Sports And Performance Food Products Continue To Climb

From weekend warriors to Shaun White-level phenoms, Americans are turning to fitness foods and beverages to enhance their performance.

By Rory Gillespie, Contributing Editor

2 of 2 1 | 2 > View on one page

Even Jelly Belly Candy Co. made the transition from the confections to the sports and fitness aisle years ago with its Sport Beans. They are formulated to help fuel the body during exercise. The product works to aid sports performance as each bean contains carbs for fuel and electrolytes in sodium and potassium to help maintain fluid balance. They also boast vitamins B1, B2, and B3 along with vitamin C. Now Jelly Belly has also moved into a more crunchy area.

"Sport Beans Protein Recovery Crisps combines two sources of protein – whey and pea – in a bite-sized crisp," said Rob Swaigen, Jelly Belly's vice president of marketing. "The crispy center is made of pea protein, known for ease of digestion, lack of allergens and essential amino acids for muscle restoration. The texture of the post-performance crisp mimics a malt ball, and because the flavors are from Jelly Belly, athletes know they are in for a great taste.

"Protein Recovery Crisps are ideal for amateur and professional athletes to add to their sports nutrition strategy. Studies have shown the combination of protein and simple carbohydrates is highly effective in rebuilding and restoring muscles, preparing them for the next workout.

"When both carbohydrate and protein are eaten soon after exercise, glycogen stores rebuild, muscle protein production is promoted and immune system strength may be boosted," Swaigen continues. “While Sport Beans Protein Recovery Crisps have not yet been tested directly, research studies using similar protein and carbohydrate sources show these recovery benefits."

Staying hydrated

Putting good things into the body always is important. It may be more functionally relevant when a high-level competitor is preparing for or rejuvenating after a workout session. But the market probably holds more golfers grabbing a fitness drink at the turn than Ironman participants sprinting from the waves to the bike. Replenishing fluids is necessary whether it is after mowing the lawn or completing a race.

“Most beverages, including water, are hydrating, as long as they are non-alcoholic. Being well hydrated is key to optimal performance," says Gabi Arrillaga, brand manager for Kraft's Mio brand. "Mio FIT is designed to be consumed during moderate physical activity, lasting an hour or less, to replenish fluids lost through sweat. Electrolytes sodium and potassium have been added to Mio FIT to help stimulate thirst and encourage drinking during a workout.

Mio Fit“Mio FIT is not intended for the serious athlete engaging in prolonged, high intensity activity, who may be looking for a carbohydrate-containing drink," says Arrillaga. "Mio FIT contains zero calories and zero grams total carbohydrate per serving."

Kraft is another big company that has crossed the supermarket aisles. Like original Mio, Mio Fit and Mio Energy are portable, liquid water enhancers, a few drops of which can transforms any bottle or glass of water into a tasty, zero-calorie sports drink. Each serving of Mio Fit (8 oz. after mixing with water) contains zero calories, is sugar free, has B-vitamins, and electrolytes sodium and potassium to aid hydration during moderate exercise. Mio Energy has touches of caffeine, taurine, guarana extract and ginseng extract, as well as niacin and vitamins B6 and B12.

"We have always had a strong following from elite and professional athletes, but our core audience is the 'home' athlete [who] is looking to better their performance," says Probar's Lambert. "Additionally, we have a strong following of people that are simply looking for ways to fuel their everyday activities whether sport-related or not."

There is, however, some small danger in non-athletes consuming large amounts of sports fuel.

"Non-athletes may still consume sport nutrition products, but as a nutritionist, I would advise consumers to always consider their nutrition in relation to their goals," says Vega's Cutfield. "For example, if you are diabetic and/or trying to lose weight [without also being active], a sport nutrition product with functional sugars, which provides energy that can supply and replenish muscle glycogen, may actually be too much added sugar in the context of a less active lifestyle for someone trying to achieve or maintain optimal weight.

"Because not all calories are created equally," Cutfield continues, "consider evaluating macronutrient quantity (protein, carbohydrates and fat) versus calorie content. Working with a personalized nutritionist or enquiring at your local supplement or health food store can help you understand the right quantity and ratio of macronutrients to consume depending on your goals."

2 of 2 1 | 2 > View on one page
Show Comments
Hide Comments

Join the discussion

We welcome your thoughtful comments.
All comments will display your user name.

Want to participate in the discussion?

Register for free

Log in for complete access.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments