“Palatinose has been available for sports nutrition for a couple of years,” Dr Antje Jungclaus, Manager Nutrition Communication Beneo-Institute told NutraIngredients-USA. “It is an innovative solution for sports because such a slow-release carbohydrate that delivers fully carbohydrate energy was not previously available. As such, Palatinose opens new possibilities. It is not meant to fully replace traditional concepts but to provide new concepts and further options.”
The ingredient, which received a letter of no objection from the FDA for its GRAS status in 2006, is already found in a number of sports nutrition products, including RTD (isotonic) sports drinks, instant powder drinks, energy gels, energy chews, chewable tablets, supplements, energy and protein bars, and more, said Dr Jungclaus.
It can also be used in a range of other food and beverage products, from energy drinks and tabletop sweeteners to confectionery and infant nutrition.
The ingredient is touted for its more steady carbohydrate energy supply by Beneo and is gaining a dedicated following among some endurance athletes.
“Carbohydrate and fat are the main substrates in energy metabolism at rest and during physical activity,” explained Dr Jungclaus. “In case of high intensity exercise, carbohydrates play the predominant role because of their faster energy flux in comparison with fat. Unlike fat, however, carbohydrate sources in the human body are limited. Endurance performance can be extended by additional carbohydrate intake before and during exercise.
“The special aspect of Palatinose is that it provides the desired carbohydrate energy for physical activity in a more steady way and, at the same time, maintains a higher contribution of fat oxidation in energy metabolism than commonly used readily available carbohydrates like sucrose or maltodextrin.
“A higher level of fat oxidation is known as a training effect and has been regarded as desirable in endurance activity with respect to a potential carbohydrate (glycogen) sparing effect for enhanced endurance performance.”
The physiological benefits of isomaltulose have been assessed in approximately 30 published human intervention studies, according to Beneo, with over 30 additional blood glucose response trials supporting the ingredient’s steady and sustained blood glucose supply.
The higher fat oxidation rates have been confirmed in human intervention studies, said Dr Jungclaus, compared to carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, dextrose or sucrose (for example, Achten et al. 2007 Journal of Nutrition (funded by Cargill), West et al. 2011, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2011 (funded by the Welsh Office of Research and Development), Konig et al. 2012 Nutrition (funded by Beneo)).
“Consuming fast carbohydrates with a high impact on blood glucose and insulin levels before exercise has a very strong inhibiting effect on fat oxidation,” she added. “The benefits of Palatinose become evident: Its more steady carbohydrate release before exercise will have less impact on fuel partitioning and fat oxidation, and this will be maintained when Palatinose is consumed during exercise as well.”
The common practice for endurance exercise lasting more than one hour is to consume drinks with 6-8% carbohydrates before and during exercise, she said.
There may also be post-exercise implications, said Dr Jungclaus, with a recent paper reporting benefits of a drink formulated with isomaltulose and HMB (Kraemer et al. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 2015), although that application is not fully explored yet.
There have been questions about the tolerability of the ingredient with concerns about intestinal bloating being raised during NutraIngredient-USA’s recent Science of Sports Nutrition online forum. These are linked to a recent publication by researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa (Oosthuyse et al. 2015, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab., funded by the Faculty Research Committee of the University of the Witwatersrand).
“This is the only study with reporting on GI discomfort and, as such, stands out against the totality of data with isomaltulose,” she said.
“Isomaltulose is well established as a fully available slow release carbohydrate. It shows an excellent tolerance in clinical studies and daily practice, comparable to other sugars or maltodextrin. The totality of evidence from numerous studies with isomaltulose in sports conditions confirms this as well.
“None of the other trials with isomaltulose in sports and exercise conditions found a GI discomfort element with isomaltulose nor a compromise in performance as result of this. The findings of this South African study are more than questionable and conclusions from this one study on the bloating of isomaltulose in sports are not justified.”
What next for isomaltulose?
Beyond sports nutrition, the company sees a lot of opportunity in the general beverage sector based on its specific nutritional value and its mildly sweet taste.
“More like a niche, but very sensitive applications are meal replacement product concepts where Palatinose is being requested based on its metabolic, sensory and technological characteristics,” she said.
There are also some indications for the ingredient in the cognitive health space, with a recent study from researchers at the University of Wales Swansea reporting that consumption of a breakfast sweetened with isomaltulose resulted in better mood and aspects of cognitive functioning for children than a breakfast sweetened with glucose (Young et al. 2015, European Journal of Nutrition (funded by Beneo)).