What Is Palatinose?
Isomaltulose is a pure, white, crystalline carbohydrate derived from the natural source of sucrose. It can be found in e.g. honey and sugar cane extract. Isomaltulose (a-D-glucopyranosyl-1,6-D-fructofuranose or palatinose) is a disaccharide with a structure similar to that of sucrose (i.e. sugar - the most well known disaccharide of glucose and fructose). With a glycemic index (GI) value of 321, it is classified as a low-GI carbohydrate.
Where is Palatinose From?
Isomaltulose is produced in a biotechnological process and applied as a functional carbohydrate because of its distinct nutritional and physiological properties. Large scale manufacturing of isomaltulose from beet sugar became possible only after the discovery of a natural enzyme activity with the unique ability to modify the molecular structure of conventional sucrose.
As shown below, isomaltulose is made from sucrose by enzymatic rearrangement of the alpha 1,2 linkage between glucose and fructose to an alpha 1,6 linkage, still combining the glucose and the fructose molecule.
Consumption of isomaltulose is best known for its ability to reduce postprandial glucose and insulin concentrations compared with sucrose in healthy2-7, impaired glucose-tolerant8, and T2DM subjects3, 4. Unlike sucrose, isomaltulose is slowly digested by the intestinal brush border enzyme isomaltase9, 10; the resulting monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) are completely absorbed and metabolized 6, 11-13.
Benefits for Metabolic Syndrome
The area of health where isomaltulose is thought to provide the most potential is that of the metabolic syndrome and the associated issues of blood glucose control, insulin resistance and obesity. A study of 20 obese men with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance found that the simple substitution of isomaltulose for sugar (in the order of 75g over two meals) lead to significantly lower glycemic and insulinemic responses as well as enhanced fat oxidation. Therefore, researchers have suggested isomaltulose may hold promise in the long-term treatment for metabolic syndrome14.
Benefits on Incretin Hormones
Recent research has examined the possible role that incretin hormones may play in isomaltulose beneficial effects on blood glucose control and insulin resistance. This research has discovered that when compared with sucrose, isomaltulose produces a much higher increase in the incretin hormone called glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 is one of the incretin hormones that are secreted after food intake to facilitate glucose disappearance by stimulating glucose-dependent insulin secretion. The cells that secrete GLP-1 are located in the lower part of the small intestine, which is why isomaltulose (why is digested much slower) is thought to elicit a greater secretion of GLP-1 than sucrose14. One of the rolls of GLP-1 is to stimulate insulin and inhibit glucagon release, which results in a decrease in glucagon concentrations after isomaltulose administration7, 15.
Benefits on Sports Performance
When given to healthy trained males at a rate of 1.1g/min, isomaltulose lead to a higher rate of fat oxidation than an equivalent amount of sucrose. This was likely due to the fact that insulin levels following isomaltulose ingestion were also lower than when sucrose was given. But using isomaltulose instead of sucrose during exercise lead to a higher usage of the body’s own glycogen stores, presumably due to the slower rate of digestion. Therefore isomaltulose can be considered an alternative carbohydrate source in cases where athletes want an energy source but are looking to elicit a stronger training adaptation from a given session.
As a result of the unique alpha 1, 6 linkage that combines the glucose and fructose that make up isomaltulose it is hardly fermented by oral microbes and can even inhibit the formation of insoluble glucans. pH-telemetry tests confirmed the non-cariogenicity of isomaltulose making it an ideal alternative to sucrose, glucose, maltodextrin and other highly digestible and highly fermentable carbohydrates16.
Because it serves as a carbohydrate source, isomaltulose can be stacked easily with a variety of nutrients and/or supplements. A common trend is for individuals to combine isomaltulose with protein powder in the case of a post-workout mixture. Another popular option is to combine isomaltulose with a bcaa supplement and use as an intra workout or with popular pre workout nutrients like creatine, beta-alanine and citrulline.
Safety of Palatinose
Because isomaltulose is a naturally occurring sugar in nature, it is thought not to carry any undesirable side effect or safety concerns. The branded form of isomaltulose (i.e. PalatinoseTM) has been approved as a safe sucrose substitute by the Food and Drug Administration of the US; Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan; and the Commission of the European Communities16.
Isomaltulose most typically occurs as part of a carbohydrate blend in mass gainers. Many mass gainers seek to offer a range of high GI and low GI carbohydrates so as to provide a ‘staged’ release of energy. While it is possible to find some stand alone isomaltulose supplements, they are relatively uncommon. Most of the time, isomaltulose is listed under its brand name of Palatinose.
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- Maeda A, Miyagawa J, Miuchi M, Nagai E, Konishi K, Matsuo T, Tokuda M, Kusunoki Y, Ochi H, Murai K, et al. Effects of the naturallyoccurring disaccharides, palatinose and sucrose, on incretin secretion in healthy non-obese subjects. J Diabetes Investig 2013;4:281–6.
- van Can JG, van Loon LJC, Brouns F, Blaak EE. Reduced glycaemic and insulinaemic responses following trehalose and isomaltulose ingestion: implications for postprandial substrate use in impaired glucose-tolerant subjects. Br J Nutr. 2012;108:1210–1217.
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- Tamura A, Shiomi T, Tamaki N, Shigematsu N, Tomita F, Hara H. Comparative effect of repeated ingestion of difructose anhydride III and palatinose on the induction of gastrointestinal symptoms in humans. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2004;68:1882–7.
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- Ang M & Linn T. Comparison of the effects of slowly and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates on postprandial glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(4):1059-68.
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