What Is Performance Nutrition?

For wheyco the performance nutrition category covers a broad spectrum of consumer needs. From professional athletes seeking a competitive advantage, to gym-goers looking to tone and build muscle, right through to everyday consumers looking to optimise their daily nutrition. 
We See Performance Nutrition as a Formulated or Fortified Food or Beverage.

Performance nutrition ingredients can be grouped into 4 generic categories; proteins, carbohydrates, fats and functional ingredients which include vitamins and minerals. Performance nutrition products are generally a combination of ingredients working together as a total system to deliver specific consumer benefits.

A Focus on Protein Science

Proteins provide the core building blocks of muscle via their constituent amino acids. There are 20 total amino acids, comprised of 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) and 11 non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). EAAs cannot be produced in the body and therefore must be consumed in the diet.

Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is the process of repairing muscle damage caused by intense exercise. It counteracts muscle protein breakdown (MPB) due to protein loss that happens during exercise. MPB is a necessary part of building muscle.

The ratio of MPS to MPB determines whether muscle tissues are built or lost. If MPS outpaces MPB, muscle growth is achieved. If breakdown outpaces synthesis, then the result can be muscle loss.

MPS is stimulated when the appropriate amount of protein is consumed post-exercise. Overconsumption will not lead to muscle growth and may increase the accumulation of potentially harmful by-products such as urea.

Protein sources containing higher levels of the EAAs are considered to be higher quality sources of protein. Rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids and adequate leucine are most effective in stimulating MPS.

Overall, research has shown that products containing animal and dairy-based proteins contain the highest percentage of EAAs and result in greater hypertrophy (muscle growth) and protein synthesis following resistance training when compared to a vegetarian protein-matched control, which typically lacks one or more EAAs.

A Focus on the Market 

Protein products account for the vast majority of performance nutrition sales according to Euromonitor. Consumers have access to a wide range of proteins from a variety of sources, be they animal, plant or even synthetic. Each with its own advantages and disadvantages from a nutritional, lifestyle and sustainability perspective.

Dry Mix Beverages (DMB) remain the dominant product format (application) within the performance nutrition category as this is the most convenient and affordable format for the consumption of high quantities of protein. 

To better understand the needs of DMB consumers, we segmented the DMB category into four overlapping consumer groups or usage patterns.

Core Consumers. These consumers engage in bodybuilding, high-intensity functional training regimens like CrossFit and competitive sports with high nutrition demands. They tend to have a high brand and product loyalty, with consistent and high consumption rates. (High frequency and high volume)

Casual Consumers. Consumption is based on activity and recreation, with less frequency compared with Core Consumers. These consumers are drawn to familiar ingredients, convenience, clean labels and are open to experimentation and trial. (Low frequency and high volume)

Lifestyle Consumers. These are everyday consumers where functionality and health is a priority, They are highly brand-conscious and guided by personal values and advocacy. (High use frequency and low volume)

Trial Consumers. These account for trial and intermittent consumption patterns that are not associated with a sustained nutritional or lifestyle need.

We anticipate the growing participation of women in sports and the nutritional needs of seniors will inform the future of the segment. Also, the prevalence of lifestyle diseases will also place greater relevance and regulations on the performance nutrition category.

A Focus on Wheyco

Our effectiveness within performance nutrition is our ability to deliver protein quality whilst enabling our clients to deliver clean labels on pack. Through our range of Whey Protein Concentrates (WPCs) and Whey Protein Isolates (WPIs) we’re able to meet a variety of customer needs within DMBs and across various other formats such as bars, Ready to Drink (RTDs) and fortified foods.