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2020 Sports Nutrition Trends: Do I Agree with Insiders?

by Matt Weik

It’s always fun for me to read other “insider” opinions on what’s going to be hot the next year. Well, I found an article where someone tossed in their two-cents on 2020 sports nutrition trends and I figured I’d give my opinion on whether or not I agree with what they are saying and maybe how our views differ. I saw this article on NutraIngredients.com and the writer who put this all together is Shane Starling.

Now, before we get into this, Shane didn’t think of these trends off the top of his head, he used insights from Lumina Intelligence to gather the info and then he added his own spin to each category.

Here goes…

Supplement Reviews on the Rise

It’s hard to debate this topic even though I (personally) don’t agree with most reviews out there. I even wrote an article on the subject not too long ago. Consumers like feeling better about their purchasing behaviors and don’t want to shell out their money on something if people are saying it’s a bunch of junk. I can’t blame them. So, will this be one of the 2020 sports nutrition trends that blow up? I think so.

Look, despite my opinion that brands are paying for many of the reviews we read, you cannot dismiss the fact that the majority of consumers will look at reviews prior to making a purchase – it doesn’t matter if it’s supplements or home appliances. This trend will absolutely continue and more and more brands will be trying different ways to get customers to leave high-quality reviews on their products.

The Power of Protein Powder

In the article, they mentioned that the cost of protein is low. I’m not sure what planet they live on but there is no money in protein (from a manufacturer or retailer point of view). Everyone is working off of low margins and if you talk to a retailer, they will likely tell you that they would prefer to sell just about any other product on their shelf instead of protein – there’s no money in it. If you want to stay competitive, you’re going to need to shed margins or risk losing the sale to a competitor. And online prices are hammering brick and mortar these days which makes things even more difficult.

But will protein continue to boom and be on the list of 2020 sports nutrition trends? I think so but I don’t see it being one of the hottest trends. Protein these days has become very boring. Then you have brands like Ghost and BSN who are collaborating with food and snack brands with flavoring profiles – THIS is what will be a 2020 trend in my opinion. I couldn’t care less about the protein space. However, brands who think outside the box like Ghost with their Chips Ahoy flavored protein and BSN with their Cold Stone Creamery collaborations will set a new standard for protein powder flavoring.

Transparent Labels

All aboard! The copycat train is about to leave the station. Yes, I agree with the article that transparent labels will be one of the 2020 sports nutrition trends. However, and this is my opinion, it’s getting played out. Brands are using this as their only means of marketing saying they have transparent labels. Who cares? There are tons of brands doing this now and in 2020 you need to find a point of differentiation if you want to win. Sitting back and claiming transparency isn’t going to pull your product off the shelf anymore.

Here are my own two-cents with this topic… you should be using brands that you trust. I don’t care if you have proprietary blends or if you’re truly transparent. If someone doesn’t trust your brand, they have no business even buying or supporting your line. Trust me, I see brands that are “transparent” who I STILL don’t trust what their labels say. So, while I see transparent labels still being hot in 2020, brands need to think of a strategy that is more long-term than that.

Plant Protein is Growing

This article brought up plant proteins. Why? I couldn’t tell you. The article even claimed that the statistics show that 75% of consumers are purchasing a whey protein and only 15% are purchasing a plant-based protein. No one is knocking out the champ (whey protein) anytime soon. And especially not plant-based protein. I get it, vegans and vegetarians flock to a plant protein but if you survey the population, you’re going to find that the majority of consumers absolutely hate the taste and texture of a plant-based protein.

Sure, plant protein may be increasing year over year but don’t get too excited, it will never hold a candle to whey (animal protein).

Pre-Workouts Will Change

I absolutely agree with the article that pre-workouts are going to be one of the (if not THE) biggest 2020 sports nutrition trends we see. However, I have a different spin on the subject.

For years we have seen pre-workouts slamming as much caffeine in them as possible. I see this changing. As more and more people find they aren’t getting the same effects from stimulants, they are going to start looking for something different. I see a trend being pre-workouts with a much lower dose of caffeine (if included at all) and it going more towards “pump” formulas with the inclusion of nootropics to boost focus and mood.

I could probably make a whole new heading for this but I’ll keep things rolling here. The stims we see today will remain in the RTDs like Reign, Bang, C4, etc. We will even have some hardcore pre-workouts with a bunch of stims. But I feel like nootropics are going to slowly start chipping away at the pre-workout sales or at least start being used heavily in future versions of pre-workouts.

If brands are sleeping on nootropics, they are going to miss out. I see nootropics being a HUGE category in the coming years as more and more people are looking for products to get them dialed in both in the office and the gym. Personally, I use and love nootropics. The more I talk to people, the more they too are getting excited about what’s to come in that category.

Brands, if you’re reading this, heed my warning. If you’re not currently working on products with the inclusion of nootropics (standalone or pre-workouts), you WILL be left out.

BCAAs Still Booming

Uh, no. I completely disagree with having this on the list of 2020 sports nutrition trends. While BCAAs will seemingly always move off store shelves, I don’t see this being a huge trend next year. In fact, I’m confused why they even feel this is worthy to make the list. If anything, EAAs should have made the list.

In 2019, people started to trend towards essential amino acids (EAAs) over BCAAs when new research was published saying in order to help build muscle, essential amino acids are needed – not just the big three (leucine, iso-leucine, valine) anymore. Brands have already been making moves to change formulas and even come out with specific EAA products.

The downside to this is that there hasn’t been much research done on EAAs in terms of optimal dosages and brands seem to be taking a shot in the dark rather than having some science behind the profile like we did with the 2:1:1 BCAA ratio that has been so popular over the years.

I can see EAAs being added to more product formulas these days to help with the recovery aspect as well as muscle-building potential. I don’t see BCAAs disappearing but I can see them losing a little bit of their luster due to the EAA craze here of late. Does that mean I think BCAAs are worthless and you shouldn’t utilize them? Not at all. In fact, I still sip on them throughout the day. But I will say that as more research comes out shedding more light on EAAs, we may see a shift in sales.

Source: NutraIngredients

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