As part of the Nike #Breaking2 moonshot, Maurten provided the latest and greatest nutrition support to the athletes. Our friend Stefan Albinsson aka The Running Swede got a chance to interview his fellow countryman about Maurten.
Can you tell us the history behind Maurten, how was the idea of this super drink started?
The adventure started in 2015 with Mårten Fryknäs, one of the co-founders, who’s a scientist and amateur triathlete. Just like a majority of Ironman triathletes, he experienced GI distress when trying to fuel his body. Fryknäs started to look into the problem and realized that one solution could be the encapsulation of the carbohydrates in the hydrogel. The principle of carbohydrate encapsulation in the hydrogel is what Maurten, our products, and our technology are all about. Hydrogels have been used within the food industry for decades, but our application is something totally new.
In a short amount of time, top Elites started using Maurten, including the Sub2 project.
How did Maurten manage to get the word out?
We really don’t know ourselves, but I guess it’s a combination of hard work, devotion, and luck. There is a famous Swedish athlete that once concluded; hard training resulted in luck during races. Quite early, we got in touch with prof. Yannis Pitsiladis at the Brighton University who ran the Sub2 project. The Sub2 project identified several key factors for breaking the record and running at high speeds for an extended period of time, like in a marathon. One very important and very obvious is energy in the form of carbohydrates. Many runners have struggled with drinking sports drinks and end up with GI problems when trying to consume the amounts needed to avoid carbohydrate depletion. Yannis Pitsiladis understood our technology. Eventually, Kenenisa Bekele started using our drink during his sessions, as a part of the Sub2 project and when he ran one of the fastest marathons in history during the 2016 Berlin Maraton, people started talking about the bottle in his hand. That race generated a lot of attention.
Tell us about Eliud Kipchoges 02:00:25 time and the Breaking2:
We’re very proud of being a part of the world’s fastest marathon ever. Eliud Kipchoge used our 320 drink mix in the attempt at the Monza track as well as in his preparations in Kenya. It’s amazing what he and his entire team accomplished.
In the last couple of weeks, Maurten has been having athletes winning both Boston and London Marathon. What is the response you get from your elite Athletes, and how big part of the latest success/wins does Maurten has?
They are very happy of course. These runners are fine-tuned, they know their bodies like none else and usually immediately notice if something works or not. They are really ecstatic since they won but also pleased that they’ve tolerated the larger amounts of carbs. Many of them have a history of hardly drinking anything. In some cases barley water. I want to point out that there are several very important factors at play during a marathon, as well as the intense training leading up to the event, but science is quite clear, if your muscles have access to carbohydrates, they will perform better. Our products are tolerable and therefore the athletes’ muscles have access to energy.
How has the response/feedback been from your elite runners?
Fantastic – it’s actually unbelievable so far. We can’t really believe that we get that kind of response from the elites. It only makes us more confident that this is something that everyone deserves access to.
Do your Elite runners drink the same product that is for sale?
Yes – most of them use the Drink Mix 320.
Tell us to about the product and hydrogel.
Traditionally, our guts don’t cope well with carbohydrate-rich solutions during activity. This has limited the amount of the carbohydrates in sports drinks and it’s hard to find examples of sports drinks that contain more than 7% carbohydrates. Science has considered it as something totally impossible.
That’s where the Hydrogel comes in. When our drink hits the acid environment in the stomach, it instantly creates a hydrogel, a jelly-like material, that encapsulates the carbohydrates. The hydrogel works as a mean of transport to the intestine. The technology has enabled us to develop a sports drink that contains 14% carbohydrates that are tolerable.
Why Maltodextrin and Fructose?
Science shows that by combining different types of carbohydrates, more energy can be made accessible for the athlete. Elite athletes have the ability to make use of 60 grams of glucose per hour and 30 grams of fructose. In our product, the maltodextrin represents the glucose.
What flavors does it come in?
We don’t have any added flavors. Taste-wise it’s quite neutral. The Drink Mix 320 has a bit more sweetness to it compared to the Drink Mix 160. We’ve removed everything that the body don’t make use of and we ended up with two products, each containing only 5 natural ingredients.
How frequently do you use Maurten it during race/training?
Depends on what you’re doing, temperature and so on. But in theory, an elite endurance athlete can make us of about 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. A 500 ml bottle of our drink mix 320 contains 80 grams and one bottle of the 160 contains 40 grams. So if you consume one bottle of our Drink Mix 320 or two bottles of the 160 per hour you should be fine, energy-wise.
Can the powder be mixed as a gel, or are you planning to release a gel?
No, you shouldn’t tamper with the proportions between water and the mix. The hydrogel relies on certain ratios. We’re working very hard on new products that rely on this technology.
A lot of great products are coming out of such a small country as Sweden, why do you think Swedish companies are so successful and lately also in the sports industry? (Craft, Salming, Maurten…..)
I think that the big companies, like IKEA and Volvo, show every swede that it’s possible to make it in the big world. Then we have tech start-ups, like Spotify that revolutionized the music business and proved that something entirely new is possible. That combination – of big and new – shows every Swede that it’s possible to build something. Overall, many of us have a very critical mindset that constantly questions everything – that makes up for a good start-up mentality.
Maurten is now available in Europe, any plans to release Maurten in US.
We’re working very hard on launching in the US this summer, but we don’t have a set date yet, unfortunately. We’re very excited and really looking forward to being able to serve the US. We’ve received a huge interest from the States and hope that we can meet all the expectations.