This article will give you an insight into our efforts & thought process behind the Elite Drink Mix 160.
In 2016, we embarked on the journey of formulating a product with the goal of maximizing caloric intake, while minimizing the gastrointestinal distress caused by continuous nutrition intake.
Our research uncovered that utilizing multiple transportable carbohydrates can optimize carbohydrate absorption.
Glucose, is oxidized via the SGLT1 pathway at a rate of 1g/minute, resulting in 60g/hour. Fructose, is oxidized via a completely different pathway, GLUT5. When we combine these multiple transportable carbohydrates in a 2:1 ratio, the total rate of ingested carbohydrate can exceed 1.5g/minute or 90g/hour. This is possible because the carbohydrates are oxidized via non-competing pathways.
Building on this scientific fact, we formulated both the Elite Gel & Elite Drink Mix, with a 2:1 ratio, to permit maximum carbohydrate absorption. Along with essential electrolytes, we also included Betain & Beta-alanine in both formulations.
Allow us to take you back in time to the early 1900s when it was discovered that carbohydrates were a vital fuel source for exercise. In 1939, a study demonstrated that diet could influence carbohydrate utilization during exercise, subsequently affecting exercise tolerance. The 1960s revealed the significant role of muscle glycogen during exercise, and in the 1980s, studies showed that carbohydrate ingestion during exercise improved exercise capacity.
However, significant advancements in carbohydrate feeding during exercise did not occur until around the early 2000s.
Later studies demonstrated that even small amounts of carbohydrates (20 g/h) were sufficient to enhance performance. A particular study suggested a minimum intake of 22g of carbohydrates per hour to observe performance benefits. Conversely, in another study consuming half the dose (11 g/h) did not yield any effects. Another study indicated that ingesting 16g of glucose per hour improved endurance capacity by 14%. These breakthroughs led to a better understanding of sports nutrition and subsequently evolved recommendations for athletes. It became evident that carbohydrate intake was crucial for optimizing endurance performance, although specific recommendations remained somewhat vague.
Simultaneously, in 2000, Jeukendurp et al. conducted a ground-breaking study that revealed that the body's ability to oxidize exogenous carbohydrates during exercise never exceeded 60 grams per hour. This established the upper limit for carbohydrate intake during exercise. However, as ultra-distance events started to become more competitive, and attract a larger pool of professional elite athletes, the demands on nutrition grew and optimal fuelling was seen as a key factor in optimal performance.
Consuming more than 60g/hr of simple carbohydrates led to gastrointestinal distress. Research was ongoing, and researchers explored the use of multiple transportable carbohydrates to maximize carbohydrate oxidation for energy while minimizing gut issues. The research supported a simple yet effective approach: a 2:1 ratio of simple to complex carbohydrates.
Why does the 2:1 ratio matter
The reason why the body cannot utilize more than 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour is due to the presence of transporter molecules on the cell membrane. These transporters help nutrients enter the cell for absorption and action. Glucose, a simple carbohydrate, uses a transporter called SGLT-1 to enter the cell and provide energy. However, the SGLT-1 transporter has a limit and can only allow 1 gram of glucose per minute, which equates to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Therefore, consuming more than 60g of glucose (simple carbohydrate with a high glycemic index), leads to severe gastrointestinal issues, as the extra carbohydrates are not oxidized for energy and accumulate in the intestine, causing a bottleneck effect and leading to severe discomfort. This is because there is a bottleneck in the human digestive system that restricts the amount of glucose that can enter the bloodstream and be sent to the muscles for fuel.
Another carbohydrate, fructose, is absorbed and utilized by the cell through a different transporter called GLUT-5. However, the absorption and utilization of fructose are slower, at a rate of 0.5 grams per hour. Fructose becomes available for use when the absorption of glucose reaches its maximum capacity. Since glucose and fructose use different transporters, they are referred to as multiple transportable carbohydrates. This allows for the ingestion of 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, increasing carbohydrate oxidation and preventing the bottleneck effect caused by ingesting too much of a single carbohydrate source. A study in 2004 by Jeukendurp et al. found that the carbohydrate oxidation rate in trained cyclists using both glucose and fructose was significantly higher compared to using glucose alone.
Further research by Rowlands et al. indicated that glucose transport needs to be saturated, which requires ingesting at least 60 grams per hour. The second carbohydrate, fructose, should be ingested at a rate of 30 grams per hour. This results in a ratio of 2:1 for simple to complex carbohydrates, maximizing carbohydrate uptake to 90 grams per hour while limiting gastrointestinal discomfort. It is now known that the intestinal capacity for glucose absorption is limited to 60 grams per hour. Therefore, sports drinks containing only a single source of carbohydrates do not provide any additional benefits and are suitable for exercise events lasting less than 2.5 hours. However, ultra-endurance events lasting >2.5 hours require more than 60 grams per hour, thus benefiting from higher doses of up to 90 grams per hour. This can be achieved by consuming beverages with a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose. In order to effectively utilize high intake rates, it is crucial to receive adequate nutritional training during preparation. This 'gut training' can enhance gastric emptying and intestinal carbohydrate absorption, thereby reducing the occurrence of gastrointestinal problems and ultimately improving race experience and performance.
The use of multiple transportable carbohydrates in a 2:1 carbohydrate ratio not only increases carbohydrate oxidation but also improves fluid delivery and oxidation efficiency, reducing the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress. Studies have also shown reduced fatigue, improved exercise performance, and increased intestinal water absorption by 65% when using multiple transportable carbohydrates compared to using glucose alone. In conclusion, the science behind the 2:1 ratio of simple to complex carbohydrates is well-studied and demonstrates its effectiveness in utilizing multiple carbohydrates for energy and endurance, hence we have utilized this straightforward science in our Elite Drink Mix 160.
Unived's Elite Drink Mix 160
Unived’s Elite Drink Mix 160, delivers 40 grams of carbohydrates per serving. This optimal blend consists of a 2:1 ratio of simple to complex carbohydrates, specifically maltodextrin to Isomaltulose.
Let's delve into the benefits of these two components:
- Maltodextrin: As a simple carbohydrate, maltodextrin is comprised of multiple glucose monomers. With a high glycemic index of over 100, it rapidly increases blood glucose levels, providing instantaneous energy. Maltodextrin is easily digested, minimizing gastric discomfort. In Elite Drink Mix 160, maltodextrin (26. 6 grams) serves as the source of immediate energy.
- Isomaltulose: This complex carbohydrate consists of glucose and fructose. It possesses a low glycemic index of 32, meaning it is slowly broken down within the body, resulting in sustained energy release. Isomaltulose is fully digestible and offers the same physiological energy benefits as sucrose. In Elite Drink Mix, Isomaltulose (13.3 grams) serves as the source of sustained energy.
The Elite Drink Mix 160 presents an ideal combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, scientifically proven to deliver both instant and sustained energy without causing gastric discomfort.
An effectively formulated sports drink should encourage voluntary fluid intake, facilitate rapid fluid absorption, efficiently supply carbohydrates for enhanced performance, enhance physiological responses, and expedite rehydration. To achieve these goals, a sports drink should be isotonic, meaning it maintains a balance with the body's fluids. Ideally, an isotonic sports drink should contain the same number of osmotically active particles as plasma (280-300 mOsmol/kg). Isotonicity is crucial because cells in contact with solutions of the same osmolality do not gain or lose water due to the impermeability of the cell membrane. This equilibrium ensures fluid, energy, and electrolytes are provided for rehydration and replenishment of energy stores without causing GI distress. For a sports drink to be isotonic, the percentage of carbohydrate solution in 1 liter of water should be between 6% to 8%. Anything below or above this range would be classified as hypotonic (<6%) or hypertonic (>7%). An isotonic drink rapidly replaces fluids lost through sweating and optimizes the rate at which glucose (energy) is absorbed by the body. When dissolved in 500ml of water, our Elite Drink Mix 160 becomes perfectly isotonic.
In the past, our Elite Drink Mix provided 45 grams of carbohydrates per serving through a single sachet. To meet the standard intake of 90 grams per hour, individuals simply needed to consume two sachets of our Elite Drink Mix.
For the new Elite Drink Mix 160, we decided to reduce the total carbohydrates from 45g to 40g.
- To make an isotonic solution, one needs to dissolve 45g carbohydrates in 600-800ml of water. This was proving to be challenging to accomplish, as most standard sports bottles accommodate 500ml only. This meant, users had to measure & add the powder, and save the rest in the sachet for future use. This resulted in both, an inaccurate isotonic solution and a messy kitchen.
- With 40g per sachet, one sachet is fully utilized in a standard 500ml flask. This allows for an accurate isotonic solution.
In addition to carbohydrates, Unived’s Elite Drink Mix 160 contains essential components such as Beta-alanine, Betaine, and a carefully balanced blend of Electrolytes including Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, and Potassium.
The role of beta-alanine and betaine in Elite Drink Mix 160
Unived Elite Drink Mix 160 incorporates the advantages of betaine and beta-alanine to promote enhanced athletic performance.
Betaine: Serving as an osmolyte, betaine maintains fluid equilibrium and safeguards cells against dehydration by improving their water retention capacity. It also offers protection to proteins and enzymes from environmental stressors like heat. Furthermore, betaine aids in the release of energy and improves physical endurance.
Beta-Alanine: By elevating skeletal muscle carnosine levels, beta-alanine acts as an intramuscular buffer for hydrogen ions, thereby maintaining the acid-base balance. It effectively delays neuromuscular fatigue and enhances performance.
Although the optimal dosage for beta-alanine is between 2-4g, the reason we have not given a full dose, is because our products are formulated for ultra-endurance athletes. Typically, ultra-endurance athletes may consume multiple quantities of gels/drinks during their events. For 2g of Beta-alanine, one has to consume just 5 Elite Gels or 5 Elite Drink Mix 160 sachets – both of which are very much possible during a marathon or ultra-marathon.
Optimal Electrolyte Proportions
Sodium: Working in conjunction with Chloride, sodium facilitates the efficient transport of vital fluids to cells and tissues. It helps prevent the occurrence of the dreaded 'gut bomb' effect (vomiting during races) and combats hyponatremia, a condition characterized by symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and confusion.
Chloride: Regulating the body's water balance, chloride aids in water retention and minimizes the loss of hydration reserves due to sweat and urine. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the appropriate volume of fluids within the bloodstream.
Magnesium: Essential for the proper transmission of nerve impulses, magnesium also supports muscular contraction and energy production.
Potassium: Working closely with sodium and chloride, potassium plays a vital role in maintaining hydration levels. It facilitates the generation of nerve impulses in both nerves and muscles, thereby enhancing overall performance.
Dedicated ultra-endurance athletes prioritize physical training, skill development, and mental preparation. However, there is another crucial factor that often goes unnoticed but can significantly affect an athlete’s performance: taste fatigue. Taste fatigue occurs when an athlete's taste receptors become desensitized to the flavors of carbohydrate- or electrolyte-dense sports drinks, consumed during training or competition. The human tongue possesses taste receptors that detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and savory flavors. When athletes repeatedly consume sugary or salty products, these receptors eventually become less responsive to the flavors. This sensory adaptation means that athletes may find the fuel or hydration product less palatable, even though their bodies still require the essential nutrients and fluids. Taste fatigue can have a negative impact on an athlete's mental state, leading to diminished focus and motivation. However, by incorporating a variety of flavors and rotating them, athletes can alleviate the mental distractions caused by taste fatigue.
Introducing the Flavorless Option
With the aim of providing our athletes with an advantage, we are proud to introduce our flavorless options: Bare Naked and Buzzing Naked. These variants of our Elite Drink Mix 160 are flavourless. When mixed in water and consumed, they create a taste that closely resembles plain water, without altering the sensory perception of flavors. This offers a significant edge in performance, as athletes no longer need to worry about taste fatigue. We also offer two flavoured options, Wild Watermelon, and Orange Twist, to cater to the diverse flavor preferences of athletes.
With our Elite Drink Mix 160, athletes can enjoy a combination of flavored and flavorless options, ensuring they can train and compete without experiencing taste fatigue.
Originally, sports drinks were developed as basic solutions containing carbohydrates and electrolytes in precise quantities. However, nowadays it is common to find commercial sports drinks that contain added ingredients like intense sweeteners, aromas, flavorings, and colorants, which aim to enhance taste. Some formulations also include vitamins. There has been some concern regarding the idea that sweating leads to an increased loss of water-soluble vitamins or that athletes in intense training require higher vitamin intake. However, existing research suggests that sweating is not a significant pathway for vitamin loss.
Additionally, the inclusion of vitamins is said to increase the osmolarity of the sports drink. Further, vitamins do not add any value to an isotonic sports drink because a vitamin deficiency does not develop within a period of several hours.
The potential benefits of adding amino acids to sports drinks have also been explored. These additives have been studied for their ability to enhance fluid absorption or improve performance, but so far, no conclusive success has been found. Incorporating amino acids into a sports drink does not provide any advantages for athletic performance. Furthermore, amino acids in solution are not stable over long periods of storage and, even under optimal conditions, their presence may negatively impact the overall taste and acceptance of the beverage.
Unived Elite Drink Mix 160 has nothing but carbohydrates, electrolytes, betaine, and beta-alanine.
Unived's Endurance Basket
Unived offers a large & complete basket of endurance products for athletes. The products are formulated with the same underlying principals of offering scientific formulations and developing products with thought & application.
The Elite Drink Mix 160 can be used along with the Gel 100, Elite Gel 180, Elite Drink Mix 320, Elite Recovery Mix, Elite Beet-420, and our Salt Capsules - in personalised combinations, to achieve the correct nutritional output each athlete desires.
We have outlined some key comparisons between the Unived Elite Drink mix 180, and two other popular domestic brands.
Key standout features of our product are its 2:1 ratio, Isotonic formulation, flavourless options, and a more sound overall formulation that works in synergy with the other supportive endurance products which we offer.
Our Elite Drink Mix 160 incorporates a scientifically backed approach to maximize carbohydrate utilization in ultra-endurance sports. By utilizing a 2:1 ratio of multiple transportable carbohydrates, we have designed a formula that provides the necessary energy without causing gastrointestinal discomfort commonly experienced by athletes engaged in activities lasting over 2.5 hours. We understand the importance of fuelling athletes with the energy they require for their ultra-endurance performance, as well as replenishing electrolytes through isotonic sports drinks during their activities.
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