The new science on a functional carbohydrate that wins races and helps you power through tough workouts.
As a sweetener, isomaltulose (Palatinose) has a lot of positive attributes. It’s manufactured from sucrose derived from beet juice. It’s vegan, kosher, halal, and non-GMO. It’s stable, it doesn’t rot teeth, it has a mild natural sweetness, and it doesn’t have an aftertaste. If your daughter were a sweetener, you’d want her to date isomaltulose.
Beyond all that, though, isomaltulos is a functional carbohydrate source that causes the body to oxidize fat at a greater rate, thus improving endurance and athletic performance.
German scientists recruited 20 experienced cyclists to test just how well isomaltulose can increase endurance. The study, like all good studies, used a randomized, double-blind, controlled cross-over design.
Subjects drank 750 mL of a beverage containing either 75 grams of isomaltulose or 75 grams of maltodextrin (a commonly used energy source in workout formulations). The subjects were then tasked with completing a 90-minute ride performed at 60% of Vo2max (because the researchers wanted to measure fat oxidation). After the 90-minute ride, the cyclists completed a time trial that included a ramp test where the intensity of the cycling increases at pre-determined rates and intervals.
The isomaltulose group completed the time trial test in 30.05 =/- 4.70 minutes.
The maltodextrin group competed it in 31.08 =/- 6.27 minutes.
Do the math and you can see that the “effect size” was just over a minute, which is huge when you look at it in terms of a race. Beating your opponent(s) by a minute generally gives an endurance athlete superstar status.
It’s long been speculated that when you spare glycogen (during high-intensity exercise) in the muscles and in the liver, you enhance endurance capacity, and that’s apparently what isomaltulose did in the cyclists.
Ingesting isomaltulose before exercise favored fat oxidation during the initial 90-minute endurance ride, which spared glycogen in the muscle and liver so that it could be tapped into during the time trial.
The researchers further speculated that the low glycemic index isomaltulose improved mental performance more than higher glycemic index carbohydrates. Since cognitive performance increased during the time trial, so did physical performance.
While it provides a huge benefit to endurance athletes, isomaltulose can also fuel workouts in the gym by providing high-level energy, promoting fat burning, and supporting powerful muscular pumps.
Of course, if your workouts don’t cause you to break a sweat, don’t bother with isomaltulose. It’s hard to make easy easier.
Endurance athletes, CrossFitters, and lifters can currently find isomaltulose in Biotest’s Fini Competition Bar and in the Plazma workout formula.
- König D et al. Substrate Utilization and Cycling Performance Following Palatinose Ingestion: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Jun 23;8(7):390. PubMed.