By Mark Ysseldyk, HoneyMaxx Co-founder
Let’s be honest. The only reason you use a sports drink is to improve performance. Otherwise you’d just use water, which is much cheaper. A huge amount of research has been done on the ingestion of carbohydrates during exercise and there is no doubt - carbs improve exercise performance. But there are limits to how much, limits imposed by the human gut.
Fortunately for the endurance athlete, the science of carbohydrate intake has evolved beyond simply eating ‘sugar’ and salt and there are now some very effective ingredients on the market to help maximize your performance.
We know that the human body has limits to how much carbohydrate from a single source it can oxidize or ‘use’ during exercise. This is around 60 grams per hour. An example of this would be using a sports drink with dextrose as the only carbohydrate source. Dextrose is a form of glucose and a common ingredient in sports drinks.
As an athlete, you will only be able to absorb up to 60 or 70 grams of this drink per hour.
The reason for this is that your gut has a limited number of receptors to transport carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Think of your receptors as ‘doors’ into your bloodstream that the carbs must unlock and travel through. You only have so many ‘doors’ into your bloodstream and when you send more carbs to knock on those doors than there are doors, you literally get a lineup. Lineups are not good.
Remember the saying ‘you are what you eat?’ It is not correct - you are only what you absorb.
So by using a carb drink that contains only one source of carbohydrates, you run the risk of overwhelming those receptors. As a result, the transport of carbs will slow down and this leads to less available energy because you simply can’t absorb all of the carbs you dumped into your gut.
In addition, all those extra carbohydrates sitting around waiting to ‘get in the door’ will cause water to leave your bloodstream to enter your gut. This leads to gut distress, abdominal pain, dehydration and decreased exercise performance. You’ve probably been in this situation before. I know I have.
Fortunately, both science and nature have a solution. It was discovered not that long ago that in order to get more carbohydrates into the bloodstream, another transporter has to be used. In other words, a different set of doors can be opened but only by different types of carbohydrates.
Lets use the carbohydrate fructose (found in honey and fruit) as an example. Fructose uses a different transporter or ‘door’ called GLUT5. If the glucose ‘door’ is full (glucose uses the SGLT1 transporter) and we add some fructose in the same drink, we should be able to get more carbohydrates into the body by using the GLUT5 ‘door.’
It is no different than having 500 people trying to get into two doors instead of one. Obviously, using two doors is going to get the 500 people into the building faster than sending them all through the single door.
Studies have been performed that confirm this. Mixtures of carbohydrates can be oxidized or used at much higher rates than single carbohydrates. Rates as high as 105 grams of carbs per hour have been attained which is 75% higher than using a single carbohydrate source.
Not only are you able to ingest higher amounts of carbs by using multiple sources, but fluid delivery is significantly faster when doing so. Lab tests have also confirmed that mixed carbohydrate blends are better tolerated in the gut and more effective in hot conditions.
The reason outlined above are precisely why HoneyMaxx works so well for athletes, especially in training or race situations of an hour or more.
Let me explain. Back in the day when Tom and I were creating HoneyMaxx and messing around with honey powder and maltodextrin blended together in our kitchen, we couldn’t figure out why it didn’t bother our guts like so many other drinks we used and tested. We just figured it was because honey was ‘natural,' which in hindsight was correct but extremely oversimplified.
Honey is naturally made up of four different carbohydrates - 38% fructose, 31% glucose, 7% maltose and about 1% sucrose. By nature, honey fits the model only recently discovered by science to maximize carbohydrate levels in the bloodstream - it has 4 different carb sources naturally. This is likely why I found using liquid honey dissolved in water as my sports drink (before we created HoneyMaxx) to be a very effective endurance fuel.
What we found was by combining maltodextrin with honey in HoneyMaxx, we increased the number of transport options available to five (fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose and maltodextrin) and this increased the effectiveness of the drink even further. This is simply because instead of one or two transporters into the bloodstream, we are able to access five which leads to higher levels of carbohydrates in the blood, faster absorption and better tolerance during hot conditions.
At the end of the day, all of these factors lead to better performance. So not only can you feel good about your performance when using HoneyMaxx knowing that you are getting the absolute most out of your hydration and nutrition, but you can do so knowing you ingested no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners while doing it.