Alternative carb opens up new sports nutrition opportunities


With almost everything on our shelves today being given a sports makeover, sportification is becoming an industry megatrend, reports Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director, BENEO

With an impressive 29% increase in the number of product launches boasting some kind of sports claim during the past 2 years, many manufacturers are making moves to help consumers meet their increasing desire to lead healthier, more active lives.

However, with the rise of more mainstream sports food and drinks, there are some new approaches that we as an industry should not ignore.

Shifting the focus from carb use to fat burning

First, a particular challenge we face as an industry is that sportified products should be for everybody, not just for athletes. Most popular sports nutrition drinks, gels and bars on the market today have been designed to increase energy during exercise; therefore, these products traditionally contain high glycaemic carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, glucose syrup and sucrose.

Such carbohydrates release glucose into the bloodstream at a fast rate, which is fine for those in need of instant energy during intensive athletic training, such as sprinting.

However, for casual fitness users looking to tone their bodies and reduce fat, high glycaemic products can trigger large peaks and troughs in both blood glucose and insulin levels during physical training, minimising not maximising their fat burning potential.

Isotonic sports drink inadequacies

Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director, BENEO

Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director, BENEO

Also, isotonic drinks are used by many to quickly replace the fluids and minerals lost through sweat during sport, whilst also supplying a boost of carbohydrate-based energy. Although there are many sports drinks on today’s market that claim to be isotonic, the majority are not by the time they reach the consumer.

What do I mean by this? Well, in acidic or pasteurised beverages, the number of solute particles of sugar, salt, minerals or proteins may change during the product’s shelf-life owing to hydrolysis, negating the isotonic benefits of the drink by the time of actual consumption.

So, we believe that it’s time to bring sports nutrition to the next level. This is, on one hand, to maintain the isotonic qualities of sports drinks and, on the other hand, to shift the focus from carb utilisation to fat burning and take a different approach.

For this reason, BENEO has been working with more and more manufacturers to create products that meet the specific needs of the casual fitness enthusiast, using the smart release carbohydrate Palatinose. Being slowly yet fully released, it provides sustained energy and improves fat oxidation in energy metabolism.

Furthermore, Palatinose also ensures that isotonic drinks remain stable during their entire shelf-life (also known as stable osmolality).

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As more products become available to mainstream consumers, the sports market is forecast to reach more than €15 billion in 2021. The demand is there and we, as an industry, are prepared to meet that challenge with products that maintain their integrity from point of production to purchase and satisfy the specific activity requirements of the end user.

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