Five reasons to explore prebiotics in sports nutrition formulation

Nourishing good gut bacteria

Immune function support

Synergise with protein

Scientific backing


Sports nutrition, a category of products that aims to support athletic performance, is one of the fastest growing segments in the wider health and nutrition industry.

Backed by growing global appetite for health and fitness, the sports nutrition market is expected to see a robust compound annual growth rate of 8.2% according to intelligence firm Grand View Research, growing from a $40bn valuation in 2021.

When creating sports health products, there are many different paths that formulation can take, depending on the intended benefit and the audience it is designed for. Offering fresh innovation to formulators throughout the category are prebiotic fibres, which are becoming a key point of conversation and could point the way towards the future of sports nutrition product development.

What makes prebiotics such an attractive choice in sports nutrition formulation? Here are five key reasons:

1 Nourishing good gut bacteria

With gut health continuing to climb the public health agenda, the key to understanding the role of prebiotic fibre lies in understanding the role of the gut microbiome. This is the community of microscopic bacteria found in the gut, numbering in their trillions and forming an ever-shifting ecosystem.

It is believed that up to 1000 different kinds of bacteria can regularly inhabit the gut microbiome, and some of these types, known as good gut bacteria, support important areas of health and wellbeing such as cognitive health, immunity, and gastrointestinal health.

Of course, there are other types of bacteria that do not confer a physiological benefit to the host, which we commonly refer to as ‘bad’ bacteria. When we use the term gut health, we are usually referring to this balance of good and bad gut bacteria and naturally, we aim for a more optimal composition.

Since the gut microbiome has a critical role to play in supporting everyday health and wellness from the inside, the inclusion of prebiotics can instantly uplift a sports health product’s functional profile.

2 Immune function support

From top tier sport with training schedules through to amateur athletics and gym routines, performance comes from consistency.

Illness affecting the body can easily lead to missed sessions and disruption to the routine, which can significantly impact athletes and sport enthusiasts alike. Previous studies have shown that sports performance can be attributed to minimising and controlling[1] the number of training weeks lost through injury and illness.

Armed with the knowledge that immune health support can be a core path in sports nutrition product development, the advantages of formulating with prebiotics becomes clear.

Ingredients such as our own multi award-winning Bimuno GOS can play an important role by nourishing bacteria that support the body’s immune function, thereby reducing the risk and length of illness. The studies behind Bimuno GOS point towards its significant potential[2] in immunity-supporting products, which in turn underlines its potential in sport and athletic health.

3 Synergise with protein

Protein is a core focus in today’s sports nutrition formulation, and it’s easy to see why it’s so important in supporting athletic performance. When consumed, protein helps to prevent muscle breakdown and deterioration, as well as promoting muscle growth to help  train and perform harder, faster and for longer.

For this reason, diets tend to focus heavily on protein intake, commonly featuring white and red meats and protein powders. As protein is often central to sports nutrition formulations, combing with prebiotics can create a dual effect in newly developed products, where the protein elements support muscle development, while the prebiotic ingredient is used to support a healthy gut microbiome and support health holistically.

The approach can create a dual effect in newly developed products, where the protein elements support muscle development, while the prebiotic ingredient is used to support a healthy gut microbiome.

4 Scientific backing

One of the biggest commercial success drivers in the health and nutrition category is a strong scientific backing. It comes down to trust – consumers want to be assured that the products they choose and invest in will do the job they are designed to do effectively and safely.

Bimuno GOS is a prime example of how prebiotics more than deliver when it comes to research. As the most studied ingredient of its kind, Bimuno GOS is backed by more than 100 scientific publications, including more than 20 clinical trials.

Excitingly for formulators and the brands they cultivate, the science behind Bimuno GOS can be translated directly into approved health claims in select territories. For example, there are 22 claims registered with FSANZ that can be used in Australia and New Zealand, two approved claims verified by FDA (Food & Drink Administration) Philippines and a number of structure and function claims in the US.

These claims are essential for attracting attention and winning trust in a competitive category and help to convey the scientific value proposition to consumers, while differentiating their products in the market from other food products or supplements.  

 5 Versatility

As the market for sports nutrition products expands, it becomes more diverse in terms of applications and delivery methods. For example, it’s now common to see nutrition and energy bars alongside powder food supplements, gummies and pastilles.

Unlike probiotics, which must account for ‘survivability’ in manufacturing, prebiotic fibre is a substrate and provides a great deal of versatility. Bimuno GOS, for example, is stable in a wide range of temperatures and acidities, which means it can be added to formulations at any point and can be used in a very wide range of product applications – widening the sports nutrition category even further.

Adding further flexibility, Bimuno GOS has an extremely low efficacious dose, beginning at just 1.37g. This means formulators only need to use a small amount to generate a prebiotic effect, making it just as easy to enhance existing product recipes as it is to create new lines. Where some prebiotics may focus on purity, Bimuno GOS centres around science and accessibility. Its low efficacious dose enhances formulator appeal, while reducing pressure in storage and handling in the supply chain.

High performance and multi award-winning galactoolisaccharide ingredient, Bimuno® GOS, is a prime example of how prebiotics are helping health and nutrition brands around the globe to innovate and connect with a more proactive health audience.

Why not learn more about Bimuno GOS, the science behind it, and its potential in supporting formulators in the sports health category?

Click here to get in touch with our team.

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291348067_Performance_success_or_failure_is_explained_by_weeks_lost_to_injury_and_illness_in_elite_Australian_Track_and_Field_athletes_a_5-year_prospective_study

[2] https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/influence-of-galactooligosaccharide-mixture-bgos-on-gut-microbiota-immune-parameters-and-metabonomics-in-elderly-persons/655F206AD190CB7C142893339E67811B