Unpleasant taste and odour
Despite various benefits branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), their use in sports formulations is not without obstacles. The unpleasant odour and extreme bitterness of BCAAs and other powdered protein beverages, such as whey protein, is a constant challenge of the sports nutrition industry. Isoflavones used for isotonic drinks also have unpleasant taste and odour.
L-arginine, an amino acid important for immunity and wound healing, is ideal for sports nutrition. However, it has a bitter taste and unpleasant odour in addition to its hydroscopic nature. Adaptogens, non-toxic plants that increase energy and help recover from physical or mental stress, also face the taste issue. The addition of sweeteners and acids to suppress bitterness often results in artificially tasting products and oversweetness. It also increases the cost of the final product.
Short shelf-life and clumping issue
BCAA powder has a short shelf-life and easily turns yellow.
Another challenge is the gritty, chalky texture due to insoluble functional ingredients or inconsistent texture caused by moisture. Powdered ingredients tend to clump, making them difficult to stir in. The more ingredients are in the beverage mix, the greater the challenge. The manufacturers try to solve the issue by using the instantising technique to deal with dispersibility, introducing xanthan gum to suspend insoluble particles or guar gum to increase viscosity and provide better mouthfeel. But it inevitably leads to an increase in costs of the final product.