Cutting-edge designer carbohydrate for performance and recovery

In brief

  • Vitargo® is a rapidly digested, high glycemic index carbohydrate that provides more carbohydrate per molecule (and does so more quickly) than traditional sugar sources
  • Because of its unique properties, Vitargo® provides more ‘bang-for-your-buck’ when it comes to the delivery of fuel in a sports or recovery drink for performance or muscle growth
  • Research-proven benefits of Vitargo® include the faster delivery of fuel during and after exercise, and faster refuelling between sessions – both of which contribute to benefits for performance compared to traditional carbohydrate sources


Vitargo® is a specially engineered ‘designer’ carbohydrate (CHO) derived from a variety of starch sources (but mainly barley) using a patented process that produces several advantages over traditional sources of carbohydrate such as dextrose, fructose, maltodextrin and other glucose polymers.

Firstly, Vitargo® is a high molecular weight glucose polymer. This means that the individual molecules of Vitargo® are, in fact, long chains of many individual glucose (sugar) units, but tightly wrapped in a unique branched formation. Therefore, more glucose is present in a smaller amount of the powdered form compared to other sugars. Secondly, this means that when mixed in water, Vitargo® has a lower osmolality per gram of carbohydrate than other sources of carbohydrate used in sports drinks i.e. fewer molecules of Vitargo® are needed in a drink to deliver the optimal amount of carbohydrate.

The combination of the high molecular weight and low osmolality when mixed in water means that Vitargo® is rapidly digested to glucose, readily absorbed into the blood, and is therefore a high glycemic index (GI) carbohydrate source that has minimal effects on bloating or feelings of fullness.

What does the research say about Vitargo®?

Compared to drinks containing maltodextrin or traditional sugar sources, a drink containing Vitargo®

    • (i) is emptied from the stomach and absorbed into the bloodstream at a faster rate, particularly in the first 10 minutes where the rate is two times greater [1]

    • (ii) results in higher blood glucose (~30%) and insulin (~80%) concentrations in the first 60 minutes after ingestion[2]

    • (iii) leads to faster (~70%) rates of muscle refuelling (aka glycogen synthesis) in muscle in the first two to four hours after exercise (interestingly, the actual rates of glycogen synthesis after ingesting Vitargo® are greater than most previously published research using a wide range of carbohydrate sources) [3]

  • (iv) resulted in a 20-25% improvement in endurance performance when consumed as a recovery drink between two intense exercise sessions [2]

What does this mean in practice?

Performance: Including Vitargo® as the main source of carbohydrate in a sports drink consumed during training and performance will benefit athletes by providing fast delivery of fuel to the muscle in large amounts without any adverse effects on gastrointestinal function. An optimally-formulated sports drink containing Vitargo®, e.g. CHO CHARGE®, is best used as a source of fuel and fluid during intense activities including: team sports such as Gaelic football, hurling, soccer, rugby, basketball, e.g. at half-time or breaks in play; endurance sports such as triathlon, road cycling and marathon; or high intensity sports such as tennis.

Recovery: Including Vitargo® as the main source of carbohydrate in a rehydration drink or protein-carbohydrate recovery drink will lead to faster delivery of fluid for rehydration, and higher blood glucose and insulin concentrations, which in turn will drive higher rates of muscle refuelling, and potentially muscle tissue repair and growth (aka protein synthesis). In simple terms, this will mean faster recovery between sessions. This is especially true for those athletes training twice per day or with short (<24 h) recovery periods between training sessions and competitions, where a product like RECOVERACE ENDURANCE® is highly recommended.

Other CHO sources: Similar carbohydrate sources exist on the market that are derived from various starches (e.g. waxy maize starch), but few, if any, have the unique properties of Vitargo®, or the peer-reviewed research to back up their usefulness to athletes.

Find Vitargo® at ROS Nutrition


CHO CHARGE® is an advanced formulation sports drink that combines Vitargo® and fructose (as carbohydrate sources) with electrolytes, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and B vitamins designed to fuel and hydrate your body before, during and after exercise. Whatever your sport or activity, CHO CHARGE® will help you to perform for longer at higher intensities. CHO CHARGE® is available in caffeinated and decaffeinated versions.


RECOVERACE ENDURANCE® is a carbohydrate-protein recovery drink as an optimal blend designed to promote rapid rates of glycogen and protein synthesis to enhance recovery and promote gains from training and competition. Using Vitargo® as the major source of carbohydrate, the 5:1 carbohydrate-to-protein blend is optimal for rapid recovery of fuel stores after exertion.


GUN POWDER® is a cutting edge pre-workout energiser drink that combines high energy supplements and stimulants such as creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline malate and caffeine to provide a kick-start to training and sports performances. Vitargo® is added to provide a small amount of rapidly digested carbohydrate that can aid the delivery of these ingredients to the working muscle.

Practice tip

Feedback from our athletes suggested that mixing of large amounts of Vitargo® in water can prove difficult or result in a lumpy texture. However, after investigation, it turns out that this is only the case when water is added to the powder formulation. We recommend the following method for mixing CHO CHARGE® and RECOVERACE ENDURANCE®:

Pour 300 ml of water into a ROS shaker, then add the powder, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Next, add the remaining volume of water and shake again for another 10 seconds. This mixing strategy will ensure all of the formula is properly dissolved in the solution. The key point is that the powder is added after the water and not before. If the drink is left to stand for an extended period of time, it is good practice to shake again before consuming.

Further reading

  • Leiper JB, Aulin KP, Sderlund K (2000) Improved gastric emptying rate in humans of a unique glucose polymer with gel-forming properties. Scand J Gastroenterol. 35(11):1143-9
  • Stephens FB, Roig M, Armstrong G, Greenhaff PL (2008) Post-exercise ingestion of a unique, high molecular weight glucose polymer solution improves performance during a subsequent bout of cycling exercise. J Sports Sci. 26(2):149-54
  • Piehl Aulin K, Söderlund K, Hultman E (2000) Muscle glycogen resynthesis rate in humans after supplementation of drinks containing carbohydrates with low and high molecular masses. Eur J Appl Physiol. 81(4):346-51