eSports: It’s in the Game

When it comes to thinking skills, reaction times, and the ability to make quick decisions, professional eSports is considered one of the most challenging sports of our time. Just as professional athletes from traditional sports optimize their diet by adding supplements, more and more Pro Gamers use supplements with hopes of taking their performance to the next level.

The demand for sports nutrition products positioned as improving mental acuity and stamina has caught the natural products industry by surprise. A factor that is fueling the demand is the continuing rise of online gaming culture. According to the NPD Group, 73% of US consumers play video games. The global video game market will grow to more than $180 billion by 2021, according to market intelligence company Newzoo, up from $138 billion in 2018. The market for gamer-centric formulations is huge.

With such a large market value, product developers and formulators already have an advantage when it comes to stepping into the video game industry. The science is already known about ingredients supporting cognitive health, eye health, blood sugar levels, and other health categories. The challenge is in how to better educate consumers on how these ingredients affect overall health and performance.

“eSports athletes are a new breed of competitors that require different dietary supplements than your ordinary athletes,” Erik Bywater, Founder & CEO of Knosis said. “Nootropics have been around for a while now and over the last few years have noticed increased usage in eSports due to the fact they help you focus and allow your brain to operate more efficiently. We believe nootropics are the cherry-on-top for e-Sports athletes - they need to be taking care of all aspects of their health and wellness to perform their best and we’re seeing this proven as more and more professional eSports teams hire nutritionists for their players.”

The brain consumes around 20% of the body’s energy and gamers need to stay highly alert for hours on end, maintaining their focus, reflexes, and quick decision-making capacity on point. Besides the mental endurance required, gaming for extended periods is also physically taxing. For this reason, sports nutrition products, which are positioned as having brain health benefits, are attractive to this growing audience.

Upping One’s Game

As interest in brain health increases, nootropics are becoming an essential supplement to the natural products industry with its unique benefits of enhancing cognitive health. Nootropics, also known as smart supplements, are a class of natural ingredients which are marketed to eSports enthusiasts to help boost memory, enhance creativity levels, reduce stress, lengthen attention span and raise alertness.

Caffeine is the most common nootropic ingredient used by most people, and while it can have health risks when overconsumed, this natural stimulant has been shown to improve thinking skills, provide energy, and has been shown to be more effective when combined with a compound such as L-theanine.*[ND1] 

L-theanine is an amino acid found most commonly in tea leaves and in small amounts in Bay Bolete mushrooms. Research indicates L-theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness[ND2] .* By combining caffeine and L-theanine at the right doses, the two ingredients work synergistically to give you greater energy while minimizing the side effects of caffeine, such as “the jitters.”

In addition to these two ingredients, there are many others that offer a range of different effects. Some ingredients help the brain protect or maintain what it is already using and producing (regulate neurotransmitter levels).

One such ingredient is NatAxtin™ brand astaxanthin, a natural ingredient sourced from Haematococcus pluvialis and considered to have the highest astaxanthin producing ability. Alexis Collins, Product Manager at Stratum Nutrition, said, “Astaxanthin is mainly used in dietary supplements as a powerful antioxidant that supports overall health and energy, joint health, exercise and recovery, cardiovascular health, brain and eye health, and skin health.”* These benefits have helped it gain popularity in the sports nutrition industry.

The Time for eSports Nutrition is Now

Grab-and-go delivery options are moving up in sales as young consumers are seeking dietary supplements that fit within their busy lifestyles. Whether it is through a stick pack, a personalized pill pack, or a nutritional bar, contract manufacturers can now create unique formulations that help consumers take their health-boosting ingredients with them on-the-go. 

One delivery system that is gaining attention is VitaSperse, offered by Stratum. This technology enables even dispersion of fat-soluble ingredients, such as astaxanthin, into water-based liquids.  VitaSperse combines two techniques proven to enhance absorption in the body: emulsification and micro-sized particles, yielding a microemulsion. This microemulsion helps improve stability of the antioxidant as well as enhance absorption through the intestinal wall. The use of the unique VitaSperse technology greatly expands the potential delivery formats for fat-soluble antioxidants to include liquid drops, ready-to-drink formulations, and cosmetic applications. 

Conclusion

Consumers are most likely to reach for something that is easy to take on the go, especially e-athletes that desire to be at their best for many hours at a time. Most are looking for products with additional health benefits and scientific backing. From products that offer to aid in better concentration to eye health, this market is no longer considered a niche one. For manufacturers of sports nutrition products and dietary supplements, the gaming nutrition market offers great potential.

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.