It’s Olympics season again, and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics has an added significance to it due to the pandemic. This year, more than ever, the Olympics is a celebration of our tenacity in the face of adversity. As the world comes together to honour our Olympians and their sportsmanship spirit, let us also take a deeper look into how athletes of all types can stay at the top of their game with the help of functional ingredients.
Both casual and professional athletes need proper nutrition to fuel their sporting activities, but many may be relying on ‘fast carbohydrates’ to get an energy boost that is usually short-lived. To reach their full potential, athletes should reconsider their carbohydrate intake to include functional carbohydrates that can deliver sustained and balanced energy supply for longer periods of time.
This creates a pocket of opportunity in the energy-related nutrition market for food manufacturers to tap into. But how can manufacturers reformulate to leverage this trend without sacrificing their product’s taste and quality, while offering the nutritional benefits that athletes need?
Hitting Targets with Functional Carbohydrates
Enter Palatinose™ (generic name: isomaltulose), a functional carbohydrate that can meet these needs. It can deliver the long-lasting energy sportspeople require, while being versatile enough to be incorporated into a manifold range of products and complement a myriad of diets.
Physiologically, Palatinose™ is the only low-glycaemic but fully available carbohydrate that provides carbohydrate energy in a balanced and sustained manner, empowering athletes to achieve optimum training outcomes. As a slow-release carbohydrate, it facilitates efficient fuel management for athletes, resulting in blood glucose levels that stay balanced throughout the day.
This lower and more balanced blood glucose response achieves lower insulin release and an improved metabolic profile. Carbohydrates that are slowly and completely digested, leading to a low blood glucose profile while providing the needed energy in a sustained way are the way to go. This avoids a “roller coaster” situation in the blood glucose profile and the blood sugar spikes that are often associated with conventional higher glycaemic sugars like maltodextrin. In fact, scientific research has shown that athletes who consumed Palatinose™ maintained a more balanced blood glucose profile and higher fat oxidation, performing better than those who consumed other carbohydrates. In addition, the lower insulin levels allow for a higher rate of fat burning, instead of carbohydrate burning, for energy supply. This is beneficial for the body composition of an athlete, as well.
The physiological properties of Palatinose™ have been well-documented, but its technical attributes deserve a place in the spotlight as well.
The Versatility of Palatinose™
Palatinose™ also outshines in the technical department, which allows it to be easily incorporated into a variety of recipes. The functional carbohydrate boasts a low hygroscopicity, which means that it does not easily form lumps in powder form, making it perfect for powdered drinks and blends. Its good solubility also allows it to be added to liquid products as well, enabling athletes to dissolve it easily into their workout drinks.
Palatinose™ absorbs virtually no moisture, remaining stable at a temperature of 25°C and relative humidity of up to 85%. This stability ensures that food manufacturers will not have to worry about compromising quality during manufacturing processes where conditions may be prone to drastic changes.
Additionally, Palatinose™ also enables maintained osmolality, meaning the concentrations of drinks remain stable and unchanged with its addition into the mix. When applied to sports drinks, this ensures that they retain their isotonic properties to serve their water replenishment purposes, and are optimally absorbed by the digestive system of athletes. It also has a much higher process and acid stability than sucrose, making it highly relevant in isotonic sports beverages that tend to have a pH level below 3.
Taste-wise, the functional carbohydrate provides a mild, natural sweetness without any aftertaste. It replaces sucrose on a 1:1 scale and can easily be combined with other sweeteners to achieve a tailored sweetness profile suited to the individual preference of the athlete. Food manufacturers will thus be able to reformulate their products without difficulty to preserve taste and texture, while offering the benefits of sustained and balanced carbohydrate energy release.
The health and fitness trend has led to a booming global fitness industry and an increased interest in sports nutrition products globally. In fact, the global sports nutrition market is anticipated to be valued at US$50 billion by 2025. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market, due to its rapidly progressing economies which has resulted in a greater demand for sports nutrition products. This trend is a market of opportunity awaiting food manufacturers to embrace. As athletes start looking for a satisfactory product that can fulfil their unique nutritional needs, manufacturers will need to step up their game and address this demand.
Palatinose™ combines the best of both worlds with its physiological and technical properties that are well-suited to what athletes require, acting as the optimum nutritional support for them to achieve excellence in their respective sports.