Sweet manufacturers could find themselves tapping into the sporty potential of confectionery following research into the effects of functional jelly beans on athletes' performance.
The study found that sports-formulated jelly beans were just as effective at increasing energy levels as sports drinks or gels.
This week's research will help to convince sceptical consumers that confectionery is a viable vehicle for sports nutrition and may go some way towards convincing manufacturers that the sector has potential for growth within the functional foods niche.
The sport jelly beans used in the study were fortified with electrolytes and vitamins and boost energy levels by maintaining blood glucose and muscle carbohydrate stores.
Developed by the Jelly Belly Candy Company last year, each one-ounce single-serving packet of the beans contains Sports Beans contain 10% of vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine (B vitamins).
In the study, devised by scientists from the UC Davis Sports Medicine Program in the US, cyclists and triathletes completed four 10 km time trials while consuming three different kinds of carbohydrates or just water.
Those who had eaten the supplements achieved times up to 38 seconds faster than the water-drinkers and those who ate the jelly beans recorded the highest average 'power outputs' - the amount of force applied to the bicycle pedals in order to build up speed.
Based on results from the study, the UC Davis Sports Medicine Program now recommends athletes consume half a one-ounce packet of the jelly beans for 20 minutes of sustained exercise depending on body size.