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Maurten nutritional products are a perfect example of less is more.
The company is underpinned by a very simple philosophy – ‘if it doesn’t aid performance, it doesn’t go in the product’.
That philosophy extends to its recipes – clean and simple. Each product is limited to just five to seven ingredients, all natural and all with names that just about anyone in sportswear, rather than a lab coat, can pronounce.
There are no added preservatives, colouring or flavours.
“If it doesn’t aid performance, then what is the point? They only add risk to the possibility of gastric distress for an athlete,” according to Ben Toomey from Enso Sports, the distributor for Maurten products in Australia.
What Maurten does deliver in abundance is more energy. For example, each serve of its Drink Mix 320 contains 80 grams of carbohydrate when mixed with 500 millilitres of water, roughly twice the amount of energy previously thought possible in a sports drink.
Its gels are filled with a unique blend of fructose and glucose (at a ratio of 0.8:1) which enables uptakes of up to 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
It’s nearly seven years since the Swedish company developed its patented approach to sports drinks and gels, using hydrogels to hold high concentrations of carbohydrate.
The hydrogels are built from two natural ingredients – pectin, found in fruit and vegetables, and alginate, an extract from seaweed – both dietary fibres used for decades by the food industry.
Maurten’s breakthrough in 2015 was discovering the best way to combine pectin and alginate to create a hydrogel in tune with the stomach’s natural acid.
When Maurten drinks and gels reach the stomach, its acidity acts as a catalyst to form a hydrogel – a water-based, sponge-like structure with tiny holes that encapsulate carbohydrates.
Tests have shown the hydrogels sit comfortably in the stomach and aid a smooth transition to the intestine, where the water, salt and carbohydrates are absorbed.
That capacity for smoother ‘gastric emptying’ swiftly established Maurten as a favourite for runners and triathletes, particularly among elite competitors.
Many World Records
Maurten has fuelled running world records at 5000m, 10000m, half-marathon and marathon events during the past few years.
Some of them are footnotes to the career of Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, one of modern running’s household names.
Kipchoge, the 2016 and 2020 Olympic marathon champion and the only person to run a marathon in less than two hours, has been Maurten’s ‘poster boy’ since its early years.
Other celebrated distance runners have since got on board with Maurten – including Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Joshua Cheptegei – and have used its products to fuel record-breaking performances.
Maurten has an equally lofty presence in triathlon, further honing its products in collaboration with German Jan Frodeno and Norway’s Gustav Iden – who sit at one and two on the world professional triathlon rankings – as well as 2020 Olympic triathlon champion Kristian Blummenfelt.
Maurten’s popularity among triathlons of all levels is set to climb further, following confirmation it is the new official provider of sports gels at Ironman events around the world.
“We know Maurten gels will be popular with Ironman competitors because of their high concentration of energy and smooth transition to the stomach – not to mention their very neutral flavours,” Ben said.
“I describe the flavour as similar to the inside of a jellybean, slightly sweet but very subtle.”
Ben had his own personal epiphany about flavoured gels during the 2018 Rotterdam marathon.
“I was at the 35km mark and went for a gel that tasted great in training but just wasn’t what I needed at that time,” he said.
“Most endurance athletes will know that experience. How you respond to a flavour can vary wildly when it is under the stresses of competition.
“For that reason, it’s always a very good idea to train with the fuels you intend to use when you race. It’s all part of preparing your body and mind for an event, to help make sure everything works in harmony on the day.
“At the same time, the neutral flavours of Maurten gels and drinks remove one more variable that can negatively impact your race day performance.”
The hydrogel structure, similar to jelly, brings another bonus for athletes.
“Unlike many other products that are effectively concentrated syrups, hydrogels do not need to be ‘chased’ with water to be diluted,” he said.
Efficient Option for Retailers
The simplicity of Maurten products is also a bonus for retailers.
“The absence of different flavours can mean far fewer stock-keeping units for retailers,” he said.
“We also have a retail strategy to remain true to our product and the people we believe can best sell and represent our product, which is speciality retail.”
Ben said Maurten and Enso are passionate about having their product represented by people who can “nerd out” over technology – particularly the technology that sets Maurten apart from the competition.
“We’re actually pretty proud that Maurten is giving people the chance to nerd out over a nutritional product, as opposed to the latest bike or shoe technology,” he says.
“You won’t see our products sold in supermarkets and chemists because we don’t believe our product belongs there. They belong with people who sell bikes or fit running shoes. The people who understand our product best.”
Maurten is steadily gaining a greater following among the cycling fraternity and is now the most widely used brand of sports drinks and gels among elite road teams.
Hydrogel products have been widely used in professional peletons in recent years – often ‘unofficially’.
In 2021, six teams at UCI World Tour, Women World Tour and Pro Series Level used Maurten products and were singing their praises: Canyon-Sram, Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux, Israel Start-Up Nation, Team Jumbo-Visma, Team Novo Nordisk, Uno-X Pro Cycling Team, BEAT Cycling and BIKE AID.