State, an energy drink founded in Denmark in 2015 by former first division footballer Jon Andersen, uses Beneo’s Palatinose to deliver a balanced, sustained energy supply – very different from the extreme highs and lows from sugary, caffeinated energy drinks.
But conveying that message to consumers has been a challenge, says Andersen – and its tie-in with Danish athletes at the top of their game is helping the brand explain its benefits to a wider audience.
State has teamed up with three high-profile elite athletes: Caroline Wozniacki – the world’s number 2 seeded female tennis player who won her first grand slam title in January at the Australian Open; Christian Eriksen – the Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder playing for the Danish national team in this year’s FIFA World Cup; and Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen, currently 7th in F1.
Stable blood glucose level
State’s key ingredients is Palatinose, a low-glycaemic carbohydrate providing balanced energy from Beneo. Palatinose (isomaltulose) comes from sucrose from sugar beet; generated through enzymatic rearrangement of the glycosidic bond between glucose and fructose from an α-1.2 linkage in sucrose to an α-1.6-glycosidic bond in Palatinose.
“It’s very important to have a stable blood glucose level, and I think people maybe underestimate that, but the importance is rising of a healthy and balanced blood glucose level,” Jon Andersen, co-founder and CEO for State, told this publication.
“We do samples of blood tests of our athletes to show the difference between placebo products and State, and you can see almost a straight line with the blood glucose with state, and of course very unstable with regular sports and energy drinks, and that is the key factor.”
The drink also includes vitamin B6 and B12 for endurance, caffeine for alertness, taurine, and 300mg green tea extract (“We cannot claim the effects of green tea but we know that it has a positive effect on mental focus – a calm and focused mind,” says Andersen).
As a result State says it can offer “a minimum of two hours stable performance” - the maximum time limit for an F1 race, for example, or the duration of a football match from kick off to full time.
‘To explain something scientific on a billboard – that’s difficult’
But coming up with a winning formula is only half the battle. Andersen admits that the concept of a stable blood glucose level has been difficult to convey to regular consumers – and something the brand has had to work hard to address.
“We thought that if we just say here’s State, it’s amazing, people would find out," Andersen said.
"But to explain something specific, very scientific on a billboard, that’s difficult.
“When the consumer sees the billboard we have a few seconds, so we need to show the athlete, the long-lasting energy. Then you can go to our website and go beyond and read more – but you can’t put it all on the billboard or social media. So I think we have to be focused and very sharp with that communication of a long-lasting energy drink.”
The tie-in with top-level athletes has been important to build credibility for the brand and encourage people to consider the importance of stable blood glucose, said Andersen.
“It is of course very important, it gives us a more trustworthy brand that athletes at this level want to be seen with State, and not another brand.
“And it’s important for us to talk to a bigger crowd, to make people say - ‘What is this, what’s important about the blood glucose level, what’s this that State has done?’”
Palatinose (isomaltulose) from Beneo
- Naturally sourced smart carbohydrate, providing full carbohydrate energy (4kcal/g) in a more balanced way thanks to its low-glycaemic profile.
- 100% vegan, kosher, halal, non-GMO.
- Replaces sucrose on a 1:1 scale and can be combined with other sweeteners
- Higher acid and process stability than sucrose, relevant for isotonic sports drinks that tend to have a pH<3
"Most popular sports drinks contain high glycemic carbohydrates like maltodextrin, glucose syrup and sucrose," explains Beneo. "These release glucose into the bloodstream at a fast rate, aiming to maximise carbohydrate utilization. Upon intake before sports, these drinks can result in large spikes and drops in blood glucose levels – not an ideal situation for athletes to start their exercise and the valuable contribution of fat utilization in the fuel mix is suppressed to a great extent also during exercise.
"Low glycemic carbohydrates, such as Palatinose are exciting alternatives as they deliver a balanced release of energy over a longer period of time. Based on scientific research, Palatinose has been shown to have a sustained effect on normal blood glucose levels compared to other fully digestible carbohydrates."