Are chocolate and cheese the new go-to for athletes?

June 15, 2016
5 min read

While nutritious, protein rich food and drink has long been the post workout go-to for many athletes, new research from Mintel finds that foods typically considered to be more indulgent are increasingly joining the race in the sports nutrition aisle.

Cheese matures its image

While high protein claims have proliferated in the cheese aisle in recent years as consumer awareness and interest in protein have boomed, sports nutrition remains a relatively untapped area. Mintel’s 2016 Global Food & Drink Trend For Every Body explains that, as interest in sports nutrition moves from serious athletes to recreational and lifestyle users, it creates opportunities for brands to help consumers fuel and refuel appropriately.

As a natural source of protein, cheese could have inherent appeal in this environment, particularly as consumers are looking for more natural sports performance products.

EatleanEatlean Cheese, UK

The independent cheesemaker Joseph Hello has launched a new high protein cheese that aims to target the growing number of consumers maintaining active lifestyles. The cheese features 37g of protein per 100g, contains just 3% fat and no carbs or sugar. It is positioned to enhance muscle recovery, maintain electrolyte balance and reduce post-workout fatigue.

Young Gouda SlicesYoung Gouda Slices, Netherlands

Campina Gouda Kaas Plakken Jong (Young Gouda Slices) are naturally rich in calcium which positively influences bones, as well as protein which supports muscle growth and repair.

Grated Emmental CheeseGrated Emmental Cheese, France

Président Emmental Râpé Fondant (Grated Emmental Cheese) contains 30% less salt than the average Emmental cheese. It is also rich in calcium and rich in proteins, which contribute to muscle mass management. This product is made with 100% French origin milk.

Colby Jack Natural Cheese, US3822115-0_dcddb75469b

The award winning Tillamoos Colby Jack Natural Cheese cheese is made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones. The cheese contains 5g of protein per serving, is free from artificial growth hormones, and is said to be a healthy, high protein, easy-to-carry snack for just about anywhere you go.

Chocolate gets sweet on sports nutrition

Dark chocolate is the ultimate comfort food in times of stress and a reliable source of consolation when life has let us down. However, aside from being comforting, dark chocolate is loaded with high cocoa content, which contains soluble fibre, antioxidants and minerals. It is already hailed for its positive effective on cardiovascular and cognitive health, and a recent study revealed that eating dark chocolate as a daily snack could help boost athletic performance. This is due to the fact that the compound Epicatechin is found in dark chocolate, which increased bioavailability and bioactivity of nitric oxide which in turn dilates blood vessels and reduces oxygen consumption, allowing athletes to go further for longer.

While chocolate is a leading flavour in sports nutrition products, there is a white space opportunity for sports nutrition manufacturers to invest in dark chocolate flavour innovation and educate consumers about the functionality and athletic performance support of dark chocolate.

3253117-0_dcddb75469bDextro Energy Chocolate Sport Snack, Germany

Dextro Energy Chocolate Sport Snack is suitable for anyone actively engaged in sports. It provides quick carbohydrates with protein crispies and has only 3g of fat.

Balance Bar Dark Chocolate Crunch Energy Bar, Canada3616273-0_dcddb75469b

Balance Bar Dark Chocolate Crunch Energy Bar is made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. The kosher product is gluten free and contains 13g of protein, 4g of fibre, and is an excellent source of antioxidants, containing vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.

3867959-1_dcddb75469bChocolate flavoured energy endurance gel, France

Overstim.s Energix Délice Gel Énergetique Endurance Saveur Chocolat (Chocolate Flavoured Energy Endurance Gel) is gluten-free, features a smooth texture, and is rich in vitamin B6 which contributes to reducing fatigue. Its complex carbohydrate ensures efficiency throughout the effort by providing progressive energy, and it is ideal for endurance sports. This product retails in a 290g recyclable pack containing 10 x 29g units.

Low-fat energetic supplement with carbohydrates and cocoa flavanols, Italy3908601-0_dcddb75469b

Enervit Carbo Flow Alimento Energetico a Base di Carboidrati a Basso Contenuto di Grassi con Flavanoli del Cacao (Low-Fat Energetic Supplement with Carbohydrates and Cocoa Flavanols) can be used prior to intensive and prolonged exercise performance. The product contains flavanoids that help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow, and is a source of vitamin B1, which contributes to normal energy metabolism and normal cardiac function.

The new go-to post workout snack?

Sports nutrition brands are benefiting from shifting interest in sports nutrition from serious athletes to recreational lifestyle users. And for the majority of consumers, great taste and interesting flavours are as important as the performance of the products. Chocolate is able to provide a nutritional boost and great taste, while cheese can capitalise on its natural protein content, giving them both a significant advantage in this area.

Caroline Roux is Research Manager, Food & Drink at Mintel, heading up the global food and drink analyst team based in London and acting as a specialist for the dairy category. She provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to dairy companies, tracking global innovation and consumer trends to assist clients in their growth strategies.

Based in Singapore, Michelle Teodoro is a Food Science and Nutrition Analyst at Mintel. She specializes in food science and ingredients, with a focus on nutrition. Prior to Mintel, most of her career was in the field of nutrition and dietetics concentrating on food service, clinical nutrition, health and wellness program management, nutrition research and marketing. She’s a licensed Nutritionist-Dietitian in the Philippines and an Accredited Nutritionist in Singapore.

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