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Do all athletes benefit from an intra-activity product?

Icon of calendar06/01/2022

In this article we will discuss the effects of a during supplement for three different athletes.

The information described in this article comes from research carried out by the (MSc) Master's students of the University of Wageningen on behalf of and in collaboration with Victus.

In the realm of sports nutrition, the quest for the ideal intra-activity product has been a topic of fervent research. The primary objective is to optimize performance and recovery by providing the body with the necessary nutrients during physical activity. One such product that has garnered attention is the "02 During" drink mix, which boasts a composition of 45 g of carbohydrates in a 2:1:1.5 ratio and 343 mg of sodium. But does every athlete truly benefit from such a formulation?

Carbohydrate composition and absorption
The "02 During" drink mix contains carbohydrates in a specific 2:1:1.5 ratio. This ratio is significant as different carbohydrates are absorbed via different transporters in the gut. Jeukendrup's research has shown that a mix of carbohydrates can lead to faster absorption than a single type of carbohydrate. This is because the body can utilize multiple transport pathways, allowing for a higher total carbohydrate uptake (Jeukendrup, 2010).

For endurance athletes, this can be particularly beneficial. A faster carbohydrate absorption rate ensures a steady supply of energy, potentially delaying the onset of fatigue and enhancing performance (Jeukendrup & Killer, 2010).

Sodium and electrolyte balance
The inclusion of 343 mg of sodium in the "02 During" formulation is not arbitrary. Sodium is a crucial electrolyte lost through sweat during prolonged physical activity. Its replenishment is vital for maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions.

Jeukendrup's studies have highlighted the importance of sodium in preventing hyponatremia (a condition characterized by low blood sodium levels) in endurance athletes, especially those participating in events lasting longer than 2 hours (Jeukendrup, 2014). Thus, for marathon runners, triathletes, and cyclists, a drink mix like "02 During" can be invaluable.

Who stands to benefit?
While the benefits of the "02 During" are evident for endurance athletes, its efficacy for other types of athletes, such as sprinters or weightlifters, remains a topic of debate. These athletes have different energy and electrolyte requirements. For instance, a sprinter's primary energy source is the anaerobic system, which doesn't rely heavily on carbohydrates. 

The "02 During" drink mix, with its specific carbohydrate ratio and sodium content, is scientifically formulated to benefit athletes that are either training zone 4 or 5 or those training/racing for longer than 90 minutes. It does that by ensuring rapid carbohydrate absorption and maintaining electrolyte balance. The works of Asker Jeukendrup have been instrumental in shedding light on the importance of such formulations. However, it's essential to recognize that not all athletes have the same nutritional needs during activity. As always, individualized assessment and tailoring of nutritional strategies remain paramount for optimal performance.

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