First and foremost I’m not a food nutritionist, or a medical professional the views expressed here are the views of a runner learning through experience.
Used by Wilson Kipsang, who won February’s Tokyo Marathon in 2:03:58. The Swedish company Maurten specialise in a running drink mix which tackles the issue of glycogen depletion, the aim is to push elite marathoners to the sub-two hour marathon target.
Prior to the Tokyo Marathon, I was invited by Maurten to test out it’s sports fuel drink mix, which essentially comprises of easily digestible but high concentrations of carbohydrates in hydrogels.
Looking at a traditional sports drink consisting of the simple mix of sugar, salt and water. However if there is too much sugar in it, or the carbohydrate intake is too high, it can either cause digestive problems or take a long time to pass through the stomach and before it becomes useful.
The Maurten drink aims to encapsulate, the carbohydrates with a pH-sensitive hydrogel. The hydrogel aims not to disturb the acidity (pH) of the stomach, and allow for a quicker transfer of the drink through the stomach, leading to the intestine where the water, salt and carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the body. In this way you get a fast and large supply of energy that the body can easily tolerate.
What are Hyrogels?
They are simple ingredients that are commonplace within the food industry, and are produced from a combination of two ingredients:
- Alginate (obtained from the cell walls of brown algae);
- Pectin (which is found in fruits).
All ingredients are listed on the Maurten website, the link is at the bottom of the page.
It has very little taste which is a good thing whilst running, and the consistency is slightly heavier than water. Overall I found it easy to digest.
Security is so paramount at world marathon events, so I wasn’t able to take bottled water with the Maurten mix into the Tokyo Marathon. However I possibly could of put the mix in the bottle and mixed it with 500ml of water at one of the aid stations, whilst running, but that’s wasted time mid race. However for Tokyo I only used it as part of my carbohydrate loading in the build up. I do find drinking it all in one go feels quite heavy, however post Tokyo I’ve used it on my training runs, and have had no problems taking regular sips.
Maurten produce two mixes:
- Drink Mix 160: One 500ml bottle provides 40g of carbohydrates.
- Drink Mix Pro 320: One 500ml bottle provides 80g of carbohydrates.
The body can only store around 300g glycogen so it’s important to keep these reserves up, as during the marathon the aim is to consume 60g of carbohydrates per hour. So the Drink Mix Pro 320 is suitable for long training runs, moving up to marathons, whereas the Drink Mix 160 is suitable for shorter training runs.
Nutrition whilst running is about balance, one of the key areas not to neglect is replacing lost salts, protein intake or the physiological boost that caffeine can add. So the products tested would need to be used in line with other products to meet all your nutritional needs, from training leading up to the marathon day.
However I’ve had a positive experience using the drink mix, and if it’s good enough for elite athletes, such as Kenenisa Bekele and Wilson Kipsang, then it’s good enough for an everyday athlete like myself.
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