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Sportification and its impact on nutrition - creating new markets, brands
Tuesday, 03 December, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Singapore
Have you ever taken notice of the recent boom in exercise studios, personal trainers, athleisure wear and keto-friendly cafes? Welcome to the sportification of our society. Beyond athletes and sportspeople, today we are seeing a new breed of sports enthusiasts who have fuelled the sportification trend creating new markets and brands in categories from clothing to accessories, to food and many others.

While not all of us feel like including regular jogging, cycling or gym visits into our day, many of us still buy into the sports trend with our lifestyle choices, for example, running shoes as casual wear, an activity tracker such as smart watches or even energy drinks to face a busy day at work.

Food companies know that there are immense opportunities in the rapidly rising numbers of health and sports enthusiasts as well as active consumers. The question is, do manufacturers have to create an entirely new line of products or can they reformulate their recipes to meet the needs of this consumer group?

Moving beyond protein
Protein is the first ingredient that comes to mind when thinking about food for the active.

However, within the available range of active nutrition, there is certainly room for innovative ingredients next to commonly used ingredients such as protein and high glycaemic carbohydrates.

While suitable for those in need of instant energy, high-glycaemic carbohydrates are not ideal for those looking for endurance in their training, for day-to-day sports activities, or for achieving balanced energy levels throughout the day. In order to meet the needs of these different consumer groups, the next generation sugar, Palatinose, offers a smart and healthy alternative for full carbohydrate energy.

Palatinose is derived from pure beet sugar and is also found in honey and sugar cane as a natural component. With a mild sweetness, its sensory profile is very similar to sugar, without any aftertaste. While being a sugar, it successfully proves that not all sugars are created equal. It acts as an energy source during activity and as it is fully yet slowly digested, it provides glucose in a sustained manner. This ensures blood sugar levels stay balanced, which helps to support an improved fat burning rate but how exactly can slow-release carbohydrates such as palatinose help both athletes and sports enthusiasts go the distance without the risk of the sugar crash?

There is such a thing as a healthy carb
Various studies have established that palatinose increases the proportion of energy derived from fat in overall energy consumption. This applies both to athletes and those leading less physically active lives. While the energy balance is important, it does not increase the basal metabolic rate. Instead, it acts by increasing the fat burning rate, or the proportion of overall energy production that comes from fat oxidation.

An increased fat burning rate means that active consumers can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer, and at the same time, burn fat more effectively. This also indicates that it can play a decisive role in body composition and weight management. Athletes and sports enthusiasts can derive dual benefit from the functional carbohydrate energy in the form of glucose available for a longer period during endurance sports, while a greater proportion of energy can be released from body fat. This prevents total depletion of carbohydrate reserves, enhances endurance and contributes to sports performance when active.

Slow-release carbohydrates to get through the day
About three in four consumers in Thailand know they can influence their health by the nutritional choices they make, with their biggest worries being overweight, having low energy levels and dealing with stress. They need to cope with a very hectic and busy lifestyle and are thus looking for effective energy supply without putting their metabolism under stress. Breakfast, as well as mornings, are seen as occasions to do something good for yourself and to get energised for the day. However, with increasing time constraints on morning routines, breakfast-on-the-go is becoming a growing trend.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance sustained energy release plays on their overall sense of well-being and energy levels. Products that can answer their needs could be for example, a low-glycaemic breakfast drink, or a cookie or cereal bar as in-between snack. Experts at the Beneo-Technology Center have developed recipes in which it replaces high glycaemic sugars while maintaining good taste and texture.

There is no better time than now for manufacturers to address the needs of this rising consumer group looking for better and sustained energy. With alternative carbohydrates such as palatinose, manufacturers can offer products that are more aligned with the fitness and health goals of athletes as well as sports enthusiasts and can also support active people coping with their busy lifestyle.
 
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