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Carbohydrates for Energy, Performance

Article

by Hiroki Himeno, Ph.D. -

For athletes, carbohydrates are one of the most important nutrients. Carbohydrates maintain blood glucose levels and maximize glycogen synthesis in muscle tissue. However, carbohydrates can only be stored in the body at 1 percent of total body weight. Thus, carbohydrates must be replenished constantly by ingesting foods, drinks and supplements.

In general, carbohydrates used as an energy source are sugars with a low molecular weight (such as fructose or glucose), and in a solution that tends to have very high osmolality. This can be a problem because high osmolality solutions can cause abdominal discomfort due to delayed gastric emptying. Moreover, the tastes of these carbohydrates are sweet and, therefore, can be undesirable to consume in large amounts. For this reason, high molecular weight (HMW) carbohydrates are starting to attract attention.

HMW carbohydrates have several properties that are suitable for pre-, intra- and post-workout, and offer a neutral taste. The molecular weight of the typical HMW carbohydrate is approximately 400,000 Daltons (Da) whereas low molecular weight carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose are approximately 180 Da. In the case of glucose, the osmolality of its 10 percent solution is approximately 640 milliosmole (mOsm)/kg. On the other hand, the osmolality of 10 percent HMW carbohydrate is under 10 mOsm/kg.(Int J Sports Med. 2005;26:314-319) This value is quite lower than plasma osmolality of humans (approximately 300 mOsm). Therefore, a HMW carbohydrate drink does not impose a strain to the stomach owing to rapid gastric emptying, and maintains it, even adding extra components such as vitamins, minerals, organic acids and amino acids such as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Read more about the HMW carbohydrates, along with research on ingredients for sports nutrition, information on claims and more, by downloading INSIDER’s Sports Ingredient Science Digital Magazine.

Attend the Sports Nutrition Marketplace to get insights on the ingredients, formulation, demographic and regulatory considerations that can drive a go-to-market strategy. The day-and-a-half event is help on April 18 and 19 in conjunction with Ingredient Marketplace in Orlando. Produced with the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), Sports Nutrition Marketplace is underwritten by IDF.

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