Sports beverages are getting more and more popular due to increased interest in an active and healthy lifestyle. Indeed, an increasing number of people are getting involved in sports across the globe. A further driver for the rising popularity of sports beverages is the expanding cult of beauty aided by social media and the press.
Sports beverages can be divided into several separate types: pre-workout, post-workout, during workout, weight loss, and energy. These types distinguish themselves with specific ingredients well known for their functional properties.In most cases, these ingredients have an authorised health claim, and so they are easily recognisable by the consumer.
Protein is one of the main essentials necessary for muscle growth. Milk is the most popular source of protein, and specifically, whey protein from milk. This is due to its absorption rate, which is much faster and more efficient when compared to other proteins. It is even believed that whey protein can help to fight depression.
However, due to the growing trend of veganism and increased attention on allergens, the use of plant-based protein products instead is rising dramatically. The main sources for these are leguminous vegetables such as peas, navy bean, chickpeas, and grain such as rice or quinoa.
It should be noted that plant protein contains a lower level of amino acids (versus animal protein), which translates to slower protein synthesis. Nevertheless, the other benefits that plant-based foods provide are not deterring consumers.
For example, whole plant-based foods are easy for the human body to digest because they contain fibre. Less time spent on digestion means more energy to use throughout the day. Plant-based proteins are also a solution for those who want to avoid possible hormones or antibiotics coming from the animal-based raw materials.
02 Green Tea
In recent years, green tea has received a fair amount of attention in research with scientists looking to demonstrate the impact that its high polyphenol content can have on health. Polyphenols are organic chemicals found in plants, and they can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Natural botanical extracts comprise such active ingredients, like catechins for example. One of the most popular sources of polyphenols is green tea extract, which is known for its antioxidant content. The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea is believed to help weight loss and has been shown to help reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
03 Wheat Grass Powder
Wheat grass powder is a great source of phytonutrients and carotenoids, and is also a natural source of essential amino acids that help clean the body and maintain the pH level in the body.
Wheatgrass is extremely rich in some of the most vital vitamins—specifically A, C, E, K and the eight B vitamins— which provide energy and help to fuel the body. The plant also contains a high level of amino acids and chlorophyll, which prevent injury and can also help the body heal more quickly after injury. These constituents also help to speed up the detox process.
Algae can increase speed, energy, endurance, and mental ability. If that is not enough to catch one’s attention, one should also know that it absorbs toxins more efficiently than most foods, and contains nine essential amino acids in a balanced and easily digestible form.
In fact, algae offers the body three times the number of complete proteins than any other plant proteins. Spirulina and chlorella powder extracts share similar properties of phytonutrients and carotenoids.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae rich in nutrients like protein, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, zinc, chlorophyll, the essential fatty acid GLA, and phytonutrients. It has been used for centuries for multiple purposes to boost immunity, reduce stress, and aid in weight loss.
In contrast, studies have shown that chlorella benefits the entire body by supporting healthy hormonal function, promoting cardiovascular health, helping to negate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and aiding in detoxification.
Chlorella’s rich green colour comes from a high concentration of chlorophyll. Eating more leafy green vegetables is recommended for good overall health and skin, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the recommended 5-7 servings a day; consuming chlorella in the powder form or when its incorporated into various products is one way to achieve this.
05 Raw Cacao
Raw cacao has recently become more prominent among sport nutrition solutions. It has a very high oxygen radical absorbance capacity, making it one of the best sources of antioxidants, which is helpful in preventing and repairing free radical damage. Exercising increases the formation of free radicals, so a diet high in antioxidants is important for athletes.
Another characteristic is its high magnesium content, which is extremely important among young athletes due to the positive effects it can give for heart health.
Turmeric is another ingredient that is becoming more popular in functional beverages, including sport drinks. Turmeric is loaded with antioxidants, which are beneficial because they protect the body from free radicals.
In clinical trials, turmeric has been found to decrease joint pain and inflammation, and improve joint mobility and function after eight months of treatment. Supplementation can definitely enhance workouts and recovery and could be a beneficial supplement for athletes who have or want to prevent join pain.
07 Natural Electrolytes
Pink Himalayan Salt is a rock salt or halite from the Punjab region of Pakistan and is very well known for its functional benefits.
Himalayan salt helps create an electrolyte balance, increases hydration, and regulates water content both inside and outside of cells, balancing pH and even helping to reduce acid reflux and prevent muscle cramping.
Another example of naturally sourced electrolytes are the salts extracted from seawater or salt lakes.
Such ingredients are helpful not only for the body of an athlete but are also very useful for marketing campaigns.
08 Fruit Extracts
Active ingredients from herbal extracts and fruits, such as from grapes and apples, are also climbing up the ‘popular’ list of sports drink ingredients. These offer a number of exceptional sports nutrition properties including enhanced and longer-lasting performance.
The polyphenols can work to manage fat cells by preventing the body from storing fat and decreasing the size of existing fat. Reducing the fat in organs helps reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Interestingly, apple polyphenols do not only increase muscle size, but can increase muscle strength.
Ashwagandha is an important herb in traditional Indian medicine because of its wide-ranging health benefits. The science surrounding this ancient herb validates its potential benefits. It promotes physical and mental health, restores the body, and increase longevity.
Ashwagandha can also help reduce stress hormones produced during exercise, improve oxygen consumption and fatty acid use, reduce blood sugar depletion, and control the build-up of lactic acid. This herb can also relax muscles without causing sluggishness.
Moringa is well known around the world as one of the most nutritious plants ever discovered, and is often called the “miracle tree”. Using moringa oleifera as a pre-workout and post-workout supplement can help the body reach peak performance. Unlike most sugary pre-workout supplements, taking moringa before a workout helps tune up the body with naturally occurring nutrients, including B vitamins, which make your energy last longer.
Most athletes taking moringa have noticed increased flexibility, leading to fewer injuries and sprains. As a postworkout supplement, its amino profile and high levels of dozens of vitamins and minerals make it a perfect recovery food after gruelling workouts and physical strain.
Endurance exercise can increase oxygen use from 10 to 20 times over the resting state, which greatly increases the generation of free radicals, prompting concern about enhanced damage to muscles and other tissues. Moringa’s high antioxidant content can help reduce the oxidative stress caused by high levels of physical exertion.
Natural Is Winning
Almost every artificial supplement is believed to have a number of negative side effects that make it dangerous to consume, especially over long periods. Steroids, for example, can help a person quickly build muscle mass, but they also seriously interfere with the body’s natural hormone production process and can even cause severe behaviour changes.
For this reason, it is always good consider natural alternatives for those artificial supplements in order to get better results for athletes. Natural ingredients as abovementioned do not only improve athletes’ muscle growth, stamina or performance; they also boost the immunity and digestive systems, and thereby improve overall health.