Nutrition on the bike: Isomaltulose - someone tried it?

Someone suggested using isomaltulose instead of sugar: It’s basically a slow absorbing sugar. Often used for decoration on cakes etc.


  • Better for teeth


  • Slow absorbing
  • A bit more expensive than sugar

Since I want to be as gentle on my teeth as possible, especially for short workouts shorter than 3h, I thought about trying this as an alternative to sugar. So far, only possible GI issues worry me.

Someone tried it?

Looks interesting for late afternoon or evening workouts since blood glucose levels may lower more quickly. That’s one simple, practical takeaway.

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The Wikipedia page references an absorption rate of *4.5 times less than sucrose (although, I don’t actually know if the enzyme kinetics is a limiting factor of absorption). I guess it means you could add it to your homebrew at <20% of total carbs for oral health marginal gains?

Have you exhausted the bulk gains? (Yes, I’m aware this is a cycling forum… :upside_down_face:) Rinsing with a water-only bottle during rides, brushing your teeth before you start fueling with sugar water, perfecting your brushing/flossing technique…

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Ok wow, that is super slow. Thanks for looking up, I missed that somehow. :slight_smile:

Na, then it’s not worth it.

But it does get absorbed, though, just slowly.

I instantly thought of how athletes use Ucan superstarch for different reasons when I saw this thread. That’s also a slower carb in every way so long distance, steady-effort athletes like it.

Except you can get 45 servings of 100g (Isomalt) instead of 30 servings of 25g (Ucan) for a similar price.

Good find, I’d never heard of it.

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This is the “main” ingredient in high5 slow release. This is the carb drink that i use and I like it.

In my mind, slow absorption is not a bad thing. Its keeps a nice steady baseline


What’s wrong with malto?

Not much, just not good for teeth.

A follow-up in case someone is interested: I bought some amount of isomaltulose / palatinose and used it as a substitue for sugar up to 60g/hour.

The taste is not great. Also if ingested too fast (more than around 50g/hour) or with not enough water, I had a little GI issues (not in a bad way, but not comfortable either).

Also - I couldn’t find anything about this in the internet - if I drink it not diluted enough, it feels acidic on the teeth (sensitive teeth).

Not sure I will go on with it. I will probably switch back to sugar and try to protect my teeth otherwise as good as possible.

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That seems intuitively desireable to me, but every nutritionist/dietician who’s been interviewed on the podcast, emphasizes the importance of quick absorbing carbs. Despite having a hard time shaking my belief that slow absorbing carbs would be good for long efforts or moderate efforts, I opt to follow the advice of folks who have more training and experience than I do. For me, it’s fast absorbing carbs on the bike, with slow absorbing carbs (or carbs balanced by fiber/fat/protein) off the bike.

Yes absolutely. It was more about preventing caries.

I have to add that isomaltulose absolutely fullfilled my subjective „carbohydrate“ requirements in the sense that it prevents hunger, me being hangry or getting tired. But then I usually don‘t take more carbs than 60-70g/h (with more I feel strange/sluggish afterwards).

And re dental health, my dentist, who rides, said he wasn’t worried about the sugar in drink mix, but was more concerned about chews and stuff that was more likely to stick to your teeth.

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Yeah the carbohydrates which have longer contact time (and can be fermented over that time) probably have a bigger impact. These includes complexer carbohydrates since they need time to be fermented.

However sugar and maltodextrin can be fermented very easily by bacteria and are also acidic. Even after a very short contact time you can see the effects (from studies which compare these sugar-like carbohydrates). Isomaltulose has kind of a neutral effect and xylitol seems to have positive effects on teeth (very short summary of the consensus - not all studies show the same results).

The effect on the teeth (e.g. caries and loss of dentin) needs 6-24 months till it shows, so one can’t “just try it out for some weeks”.