Maurten is a new sports drink packing twice the digestible energy-giving carbohydrate previously deemed possible from one serving of sports product.
- Pros: Powerful energy boost, neutral flavour, natural ingredients
- Cons: Unusual texture could put some off, pricey
There's energy drinks and there's energy drinks. As far as Maurten 320 goes, it's a big one. Boasting a humungous 80g carbohydrate per 500ml serve, it packs a serious punch – around double the digestible carb per serve than the majority of other drinks mixes.
To create a product that enables the body to take on so much carbohydrate an hour requires a bit of science, and Maurten has been very cleverly developed, using a special 'hydrogel technology'.
As Maurten explains on its website: "When mixed with water you have a liquid carbohydrate sports drink containing a high concentration of maltodextrin and fructose. The sports drink instantly converts to hydrogel in the acidity of the stomach. The hydrogel enables a smooth transportation of the drink through the stomach to the intestine where the water, salt and carbohydrates are absorbed."
The commonly accepted theory on carbohydrate ad fuelling is that the most your body can usefully digest and process for muscle fuel in one hour is 80-90g; any more than that and it goes unused, and can cause stomach upset.
It is generally suggested that you need to 'work up' to this limit, maybe starting at 50-60g an hour and increasing the dose – so that your stomach learns how to handle the input over time.
I've trained my body to be able to take on around 70-80g of carbohydrate an hour as I take part in many gran fondos and stage events where this heavy fuelling becomes necessary. However, when doing this I would typically have been taking the carbs from a mix of gels, drinks and solids.
Thus, my first test of Maurten was a slightly nervy one. Would my stomach accept this intense a drink mix? And how would my guts like this hydrogel forming experience? I can tolerate Maurten's 80g carbohydrate dose, but can I manage it when it's all from a drink? Well, safe to say there was no adverse reaction in my stomach when I tested the mix on four occasions.
I used one portion of the 320 mix on its own during a couple of fairly unpleasant interval workouts, which totalled around 90-100 minutes, with around 60 minutes of real intensity within it, the rest easy recovery periods etc – thus matching the brand's recommended dosage per hour, and I certainly felt well fuelled throughout both of these sessions.
My energy levels didn't dwindle, and I could almost feel the impact of every sip of the drink, in the way you can get a bit of a rush from an energy gel (though this can be psychological of course). As always with nutrition products, it's hard to isolate the impact of the product from other factors such as sleep, recovery, and the all-too-rare good legs day. However, there was certainly a strong correlation.
Maurten also produces a 160 mix – that is, a half strength variant. This still packs in 40g carbohydrate, which is towards the upper end of what most other products provide. I tried these on some longer rides, where I was using bars and gels at the same time. As such, it's really tough to isolate the effects, but there were certainly no impacts on my stomach and I felt decent throughout the ride.
Flavour-wise, well, there is no flavour really. Maurten is proud to point out that there are only natural ingredients in its mixes, with no artificial preservatives or flavourings. As such, there's not a real 'flavour', but with the 320 mix in particular there is a notable sweetness, almost a cream soda/candy floss type taste. It's not unpleasant, but may take you by surprise. This isn't as noticeable with the 160 mix, being half the strength.
Furthermore, with the 320 mix there is a bit of a mouthfeel to it – a slightly thick, floury sensation in the mouth. It feels like a drink, but one dense with 'stuff', which indeed it is. This takes a few sips to get used to, but I didn't find it an issue.
One thing to be wary of with the 320 mix is the possibility of over-fuelling. If you were to use it in combination with some bars and gels, there's the chance of exceeding the magical 90g carbohydrate/hour threshold that your body can take on. Doing this could lead to possible stomach upset or, more simply, the pooling of the surplus energy as fat reserves. Given that, I'd suggest you use it in isolation, during an event that you know is going to be hard – a road race, criterium, time trial, longer turbo trainer session and so on – where you're not likely to take on any other form of nutrition.
Another thing to note is that the drinks mix doesn't seem to contain electrolyte – so on a long or hot ride, you may want to consider an electrolyte tab in your other bottle. The website makes passing reference to your needing electrolytes when training, but the ingredients list of the mixes doesn't include any of the typical salts you see in an electrolyte mix.
As you'd expect, a new product from a small brand is pricey, with a box of 14 servings of the 320 mix costing €44.80 (£40 from Achilles Heel), or a box of 18 servings of the 160 mix costing €39.20 (£35 from Achilles Heel). However, when comparing this with the only direct competitor, Science In Sport's Beta Fuel (the only other 80g/serving drink on the market), which costs £30 for a box of 12, you can see it's at a similar level.
Also, if you think about the price per gram of carbohydrate, you're comparing Maurten's 320 mix to, say, an energy bar and a serve of 'normal' drinks mix, the two of which together would comprise Maurten's 80g carbohydrate and probably cost in excess of £2 as a bundle. So in that respect, Maurten isn't so bad.
So, Maurten is a super-powerful mix that seems to deliver a real kick. The only things to be wary of are a slightly unusual taste and texture, but after one test run you'll adapt. Is this the future? Could be.
A very powerful product with only a few small drawbacks, which you can soon get used to
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Maurten Drink Mix 320 Box
Size tested: Box of 14 servings
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Maurten is, in its own words, a 'carbohydrate-rich and natural sports drink that our bodies can tolerate'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Maurten's website states a lot about the science, but the main thing to note is that the product works as follows:
'Mix the Drink Mix with water, and you'll have a liquid sports drink containing high concentrations of carbohydrates. The drink instantly converts to hydrogel in the acidity of the stomach, encapsulating the carbohydrates. The hydrogel then enables a smooth transportation of the sports drink through the stomach to the intestine where the water, salt and carbohydrates are absorbed.'
The drink kept me very well fuelled on my test rides. The 320 mix delivers that sense of a quick energy boost that you sometimes get from a gel.
The boxes are pretty pricey, but as an innovative product, it's to be expected. The drink prices up on par with the only other competitor, Science In Sport's Beta Fuel.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The drink performs very well at fuelling high-intensity training, and didn't cause me any stomach issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The powerful energy punch and lack of impact on the stomach.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The taste and texture took a few sips to get used to, but was not a massive issue.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The drink prices up on par with the only other competitor, Science In Sport's Beta Fuel.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The drink deserves a good score – something around a 9 – for its awesome fuelling potential and clever science. However, I think it could be adapted/improved a little bit to make it slightly more user-friendly, namely by making the texture a little more 'normal'. A lower price would help too. These points knock the drink down to a still very respectable 8/10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCR / Cannondale Supersix My best bike is: Giant TCR
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding