The lowdown on sports nutrition supplements

February 10, 2016

Competitive athletes train hard, eat right and often turn to supplements to boost their performance. But do nutrition powders, pills and drinks really help? Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society looks at the science—or lack thereof—behind the sports nutrition market.

Melody M. Bomgardner, a senior editor at C&EN, reports that the market for nutrition products aimed to improve athletic is growing at about 5 percent per year. It reached $6.3 billion in 2014. From the steady staple of protein powders to newer fads like grape seed extract, athletes have many options to wade through but not many sources to turn to for verifying a manufacturer's claims. It is up to the consumer to search for and evaluate the clinical evidence—if any—and decide whether a product is worth trying.

Clinical studies on supplements are becoming more important for marketing purposes. But the testing process is still a work in progress. Critics say the numbers of participants are often too small for results to be generalizable. Additionally, some of the studies that are published might focus on measurements, such as blood or urine biomarkers, that don't necessarily translate into improved performance. In other words, a lot of questions remain about the effectiveness—and safety—of many .

Explore further: Chemical companies shore up supplement science

More information: Athletes Look To Sports Nutrition Products To Improve Performance,

Related Stories

Chemical companies shore up supplement science

April 23, 2014

As evidence mounts showing the potential health benefits of probiotics, antioxidants and other nutritional compounds, more and more people are taking supplements. And the chemical industry is getting in on the action. But ...

Recommended for you

Want to exercise more? Get yourself some competition

October 27, 2016

Imagine you're a CEO trying to get your employees to exercise. Most health incentive programs have an array of tools—pamphlets, websites, pedometers, coaching, team activities, step challenges, money—but what actually ...

Sleep loss tied to changes of the gut microbiota in humans

October 25, 2016

Results from a new clinical study conducted at Uppsala University suggest that curtailing sleep alters the abundance of bacterial gut species that have previously been linked to compromised human metabolic health. The new ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.