as an alternative for people who have restrictions on whey and meat protein is soy protein. This segment is considered a key group within the fitness market and accounted for 15.7% of all revenue acquired in 2018.

The factors that have led to the growing popularity of soy proteins are the increased awareness of the beneficial effects of soy proteins and the tendency to veganism, especially among younger consumers and that live in urban centers.

Why has soy protein been the favorite of many in the fitness market?

Protein in soy is not only present in large amounts (16.9 grams in a portion of 155 grams) but also in high quality. In this grain, the protein is complete, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that the body does not produce and that need to be acquired through diet.

Therefore, those who exercise regularly can benefit from this type of protein, using it at the right doses to help in the building of body muscle.

In addition to this well-known function, some studies point out that soy can improve blood cholesterol levels.

In a review that included 35 studies, it was concluded that consumption of soy protein reduced the levels of total cholesterol and LDL, the bad cholesterol, while raising HDL levels, the desirable form of cholesterol.

Therefore, it is clear why soy protein has become the number one choice of those who choose not to consume animal proteins.Thus, ingredients rich in soy protein emerge as an interesting alternative to the development of products aimed at the fitness public.

Protein of animal origin: the champion of the fitness market 

As the market data itself has pointed out, animal protein is still the most consumed in the segment of fitness food.

Popular among gym regulars, the protein diet basically involves only the consumption of this nutrient, excluding fat and carbohydrates. Despite controversy among health experts, this type of diet trend also ends up contributing to an increase in the consumption of animal proteins, since they are the most bioavailable.

Proteins of animal origin are those that present the highest content of essential amino acids, which will result in a higher protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy when compared to vegetable proteins.

A study compared the post-workout intake of three different sources of animal protein – beef, hydrolyzed chicken and whey protein concentrate. The participants of the study consumed 46 g of protein for 8 weeks.

It was observed that, in the amount administered in the study, all sources were able to increase lean body mass of the participant’s bodies, as well as decrease the percentage of body fat.

The authors of the study highlighted that these three sources are capable of promoting good results for those who practice physical exercises regularly, being all of them equivalent regarding lean body mass gain and body fat reduction.

In addition to the nutritional issue already mentioned, some ingredients based on animal protein available on the market also promote a unique flavor and aroma to the formulation,  as well as contributing to a very pleasant consumption experience.

Conclusion

Protein supplements seem to be unanimous among those concerned with health and physical performance.

The choice for each protein source will depend on the type of audience desired to reach and the type of efficiency wanted for the product.

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