Last Updated on March 20, 2020

fitness supplementsThe Demand for Fitness Supplements is Booming

Protein shakes. Pre-workout supplements. Fat burners. The world of fitness supplements isn’t just for athletes or bodybuilders anymore (though they’re both still flocking to supplements in record numbers). Today, you’re likely to hear coworkers recommending the best protein powders and friends talking about their supplement routine. Any way you slice it, fitness supplements are booming.

Whether you’re already taking sports nutrition supplements or are mulling whether to use them to enhance your performance, consider this your quick guide to where the industry is today and where it’s headed.

The thriving market for fitness enhancers

The sports nutrition industry is growing faster than any other health-related industry. From 2011 to 2016, global sales of sports nutrition products grew by over 60%. The sports nutrition industry is expected to continue to expand by at least 7% annually until 2021. The market for fitness enhancers is booming throughout the world, but North America and Europe are clearly leading the way. More than 170 million American adults are now taking supplements.

Along with the market itself, the demographic of consumers flocking to fitness supplements has also expanded. A mere decade ago, these products were marketed specifically to bodybuilders and pro athletes who live or die by their ability to reach their maximum physical potential. But now, market researchers are taking a closer look at the growing number of consumers who use sports nutrition products. From yoga enthusiasts and busy parents to entrepreneurs and even kids, the scope of who’s taking fitness supplements is pretty astounding.

Experts believe that this growth is being driven by the rise of health and wellness, which is being touted as the next trillion-dollar industry. With more people dieting, exercising and purchasing products to fuel healthy habits, supplements are at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Overall, 76% of U.S. adults now take supplements. Roughly 30% of those supplement users take sports nutrition supplements; 19% take supplements for weight management.

Protein powder and other popular sports nutrition supplements

So which sports nutrition supplements are consumers flocking to? Protein products, and especially protein powders, are driving the most growth.

In 2016, protein products accounted for 80% of the industry’s value sales. Shifting attitudes about diet and what makes a well-rounded health are influencing this growth. More people are starting to see a high-protein diet as a sustainable method for building muscle and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. And a variety of protein products are hitting the market to meet every consumer’s preferences.

Protein powder is a $12.4 billion industry. Following protein powders are protein drinks and bars. These options are ready to ingest and don’t require measurement or mixing.

Protein products that contain (and advertise) more organic ingredients are on the rise, along with plant-based protein supplements. Currently, animal-based proteins still lead as the best-selling protein options, but that could change in the next few years. Pea protein powder was listed as one of the top food trends for 2017. A growing number of Millennials are switching to vegetarian and vegan diets, looking for dairy-free options that ensure they get the recommended amount of protein for their restricted diets.

Aside from upping their protein, one of the most common reasons that consumers turn to sports nutrition supplements is for more energy. Rather than high amounts of protein, energy supplements typically have a higher concentration of carbohydrates along with moderate amounts of fat and protein.

Consumers in the U.S. lead the way on this health trend; they account for 66% of global energy bar and energy drink sales. Millennials are driving a lot of the growth in energy supplements.  

How to find sports nutrition products that work for you

Millions of people around the world are tapping into the benefits of adding protein products and energy supplements to their health routines. Fitness supplements are designed to deliver a variety of outcomes (weight loss, weight gain, fat burn, etc.), and with the growing consumer demand, new products are popping up every day. This can make it overwhelming for consumers to figure out which supplement is best for their unique needs.

If you want to get started with supplements, or are ready to take your supplement regimen to the next level, make sure to read unbiased reviews. These lists of the top-rated fat burning supplements and the best protein powders and shakes are good places to start as you explore all that the fitness supplement world has to offer.


Cory is a veteran health industry writer and content creator. His work has been featured in major publications such as MyFitnessPal, Healthy Living, and Low Carb Fanatics. His health industry writing career spans over nearly two decades.

In his free time, Cory enjoys snowboarding, fictional writing, and online chess.