Have you ever had a stomachache after sipping a sports drink during competition or felt like your drink didn’t perform as it should? If you check the label, you might discover why.
There are a number of sugars and starches commonly used in sports nutrition products. Some of those really deliver, while others can work directly against your best performance.
Sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and maltodextrin (technically a starch that is quickly used by working muscles) are common. Cyclic dextrin, however, is a relatively new carbohydrate in the market with big performance benefits.
Carbohydrates and Athletes
For long workouts, there can be multiple performance benefits of drinking a sports drink containing carbohydrates. These benefits could include glycogen sparing, the prevention of hypoglycemia, delayed hunger and the activation of reward centers in the central nervous system.
The main goal of post-exercise carbohydrate recovery is glycogen restoration. An athlete should consume carbohydrates as soon as possible after their workout to maximize the effective recovery time between sessions. The recovery window is about 30 minutes after a workout, which is why we recommend drinking our Rapid Recovery product immediately after activity.
What is Cyclic Dextrin And What Can It Do For You?
Cyclic dextrin is a starch made from corn and is digested quickly and easily so athletes have a lower risk of stomach distress. It is a fast carbohydrate that rapidly raises blood sugar if a person isn’t exercising and quickly delivers sugar to working muscles during exercise.
Cyclic Dextrin is slower to peak than pure sugar and faster than other starches but is very easily metabolized and absorbed. It is superior for increasing total glucose absorption and enhances the fuel supply to active muscles and improves their ability to continue performing.
A study in swimmers found they could swim 1.5 times longer when they consumed a sports drink made with cyclic dextrin compared to one made with the common sugar, glucose.
Why Your Sports Drink Should Contain Multiple Types of Carbohydrate
Different types of sugars and starches have different transport systems within the body. If a drink contains just one type of carbohydrate, the transporter for that carbohydrate will become full and delay digestion. It is better to use a sports drink that contains more than one type of carbohydrate.
Think of these transport systems like cars. If 20 of your friends want a ride to a 10K race, you can transport all of them at one time if you have multiple cars. When multiple types of carbohydrate such as cyclic dextrin, sucrose, and fructose are used, carbohydrates are transported faster, absorption increases and carbohydrate is quickly delivered to hard-working muscles for use.
A study showed the ingestion of a glucose and fructose beverage lead to an 8% improvement in cycling time and trial performance. 8 trained cyclists were recruited and drank either a water placebo, a glucose-only beverage, or a glucose and fructose beverage during 120 min of cycling exercise followed by an hour of trial performances in which subjects had to complete a set amount of work as quickly as possible. The ingestion of the glucose and fructose beverage resulted in an 8% quicker time to completion during the time trial compared to glucose-only beverage and a 19% improvement compared to the placebo group.
Amino VITAL products contain cyclic dextrin as well as sucrose and fructose. Studies show combining different types of carbohydrate can improve endurance performance, particularly speed toward the end of a race — when you’ll need to out-perform your competition.
The next time you pick up a sports drink or product, check the label for the types of sugars and starches it contains. Choose one with three different types of carbohydrate, including cyclic dextrin. Also, be sure to practice consuming it during training before trying it in competition.
Academy of nutrition and dietetics, american college of sports medicine, and dietitians of canada (2016). Position of the american dietetic association, dietitians of canada, and the american college of sports medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the academy of nutrition and dietetics. Retrieved from http://www.eatrightpro.org/~/media/eatrightpro%20files/practice/position%20and%20practice%20papers/position%20papers/nutritionathleticperf.ashx
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