The article, part of the VitaFoods Insights series, discusses the evolution of the sector as well as the consumer, in which an emphasis is being placed on the cognitive aspects of sporting performance.
According to the piece, the interest in improved mental performance and enhanced focus is encouraging athletes to invest in cognitive health supplements or nootropics, which the average consumer may not be aware of.
“There are many nutrients that are required to nourish neurotransmitter function, which have been in supplement form for many years, but if we change our description for many years,” says Ian Craig, founder of the UK’s Nutritional Institute and the Centre for Integrative Sports Nutrition.
“But if we change our description to ‘focus,’ ‘concentration,’ ‘mood,’ or ‘motivation,’ more people would understand nootropics.”
Nootropics have emerged as the latest aid for athletes and consumers alike, keen to gain a mental edge either in sporting performance or simply in ordinary but increasingly demanding lifestyles.
The introduction of ingredients such as vitamins B6 and B12, phenethylamine (found in chocolate) and caffeine is proving popular with active consumers, who are looking for aids to boost decision-making capabilities and focus.
Sports nutrition firms currently offering nootropics include Enovate, Applied Nutrition and functional food and supplements brand Braineffect, which offers products that target sleep and mood in order to achieve better cognitive functionality.
The article’s author Charlotte Bastiaanse also cites Dr Julia Wiebe, director of R&D and technical marketing at Nektium, who highlights gamers or eAthletes as those who look to nootropics to enhance focus, attention and reaction time.
“We’re seeing the convergence of physical sports and eSports,” she says. “Lifestyle and training regimens of professional athletes are being mirrored in gamers, and now the supplement industry is reaching them, too.”
“Gaming is one of the favourite pastimes of millennials, and professional eSports are becoming a major spectator sport with a global audience of gamers.”
Dr Wiebe goes on to identify caffeine-free nootropics (especially botanicals) to boost focus, concentration and reaction times, as well reduce fatigue.
The report also identifies Personalised Nutrition as an area of interest, highlighting its potential to tailor plans for athletes in order to eke out even the smallest incremental difference in sporting performance.
“Personalisation needs to be the next step in sports nutrition,” says Craig. “We have nutrigenomic and microbiome testing capabilities, as well as many other ways to personalise the ‘needs analysis’ for athletes.
“Personalisation will allow for focused nutrition recommendations for individual athletes,” he adds.
However, the report thinks that while cost and scale are the two main hurdles to achieve the mainstream, the pace at which new developments and collaborations are providing solutions will reduce costs to the end consumer.
Rick Miller, associate director of specialised nutrition at Mintel sees opportunities for brands to negotiate a fair rate with nutrition professionals and look at subscription plans, bundles or discounted rates on using technology to have appointments (such as teleconference calls).
In addition, he thinks brands should be open to using graduate practitioners, who could offer services at reduced rates.
The insight report: ‘Game On: How to win in performance and sports nutrition,’ is available to download here.