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My friends and family have nicknamed me Paula Radcliffe: not because I’m a crazy fast runner, but because of an unfortunate Chicago marathon crash involving my rather unhappy gastrointestinal tract. Not wanting bad luck to strike twice, I was convinced to try Maurten for my next block of the marathon and haven’t looked back.


If you haven’t heard of Maurten, get to know him now. The Sweden-based company has worked with a number of elite endurance athletes, powering every World Major Marathon winner since 2017, as well as numerous Olympic gold medalists and world champions.

Maurten Gel 100 (box of 12)

Gels 100 (pack of 12)

Maurten Gel 100 (box of 12)

People just have to try it and they’ll see the difference, Joshua Rowe, Maurtens Performance Scientist, tells me. It’s hard to convey that because if you look at a Maurten gel and a traditional gel, or you look at a Maurten drink mix and a traditional drink mix, they look similar. But the way they work and operate in the stomach is completely different.

So what exactly makes Maurten so unique from all other energy gels and drinks on the market? And why do so many elite runners, including Eliud Kipchoge himself, swear by it? It all comes down to their hydrogel technology.

When you exercise at a high intensity, all blood flow will be directed to your working muscles and away from your stomach, Rowe says. Your stomach almost starts working at a lower capacity.

Trying to ingest large amounts of carbohydrates to fuel the engine ends up being challenging, he explains, because the engine can’t really process them. This is what leads people like me to gain a foothold on portaloos during long distance events.

With hydrogel technology, what it allows us to do is take much of the pressure off the GI tract and deliver nutrients and carbohydrates as athletes train at high intensity, Rowe says. The result? Athletes can take in a lot more fuel to support their performance, without having to do a Paula well (sorry Paula).


So what exactly is hydrogel technology?

Hydrogel technology is essentially a drug delivery system. When it enters the stomach, it creates an almost 3D structure around the carbohydrate that helps protect it in the gastrointestinal tract.

The gastrointestinal tract is designed to kill a large amount of bacteria, so it’s a very acidic environment, Rowe explains. When you ingest a large amount of traditional gels and drink mixes, this means that because they are themselves very acidic, this volatile environment is created where if the carbohydrates sit in the stomach for too long, this causes athletes to burp or have diarrhea.’

The structure of the hydrogel, he says, almost neutralizes things. The stomach doesn’t process the carbohydrates actually ingested, so it spends less time there. Instead, the hydrogel travels directly to the small intestine, where it breaks down and releases the carbohydrate.

This is why many elite athletes call it the disappearing drink, Rowe says. As soon as you ingest it, it creates this 3D structure and starts delivering the nutrients.

Maurten Drink Mix 320 (Pack of 14)

Drink Mix 320 (Box of 14)

Maurten Drink Mix 320 (Pack of 14)

Game changer

While there’s been a lot of noise about the impact of carbon-plate super shoes on distance running, this advancement in fueling has slipped a bit under the radar. But, at least according to Maurten, it’s quite remarkable and breaks what Rowe calls the performance fueling paradox.

For years, scientific research has stated that to improve their endurance, athletes should consume 90g of carbohydrates per hour. But much of this research is based on cyclists, who are able to tolerate higher amounts of carbohydrates than runners. What science claimed athletes should have was simply not practical.

So while elite athletes used to take in an average of 25-35g of carbs per hour, they’re now able to hit around 90-100g without suffering from belly issues. The end times suggest the results speak for themselves.

Maurten Gel 100 Caf 100

Gel 100 Caf 100

Research conducted in 2019 also showed that when athletes drank a traditional carbohydrate drink, gastric emptying was completely complete within 48-51 minutes. With a hydrogel drink — containing the same amount of carbohydrates — the process took just 21 minutes.

So there was a significant improvement in carbohydrate delivery and time spent in the stomach,’ explains Rowe. But while he may preach to converts, the product certainly doesn’t come cheap.

Making Maurten is an 18- to 22-step process, Rowe says. And that takes a lot of work, which is why our products are a little more expensive than, for example, a conventional product. In terms of the manufacturing process, it’s completely different. We’re trying to work on bringing the price down, but at the same time, I think if people understood what goes into making each gel, they’d realize that actually paying 50 cents more per gel isn’t that much.

And hey, if it means avoiding any tummy aches on race day, I’d say it’s worth it.

#elite #athletes #crazy #Maurten


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