Vitargo®

What is it?

Vitargo® is a complex carbohydrate patented by the Karolinska Institutet Medical University in Stockholm. It is obtained from processing starch, a polysaccharide consisting of long branched chains of glucose, which is the energy reserve for excellence in plants. Vitargo® is usually extracted from cornstarch, potato or barley. From their hydrolysis (partial decomposition), a mixture of molecules of extremely high molecular weight is obtained, ranging between 500,000 to 700,000 Dalton (Da) (Stephens et al., J Sport Sci, 2007). For comparison, glucose has a weight of 180 Da, sucrose (common kitchen sugar) 342 Da, while maltodextrins (another complex carbohydrate used in sports) have a variable weight, but in the order of a few thousands of Da. The large molecular sizes of Vitargo® make it a polysaccharide with higher characteristics than other carbohydrates and therefore often used for sports. One of the main reasons is rapid gastric emptying once the solution containing Vitargo® has been taken: a study has found that 10 minutes after taking a solution containing Vitargo®, a much larger proportion had already left the stomach compared to the intake of an isoenergetic beverage containing carbohydrates with lower molecular weight (maltodextrin and glucose) (Leiper et al., Scand J Gastroenterol, 2000). A faster gastric emptying results in a faster absorption by the intestine. In this way, it is possible to exploit the so-called anabolic window, that is, that period of time after physical activity in which the muscle is capable of absorbing and using the nutrients in the most efficient way. In fact, subsequent studies have proven that Vitargo® is faster in reconstructing glycogen (energy stores in the form of glucose chains in skeletal muscle) in the 2h following intense physical effort (Aulin et al., Eur J Appl Physiol, 2000). If one considers that after intense physical effort muscle glycogen may have decreased by as much as 95% compared to the initial values, and that a glycogen reconstruction does not normally occur before 48 hours (Phiel, Acta Physiol Scand, 1974), it is clear what benefits a carbohydrate such as Vitargo can bring. This greater efficiency in rebuilding muscle energy reserves translates into a better recovery and better performance in subsequent workouts, as noted in a recent study in which the effects of taking a post-workout recovery beverage based on Vitargo® with one based on maltodextrin were compared in 16 trained athletes. It was found that athletes who drank Vitargo® were able to develop greater muscular power during subsequent back squat exercise than those who took the maltodextrine drink (Oliver et al, PLOS ONE, 2016). Vitargo® can therefore quickly and efficiently compensate for muscle glycogen loss during intense and prolonged efforts. Vitargo®, more than any other tested carbohydrate, reduces the time of recovery. Its use, therefore, becomes important in long endurance performances that take place at stages and in all those situations where a faster recovery helps the athlete have more strength the following day.

+Watt advices

Recommended use: take 3 measuring cups (25 g) daily dissolved in 100 ml of water after exercising. Shake the mixture well before drinking.