Time flies when you're having fun and we are already three months into the new decade. The first three months of 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for the fitness and supplement industry. It's no secret that COVID19 (Coronavirus) is impacting the industry in a negative way.
The 2020 Arnold Sports Festival, FIBO and BodyPower UK events have been either canceled or postponed. The NPC has canceled bodybuilding shows around the country throughout the spring. Supplement stores are being forced to close if they are located inside gyms or deemed a non-essential business. Even though we are currently caught up in the negative, there has been a lot of positive in 2020.
Fitness Informant takes the liberty to review the first quarter of 2020 and take a look at our 'Way Too Early Look at 2020 Fitness Informant Awards.' We look at three big categories: Protein of the Year, Pre-Workout of the Year and Brand of the Year.
Pre-Workout of the Year
The pre-workout category is one that is constantly evolving. The days of microdosing are gone, but so are the days of mega dosing. We are now sitting in this comfort area of efficacious dosing in a pre-workout, but that it is OK to pair it with a pump and intra-workout product.
Even though it's only been three months, we've been able to try some really good pre-workout supplements. Our hope is that the three pre-workout supplements we highlight here put pressure on the rest of the industry to do something unique and different.
Core Nutritionals Core FURY
Core Nutritionals has always had quality, effective products. They never underdose and always seemingly overdeliver in their pre-workout supplements. Their 2020 release of Core FURY (Platinum as some call it) is nothing short of special. Doug Miller, along with formulator Kenton Engle, have done it again.
Core FURY is an effective pre-workout supplement that quickly rose to the top five rankings here at FI for Best Pre-Workout. Core FURY is not another cookie cutter pre-workout. Yes, we have ingredients used in this pre-workout that we find in almost every pre-workout, but we also have two highlighted ingredients that are unique.
Halostachine, a stimulant that pairs very well with caffeine and nootropics, helps prolong energy at a euphoric level. We’ve only seen this ingredient used a handful of times.
Pregnenolone is the real champion ingredient in Core FURY. Pregnenolone is traditionally used to treat women with menstrual issues, but at low doses, as in Core FURY, it is a powerful cognitive enhancing ingredient.
We could talk all-day about the ingredients but the fact is that this is a pre-workout that works. It will definitely be in the running come November for Pre-Workout of the Year.
Alpha Lion Superhuman Burn
We’re talking about a product that hasn’t even officially launched yet as of this writing. Alpha Lion reformulated their Superhuman and their Superhuman Supreme, both worthy of discussion here, but Burn is something truly special to the category.
Thermogenic pre-workouts are gaining a lot of popularity. One of our favorite product launches of 2019 was GHOST Burn. Superhuman Burn takes a page out of that book but brings something to market that is more geared to the all around pre-workout experience.
Alpha Lion Superhuman Burn, much like Core FURY, has a champion ingredient in MitoBurn™ (L-BAIBA). MitoBurn has been shown to potentially increased glucose uptake, increased free fatty acid oxidation, and reduced fat mass.
Again, we can be Bill Nye here, but we’ve been using this pre-launch and absolutely love it.
InnovaPharm NovaPump Neuro (Sour Green Apple)
InnovaPharm is one of those brands you may not have heard a lot about, but they make some really great products. InnovaPharm NovaPump Sour Green Apple is the only non-stimulant pre-workout to make our list.
Sour Green Apple is a new flavor in 2020, which makes it eligible for pre-workout of the year. Let’s be real, the flavor is also really good. However, it is not the flavor that makes this pre-workout so good.
InnovaPharm NovaPump Neuro provides you the pumps and focus you need to get you through the hardest of workouts.
Pump and Focus are two of the most important components to a workout. NovaPump Neuro loads this thing up with pump ingredients including a full gram of Super Spinach, 4g GlycerPump, 8g Citrulline Malate and 250mcg PegaPump. Two ingredients used in this formula you don’t see everyday.
The Focus portion of the non-stimulant pre-workout is also impressive. A full gram of Tyrosine with 600mg Alpha-GPC works quite well. Add in a gram of ALCAR and you’re sitting nicely.
Look for InnovaPharm to be mentioned more and more in award considerations.
Protein of the Year
There has been a lot of movement in the protein category already in 2020. We’ve seen new authentic licensing deals come out from a brand other than GHOST and BSN. We’ve also seen and experienced a major advancement of flavoring in plant-based proteins. Finally we’ve seen unique flavors that delivery extremely well.
Dymatize ISO100 Fruity Pebbles/Cocoa Pebbles
It is no surprise that Dymatize makes our list for consideration in 2020 with their authentic collaboration with Post Cereal and Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa. This has been a dream of fans for a long time. Dymatize is, in a way, related to Post Cereal, so it was only a matter of time.
The big thing is that Dymatize actually took their time to get the flavoring right on this one. Fruity Pebbles is absolutely delicious. It tastes just like the milk left over in a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. We have not had anything else that matched that flavor this closely. This was a job well-done by Dymatize.
Cocoa Pebbles we thought might just be another chocolate. It wasn’t. It had that unique Cocoa Pebbles flavor to it. We were pleasantly surprised and very happy.
The one area we were sad about was the fact that no actual real pieces of Fruity Pebbles or Cocoa Pebbles were used in the protein. Instead, the brand elected to go with organic edible glitter for Fruity Pebbles and nothing in Cocoa Pebbles. We understand this was done to control the carbs in an isolate protein. That won’t make or break their chances to win this year’s award, but we can wish, right?
GHOST Vegan Chocolate Cereal Milk
GHOST has elevated the flavor game in plant-based proteins. Yes, we realize they use Sucralose, but before you get crazy understand that it is still considered vegan. You must create a product that tastes good in this day and age.
Chocolate Cereal Milk elevates the plant-based category and challenges those who produce vegan proteins to step up their game. GHOST started to tip the trends with Pancake Batter and Banana Pancake Batter, and as good as they were, this one is the best by far.
On top of very good taste, GHOST Vegan has a full amino acid profile from three plant-based sources. GHOST Vegan Chocolate Cereal Milk is so good you wouldn’t even know it is plant-based. In fact, we prefer it over whey proteins.
NutraBio 100% WPI Pistachio Delight
Continuing their quest to change the perceptions of their flavors, NutraBio dropped one in 2020 that was absolutely phenomenal. Pistachio Delight was a flavor we have not seen done before, and that’s a good thing, because this one was done right.
If you’ve ever had Pistachio Ice Cream, this tastes exactly like that. For being an isolate, this was very creamy, something you typically don’t get with a WPI. The creamy texture helps the consumer relate the flavor to ice cream.
The brand also launched Orange Dreamsicle, but we gave the nod to Pistachio Delight because it was just more enjoyable. On top of it being delicious, NutraBio’s 100% WPI is one of the best proteins on the market today.
Brand of the Year
The granddaddy of them all, the championship title, the 2020 Fitness Informant Brand of the Year. We realize it has been a short year, but three companies stood out in the first quarter above the rest. It should come as no surprise to many of you to see these brands listed below. In fact, some brands just have a knack for always being in the top.
You cannot talk about potential 2020 Brand of the Year winners without talking about your #ReturningChampion in GHOST. GHOST won the 2019 Fitness Informant Brand of the Year after the impact they had on the industry. Authentic licensing deals, new product launches and big revenue growth, even with their “exclusive” with GNC. (Note: GHOST has not had an exclusive with GNC for over a year, it is a strategic choice by the brand to stay within GNC).
The returning champion is showing no signs of slowing down. The brand already has numerous flavors and product launches to start 2020. They also have more authentic licensing deals in place to debut in 2020 that Fitness Informant is privy too. We’ve already been introduced to GHOST Burn Black in the authentic Welch’s Grape Juice flavor that will be dropping in Q1. GHOST Burn was already ranked our #1 fat burner on FI, but GHOST Burn Black, with the addition of GBB, should overtake the #1 spot. GHOST also launched arguably the best tasting plant-protein on the market in GHOST Vegan Chocolate Cereal Milk (discussed earlier).
GHOST continues to put the foot on the gas pedal with no signs of slowing down. We cannot see any reason to believe that GHOST will not be in serious title contention come the end of 2020. It should be noted it will be curious to see what GHOST does in 2020 in terms of distribution. Will they expand outside of GNC? Time will tell.
The 2018 Fitness Informant Brand of the Year award winner in RedCon1 is always in the conversation for Brand of the Year. In 2019 the brand saw record growth in terms of revenue, and just lost out to GHOST by an inch for the title of Brand of the Year. RedCon1 CEO Aaron Singerman is hungry to return to the top of the pedestal, and the brand has already shown signs in 2020 that they very well may return to the throne again.
We learned that RedCon1 will be launching a MRE Lite RTD. RedCon1 confirmed that this is still the case, they were just waiting for line time at Tetra Pak. The MRE Lite RTD should be available sometime in Q2. We had a chance to try the MRE Lite RTD and they are phenomenal.
RedCon1 also launched an energy shot called FUBAR which boosts 400mg caffeine per 3 fl oz. FUBAR is meant to take on the industry leader in 5 Hour Energy with a better value and better taste. These energy shots are convenient as they do not need to be chilled like you would want an energy drink. RedCon1 is not stopping there. They also plan on launching a new Brian Shaw inspired mass gainer due out sometime in early 2020 Lastly, RedCon1 launched a new flavor of their popular MRE Bar in cookie dough which is being called the best tasting bar on the market today.
New to Brand of the Year conversations is Core Nutritionals. Not that Core Nutritionals didn’t have what it took to be Brand of the Year, but the brand has been relatively quiet the past several years focusing on their retail relationships and educational content. The one thing about Core Nutritionals is they do not cut corners and always seem to delivery on product formulations.
Core Nutritionals spent the majority of 2018 working on a massive rebrand. Although the Core Nutritionals formulas have always been good, their packaging was deemed to be “old.” They took huge measures to make a big change going from black to a cleaner white label.
Labels are pretty and grab attention, but what really got our attention are the new products coming to market from Core Nutritionals. Already in 2020 the brand launched a reformulation of Core FURY which is a top rated pre-workout supplement at FI, and in the running for 2020 Pre-Workout of the Year. We also got Core INTRA, a comprehensive intra-workout formula featuring carbs, full spectrum amino acids and more performance and pump enhancing ingredients. Core also launched two new flavors of their popular recovery product ABC in Pink Guava and Blueberry Acai.
Core Nutritionals has also announced that they will be launching new flavors of Core PRO and Core ISO. We’ve had the opportunity to try these are we are big fans of the new flavors. We can also expect a reformulation of Core PUMP coming out sometime in Q2.
Lastly, Core Nutritionals has confirmed they are getting into the plant-protein game with Core VEGAN set to be due out sometime in 2020. Like many of the other Core Nutritionals releases, we’ve gotten to try advanced versions of Core VEGAN and it is quite impressive. Flavor-wise Core VEGAN will rival any plant-based protein on the market today.
In terms of who’s done the most already in 2020, Core Nutritionals takes the cake on that one.
We realize it is much too early to be handing out championship belts and awards, but these are the products and brands that are making headlines so far in early 2020. The rest of the industry better take notice to what is going on here.
We hear it all the time, “we’re going to change the industry,” or this is a “game changer,” but quite frankly this is just an overhyped saying. We have rarely witnessed any “game changing” or “industry shifting” things occur since we launched in 2016, but so far in 2020 it has been fun to watch and listen to what brands are doing and what they have planned.
If Q2-Q4 is anything like Q1 (outside of the COVID19 situation) we are in for a really solid year in sports nutrition. Let’s GOOOOO!