Alternative carb opens up news sports nutrition opportunities

Sports nutrition is moving beyond the realm of just the elite athlete and now, thanks to PALATINOSE™, there is a functional carbohydrate available to meet the needs of the casual fitness user

By Klaudia Volmer, product manager – functional carbohydrates, BENEO

The health and fitness trend continues to expand its influence, and many more consumers now realise the importance of staying fit and following a balanced diet. This has led to a booming global fitness industry and an increased interest in sports nutrition products globally with the market for sports nutrition growing on an average by a healthy 8.5 per cent between 2012 and 2017.

Shifting the focus from carb utilisation to fat burning

Most popular sports nutrition drinks, gels and bars on the market today have been designed to increase energy during exercise, yet these products traditionally contain high glycaemic carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, glucose syrup and sucrose. These carbohydrates release glucose into the bloodstream at a fast rate. This is fine for those in need of instant energy for 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 instead of maximising their fat burning potential.

The present high glycaemic sports nutrition products are not suited to the needs of casual fitness users or those beginning to exercise. The ideal sports nutrition product for those looking to burn fat and tone whilst exercising should contain a low glycaemic carbohydrate and have a lower impact on blood sugar levels.

A low glycaemic carbohydrate such as BENEO PALATINOSE™ (isomaltulose) is ideal for use in sports nutrition products, as it has a balanced effect on blood sugar levels and is fully digestible. It provides full carbohydrate energy in a sustained way, eliminating unwanted “boost and crash” blood sugar spikes and it helps to burn fat more effectively. An increased fat burning rate also means that active consumers can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer. These physiological benefits make PALATINOSE™ ideal for use not only in products aimed at endurance athletes but also products targeted at casual fitness users or persons beginning to get active.

Essentially versatile

Often, the functional benefits of a product alone are not enough for it to become a regular feature in consumers’ shopping baskets. Good taste and texture are essential if a product is to become a favourite with purchasers. In fact, figures from a recent study by LightSpeed GMI and Mintel showed that 60% of UK consumers would swap a normal snack for a sports nutrition product, but only if it tasted similarly, while nearly 50% said that they would consume sports nutrition food and beverage as part of their every-day diet.

With this in mind, carbohydrate ingredients need to be able to deliver in terms of technical, as well as nutritional and functional benefits. BENEO’s PALATINOSE™ has a natural, mild sugar-like taste and sweetness and is ideal for use in gels and bars as well as drinks. As a very low hygroscopic free-flowing powder, it is ideal for powder instant beverages or agglomerates, and it significantly reduces the water absorption in blends, minimising the risk of common production issues such as caking and lumping. Since it does not absorb humidity from the environment, convenient handling throughout its shelf-life is guaranteed. It is not easily hydrolysed by acids due to its strong molecular link, ensuring that beverages to which it is added are able to retain a stable ratio of solute particles, as in the case of isotonic drinks.


BENEO’s Palatinose™ is a smart release carbohydrate, derived from sugar beet. It is unique because of its molecular structure. As a disaccharide Palatinose™ consists of a glucose and fructose molecule – similar to sucrose. However, compared to sucrose the linkage of the molecules is much stronger, which means that the human body digests it fully, yet more slowly. As a result, the full carbohydrate energy (glucose) is provided in a more steady and sustained way. The blood glucose levels stay balanced without sudden ups and down, and this also helps to burn fat more effectively. An increased fat burning rate means that active consumers can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer.

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