Nutritional priorities, practices and preferences of athletes and active individuals in the context of new product development in the sports nutrition sector

Conor C Carey, Lorna Doyle, Alice Lucey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Sports nutrition is a rapidly growing sector with increasing demand for evidence-based nutritional products to support competitive and healthy lifestyles. The product development process for novel foods should rely heavily on end-user engagement to facilitate future success, however there is a dearth of published information available. An understanding of the practices and self-reported nutritional priorities of athletes and active individuals is required for the development of new food products, facilitating evidence-based product formulation.

METHODS: Participants were at least 18 years of age, actively participating in competitive sport or structured physical activity on at least two occasions per week. Participants were asked to undertake a comprehensive online survey assessing their nutritional practice, perceived nutritional priorities and preferences for product characteristics. Questions were developed on the basis of critical evaluation of the current scientific literature and the hosting of two scoping focus group sessions with prospective end-users.

RESULTS: 405 individuals (29 ± 9 years) completed this questionnaire. 295 participants reported active participation in competitive sport while the remaining 110 participants undertook structured physical activity exclusively. When asked to rank their top three most sought-after product claims in sports nutrition, "enhanced muscular recovery" was the most prioritised receiving 101 first choice preferences (25%) and 295 top 3 preferences. Fifty-eight percent of participants reported taking nutritional supplements. Caffeine containing functional foods (excluding caffeine supplements) were the most commonly used functional food group. A very low incidence of functional food usage was reported otherwise. When asked to rank the importance of various food product attributes, "nutritional profile" was ranked as the most important with rating of 3.37 ± 0.7 out of 4 followed by "taste" and "accessibility". Whole food nutritional products received the most first preference selections and most top 3 selections when presented with a number of popular performance and recovery products on the market.

CONCLUSIONS: The transition towards a food first approach in sports nutrition is vital for athletes and active individuals to achieve their goals; with the development of evidence-based functional foods, particularly with a focus on muscle recovery, endurance, and strength enhancement at the forefront for new food product design and innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088979
JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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