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Performance Nutrition: Flexing the Mental Muscle


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  • Physical Wellbeing
  • Mental Wellbeing

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Concept Card: Phospholipid & Protein Shake

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Concept Card: Crispy Protein Granola Bar

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Concept Card: Phospholipid & Protein Powder

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Performance Nutrition: Strengthening the Mental Muscle with Nutiani | Nutiani

Whitepaper: Fonterra Athlete Incubator Project

Whilst recent instances of high-profile athletes prioritizing their mental wellbeing has sparked a global discussion, no one is immune to the stresses of life. 

Whether training for a half-marathon or getting through an after-work gym session, harmonization of brain and body is universally important to achieving our fitness goals and consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands should leverage these holistic claims to differentiate their offerings in a crowded supplement space.

Athletes and Mental Wellbeing

Let me know if any of these dates ring a bell for you:

  • March 6, 2018
  • May 31, 2021
  • July 28, 2021

March 6, 2018: Kevin Love writes an article on Players’ Tribune about his decades-long fight with depression and anxiety that launched a movement among high-profile athletes to destigmatize mental illness.

May 31, 2021: Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, citing concerns for her mental health that trace back to long bouts of depression since the 2018 US Open.

July 28, 2021: Simone Biles, the world's best gymnast who had the chance to win up to five gold medals at the Tokyo Games, withdrew from the Olympics to focus on her mental well-being.

Just because someone is at the peak of their career and physical performance, doesn’t mean they’re immune to the stresses of life. You might see athletes as larger-than-life or modern-day warriors, but they’re just people, dealing with the same complex issues as the rest of us. When an athlete sprains an ankle or tears an ACL, nobody questions the recovery process. Yet, athletes battling mental wellbeing issues that stem from lifestyle requirements or the competitive environment have long been ignored and stigmatized. That being said, these instances of high-profile athletes prioritizing their mental wellbeing, along with organized efforts from various stakeholders, have triggered an important shift in the narrative of mental wellbeing in sports. 

Harmonizing Brain and Body in Active Lifestyles

Many of us aren’t facing enormous public pressure to win or relatively short playing careers that can end abruptly due to injury, but stressors that impact physical performance aren’t unique to professional athletics. Individuals with high-performance active lifestyles face similar stress dynamics that pose mental wellbeing risks, such as balancing intense work deadlines with subjecting the body to training stimulus in preparation for a sprint triathlon.

Life can be tough, and stress can make things tougher. But remember that stress isn’t inherently bad either. A healthy amount of stress can help you prepare, focus, and perform at your optimal level – when your able to focus and leverage it correctly. It’s those times when there’s too much stress that can lead to complications with mental focus and athletic performance. While it isn’t always in our power to change our external conditions, we can train to better manage our inner state. 


Physical and mental well-being are two sides of the same coin.


To phrase it another way, physical fitness is just as important as mental fitness. Whether training for a marathon or reaching for a personal best in the deadlift, it means putting our physical wellbeing under intense stress. To achieve these goals, it requires taking rest days, not only to prevent physical injury but also because they’re essential to muscle growth. We develop mental fitness in much the same way. When intense periods of mental or emotional strain become apparent, implementing ways to both strengthen and rest our minds are crucial. One clear takeaway from the professional sports movement is that society is beginning to embrace that we do our best when we are proactive, not reactive, about our mental wellbeing. So, yes, physical training is essential preparation for performance, but on the “event day” you’ll reap the benefits of a sharper mind. It takes the brain and body being in harmony for us to achieve our loftiest fitness goals. 


Performance Nutrition Category Implications

As our understanding of the connection between nutrition and mental wellbeing grows, it becomes clearer that unlocking peak athletic performance requires individuals to adopt a holistic mindset. It’s no longer enough for active brands to only provide performance nutrition solutions that center around the basic needs of increasing energy and building muscle. This shift in the marketplace towards addressing an abundance of holistic needs provides commercialization opportunities for food, beverage, and nutritional supplement CPG brands. And whilst that statement might get you giddy enough to jump right into a workout without changing from your business attire, it’s important to first consider a few factors:

  1. Will your target market be open to giving your company permission to extend in new areas?
  2. Do you have the right innovation approach that will provide product differentiation in an increasingly crowded market?

Though answering individualized brand positioning questions are beyond the scope of this article, here’s the good news…each of the five distinct health-conscious consumer segments  recognize the “interconnectedness of their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and are looking to manage their health holistically.” That should provide increased confidence that consumers are eager to find holistic wellbeing solutions that work.


My conclusion is that the companies that thrive will be those that can identify and target white space opportunities through offerings that are thoughtful, differentiated, accessible, convenient, and harmonize brain and body.

Joshua Scall

Owner of J. Schall Consulting


Nutiani recognizes this by introducing brain fueling ingredients such as phospholipids and probiotics into protein formats that seek to both nourish the mind and fuel the body. If you’re interested in learning more about the nutritious, convenient and scientifically proven Muscle Health & Stress Management solutions provided by Nutiani, explore them below:


Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.


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