Lumina Intelligence’s latest report identifies over 200 brands in the PWB space that use active ingredients linked to other health benefits extending the scope beyond sports nutrition towards other sectors.
With related products like energy drinks, shots and nootropics, ingredients like beta-alanine, caffeine, BCAAs, taurine and botanicals still “clutch their crowns, but these new and innovative proprietary ingredients are ready, shaking their spears in the space,” according to Lumina senior market analyst Tom Morgan.
“Love them or hate them, pre-workout blends are one of the cornerstones of the sports nutrition industry, and just as with protein, they are beginning to expand out of their sports-centric niche.”
“We’re finding products launching for e-gamers and the common folk on the street, positioned not just for muscle pumps, but also for brain kicks and overall well being,” he adds.
Aimed at professional sports athletes such as body builders and powerlifters, the report details its shift into the mainstream, in which popular sports nutrition brands like MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition, MyProtein and MusclePharm have not been shy in catering to this demographic.
The report details the rising popularity of PWBs, a group of products that as the name suggests claim to prime your body to a state of 'readiness' for intense training sessions.
The populations extend to those requiring extreme focus and mental energy such as e-gamers and even users looking to boost energy or cognitive function in the workplace.
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The report saves much of its analysis looking at the type of ingredients used and the evidence behind their inclusion.
Lumina’s analysts identify the ingredient B-alanine as present in 75% of the PWBs variants studied with L-Tyrosine present in around half of products inspected.
A total of 11 amino acid forms including citrulline forms, leucine and choline appeared in more than 100 product variants.
Meanwhile, botanicals are present in 61% of PWBs, as the report states the range of botanicals appearing in PWBs is vast.
“We captured 50,” the report said. “20+ botanicals appear in products 10 or more times with science backing performance gains varies from strong to marginal among these botanical stimulants.”
However, the report identifies green tea and yohimbine as popular PWB ingredients that have also been linked to adverse events including heart palpitations, headaches and nausea as well as being contra-indicated with many drugs.
The PWB king of ingredients though is caffeine as the report finds 73% of PWBs containing the stimulant at some level present in either caffeine anhydrous form extracted from coffee plant leaves and seeds or as a component of another ingredient like green tea. Other rare forms include di-caffeine malate.
There was concern as to the amounts found in PWBs as the report’s research found median caffeine doses of 227 milligrams (mg).
“Many PWBs contain caffeine doses far above these levels,” the report says. “We found products with single dose levels of caffeine of up to 420mg which would likely raise concerns among healthcare professionals and is more than twice the single session level recommended by EFSA.”
Ambiguous science but not un-useful
Claimed negative effects of PWB ingredients are also a focus of the report as it emphasises an “inconclusive scientific base” that so far has proved elusive for PWB benefits.
While many studies back PWBs to boost workout performance, there are also studies showing minimal, absent or even abject effects.
The report points to possibilities that findings such as these can filter through to the public, often via sensationalised or selective media reporting.
“PWBs are sometimes a source of nutrients like vitamin A and C and there is similarly public awareness of research that has linked overexposure to these ingredients to chronic disease including some cancers. This is an existential threat the category has to live with on a daily basis,” says the report.
“That said PWB stalwart ingredients like caffeine and creatine and many vitamins and minerals have enough well-powered, peer reviewed science behind them to receive government-approved claims in most regions of the world.”
ABOUT LUMINA INTELLIGENCE
Lumina Intelligence is an insights service delivering a unique perspective on high-growth food and nutrition markets brought to you by William Reed, publisher of food and drink news sites including Nutraingredients.com and FoodNavigator.com.
Lumina Intelligence has been created to equip the industry with tools to measure the evolution of science, online consumer engagement and regulation and its impact on product formulation, labelling and new product development.
Our aim is to help users pinpoint trends and opportunities in niche markets, helping maximise the chance for success for new product launches.
With data from over 20 countries, Lumina provides in-depth ingredient analysis and product labelling information across Probiotics, Sports Nutrition and Sustainability.