A Hydrogel Drink for Athletes: Enhancing Performance and Protecting Teeth

A Hydrogel Drink for Athletes: Enhancing Performance and Protecting Teeth

In the quest for enhanced athletic performance, the consumption of carbohydrate-rich sports drinks has become a common practice. A recent study led by Stefan Pettersson and his team delved into the efficacy of a novel hydrogel-based sports drink with high fructose content. Their research, "A Hydrogel Drink With High Fructose Content Generates Higher Exogenous Carbohydrate Oxidation and a Reduced Drop in Dental Biofilm pH Compared to Two Other, Commercially Available, Carbohydrate Sports Drinks", published in Frontiers in Nutrition, offers fascinating insights.

The Research

The study's primary objective was to compare the substrate oxidation rates and dental health impacts of three different 14%-carbohydrate sports drinks - a unique aspect of this research. The drinks in question were amylopectin starch (AP), maltodextrin+sucrose (MD+SUC), and a hydrogel-based maltodextrin+fructose (MD+FRU). Twelve endurance athletes participated in a rigorous test involving 180 minutes of cycling, during which they consumed these drinks.

Key Findings

  1. Enhanced Carbohydrate Oxidation: The standout finding was that the hydrogel-based MD+FRU drink led to significantly higher exogenous carbohydrate oxidation compared to the other drinks. This means the athletes were able to utilize more of the ingested carbohydrates for energy, a critical factor in endurance sports.

  2. Blood Glucose Management: Post-consumption of the MD+FRU drink, blood glucose levels were lower compared to the other drinks. This could imply a more efficient carbohydrate usage and potentially less residual sugar in the bloodstream.

  3. Dental Health: An intriguing aspect of this study was its focus on oral health. The MD+FRU drink, devoid of added acidulants and with a higher pH, resulted in a less pronounced drop in dental biofilm pH. This suggests a potentially lower risk of dental erosion and caries - a common concern among athletes frequently consuming acidic and sugary drinks.

Implications for Athletes

The study's findings are particularly relevant for endurance athletes. The higher carbohydrate oxidation rate from the hydrogel-based MD+FRU drink could translate to improved performance due to more efficient energy utilization. Additionally, the reduced risk of dental issues offers a dual benefit, especially considering the frequency with which athletes consume these types of beverages.

Future Directions

While this study opens new avenues in sports nutrition, especially concerning the use of hydrogel technology in sports drinks, it also calls for further research. Long-term effects on dental health, the implications of different drink compositions under various physical conditions, and the broader applicability of these findings across different sports disciplines warrant further exploration.


The research conducted by Pettersson et al. offers a promising new perspective on sports nutrition. By demonstrating the potential benefits of a hydrogel-based sports drink, both in terms of energy utilization and dental health, this study paves the way for more innovative approaches in the development of athletic supplements. As the field of sports nutrition evolves, such research will be crucial in guiding athletes towards more effective and health-conscious choices.

Read the full research article by clicking here.

All drink mix and gel products from Maurten are formulated with a hydrogel technology, featuring a high content of fructose.


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