The youngest of the start-ups to feature this year, Affinity Nutrition launches a range of sports-focused protein bars and flapjacks that contain 22 grams (g) (20g for flapjack) of the macronutrient.
As Skyrme explains, the protein choice caters to consumer preferences for natural/clean label ingredients blending micro filtered grass fed whey isolate with micellar casein to maximise recovery and lean muscle gain.
“The most technical aspect of our bars is the complex fibres implemented within the recipe,” he explains.
A natural product, in huge demanded by the consumer throughout the two years of testing, was difficult to create and produce in the factory.
“Using a number of advanced processes, we were finally capable of producing the bars using fibres with evident microbiome benefits.”
Bringing something new
For Skyrme, the product is a labour of love for this entrepreneur, who set out in 2017 to bring something new to the long-standing protein bar market without moving into the crowded and limited vegan space.
With the help of feedback from the health and fitness community, the product’s development arch moves away from artificial ingredients towards those with more diverse health benefits.
“As the focus grows on transparency in sports nutrition products Affinity Nutrition saw the opportunity to take the established protein element of sports nutrition and combine it with cleaner ingredients and innovative gut health focused ingredients,” Skyrme says.
“Rather than using artificial sweeteners to sweeten the products we use a balance of organic chocolate and natural sweeteners such as honey and dates.
“'Guilt free' snacking is frankly nonsense as our bars our bars compete with the market leaders in total calories without the need for non-nutritive sweeteners.”
As an agile start-up at the start of their journey, Affinity Nutrition is able to respond to emerging evidence that points to gut health and the microbiome as a key determinant of athletic performance.
Affinity Nutrition’s products cater to this with the inclusion of complex fibres within their recipes as Skyrme describes the advanced processes used to produce energy bars using fibres with evident microbiome benefits.
“Even the processing of the ingredients became an important factor in determining how useful the fibre would be in the gut,” he explains.
“Dietary fibre supplementation is considerably less studied than its partner in our product, milk protein.
“We believe our dynamic mix of fibres play an important role in a multitude of health benefits, some still undiscovered. Highlighting the importance of dietary fibre will play a significant role in the future of sports nutrition.”
Sports nutrition and the gut
Indeed, the interest in the gut’s role in sports nutrition has gained much momentum in recent times with NutraIngredients highlighting the microbiome as an area of great interest to sports nutritionists and firms innovating in this sector.
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Last month, market intelligence firm Lumina Intelligence points to probiotics as having ‘pent-up NPD potential' for the sports nutrition industry as analysts point to limited research looking into the diversity of probiotic ingredients currently used in the SN market.
Meanwhile, Mark Gilbert, vice-chair for European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), recently said probiotic use in relation to enhancing sporting performance was in its 'early days,’ but growing interest, particularly in this sector meant its adoption was just a matter of time.
Skyrme is first to point out the interest is hard to ignore with the most substantial findings only leading to more burning questions.
He admits though that at the consumer level, education is vital especially as gut health could be considered relatively ‘boring’ compared to muscle growth and weight loss, though once the consumer understands the role of dietary fibre this may well change.
“Consumer awareness is increasing, though it is not an easy subject to fully understand,” he says.
“I believe if the basics are covered and practical mechanisms to improve daily fibre consumption are encouraged then popularity will snowball.”
Looking towards the future, ongoing development of the Affinity Bar may well lead Skyrme to establish a market in the UK through the expansion of its community focused brand.
“Moving into 2020 I plan on expanding the Affinity bar flavour range and introducing another innovative product, focusing on another important health mechanism yet to be appropriately fulfilled by the industry,” he adds.