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Whether just being fit, building muscle mass or improving endurance: Anybody who does sport for their personal training goal demands a lot from the body. Sufficient fluid intake is essential for physical activity and this is often consumed in the form of sports drinks. It is not for nothing that the market is predicted to grow steadily.

Anybody who lives health-consciously and maintains a sporty lifestyle can´t hardly avoid functional drinks in general and sports drinks in particular. Above all, hydration is indispensable during and after training: the body loses 0.5 to two liters of fluid per hour through sweating even with moderate exercise. So water is essential to adequately hydrate the body and to compensate for this loss of fluids. Vital electrolytes are also lost in the event of excessive sweating and must be supplied from outside. These include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride, among others. Vitamin C, E and B2 are involved in protecting cells from oxidative stress. In addition, vitamins C and D contribute to a normal function and maintenance of bones and vitamin B6 to a normal energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of fatigue. If you want to build up muscle mass in a targeted manner, you should consume sports drinks with added protein during or after training, as proteins support the maintenance and increase of muscle mass. Special energy drinks that have been put together for athletes can contribute to recovery during endurance sports or support focus and overall performance.

Market is expected to grow over eleven billion dollars

Sports drinks have great potential: The sports drinks market is currently worth $ 9.5 billion and is expected to grow slowly but steadily to over $ 11 billion by 2024. Due to the increasing number of market participants, according to Mintel, it is increasingly important for labels to locate themselves in niches and clearly communicate their advantages.

Source: Sports and Performance Drinks US, Mintel, March 2020

In China, for example, consumers between the ages of 20 and 49 regularly consume sports drinks: 68 percent drink sports drinks of all kinds during outdoor training and 49 percent during indoor activities, such as in the fitness center. It turns out that men are the main users in China: 45 percent of the male respondents between 30 and 39 years of age stated that they had increased their consumption of sports drinks during the last three months.

Source: "The future of water, sports and energy drinks: 2020 Global Annual Review: what's new and what's next for the water, sports and energy drink market", Alex Beckett, Mintel, January 2020

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From leisure sport to performance

In principle a distinction must be made between sports drinks and performance drinks: Performance drinks make up around 18 percent of the sports drinks market in the USA. They are consumed by athletes who train high-intensity and performance-oriented every day. The remaining 82 percent market share is accounted by sports drinks for athletes who pay attention to their general well-being, regulate their fluid balance or want to replenish electrolyte reserves.

Traditional sports drinks lead the popularity rankings

The majority of adults prefer not to exercise excessively, but to exercise regularly in accordance with their everyday life. The majority of this target group do not consider themselves athletes, although more than a third actually train daily. Only 16 percent of those surveyed rank themselves among the athletes.

Traditional sports drinks, which are suitable for everyone, therefore rank first on the popularity scale: 40 percent of consumers state that they consume these classic sports drinks. Functional water took second place with 27 percent, followed by energy drinks with 22 percent, sugar-free sports drinks with 22 percent and protein drinks with 21 percent.

When choosing their sports drink, 62 percent of US consumers pay particular attention to the taste, 39 percent value the sugar content, 32 percent assess the protein content and 30 percent choose sports drinks that are free from artificial ingredients.

Source: Sports and Performance Drinks US, Mintel, March 2020

Sport drinks for more fluids

Hydration is essential during exercise in order to remain efficient. With the global health trend, water drinks are already available in all varieties. Since 2017, the top 5 launches of water-based sports drinks in Europe have included the flavours lemon followed by lime, apple, raspberry and mint. Product launches added with vitamins and minerals have been ahead for the past three years. In second place of the top new launches of the water-based sport drinks are products with a focus on rehydration, followed by functional energy drinks and those sport drinks that impress with their particularly environmentally friendly packaging and are also recyclable.

Source: "The future of water, sports and energy drinks: 2020 Global Annual Review: what's new and what's next for the water, sports and energy drink market", Alex Beckett, Mintel, January 2020

Mintel assumes that the following trends in sports drinks will increase in the next two years:

• Near Water or Water Plus drinks containing caffeine - often enriched with other flavours - are becoming popular options - also in sparkling versions. This means that they will increasingly take over the energy drinks market share.

• Functional drinks and performance drinks will also increasingly focus on the requirements in e-sports and gaming, especially in the key market of China, where it is viewed as a separate sport.

• Performance energy drinks are increasingly being added with protein, especially plant-based. Probiotics could also increasingly be part of these mixtures. There is also a discernible trend that essential amino acids of vegetable origin are competing with those from animal protein sources, whereby vegetable drinks being predicted to have a great future.


For the next five years, the market researchers will go even further:

• Gel water as a new functional alternative to drinks. Gel-like water is H3O2 water that has been charged by electrolytes. This form of water is mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Ingredients like aloe vera, chia seeds or melon are popular in such drinks.

• Manufacturers of sports drinks are increasingly relying on technology and after evaluating a DNA analysis provided by the customer, produces products individually for the consumer in order to meet their personal nutritional needs in the best possible way.

• Due to the fact that public water reserves are ending worldwide, consumers could increasingly access bottled water - because they perceive this variant to be safer.

Sources: "The future of water, sports and energy drinks: 2020 Global Annual Review: what's new and what's next for the water, sports and energy drink market", Alex Beckett, Mintel, January 2020

"Meet the changing needs of today's athletes - Go beyond the traditional mindset for performance nutrition and look for new opportunities for gamers, outdoor athletes and the weekend warrior", Stephanie Matucci, Mintel. January 2020

The increasing consumer awareness of the ingredients should also not be ignored: 69 percent of US consumers of sports drinks currently state that the ingredients are too artificial. 78 percent of Chinese consumers read the ingredients on the labels and 34 percent of consumers in the UK complain that there is too little regulation of the market.
Mintel therefore assumes that the future of sports drinks lies in clean label products.

Source: "Clean Label is the future of sports nutrition", Rick Miller, Mintel, November 2019


Sports drinks do their part to support the effect of sports training. For example, drinks added with proteins can help to build muscle, while vitamin D helps maintain normal muscle function. In addition, adequate hydration is important when exercising. Due to the previously rather bad image of the ingredients of different sports drinks, the future lies in natural ingredients and clean labels. The market is growing slowly but steadily: by 2024, it should exceed the eleven billion dollar mark!

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Maren Döbl

Maren DöblAuthor

Product Manager

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