Blazing an energy trail: Sports nutrition brand Lecka doubles down on endurance focus

By Audrey Yow

- Last updated on GMT

Sports nutrition brand Lecka doubles down on endurance focus © Getty Images
Sports nutrition brand Lecka doubles down on endurance focus © Getty Images

Related tags Sports nutrition endurance athletes Energy

Singapore headquartered sports nutrition brand Lecka has tweaked its business strategy to focus on the premium, niche market of endurance sports across the region.

Our sister title FoodNavigator-Asia previously reported how the firm was seeking to attract a more mainstream market​, but it is now doubling down on product innovation for endurance athletes.

It is is planning to launch an energy gel in the region during the second half of this year, to complement its range of energy bars and granola bites.

For endurance training, carbohydrates and sugar are essential, but Lecka founder Markus Gnirck explained that it is important to have the right glucose-to-fructose ratio so that these sugars can be optimally converted to energy for the body during extended workout sessions.

"Endurance athletes can train up to several hours a day. You'll need 80 to 90 g carbohydrates per hour. Which translates to roughly, depending on your size and gender, 250 to 400 calories per hour. You’ll need energy, and energy equals sugar.

"If you're a sports person, you'll actually want – and need – sugar. We have loads of sugar in our products. But the important question is, what kind of sugar should athletes be taking?

"Our products have a pretty good glucose-to-fructose ratio and we're using only natural sugars. So not only does it help to enhance your performance and lets you power on for a longer time, but it also doesn’t give you any gut issues and it’s easy to digest because we’re using natural ingredients,”​ said Gnirck.

All of Lecka’s products are made from all-natural ingredients sourced from Vietnam. This is crucial for distribution in Asia, as it keeps their supply chain straightforward and much shorter than if the ingredients were to come from further regions like Europe or America.

“Our products have an edge over other sports nutrition brands because of the freshness of our ingredients. We use fresh, tropical fruits such as mango and banana, and the Asian flavours are unlike those of other bars produced by American or European brands, which often taste similar,”​ said Gnirck, who has received positive feedback that consuming Lecka products do not cause issues such as nausea or gut discomfort, which some athletes experience when taking such products.

The planned new energy gel will contain essential electrolytes and natural sugars from brown rice syrup and fruits. It took the team six months to develop this product, which will come in flavours including passionfruit, mango and banana.

“During endurance exercises, and especially after two hours, the athletes will have to start eating. Usually, it's a mix of carbohydrates and electrolytes. The key electrolytes are magnesium, potassium, and sodium. You need those to maintain hydration,” explained Gnirck.

“The gel format is chosen for convenience and ease of digestion. It must be something that’s easy to consume while on the go. And when it’s easily digested, it can be absorbed better and faster by the body. Basically, it’s real, natural food that’s clean and delicious.”

However, in a climate where sugars and starches are avoided for weight maintenance and overall wellness, it takes some effort to educate consumers on the need to properly nourish the body for endurance sports, especially for those new to the game.

Gnirck himself is a professional endurance athlete from Germany, and he is knowledgeable about sports nutrition.

To help spread the word about Lecka’s products and how they can enhance performance during endurance sports, he has an ambassadorship programme in place for the regions they are targeting.

“Our ambassadors are active in sports like running, cycling, triathlons, and swimming. They represent Lecka’s values. Through these ambassadors, we support the community on their journey with our products. We also give advice, tips and tricks on nutrition,”​ explained Gnirck on his decision to focus more on face-to-face interaction with their customers rather than utilising predominantly online or digital marketing.

The firm also has distribution partners in Vietnam, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines and Germany.

Its products are sold online via Amazon, Shopee, Lazada, but most are sold in specialist sports shops. 

With the firm’s focus now narrowing to the endurance sector, it is hoping to expand across all key markets.

“In India, for example, the segment is probably made up of 20 to 40,000 people out of a population of 1.4 billion, so we're not targeting a huge market. The endurance sports segment is rather similar in Asian regions such as Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. We're still talking rather small segments, which is good for us in terms of launching our products fairly easily. But because it is not a big market we have to capture quite a number of regions in order to build a successful business.

“We want to be present in all South East Asian markets where we see very young developing industries. It’s different in Europe and America, where this industry is already very established and mature. Supermarkets and retail shops in those regions carry around 30 different brands that offer nutrition for endurance training. But it is a very different case for us in regions like Indonesia, where there may only be three or four brands that are competing with us,”​ said Gnirck.

Active Lifestyle Nutrition and Healthier Product Innovation will be major topics of interest at our Growth Asia Summit 2024 this coming July, which will feature insights from a wide range of industry leaders and experts. Don't miss out – register here today!

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