Three-time Mr. Olympia runner-up and three-time Arnold Classic victor — Kai Greene — once offered up this bit of wisdom:
“Bodybuilding is an art; your body is the canvas, weights are your brush, and nutrition is your paint. We all have the ability to turn a self-portrait into a masterpiece.”
But there’s definitely a third piece Greene forgot to mention: sports supplements as the palette.
It takes a perfect blend of all three to build an all-natural, stage-ready physique like Simeon Panda or Jeff Seid. That might explain why the sports nutrition industry is flat-out booming.
Check out these 15 sports nutrition industry stats that’ll boggle your mind!
Table of Contents
- Sports Nutrition Statistics
- Nutrition Industry Trends
- Nutrition Industry Growth & Decline
- Sports Nutrition Market Segmentation
- Sports Nutrition Industry Statistics – Conclusion
Sports Nutrition Statistics
- In 2020, the sports nutrition market’s value soared to $19.96 billion.
- North America dominates the sports nutrition industry, asserting itself as the largest regional market.
- The companies leading the sports nutrition market include Clif Bar & Company, Glanbia plc, MusclePharm Corporation, General Nutrition Centers Inc., and PepsiCo, Inc.
North America’s Stranglehold on Sports Nutrition
North America is the fifth least-populated continent on the planet, just ahead of Oceania (home to 42.45 million people) and Antarctica and it’s few thousand residents.
Yet, we still manage to carry the sports nutrition industry with 59.2% of sales in 2020.
The question is, why?
It’s not because America is a fitness-obsessed continent like the data suggest. Most likely, the U.S. dominates the sports nutrition industry because:
Some 45% of Americans Have at Least One Chronic Disease
More Americans than ever have lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Of course, the common thread between these conditions tends to be a generally unhealthy lifestyle (hence the name): a junk diet, no exercise, and a lack of proper nutrients to fuel the body.
Here’s where supplement use could get a bit … wonky.
Desperate for results, skyrocketing supplement use in America could fizzle down to desperation and laziness; I want to build muscle and shred fat, but I don’t want to put in the effort!
The American Dietary Supplements Market Includes 85,000+ Supplements
(… with more introduced each year.)
Whether you’re at a retail store, nutrition shop, or merely scrolling through your Facebook feed, you’ll likely come across at least one supplement that sparks your curiosity.
That might explain why 52% of people surveyed in 1999–2012 admitted to using supplements within the last month, despite evidence that most products are nothing but hype (they don’t work).
The FDA also doesn’t need to approve supplements.
Seventy Percent of Americans Rate Their Health as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent.’
Americans are either ridiculously confident (which we could probably all agree with) or in denial (if 2020 taught us anything …).
Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that 2.7% of Americans actually live a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, it’s possible that those 2.7% of health gurus pour their salaries into the supplement industry. But it’s more likely that Americans think taking supplements means automatic health.
For the record:
- Creatine doesn’t make you a bodybuilder.
- Multi-vitamins won’t make up for an awful diet.
- Fat burners hardly live up to their name.
- Sports drinks are often more sugar water than recovery fuel.
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Supplements can offer a boost when paired with a balanced diet and regular exercise routine. But on their own, don’t expect any miracle-working.
The Most Popular Sports Nutrition Supplements
Who better to represent the sports nutrition community than athletes at American universities?
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (0.1%). While DHEA can boost total testosterone in older men, its effects on strength, mass, and fat-burning aren’t as impressive as so many athletes believe (the findings of a 2013 meta-analysis).
- Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (0.2%). Research into this supplement is quite conflicting. One study published in 2017 discovered that HMB could create a more muscular physique and improve athletic performance. Yet, a 2000 review into this leucine metabolite revealed that claims of limited protein breakdown require more research and that the resulting muscle & strength gains are most common in young, untrained athletes.
- Testosterone boosters (1.6%). Boosting testosterone typically goes hand-in-hand with improved strength and greater muscle mass. However, 2020 research found that just 24.8% of so-called T-boosting supplements actually increase testosterone levels.
- Multivitamins plus caffeine (5.7%). About 24% of those aged 20–39 rely on multivitamins to fill slight nutritional gaps. Yet, the advice to “take your vitamins” won’t necessarily overhaul your health or athletic performance for the better. In fact, researchers found that multivitamins don’t lower your risk of heart disease, mental decline, cancer, heart attacks, or death. And, despite delivering a healthy dose of energy-boosting B vitamins and vitamin D for bone and muscle health, they won’t improve performance.
- Amino acids (12.1%). Amino acids are also a bit questionable when it comes to boosting athletic performance. For example, some research suggests that BCAAs can improve exercise intensity and lessen DOMS post-workout; others found no benefits whatsoever. Taurine reportedly improves VO2max during aerobic exercise when supplemented for a full week prior. Yet, tryptophan, which comes with similar promises, has only been proven to do so in a few studies. In other words: be very selective when choosing amino acids!
- Creatine (14%). Creatine is one of the few supplements that work, though the initial weight gain might be a turn-off for anyone cutting pre-competition. One research review from 2003 credits creatine monohydrate with an 8% boost in muscle strength, a 3–45% heavier bench press 1RM, and 14% better performance (compared to placebo).
- Energy drinks (28.6%). It’s not unusual to see athletes with a Red Bull or BANG in hand in the hours before an athletic competition. We have caffeine and taurine to thank for that! For example, research revealed that caffeine could improve performance by 3–4% in cyclists during a 15-minute ride at a moderate intensity.
- Protein (41.7%). Athletes are driving the protein supplement industry. With a recommendation of 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight (for hypertrophy goals), protein powders and bars are a simple way to boost protein synthesis and encourage proper muscle repair and growth post-workout.
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Nutrition Industry Trends
- Athletes and bodybuilders are driving the sports nutrition market’s growth, ramping up demand for energy drink, dietary supplements, and protein bar variety.
- Aside from doctors and nurses, many fit-seekers turn to their friends and family (53%) and personal trainers and gyms (45%) for nutrition advice.
- Amidst a raging COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of all consumers bumped up their use of immune health supplements.
- With more medical professionals reaching “viral” status online, the natural, whole foods craze is gradually outpacing bogus supplements.
Sports Nutrition & the Age of Disinformation
It’s safe to say that one of America’s biggest vices as of late is misinformation (or “disinformation,” when it’s programmed to be intentionally misleading to readers and viewers).
Unfortunately, the health and fitness spheres aren’t immune to these scams either.
For example, we have:
- Questionable doctors like Dr. Oz pushing “scientific breakthroughs” like raspberry ketones and green coffee extract as miracle weight loss cures (researchers discovered that half of the fads he pushes aren’t backed by science!)
- People trusting rogue Facebook posts or poorly spliced together YouTube videos over literal medical professionals and science
- A fitness supplement industry that doesn’t require FDA approval, with Americans dumping $21 billion into supplements that flat-out don’t work, many of which print ridiculous promises on the label (like “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “pack on 20 pounds of muscle”)
It’s no wonder we’re so confused about who to trust.
While the progress is slow, it seems more Americans are putting their health and fitness journeys into the hands of experts — in the form of personal trainers and online medical professionals.
To clarify: there is no single supplement that’ll change your life, sculpt the physique of your dreams, help you reach health goals 10x faster, or make you immune to any diseases.
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Nutrition Industry Growth & Decline
- The number of health club members propelled past the 73.6-million mark in 2019, up 21% from 58 million back in 2010.
- The sports nutrition market’s growth unexpectedly stalled between 2019 and 2020, dipping by 32.1% and falling short of the $15 billion projections.
- Year-over-year growth for the sports nutrition market will likely reach 10–11% between 2022 and 2028.
- Forecasts predict a 12.2% CAGR for the sports nutrition industry from 2021 to 2026.
What’s Driving the Sports Nutrition Industry Growth?
Experts predict that the sports nutrition industry will bounce back even more once social distancing rules become laxer and the gyms that survived the pandemic reopen for good.
But why was the industry supposed to top $15 billion pre-COVID?
It could be because:
- Gym memberships had already been on an upward trajectory between 2000 and 2019, climbing from 32.8 million to 64.19 million.
- The average American exercised for 0.31 hours (18.6 minutes) per day on exercise, which is nowhere close to where it should be but still reveals some effort to get fit.
- Some 73.6% of Americans classify as either obese or overweight, with exercise and better nutrition being the #1 way to reverse course and reach a healthy BMI.
- More fitness influencers than ever are promoting health supplements, with the top 20 reporting over 100 million combined followers (many of whom are easily swayed).
- Americans are gradually easing into healthier diets, with 31% now only choosing whole grains (up from 4%) and almost 25% eating less meat — mostly for health reasons.
Though it might not seem true, those in the U.S. are gradually inching toward healthier lifestyles that include more fitness and healthier diets. Supplement sales are following the trend, naturally.
The Unexpected Dip Between 2019 and 2020
2020 was an odd year for just about anybody living in reality. And, despite shuttered gyms and statewide lockdowns, 70% of Americans exercised just as much or more than usual in April 2020.
So then, why did sports supplement sales stall globally between 2019 and 2020?
Here are a few possible explanations from the American perspective:
Some portion of sports supplements sales come from gyms themselves.
The demand for sports nutrition supplements understandably dipped for anyone lacking a home gym with a squat rack, dumbbells, and an adjustable bench.
The price-gouging on fitness gear during the pandemic certainly didn’t help either.
Sports Nutrition Market Segmentation
- Supplements maintain a stranglehold over the entire sports nutrition market, securing an 82.2% revenue share in 2020.
- Brick-and-mortar nutritional shops (like the Vitamin Shoppe) raked in 77.5% of the total revenue share in 2020.
- North America carried the sports nutrition market in 2020 with the highest recorded share.
The Best Places to Buy Sports Supplements
Whether you prefer bars, powders, pills, or ready-made drinks, do you know the best places to buy sports supplements?
Amazon is the best supplement hub in terms of flavor, brand, and variety. You can also enable auto-ship to receive your favorite supplements monthly instead of buying in bulk.
The Vitamin Shoppe is the most available brick-and-mortar store, with more than 730 shops across the U.S. Most employees are also experts and can help you choose the right supps.
No matter which you turn to, be sure to read the labels, verify that the supplements actually work, follow the recommended dosages, and continue with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
What Is the Global Sports Nutrition Market Size?
The global sports nutrition market size remains on an impressive upswing, eclipsing $10.7 billion in 2020. Economic pundits forecast this momentum continuing through 2028 at an estimated 10.9% CAGR. The growth fizzles down to COVID-19 concerns and other health epidemics — like obesity and diabetes.
What is the U.S. Sports Nutrition Market Size?
The U.S. sports nutrition market size topped $13.93 billion in 2021, accounting for 38% of the global market. Researchers link this fit-savvy trend to urbanization, the push for more ready-made options, and increasing health awareness. By 2026, the U.S. market size could surpass $20.28 billion.
Sports Nutrition Industry Statistics – Conclusion
The sports nutrition industry will likely continue to grow for years or even decades to come. But that doesn’t mean that every supplement works as promised or will help you reach your goals.
If you’re hoping to pack on mass, these are the best supplements to fill your cabinets with:
- Whey or casein protein (with at least 20g of protein per scoop)
- Animal Pak
- Creatine monohydrate
- Mass gainers (if you’re a hard-gainer desperate to pack on pounds)
You can rely on an otherwise balanced diet and a mass-building routine to handle the rest!
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