The development of the sports food market and industrial involvement have led to numerous nutritional studies to define the type of nutrients that are most suited to support energy metabolism, fluid balance and muscle function. The key question in many of these studies was: 'Does the product lead to a significant product/consumer benefit that can be used as a claim on the package?' New methods and techniques have been developed, partly with sponsorship of the food industry, with the goal of measuring the effects of specific nutrients and supplements on athletic performance and metabolism. In line with this development, a wide variety of supplements and sports foods/drinks labelled with various performance or health benefit statements have been launched on the sports nutrition market. Although a variety of products have been tested clinically, there are also many products on the market with benefit claims that cannot be supported by sound nutritional and sports physiological science. The current short review highlights some of the methods and biomarkers that are used to substantiate product/consumer benefit claims for foods and drinks that are marketed as functional foods for athletes.