Unleashing the potential of prebiotic synergy in sports nutrition

From weekend exercisers and grassroots sports to the upper echelons of elite athletics, the demand for cutting-edge nutrition products continues to grow. An area garnering significant scientific and commercial attention is the integration of prebiotics into sports health formulations.

Projected to grow at a solid 7.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2030 to reach USD 45.24 billion, the sports health category is a dynamic and rapidly expanding market, driven by an increasingly engaged health and fitness audience. Consumers are seeking products that not only enhance athletic performance, but also support overall health.

This trend opens up tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation in the development of sports health supplements, functional foods and beverages. A particularly promising area is the formulation of products that support the gut microbiome, a key player in overall health and athletic performance.

The gut microbiome and athletic performance

The gut microbiome is the complex ecosystem comprising trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, phages and archaea. Typically, terms such as ‘supporting gut health’ or ‘maintaining a healthy gut microbiome’ refer to having a favourable balance of bacteria, with greater proportions of advantageous kinds.

Within the ever-shifting composition of the gut, certain types of bacteria are known to support host health in crucial ways and, as a result, the gut microbiome plays a central role in various aspects of health. In addition to digestive and gastrointestinal health, these benefits can include supporting the immune function, energy metabolism and hydration. Due to these advantages, maintaining a well-balanced gut microbiome is essential for athletes.

Studies by athletic body UK Sport indicate that around a third of athletes experience health issues during a typical season, leading to missed training days and disrupted performance. Notably, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues are significant contributors to these disruptions.

Gut health: a cornerstone of sports nutrition success

With approximately 70% of the body’s immune cells residing in the gastrointestinal tract, gut health is paramount in supporting immune function and the body’s ability to defend against pathogens.

This connection underscores the importance of incorporating prebiotics into sports nutrition products. Prebiotics, like Bimuno® GOS, are non-digestible substrates, most often dietary fibres, that nourish certain kinds of beneficial gut bacteria. Through this action, prebiotics have a central role to play in supporting immune function and reducing the impact of health issues on training and competition schedules.

Bimuno GOS & sports nutrition

Multi award-winning galactooligosaccharide Bimuno GOS offers a robust solution for sports health product formulation. Its efficacy in supporting immune function and gastrointestinal health is well-documented by the most comprehensive scientific portfolio in its category.

By fuelling good bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, a good bacteria associated with several important areas of health, Bimuno GOS helps mitigate the impact of upper respiratory tract (URT) and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, which are common challenges for athletes.

The key benefits of formulating sports health products with Bimuno GOS include:

  • Immune Support: By nourishing Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, Bimuno GOS enhances immune function, reducing the incidence of illness and improving training availability.
  • Digestive Health: Bimuno GOS supports digestive health, alleviating common gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and digestive discomfort, which are often exacerbated by high-protein diets lacking in fibre.
  • Versatility: As a highly stable and non-digestible fibre, Bimuno GOS can be easily incorporated into various formulations and product applications, including dedicated supplements, protein powders and functional foods.

Synergising prebiotics and protein isolate

Protein is a cornerstone macronutrient of sports nutrition, essential for muscle repair and growth. As seen in the rapid growth of dedicated stores and brands, high protein products are a popular choice among performance consumers of every discipline. However, typical high-protein sports diets are often low in fibre, potentially leading to gastrointestinal issues. Combining protein with prebiotics can help to address this imbalance, offering a more holistic and connected approach to sports nutrition.

The market for gut health-based sports products is still in its infancy but it is being accelerated by innovation and scientific advances. This is creating abundant opportunity for new ‘first-to-markets’. Integrating prebiotics with protein can create dual-function products that support muscle development and gut health at the same time. The prebiotic component supports a balanced gut microbiome, which in turn could help in areas such as nutrient absorption and immune function. This synergy can lead to improved overall gut-modulated health and performance for athletes.

To capture market share in today’s health and nutrition market, there is heightened need for strong and well-communicated scientific evidence. Health audiences, including both consumers and in this case sports enthusiasts, are rightly becoming more sceptical of unsubstantiated claims, instead seeking out that are backed by robust scientific principles.

As the most studied prebiotic of its kind, supported by over 120 scientific publications and more than 20 clinical trials, Bimuno GOS is a prime ingredient candidate for formulators. Its scientific foundation, detailing its efficacy in in vivo, ex vivo and real-world studies, provides formulators with the confidence to create effective sports health products that captures attention.

The publications backing Bimuno GOS include specific studies on its role in athletic health. For instance, a study conducted with elite rugby players revealed that daily supplementation with Bimuno GOS reduced the duration of respiratory illnesses by 24% and alleviated several gastrointestinal symptoms. These findings highlight the significant potential of Bimuno GOS in sports health formulations.

Adding further benefits, the ingredient offers unparalleled versatility, making it suitable for a wide range of sports health products. Its stability in various temperatures and pH levels allows for easy incorporation into different formulations, from protein powders and sports drinks to functional foods and supplements. Additionally, its low effective dosage enhances formulator appeal, simplifying the development process.

Expanding the product portfolio

Sports nutrition brands can leverage the versatility of Bimuno GOS to expand their product portfolios. Examples include:

  • Protein Powders: Combining protein with Bimuno GOS to create high-protein, gut health-supporting supplements.
  • Functional Beverages: Enhancing sports drinks with prebiotics to support hydration and gut health.
  • Snack Bars: Developing nutrient-rich bars that combine protein and prebiotics for on-the-go athletes.

With demand for gut health solutions rapidly increasing, bolstered my growing consumer awareness, now is an opportune time for health brands to explore the benefits of prebiotics. Bimuno GOS, with its proven efficacy and versatile application, is perfectly positioned to meet this growing consumer demand. By combining prebiotics with protein, formulators can create dual-function products suited to both casual exercisers and professional athletes, that support muscle development and gut health concurrently, meeting the evolving needs of the market.

Contact us today to learn more about how Bimuno GOS, backed by Clasado’s extensive expertise and scientific portfolio, can give your sports health products a competitive edge.