Sports is taken more seriously than ever and not only by professional athletes. How can athletes and their guidance optimize the nutrition of sports people? What trends are there in sports nutrition? These issues were discussed during the Foodvalley Summit Sports & Nutrition, 11 October in Ede, The Netherlands. Two former Olympic champions made their appearance.

Foodvalley NL had invited two Olympic champions to tell about their experiences with sports nutrition. Volleyball player Peter Blangé and speed skater Mark Tuitert were interviewed by moderator and Director International of Foodvalley NL Jeroen Wouters. Blangé, who won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and a gold medal 4 years later in Atlanta, explained how the attitude towards nutrition changed when Arie Salinger became trainer of the Dutch team.

Mark Tuitert en Peter Blange on the Foodvalley Summit

“In the 80’s we started to perform top sport. Before, we were practising twice a week, maybe three times a week and then Arie Salinger came to Holland and we started practising four hours a day, and there was also a different nutritional approach. In these days we started with protein shakes and later on with vitamins and supplements. For example creatine supplements were very common in these days.”

Train smart

Speedskater Mark Tuitert, in 2010 gold medallist at the 1500 meters during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, is from a younger generation, but he saw the approach towards sports nutrition change during the years as well. First it was all about “train as hard as you can”, later it became “train smart instead of only hard.” Nutrition became more important because the nutrient status became more measurable. Tuitert notices that the ast couple of years, there is a more individualised approach towards sports nutrition.

Basic nutrition

Blangé stresses the importance of the right basic nutrition. “I think that 95% of the nutritional intake comes from the regular menu  from breakfast, lunch, dinner, after training intakes, et cetera. When these 95% are in order, then maybe the last 5% benefit comes from additional intakes such as supplements.”

Nick Iedema, teacher, researcher and high performance expert from HAN University of Applied Sciences and NOC*NSF, explained the pyramid of sports nutrition. At the basis are the regular nutrition, in the middle the specific food products for sports and at the top the supplements. Iedema criticized athletes who turn the pyramid around.

According to research 85% of the Dutch elite athletes use a supplement, just as 57% of the people in the Netherlands that practice fitness. Iedema pointed out the risks. 10% to 15% of the supplements is contaminated, and 50% of the athletes buys supplements without any control. Besides 6.4% to 8.8% of doping cases is possibly due to contaminated supplements.


Naomi Brinkmans during the Foodvalley Summit

Naomi Brinkmans, sports performance dietician of HAN University of Applied Sciences and the Dutch football association KNVB, investigated the food intake of football players. “The main result of the football research was that the energy expenditure of the football players is quite modest with just 3300 kilocalories per day. Their carbohydrate intake is insufficient, but the protein intake is sufficient on a daily basis. The protein distribution throughout the day can be better though.”

She set up a nudging-programme to improve food intake. “We stimulate the athletes to make the right choices by adding colour tags at the buffet and by the menu setting. We chance it for females and males. We offer females  the proteins and the carbohydrates first and finally the vegetables. Males receive first vegetables and then carbohydrates and finally the proteins.”


Sarah Browner on the Foodvalley Summit

Sarah Browner, Market Analyst of Innova Market Insights, told the 200 Summit participants that sports nutrition is not just targeted at athletes. “In sports nutri­­­­tion we are now seeing a blurring of boundaries. Sports nutrition is moving into the mainstream.” Moreover, she sees that the food industry targets active people. They give products a “sporty make over.”

First Energy Gum

During the Summit many food producers presented innovative products. Among them Olympic champion Mark Tuitert. He is co-founder of First Energy Gum, a chewing gum with caffeine and B vitamins.

“Caffeine improves performance, makes you alert. The best way to take caffeine is through chewing gum. Why? You take the caffeine through the mucous membranes in your mouth and then it comes directly into your brain. Then you are immediately alert. There is no sugar, no junk, so this is the best way to get caffeine. It is an alternative for energy drinks, and it works immediately.”


Jaco Pieper on the Foodvalley Summit

Jaco Pieper presented Koupe, a healthy ice cream. “Koupe is an ice cream based on whey protein and fiber instead of fat and sugar, which makes it a delicious ice cream with two times more protein, about 70% less sugar, 80% less fat and half the calories compared to normal ice cream.”

The product is available in supermarkets, but is also targeted at sports people. “For sports facilities we have the Koupe sports programme. We give gyms or other sports facilities a freezer filled with Koupe products, so they can sell it in their canteens.”


In sports nutrition there is an increasing demand for non-animal proteins. Michiel Van Meervenne presented Kriket, a bar with 5% cricket flower.

“In general we see that meat consumption is decreasing and the demand for alternative proteins is increasing a lot. Our target group is Millenials and younger people in general. We also target sports people. Why? Because these proteins have a very efficient uptake in the body.”
Crickets contain 70% protein. “Crickets and insects in general are a very rich protein source. The ingredients contain highly valuable proteins with all the amino acids, fiber, vitamine B12 and a whole list of very high quality minerals and vitamins.”



The Foodvalley Summit Sports & Nutrition also offered international B2B matchmaking, facilitated by Enterprise Europe Network. Companies could connect and discuss future collaboration. Amr Abdelshafy, Director of Imtenan Group was one of the participants. He was very enthusiastic. “The matchmaking session was fantastic. It was well prepared.” During the matchmaking he was informed about several initiatives that may lead to business cooperation.

Moreover, the Foodvalley Summit offered plenty of network opportunities. “Events like the Foodvalley Summit actually help us a lot with our business. There are always scouting people from supermarkets or other retailers in the audience who are looking for promising new start-ups”, Jaco Pieper from Koupe says. “I actually just spoke to someone just like that, and they are not looking for Unilever-brands but brands that are petite that can fulfil their needs.”

Moderator Jeroen Wouters noticed the Foodvalley Summit was an interactive day with people from knowledge providers, academic researchers and  industry, but also the actual athletes and guiders in sports. “By defining together what are the needs, they can jointly do research and develop for new products. We will definitely continue building on this  and we will be back next year,” Jeroen Wouters from Foodvalley NL says.

Foodvalley NL organises knowledge and network events  that are open to all interested professionals, like the Summits and the Breakfast Sessions, and events just for Members. These Member Meetings include company visits. Interested in becoming a Member?


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