It isn’t just about fortifying products with all of these nutrients. Formulators must also make them readily available to the body to absorb.

“One overlooked aspect of nutrition is that of bioavailability, which can be impacted not only by the specific nutrient form, but also the presence of compounds in foods that may limit absorption,” said Eric Ciappio, strategic development manager, nutrition science, Balchem. “So called anti-nutrients, such as phytates and oxalates, are commonly found in plant-based foods that are often popular among athletes.”

Phytates, for example, may impact iron absorption. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, just 10 mg of phytate decreased iron absorption by 60% in human trials.

“There are several options for minerals that are manufactured to be more bioavailable than traditional products, either via patented production methods or by adjusting the carrier,” said Jenn Adams, business development manager, International Food Products Corp. “Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils also have their place in baked goods and snacks for the sports nutrition market. Made popular through the keto diet market, MCT oil offers many potential health benefits.”

According to scientific studies, MCT oils promote weight loss and reduction of the body’s fat mass. And as a fat, it has a role in energy, satiety and joint, organ and brain health.

“MCT-based products have become quite popular in the performance category,” said Shannon Washington, marketing manager at Balchem. “We offer lipid-based powder systems that utilize MCT oil. Dry powder-based lipid systems allow for a greater percentage to be incorporated into the formula versus only using liquid oils. We also offer lipid-based powder systems with added protein, like chickpea protein and pea protein.”

As health becomes more central and consumers become more mobile, demand for these types of products is only expected to grow.

“Sports and healthy eating go hand in hand,” said Kyle Krause, regional product manager, functional fibers and carbohydrates, North America, Beneo. “A key element for active consumers is to find foods that provide them with energy in a balanced way. We will continue to see the rise of ‘sportification’ of many on-the-go foods like baked goods and snacks, providing functional benefits beyond the original item.”

Such “sportification” appeals to busy consumers who are active all day and need proven nutrition to maintain performance. These foods fuel their days, both physically and mentally.

“The future of sports nutrition in baked goods centers around understanding the true need of active and sports nutrition consumers,” said Aaron Martin, director of nutrition innovation, Agropur. “This means more complete nutrition and calories. Protein is the cornerstone, but carbs, fats, fiber and vitamins and minerals are all important and will play a larger role. Expect to see more bars, muffins and other products that offer higher clean calorie content to fuel performance versus the low-carb, low-calorie approach that may not always provide enough building blocks for active consumers.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Sports Nutrition, click here.