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Energy Focus

Natural Energy Natural Energy

Consumers are hungry for realistic guidance in the natural energy category.

Stumbling throughout the day with a slow brain usually means that a person is fatigued. Feeling fatigued doesn’t always deem tiredness—there’s a lack of energy that’s present due to potential factors. Those factors can range from hypothyroidism to depression.

Thankfully, most fatigue issues can be alleviated with lifestyle changes and some help from natural energy enhancing supplements!

And the case of the ZZZ’s have allowed for a rapid growth within the energy supplement industry. It’s been predicted by BCC Research this past fall that the Global Sports Nutrition and High Energy Supplements Market will hit $60 billion by 2020, already estimated to be $41 billion in 2015. According to BCC Research, “The Global Sports Nutrition and High Energy Supplements Market is categorized into two broad segments: product type and geography.” For our concerns, the focus is product type where the market is broken down into sports food, drinks and supplements. Specifically for the sports and energy drinks category, the global market was $28.6 in 2015 and is expected to hit $66 billion by 2020.

Beyond combating fatigue, energy products have been widely used within the sports world as performance enhancers. Jennifer Shea, national sales manager from Colorado-based Honey Stinger, said of the sports industry, “Athletes of all ability levels are more conscious than ever on the quality of ingredients and how they impact their performance.” Ultimately, athletes want natural ingredients without any preservatives or artificial flavorings. Those natural ingredient trends for athletes are super fruits, gluten free and plant-based protein.

Shea said of the trends, “Super fruits continue to build with unique flavor profiles and combinations. Gluten free continues to be super important to many athletes and plant-based protein is hot for customers seeing nut-free and vegetarian sources of protein in their diets.”

Yet even with trends and a booming industry, obstacles do occur. David Ingalls, MS, RD and CEO of Washington-based Zing Nutrition Bars, explained, “Misinformation and disinformation are the major obstacles to overcome when improving someone’s diet. People are hungry for information and guidance, but it’s hard to separate the reality from the fiction.”

Because of this almost everyday occurrence, the understanding of basic nutritional science has been made more difficult than it needs to be. Ingalls noted, “Scientists have never been the greatest salesmen, and consumers don’t always have the training or patience to look any deeper than what the current fads promise as the simple answer to all their problems.” That’s why those who are within the natural energy product category must provide the authenticity and facts in an understandable, engaging and motivating way.

A fine example in regard to products having a lack of authenticity is the high-energy drinks that have created a flurry of opinions over the past few years. The reason for the debate: misleading labels. According to Foxnews.com, “Some energy drinks have a dietary supplements label rather than a nutrition facts label.” When a product takes on a supplement label, it gives consumers an idea that it’s something along the lines of a vitamin, which makes it seem healthy.

Neil Thaneder, a chemist and chief executive of LabDoor, told Foxnews.com, “The average caffeine claim is wrong by only 8 percent, but some vitamins see huge variances.” These findings stemmed from 25 popular energy drinks. In the mix of the vitamin and caffeine content of energy drinks, added sugar also makes some of these drinks potentially unsafe. “Many popular energy drinks contain more than 15 teaspoons of added sugars,” said Foxnews.com. With all that said, it’s a reason why natural energy supplements have finally caught storm.

Juicing Made Easy

Moving away from harmful concoctions, the grass is truly greener on the other side with Project Juice, a Northern California-based company that specializes in organic cold-pressed juices. In March of 2015 the company partnered with Ritual Wellness to further formulate the ultimate wellness experience by using organic produce and ingredients from local farms. Project Juice was co-founded by Marra St. Clair, a board certified clinical nutritionist and a holistic health coach specializing in cleansing, plant-based nutrition and the mind-body connection. Prior to Project Juice, St. Clair founded Ritual Wellness, a Southern California original purveyor of USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) organic cold-pressed juices.

She teamed up with Lori Kenyon Farley, and the two co-authored The Juice Cleanse Reset Diet. Soon they merged Ritual Wellness with Project Juice to better serve a wider audience. The two hottest products for the fairly new company are Mineral Surge and Get Up & Go Go. Mineral Surge is part of a line called Wellness Shots, which contain 2-oz. of shots that are designed to target a variety of wellness needs. This particular shot boots overall energy levels through it’s naturally occurring plant matter that’s sourced from the Himalayan Mountains, containing 85 minerals and trace elements.

As for Get Up & Go Go, St. Clair said, “It is one of our most popular ‘energy’ drinks because people love that they get to enjoy an organic, lower acidity coffee in addition to an almond milk that’s rich in healthy fats an protein. It’s a fantastic replacement to the standard cup of coffee. The cold-brew, almond milk combo upgrades your morning ritual to something that does not leave you crashing by 2 p.m.”

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, Project Juice also offers another coffee-based drink called True Brew, which is a potent 8-oz. serving of organic, lower acidity cold-brewed coffee. Lower acidity coffee can be easier on the stomach to digest.

Fungus For Energy

Unknown to many, mushrooms are a powerhouse of antioxidants and health benefits. It’s a reason why Sandra Carter, MA, MPH, PhD, and mycologist Steve Farrar developed Southern California-based Om Mushroom Matrix. For thousands of years, mushrooms have been a valuable product in Eastern cultures because of their health benefits. Carter and Farrar saw this as an opportunity to increase the awareness in the West.

All of their mushroom products are said to be GMP (good manufacturing practice) certified and are 100 percent organic. For energy enhancing purposes, Om Mushroom Matrix offers Om Cordyceps, Om FIT and Om ENERGY. Om Cordyceps contain 100 percent organic mushroom powder and they can be used in smoothies and other cooking recipes.

Carter said of the Cordyceps mushrooms that, “They facilitate increased availability of oxygen.” This ultimately helps to increase more energy. As for Om ENERGY, it is a natural, orange flavored powder that includes a blend of mushrooms including cordyceps and reishi as well as turmeric, mate, guarana and vitamins B, C and D.

“Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down protein, fats and carbohydrates,” Carter said. “B vitamins also play an important role in the nervous system.” In regard to the other micronutrients listed, pantothenic acid helps with the production of hormones while riboflavin helps the body to maintain healthy red blood cells. The last of the B-bunch, niacin, promotes healthy skin and ensures that the digestive and nervous systems are functioning properly.

Last but not least is Om FIT, which contains cordyceps and reishi organic mushrooms in a powder form. Reishi has research related to cardiovascular support, including supporting blood pressure, which helps to drive oxygen delivery. Those who would benefit using these products are athletes, the elderly and your average healthy individual. And there has been compelling research out of UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) related to the introduction of cordyceps for seniors. “These types of mushrooms have shown increased energy and an improved quality of life for this population,” said Carter. It’s clear from Om Mushroom Matrix that there’s a need for energy products, not only for the “instant buzz” but also for the importance of on-going sustained energy and its importance on cognitive health and general vitality.

Raising The Bar

While drinks and powders can enhance energy levels, food can do the same, except this energy enhancement food is in the form of a bar. Zing Nutrition Bar was developed by a group of nutritionists who wanted to find a bar that ultimately coincided with their professional training. Hummus and carrots, trail mix and other snacks have always been recommended but they weren’t easily portable. That’s why they created Zing Nutrition Bar.

Ingalls explained another valuable reason for the creation. “When we created Zing Bars, it was with blood sugar cycles in mind, and the nutrition science strategy that focuses on turning the calories that you eat into usable energy, a long-lasting, appetite satisfying energy, without the blood sugar spikes and crashes, low energy, cravings and the build up of body fat,” he said.

A bar that included low glycemic and slow burning carbs was the foundation. Soon high-quality protein, fats and fiber were added into the mix to optimize body tissue building and overall metabolism support. This has allowed for Zing Bars to develop 12 flavors “that are designed to deliver clean sustained energy without spikes and crashes, clean of the most common energy-zapping allergens (gluten, soy, corn) and made of the highest natural food ingredients for clean and distinctively satisfying flavor,” said Ingalls.

Of the 12 flavors, those that are coated in chocolate contain real dark chocolate: Dark Chocolate Coconut, Dark Chocolate Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate Mocha and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. The remaining flavors are Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Coconut Cashew Crisp, Double Nut Brownie, Almond Blueberry, Cashew Cranberry Orange and Lemon Cashew Crunch. All bars adhere to good manufacturing processes and are made in a certified gluten-free production facility. Gluten-free testing is also done on each production run, and Ingalls personally tastes each batch.

So Sweet

Adding to the food theme but with a hint of sweetness, Honey Stinger produces honey-based foods that encompass energy bars, protein bars, energy gels, organic waffles and organic chews. Their products are mainly geared to the fitness enthusiast.

Shea said of the company, “We have always believed sports nutrition should taste great as well as provide fuel—the industry hasn’t always provided great tasting options! And customers have learned what a tremendous history honey has had as a tasty and effective source of energy, and are excited to incorporate it into their training and racing regiments.”

Since there’s a passion for honey and bees, Honey Stinger supports Project Apis m. for research, and uses only True Source certified honey to ensure traceable quality from hive to processing.

Honey is a great source for quick energy because it uses a mixture of complex carbohydrates for maximum absorption and satiety. Honey Stinger offers waffles in seven flavors along gluten-free waffles in three flavors, eight flavors of organic chews, three flavors of plant-based protein chews, five flavors of whey protein bars, four flavors of non-GMO (genetically modified organism) soy energy bars, four flavors in low-sugar snack bars and six flavors in energy gels. New to the line this year are the protein chews, gluten-free waffles and snack bars. The protein chews are a good choice for when someone is on the go and needs a quick jolt of energy, whereas the waffles help people start their day off with the right combination of healthy sugars and complex carbs.

Honey is the main sweetener in all of the products and is comprised of glucose, fructose, maltose, disaccharides and sucrose. It’s important to note that honey contains fewer calories than sugar and has been seen to have anti-inflammatory properties. Whether it’s in the morning or right after a workout, the body needs simple sugars for energy production and it may help to relieve any aches and pains.

The Retailer’s Side

A leading supplement store, The Vitamin Shoppe has been supplying consumers since 1977 and has more than 750 stores nationwide. Marvin Barton, director of brand management, sports nutrition said, “The Vitamin Shoppe stores offer approximately 8,000 products from more than 400 brands across many categories. Our largest category is sports nutrition/weight management, which accounts for 30 percent of total sales. Our natural energy products would fall within this category.”

In regard to the energy focus, The Vitamin Shoppe has witnessed more consumers looking for natural products, whether its vitamins or food. To help guide consumers to the right energy enhancing producing, The Vitamin Shoppe’s health enthusiasts are trained to understand a consumer’s needs.

Barton said, “Our health enthusiasts are among the most knowledgeable and highly trained in the supplement industry. Also, all of our-in-store and live chat product specialists are required to pass a vigorous, multi-tiered range of courses at Vitamin Shoppe University, our proprietary online learning website.” All store managers at each Vitamin Shoppe attend the yearly Product Education Conference. Vendors also provide new product information to store managers and health enthusiasts to help them learn and grow. In addition, many vendors provide product samples for consumers to try before buying.

It’s evident that The Vitamin Shoppe and many other natural food stores are geared to give consumers the full experience when deciding what energy supplement is best. Since health and wellness is an ever-changing category, it’s crucial for retailers to be open to innovation and new research. VR


Sports Nutrition and High Energy Supplements: The Global Market – Reportlinker Review. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2016. http://www.reportlinker.com/p03082967-summary/Sports-Nutrition-and-High-Energy-Supplements-The-Global-Market.html

Are energy drinks really that bad for you? | Fox News. (2014). Retrieved April 3, 2016, from www.foxnews.com/health/2014/11/26/are-energy-drinks-really-that-bad-for.html

For More Information:
Honey Stinger, (866) 464-6639
Om Mushroom Matrix, (866) 740-6874
Project Juice, (844) 755-8423
Zing Nutrition Bar, (202) 362-3989

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