Sports Nutrition Market: Dietary Potential Meets Consumer Needs

According to Inkwood Research, the global sports nutrition market is expected to progress with a CAGR of 9.88% during the forecast period of 2024 to 2032. Sports nutrition recommendations are highly customized and depend on various factors, such as the sport, position, training history, and on/off-season status. Despite variations in sports types, most athletes can significantly benefit from following recommendations and advice on sports nutrition. 

Intersecting sub-segments of the health and wellness sectors have experienced a notable surge, including growing demand for sports nutrition. This is mainly accredited to an overall increase in interest in healthy and active lifestyles. 

Furthermore, the future of sports nutrition holds paramount significance owing to the burgeoning presence of sports clubs as well as specialized nutrition centers, alongside a growing consumer awareness of the importance of dietary considerations in athletic performance.

Sports Nutrition Market - Inkwood Research

The imperative for digital integration in operational strategies further underscores the pivotal role of adaptation in this evolving landscape. This significance is particularly pronounced in the escalating demand for sports nutrition supplements. Private equity firms and venture capitalists are also recalibrating their investment strategies to align with these emerging trends, recognizing the lucrative potential of this market segment.

Focus on Back-To-Basics Approach in the Sports Nutrition Market 

For weight gain and muscle building, core users concentrate on ingredients found in sports nutrition products, such as amino acids and whey-based proteins. Conversely, more recent users tend to have different needs that call for different sports nutrition ingredients and different functionality. 

Conversely, over the years, an important group of sports nutrition consumers who continue to shape trends in the industry has emerged: casual users as well as healthy-living enthusiasts with an eye for more expansive, active nutrition goals.

As consumer preferences continue to evolve towards healthier lifestyles, the sports nutrition industry is experiencing a significant transformation. With an increasing demand for diverse product options and a focus on convenience and customization, both traditional retailers and direct-to-consumer startups are adapting to meet the needs of this growing market segment. 

This shift is evident in the emergence of new product categories, changes in retail strategies, and the rise of innovative branding approaches. Let’s delve into these developments further – 

Diversification of Sports Nutrition Products

In order to fulfill the needs of these new consumer groups, the selection of sports nutrition products is growing. The traditional offer of whey-based protein is less appealing to proponents of healthy nutrition, who are more drawn to fitness-focused products like plant-protein powders. They also acknowledge the popularity of clean-label or slimming products as well as convenient on-the-go snack options like sports protein bars and ready-to-drink (RTD) sports protein. (Source)

Expansion of Retail Space and Market Reach

Leading sports nutrition stores and FDMC retailers are dedicating more shelf space to these sports nutrition products as more customers accept them as a vital part of their lifestyles. Additionally, even customers of specialty sports nutrition stores spend more money on nutritional supplements in FDMC channels. Price and convenience are important considerations, and they are typically cheaper in FDMC channels, particularly for their private-label lines of sports nutrition supplements.  

Rise of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Startups

The rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) startups that completely avoid traditional brick-and-mortar sports nutrition stores is another trend that is revolutionizing the sports nutrition industry. These sports nutrition manufacturers provide a variety of options, many of which are based on customization. 

Branding Strategies to Facilitate Differentiation

The goal of these sports nutrition brands is to set themselves apart from the ‘sea of sameness’ that many nutritional and vitamin brands are mired in. These sports nutrition brands have the ability to attract a niche market of customers prepared to pay higher prices for superior products through eye-catching packaging, education, customer interaction, and a customized customer experience.

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Analyzing the Nutritional Appeal: Product Formats in the Sports Nutrition Market

Sports nutrition supplements are available in a range of liquids, powders, and tablets that are intended to enhance athletic performance and/or cover dietary deficiencies in individuals who engage in regular exercise or sports. 

In addition to providing athletes with the much-needed nutrients their bodies require to perform at their best, these supplements also increase energy and support muscle growth, which improves performance output. 

Let’s assess the four main product formats in the sports nutrition market:

  1. Powders: A powder is a concoction of essential nutrients that can be mixed with milk or water and consumed either before or after exercise. Large ingredient dosages and a certain amount of consumer customization are possible with powders. Inkwood Research forecasts that the protein powders segment will dominate the global sports nutrition market, with a share exceeding 40%, during the projected period.
  2. Energy Drinks: Beverages in this class make the claim to assist athletes in replacing lost fluids, electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium), and glucose during or after training or competition. In response to changing consumer demands, the segment is expected to grow in the future with the introduction of new flavors and ingredient-based drinks.
  3. Bars: Nutrition bars are one of the most useful and macro- and micronutrient-balanced foods. They are mainly used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to build muscle. Many sports nutrition manufacturers are stepping into this category with innovative formulations. 
  4. RTD Protein Drinks: Ready-to-drink protein (RTD) and other powdered supplements for weight loss are usually offered in flavored milkshake varieties. The market is projected to grow substantially faster overall, supported by products with a wide variety of flavors and ease of consumption.

Interesting Overlook of the Business-to-Business (B2B) Sports Nutrition Industry

A growing customer preference for a physically active and healthy lifestyle has led to an increase in gyms and fitness centers, which is helping to propel the B2B sports nutrition market. Global market expansion is being encouraged by the growing interest in leading a healthy lifestyle and the growing awareness of sports nutrition products.

Impact of Gyms and Fitness Centers –  

Gyms have been selling a range of sports nutrition products in recent years and offering users counseling services prior to purchase. Partnerships between well-known gyms and sports nutrition brands are positively impacting the growth of B2B sports nutrition category by meeting the nutritional needs of their consumers.  

Expanding Consumer Base and Changing Preferences – 

The expanding consumer base, which includes bodybuilders, non-athletes, and athletes who wish to live healthy lifestyles, has impacted the growth of the B2B sports nutrition market. Since COVID-19, the number of people who enjoy exercising has never been higher. Furthermore, consumers’ preference for plant-based and vegan energy bars and sports drinks is driving B2B sales of sports nutrition.

Innovative Marketing Strategies and E-Commerce Growth – 

Sports nutrition manufacturers are concentrating on innovative marketing strategies to advance their brands, especially in emerging markets. E-commerce is growing, especially in developing nations, and this helps the B2B sports nutrition market as well as physical activity in general. The market is being driven by B2B sports nutrition manufacturers’ initiatives, such as the launch of new products and continuous innovation of new formulas.

Mergers and Acquisitions Fueling Expansion – 

An increase in mergers and acquisitions has led to an expansion of the B2B sports nutrition market. B2B sports nutrition manufacturers are devising strategies to expand their product lines, pool their resources and expertise, and reach a wider audience worldwide. These B2B sports nutrition brands capitalize on the growing trend of consumers choosing vegan or plant-based products to launch comparable goods in that market.

Sports Nutrition Market: Surging Popularity of Various Product Formulations

Recent sports nutrition product launches have made high/added protein claims their most notable feature. A significant segment of the mainstream market has expressed interest in protein consumption as a means of supporting an active lifestyle, managing weight, and promoting general well-being.  

  • Plant-Based Protein Innovations: Environmental concerns are driving an increase in interest in plant-based proteins, even as whey protein continues to dominate the market for ingredients used in sports nutrition. Emco and BioTechUSA have introduced intriguing product lines. Emco’s nut and protein bars contain soy-based vegetable protein. BioTechUSA protein bars, on the other hand, contain peas and rice protein, which fully supplements the athlete’s protein intake.
  • Incorporation of Bioactive Ingredients: The COVID-19 pandemic spurred curiosity about bioactive substances linked to conventional medicine, leading individuals to look for more all-encompassing approaches to maintaining their health. Consequently, some sports nutrition manufacturers have begun to incorporate these bioactive ingredients—especially those sourced naturally, such as ginseng, ginger, pine bark, vitamin C, etc.—into their products. 
  • Customized Sports Nutrition Plans: The dietary requirements of athletes and regular exercisers differ from those of the general public. A customized sports nutrition plan is becoming more popular as a result of this and growing knowledge of the individual differences in the gut microbiome. More mass-market protein companies are letting customers tailor their protein powder to suit their requirements, including gut health. 
  • Integration of Specialized & Conventional Features: Additionally, sports nutrition brands are fusing the more specialized advantages of sports nutrition with its more conventional features. For instance, pre-workout supplements like those made with collagen to support healthy joints and skin, probiotics to boost immunity and flavor-infused energy bars that companies like Yamo, Corny Haferkraft Zero, Milbona, and Monoprix Bio recently introduced. (Source)
  • Sports Nutrition for Weight Management: Sports nutrition products are becoming increasingly popular among consumers as a way to aid in weight loss or weight management. Products aimed at these customers might have fewer overall calories and extra fiber or protein for satiety. Furthermore, they might contain trace amounts of good fats, which also aid in satiety. Coconut oil and MCTs are particularly appealing to keto dieters when they are found in foods with low non-fiber carbs.

Stay up-to-date with what’s trending in the Global Sports Nutrition Market

In Conclusion – 

The sports nutrition market is poised for significant growth, driven by rising demand for fitness facilities and peak performance. This increasing opportunity is underscored by notable investments from venture capital and private equity firms. Over the next decade, the market is expected to double in size, fueled by factors such as enhanced accessibility through digital commerce, ongoing product innovation, and personalized offerings.

As consumers increasingly seek convenience, there will be a heightened demand for on-the-go foods like energy bars that provide essential nutrients for sports activities. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that educating consumers about the benefits of certain nutrients, such as fats like MCTs, base oils, and emulsifiers, will be essential. Despite the prevalent association of fats with weight gain and cardiovascular issues, disseminating accurate information about their positive contributions to sports nutrition is necessary.

By Rasika Kambli

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    The study and implementation of a diet or plan aimed at enhancing athletic performance is known as sports nutrition. Optimal performance is accomplished by providing the right kinds of food (carbohydrates, protein, fiber, fats, etc.), fluids, as well as nutrients in the right amounts to maximize energy and support sports recovery.

    It is most common in endurance and strength-based sports. Sports nutrition products have the potential to greatly increase an athlete’s performance when used in conjunction with other elements of athletic development, such as training.

    Some of the leading sports nutrition brands include Ultimate Sports Nutrition, MusclePharm, Clif Bar, Next Level Sports Nutrition, and MuscleTech, among others.