32Gi is a popular choice among endurance athletes and many of my clients have used one of the 32Gi products at one time or another. I assume if you are reading this review you too may have tried it as a fuel for exercise or are considering it as an option. Either way it would be great to hear your comments below.
32Gi gets its name from the glycemic index (Gi) of its main ingredient, isomaltulose. A Gi value of 32 is classified as “low” according to the tool which was first developed in the 1980s to evaluate the rate of effect certain foods had on blood glucose levels. For more background into the Gi concept you can READ HERE. I have never been a proponent of using the Gi of foods for recommendations due to the many inconsistencies it possesses but it is the starting point for this review.
Isomaltulose is a sugar, a disaccharide (two different sugar molecules) made up of glucose and fructose. It is found in small quantities in honey and sugar cane but is predominantly a commercially manufactured sugar that is gaining support for its use due to the dampened blood glucose and insulin response it produces after consumption. Isomaltulose has been shown to be well absorbed (±95%) and well tolerated with no apparent short-term adverse health effects. There is concern amongst some regarding the long-term use of it due to the fructose content and the associated effect on cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health that we associate with fructose, but whether this is an issue when supplied during exercise is still unclear. It may be that the metabolic response to the ingestion of a sugar of this nature may be more beneficial than these concerns highlight. While isomaltulose delivers the same amount of sugar per gram as other carbohydrates the delayed absorption and metabolism of the sugar reduces the impact on blood glucose and insulin which may benefit long-term health outcomes in athletes, although this remains to be proven.
Studies on the use of “low Gi” carbohydrates around exercise have provided a plethora of data but unfortunately there is little uniformity in the design of these studies which means that the timing of intake, amount of carbohydrate, type of exercise etc etc vary with each new study making it difficult to draw conclusions. However I will do my best to sum up the differences between low Gi and high Gi carbohydrates used around exercise based on research available.
- 2-3 hour pre exercise intake of low Gi fuels may increase fat oxidation
- 45 minute pre exercise intake of low Gi fuels may improve tolerance for otherwise carbohydrate sensitive athletes
- pre exercise intake of low Gi fuels reduces the blood glucose and insulin response
- pre and during exercise intake of low Gi foods may reduce the inflammatory response to exercise (very little research)
- carbohydrate intake during exercise negates the Gi effect of pre-exercise intake
- the use of low Gi foods as a recovery option shows not benefit over high Gi foods as long as total carbohydrate intake is met
- the Gi of carbohydrates used before or during exercise has NO EFFECT on performance
So in a nutshell, there is no effect on performance when choosing a fuel based on Gi. Your primary goal should be achieving your recommended total carbohydrate intake. However for people with tolerance issues or those who suffer from rebound hypoglycemia, using a low Gi product could be beneficial. If you are looking for a product to take 10-45 minutes before training or an event that requires carbohydrate a low Gi option may reduce the risk of hypoglycemia or gut tolerance issues. Similarly this can be continued during exercise. One serving provides 47 g of carbohydrate which lies between the 30-60 g per hour you may need depending on your weight and your sport.
A few comments in relation to the the claims on the product:
- Glucose Stabilisation? Yes. See above.
- Promotes Fat Burning? It depends. Yes if taken ±2-3 hours before exercise without any carbohydrate intake during exercise.
- Contains Electrolytes? Yes. A little bit of sodium and potassium.
- Balanced & Sustained Energy? I don’t know what balanced energy is but a slower uptake means more sustained but again this depends on what else you are taking.
- Child and Diabetic Friendly? I would say it is better for diabetics but I cannot see why children should use a product this high in sugar.
The sachets of 32Gi (±R19.50 for 50 g) are available in orange, raspberry, peach and lime and the product is also available in a bulk tub (±R250 for 900 g) as well as in tablet form (each tablet providing half the amount of carbohydrate). I have used the orange flavoured drink both before and during training and found it to be good tasting, not too sweet and well tolerated.
In terms of athlete safety 32Gi is not registered with my pick of safe supplement guides, Informed Choice/Informed Sport. I attempted to contact them regarding testing and any other literature on the product but have been disappointed not to receive any feedback. It is likely to be low risk but for competing athletes I cannot safely say so without confirmation.
I will look at reviewing the other products in this range in due course so check back for more. If I ever get feedback on product safety I will update too.
*Samples paid for by author