Rice syrup: nutrient-rich sugar alternative for allergy sufferers

Rice syrup

General about rice syrup

Even though rice syrup has only recently become popular in this country, it is one of the oldest sweeteners in the world. The sweet syrup originally comes from Japan, where it has always been used as a traditional sugar substitute.

In consistency and color, rice syrup resembles honey, which is why it is also known as vegan honey. However, differences from honey can be found in terms of taste, with rice syrup offering a slightly milder sweetness and a caramel-like flavor.

Production of rice syrup

To make rice syrup, rice must first be milled. The resulting rice flour is then dissolved in water and heated. Once the mixture is warm, enzymes are added to initiate the actual process of sugar breakdown.

Sugar cleavage turns the complex starch molecules into low-molecular sugar units. These are responsible for the typical sweet taste of rice syrup.

The next step is to filter the mixture, thus separating the solid components from the liquid. The pure juice is then thickened by thermal treatment.

The resulting rice syrup is composed exclusively of glucose and glucose compounds. This also distinguishes it significantly from household sugar, which consists partly of glucose and partly of fructose.

Valuable nutrients for athletes

Of the carbohydrates it contains, the glucose in rice syrup plays the most important role. This is present either as a single sugar or as a double sugar – in the form of maltose. This means that two glucose molecules are linked together.

About one third of the glucose units are found as long chains – so-called oligosaccharides.

Fructose and sucrose are hardly found in rice syrup.

Rice syrup

Energy (kcal)

311

Carbohydrates (g)

77

Total sugar (g)

54

Glucose (g)

23,2

Maltose (g)

30,4

Fructose (g)

< 0,2

Sucrose (g)

< 0,2

Protein (g)

0,5

Fat (g)

0,2

Minerals/ trace elements

Potassium (mg)

100

Phosphorus (mg)

63

Magnesium (mg)

29

Calcium (mg)

14

Iron (μg)

1000

(Frusano, 2018; Werz)

What makes rice syrup interesting for athletes are the minerals and trace elements it contains. These are increasingly lost through sweat. Rice syrup can therefore help athletes to meet their increased micronutrient requirements.

You can find out more about micronutrients HERE.

Of the micronutrients contained, potassium is present in particularly high amounts. Although the risk of a potassium deficiency is rather low, it still makes sense to supply potassium externally during high loads.

Potassium is important for, among other things:

  • Transmission of the nerve impulses
  • Maintenance of rhythmic cardiac work and contraction of cardiac muscle cells.
  • Regulation of the pH value

If there is an undersupply of potassium, this can lead to muscle dysfunction, among other things.

High glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure to determine the effect of a carbohydrate source on blood glucose levels.

The GI is calculated by comparing the blood glucose curve after the consumption of various carbohydrates with the blood glucose curve after the consumption of glucose. The two curves are then superimposed.

The glycemic index of rice syrup is very high at 98. This means that the blood sugar level rises quickly after consumption. For athletes this means: fast energy.

So before or during training, it makes sense to use products with rice syrup. What is important for good sources of carbohydrates for athletes*, you will learn HERE.

Good sugar alternative for allergy sufferers

Rice syrup is good for people with various intolerances.

As we have already heard, rice syrup is practically fructose-free. This makes it particularly interesting for people with fructose malabsorption.

Fructose malabsorption is the impaired absorption of fructose in the small intestine. This disorder affects about 10-20% of the adult population and can cause abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence, among other symptoms.

Even people with celiac disease can use rice syrup, because it is gluten-free.

Celiac disease is an immunological disease of the intestine, triggered by the proteins contained in cereals (summarized as gluten).

If affected persons consume foods containing gluten, an immune reaction of the intestine occurs. Chronic inflammation and involution of the intestinal villi occur.

Last but not least, rice syrup also benefits athletes with histamine intolerance. You can find out more about histamine intolerance HERE.

Rice syrup in sports nutrition

Due to the described advantages, we use rice syrup as an elementary ingredient in our RACE CARB X . We created the carbohydrate concentrate together with world-class triathlete Laura Philipp especially for long-term endurance competitions.

The special mixture of different carbohydrate sources (besides rice syrup also tapioca starch and fructose,) makes it possible to absorb up to 120 g of carbohydrates per hour – when taking 150 ml of the concentrate.

Please note: We recommend to test such high dosages in advance of a competition (“train the well”), so that the tolerance is given in any case!

Final note on sweetness

The sweetening power of rice syrup is significantly lower compared to household sugar. This is due to the proportion of polysaccharides in rice syrup, which reduces the sweetness somewhat.

However, the lower sweetness may tempt you to consume more of it. So if you use rice syrup often, you should keep that in mind 😉

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