Carbohydrate hydrogel beverage provides no additional cycling performance benefit versus carbohydrate alone



This study examined the effects of a novel maltodextrin-fructose hydrogel supplement (MF-H) on cycling performance and gastrointestinal distress symptoms.


Nine endurance-trained male cyclists (age = 26.1 ± 6.6, mass = 80.9 ± 10.4 kg, VO2max = 55.5 ± 3.6 mL·kg·min−1) completed three experimental trials consisting of a 98-min varied-intensity cycling protocol followed by a performance test of ten consecutive sprint intervals. In a cross-over design, subjects consumed 250 mL of a treatment beverage every 15 min of cycling. Treatments consisted of 78 g·hr−1 of either (a) MF-H, (b) isocaloric maltodextrin-fructose (ratio-matched 2:1; MF), and (c) isocaloric maltodextrin only (MD).


There were no differences in average sprint power between treatments (MF-H, 284 ± 51 W; MF, 281 ± 46 W; and MD, 277 ± 48 W), or power output for any individual sprint. Subjective ratings of gastrointestinal distress symptoms (nausea, fullness, and abdominal cramping) increased significantly over time during the cycling trials, but few individuals exceeded moderate levels in any trial with no systematic differences in gastrointestinal discomfort symptoms observed between treatments.


In conclusion, ingestion of a maltodextrin/fructose hydrogel beverage during high-intensity cycling does not improve gastrointestinal comfort or performance compared to MF or MD beverages.

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Fig. 1
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Effect size




Heart rate




Maltodextrin and fructose


Maltodextrin and fructose hydrogel


Multiple transportable carbohydrates

VO2 :

Oxygen uptake

VO2max :

Maximal oxygen consumption



Wmax :

Maximal wattage attained during graded exercise test


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The authors would like to thank Jennifer Peluso, Mary Leupold, Neena Edupuganti, Dr. Thomas Baur, and Dr. Simon Higgins for assistance in data collection. Additionally, we are grateful to Tate and Lyle PLC for providing the maltodextrin and fructose for this study.

Author information




All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Daniel Baur, Katherine Baur, Harrison Toney, Nicholas Luden, and Michael J. Saunders. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Daniel Baur and Harrison Toney and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Daniel A. Baur.

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This study was approved by the institutional review boards of the participating institutions.

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Communicated by Michael Lindinger.

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Baur, D.A., Toney, H.R., Saunders, M.J. et al. Carbohydrate hydrogel beverage provides no additional cycling performance benefit versus carbohydrate alone. Eur J Appl Physiol 119, 2599–2608 (2019).

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  • Multiple transportable carbohydrates
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Maltodextrin
  • Fructose
  • Ergogenic aids
  • Supplements