NutraIngredients Sports Nutrition 2014 round-table debate

Pro team nutritionist: We can’t get the sports nutrition products we need


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The bottles may be the same but Arsenal Football Club offers bespoke nutrition solutions to all its players
The bottles may be the same but Arsenal Football Club offers bespoke nutrition solutions to all its players

Related tags Sports nutrition Nutrition

The nutritional needs of professional athletes and the general sports playing population are clearly not the same but does the broad sports nutrition market reflect that diversity of need? The Arsenal FC nutritionist and other experts argued the toss at NutraIngredients Sports Nutrition 2014…

Arsenal Football Club sport and exercise nutrition consultant James Collins said not only a team but individuals within a team had specific needs and the giant London club liked to work with manufacturers to tailor products to those specific requirements.

“Actually working with companies to tweak compositions and tweak flavours and textures is really helpful for us in elite sport. So having the ability to tailor this is really important,” ​Collins, who has also worked with the Enlgish national football team, said in the debate that is available to register for listen to on-demand here for free.

Research gunner: James Collins at Arsenal says the club forms partnerships with research groups to, "get in early on the research before it goes to the academic journals.”

“With Arsenal and a lot of other sports teams, [the products needed] are not available on the shelf. A lot times I will work with providers…and that might just be altering a composition to fit our needs whether that be incorporating different types of carbohydrates, bringing down carbohydrates and using different amino acids.

So depending on what our needs are and what biomarkers we have we might ask them to incorporate things or more often than not take things out of their products as well.”

Mark Gilbert, co-founder and chief content officer at and European Specialist Sports Nutrition Association (ESSNA) member, said the power-physique gym-going crowd had different needs and expectations.

Mark Gilbert-Musclegenes
Mark Gilbert emphasises the marketing aspect of NPD.

“Formulation is about getting efficacious in there and things you know will be effective but also trying to get some of the newer ingredients in there – something a little bit fresh,” ​he said even while acknowledging that validating science may not always exist to the standard required by regulators. “It is a little bit marketing driven but the bedrock of any good products is that people actually get the results they want from it.”

Collins said many sporting and athletic groups at the elite level were in the practice of developing relationships with universities and other research institutions, “so we get in early on the research before it goes to the academic journals.”

Arsenal was doing so in, “recovery and strength and power and endurance, where we are actually looking at trials and looking to develop specific products from that.”

“I guess what we are trying to do is be a step ahead of the research and actually drive the research ourselves to fit the performing questions that we are seeing.”

Dr Aurélie Mauray-Soulier, EU market development manager in specialised nutrition at French pea protein and carbohydrate supplier Roquette, said product formulations needed to cater to both the elite and regular sports player.

Dr Aurélie Mauray-Soulier: Taste and texture concerns still dominate formulation developments.

“We need to develop these kinds of studies in collaboration with institutions or on our own because it is really complex and needs generally lots of money and that’s why collaboration is a good way to reach our goal.”

“We need to improve the taste and improve the texture especially if we look at the general trends, if tomorrow the trends for sportspeople will be to develop more and more mainstream finished products such as yoghurt bites etc so we have to adapt our offer.”

Collins said it was a good thing that a variety of protein and other nutrient sources existed. "To have these different options is important."

Other topics discussed include the latest cutting edge ingredients, contamination, health claims, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), differing marketing channels and strategies, gold standard trials, doping, carbohydrates, creatine, the female market and Arsenal's game-day nutrition secrets.

To register or sign-in and listen to the full 60-minute debate for free click here​.

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