IT'S NO longer just athletes who are upping their game when it comes to what they eat and drink.
The casual gym trainer is also turning to sport and exercise as a way to have a healthier lifestyle are also seeking out products that contain nutrients essential for keeping the body at its optimum.
Bruce Dennison, president of the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPASA), says that the South African sports nutrition market was worth R555,6 million in 2016.
“Consumers are tapping into this trend and this market is expected to be worth R812.9 million by 2021, according to a Euromonitor International report,” he says.
The HPASA has been at the forefront of the natural health products, nutritional dietary supplements and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) industries since 1976, and represents a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and practitioners.
Companies have now spotted the trend because they realise people want the right fuel when they exercise.
“Many companies are latching onto this trend of the ‘sportification’ of food and drinks,” says Dennison.
Companies highlight their products’ nutritional content in their packaging to appeal to the health enthusiast as well as the more avid sportsperson, and also sometimes market their product via images of health and sport.
What to look out for
“If a label has ingredients with sweeteners, artificial ingredients and flavourants, best avoid it. It is much easier nowadays to find all-natural products offering fast post-effective recovery without the unnecessary additives”, says Vanessa de Ascencao, nutritional consultant and member of the HPASA.
As an example, curcumin is a bright yellow chemical, and derived from turmeric, a well-known spice, and has become a leading herbal supplement. “Curcumin is probably one of the most researched extracts, with over 700 clinical studies conducted thus far,” says De Ascencao. It is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. After a strenuous workout, curcumin can help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Adding turmeric to smoothies, soups and roast veg is becoming extremely popular.
Other notable supplements that aid fitness are the B vitamins, which are instrumental in fighting fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain. Magnesium also has a role to play in relieving muscle aches and spasms and helps increase energy, and can be found in spinach and kale.