Isomaltulose: What is it and why use it?

BY IN Exercise Institute News On June 10, 2016

Isomaltulose is one of the primary ingredients in 32GI’s energy supplements that aims to provide a more sustained release of energy than its glucose/fructose counterparts. Isomaltulose requires introduction as this form of sugar is generally unknown to the exercise community. If you are interested in low carb high fat diets, the use of fat oxidation as a fuel source, and the potential performance benefits of preserving glycogen stores for later efforts, please read on. Additionally more research backed mechanisms for sports related diet can be found here.

What is Isomaltulose?

  • A disaccharide carbohydrate composing glucose and fructose, similar to sucrose, linked via a different bond changing its enzymatic structure.
  • Has been used and approved as a sugar substitute, and even identified as having health benefits in place of sugar.
Blood sugar levels after ingesting Isomaltulose as opposed to other sugars

Blood sugar levels after ingesting Isomaltulose as opposed to other sugars

Why use it?

  • Slow release energy, metabolised via the small intestine, however owing to its different structure the process of absorption into the blood is significantly longer.
  • Improvements in metabolism as a result of using isomaltulose compared to other sugars, owing to a reduction in insulin response.
  • Higher Fat oxidation compared to other sugars. High insulin responses inhibit fat oxidation, Isomaltulose ingestion allows for a decreased insulin response, increasing the oxidation of fat as a fuel source. This also inhibits the storing of fat in adipose tissue. This may be of interest to athletes using high fat low carb diets to increase endurance performance. Ongoing energy stores are required to be ingested after 1hour of intensive exercise, using isomaltulose instead of normal energy foods will allow for greater fat oxidation, similar to training in a depleted (fasted, or low carb’) state.
  • May be suitable for individuals with metabolic related disorders as a sweetening supplement, instead of other sugars.
  • Does NOT enhance tooth decay, via oral bacteria associated with other sugars. Your dentist WILL approve!!

What the above means for the athlete is this…

  1. If you are conscious of using sugar as a fuel source during exercise you may want to experiment with isomaltulose. It has a more sustained release of sugar into the blood and does not elevate insulin responses.
  2. The use of more fat as a fuel source can also protect glycogen stores for later intensive exercise. If you participate in events that require long efforts with shorter and harder efforts required toward the end, such as sprinting or constant surging of pace/output toward the finish, then this form of sugar can preserve your glycogen stores for this final aspect.
  3. Tooth decay, is not an issue with this form of sugar, your Dentist, and teeth, will approve.
  4. It still provides a fuel source during exercise which has been identified as a huge performance benefit for any athlete. You must eat when exercising, longer than 1hr, for optimal performance.
  5. Could be used in conjunction with other glucose/fructose supplements during exercise for best effect. For example using isomaltulose for the first parts of endurance activity then topping up in the final with a glucose/fructose supplement when exercise becomes difficult toward the end of an event or training day. Please experiment and find out for yourself.

Before using Isomaltulose during an important event please consider it’s use during training first. Isomaltulose is half as sweet as many of its counterparts and thus might take some getting used to.

Exercise Institute stocks and sells various forms of Isomaltulose as energy food.

Brad Hall
B.Sc. (Psy & Sport Sc.); B.Psy (Hons)


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