PowerBar offers a variety of products for many different types of sports, purposes and occasions. But what are amino acids really? And what does carb-loading actually mean? Our A-Z guide of sports nutrition gives you the answers about the ingredients, the different nutrients as well as their function. From amino acids to zinc.



The term ‘absorption’ more specifically refers to the uptake of substances (e.g. nutrients, other substances like caffeine) by the body.


Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. For a healthy adult there are 9 amino acids that are defined as indispensable (previously termed essential), i.e. they cannot be produced by the body itself and so have to be provided via food. They are: L-Phenylalanine, L-Leucine, L-Methionine, L-Lysine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Threonine, L-Tryptophan and L-Histidine.


Arginine is an amino acid that, among other things, acts as a precursor to the messenger nitric oxide (nitrogen monoxide). Nitric oxide is a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels) and therefore plays an important role in effective circulation.


See Vitamin C


Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the universal energy currency for all reactions requiring energy in the human body.


BCAA is the abbreviation for branched-chain amino acids and relates to the particular chemical structure of 3 amino acids. They include: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These 3 amino acids are essential for the maintenance and building of muscle protein.


Beta Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the human body and in food (e.g. fish, chicken breast), and is available as a food supplement. Beta alanine supplementation can be recommended for intense periods of training and in the preparation phase before competition.


The body mass index (BMI) is a measure for evaluating body weight in relation to height, i.e. is a measure of relative weight based on an individual’s mass and height (kg/m2). BMI allows the calculation of the known weight classifications: underweight, normal (healthy) weight, overweight, and obese. However, the application and validity of using BMI to classify weight categories is being questioned, as the body composition, i.e. muscle and fat mass, are not taken into consideration. It is possible for an athlete with low bodyfat and large muscle mass to be falsely classified as overweight or obese.


C2Max Dual Source is a scientifically developed carbohydrate mix supplying a source of glucose and fructose in a specially developed ratio. The 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose allows C2MAX to provide more energy to the working muscles per unit of time compared to glucose as the sole source of carbohydrate. Studies have shown that this can lead to improvements in performance during long duration endurance exercise. (e.g. Currell, K. & Jeukendrup, A.E. (2008): Superior endurance performance with ingestion of multiple transportable carbohydrates. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 40:275–281).


It isn’t just coffee that contains the stimulant caffeine, but other caffeinated beverages and enriched sports nutrition products do too. Caffeine consumption has several different effects on the body, and even as little as 75 mg of caffeine can improve mental performance. Consuming 3-4 mg of caffeine per kg bodyweight before and/or during endurance activity can improve endurance performance and reduce the rating of perceived exertion. However, caffeine works differently for every individual. Athletes who generally don’t tolerate caffeine well, or suffer from a sensitive stomach, should avoid this substance or use it sparingly according to tolerance.


Among other functions, the mineral calcium is involved in metabolism and important for proper muscle function and healthy bones and teeth.


Kilocalorie (kcal), mostly known as just as calorie, has its origin in the Latin word “calor” and means warmth. A calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to heat 1 litre of water by 1 degree Celsius from 14,5° C to 15,5°C. Energy supplying macronutrients have the following calorific values: protein 4 kcal/g – 17 kJ/g, carbohydrates (excluding alcohol and sugar alcohols) 4 kcal/g – 17 kJ/g, fat 9 kcal/g – 37 kJ/g and fibre 2kcal/g – 8kJ/g.


Carbo-loading can be described as “fuelling and enhancing/increasing the glycogen stores in the muscles”. It combines adaptations to training and a carbohydrate-rich diet in the days leading up to a competition. Effective carbo-loading can positively affect long duration endurance performance.


Carbohydrates are the primary energy suppliers of your body. They can be differentiated by how quickly or slowly they can be absorbed. Among the very rapidly absorbed carbohydrates are glucose and maltodextrin.


L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring nutrient that is responsible for the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria (power plants) of cells during metabolism. This is where fatty acids are broken for energy production.


Casein makes up approx. 80% of the proteins in cows’ milk. Casein provides a sustained slow release of amino acids into the blood stream, sometimes lasting for several hours.


Catabolism describes the ‘breakdown’ phase of metabolism. For example, long endurance activity leads to an emptying of the glycogen stores. If you supply the body with carbohydrates following exercise for the replenishment of the glycogen stores this relates to the anabolic or ‘building’ phase during metabolism.


Chloride is one of the 5 main electrolytes we lose through sweat. A relevant food source of chloride is table salt.


Collagenous protein (collagen) and gelatine are derived from fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones. They are among the low-quality protein sources.


Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that plays a central role during energy transport and buffering in every cell. Consuming 3g/day of creatine can enhance muscle creatine stores and as a result improve the performance during high-intensity, short-duration sprint activity and weight-lifting.


Dehydration (hypohydration or water loss) is the excessive loss of body water, or a lack of fluid in the body. Lack of fluid or water is one of the main causes for exhaustion and a reduction in performance during long periods of endurance activity. Even a 2-3% loss of fluid in relation to body weight during activity (based on the starting weight) can reduce both physical and mental stamina.


Synonymous with the term glucose. Dextrose is one of the fastest substances for delivering carbohydrates for the human body.


Dietary Fibre is the indigestible portion of carbohydrates and is mainly found in food derived from plants. It cannot be broken down by our digestive enzymes and therefore delivers only half the energy of carbohydrates. Dietary fibre is an important part of overall health and well being and supports many functions (e.g. bowel function).


Electrolytes (minerals) play an important role in fluid management, as well as muscle and nerve function. The 5 main electrolytes that are lost through sweat are: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride.


Fats are one of the macronutrients. Depending on the chemical structure they are classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fats are not just an important energy source, they also enable (depending on the type of fat) the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and are a part of the production of tissue hormones. Body fat represents the biggest energy store of the human body.


Fructose, typically know as fruit sugars and found in fruit and honey, is also an ingredient in C2MAX. Fructose and glucose are naturally found in combination as refined sugar (sucrose).


Synonymous with the term dextrose. Glucose is one of the fastest substances carbohydrates for the human body.


Gluten, from the Latin gluten “glue”, is a protein found in wheat and related grain species, including barley, rye, khorasan wheat (oriental wheat), oats and spelt. A small number of people react badly to gluten.


Carbohydrates can be stored as sources of energy in the human body, in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles: Muscle glycogen is a readily available source of carbohydrates for muscle activity. In contrast, the main function of glycogen stored in the liver is to maintain blood sugar levels.


A hypertonic drink has a higher concentration of osmotic particle density (defined by the components glucose and electrolytes) than exists in blood, i.e. blood plasma. This causes a slower supply of fluid to the body than for example an isotonic solution.


A hypotonic drink has a lower concentration of osmotic particle density (defined by the components glucose and electrolytes) than exists in blood, i.e. blood plasma.


Inulin is among the dietary fibres. See also dietary fibre.


Among others things, the mineral iron is responsible for the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin, which are required for the transport of oxygen in the blood. A lack of iron can reduce the ability to physically perform maximally and/or at a high level.


An isotonic drink has the same concentration of osmotic particle density (defined by the components glucose and electrolytes) as blood, i.e. blood plasma. This causes a rapid supply of fluids to the body.


The international unit for 1 kcal corresponds to the rounded value of 4 kilojoules (kj). See also calorie.


Lactose (milk sugar) is a sugar naturally found in cow’s milk.


L-Leucine is an essential or indispensable- amino acid. It appears to have a sort of ‘trigger function’ for muscle protein synthesis. (e.g. Churchward-Venne, T.A. (2014): Leucine supplementation of a low-protein mixed macronutrient beverage enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis in young men: a double-blind, randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 99(2):276-86 ).


‘Low Carb’ means ‘few carbohydrates’, and is a nutritional practice that is thought to optimise our metabolism through the consumption of very small amounts of carbohydrates.


Among the main macronutrients are the following energy supplying nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and protein.


Magnesium is one of the 5 electrolytes that are lost in the highest concentration through sweat. Magnesium has many important functions in our body. For example, this mineral can lead to a reduction of fatigue, is important for proper muscle function, and for a well-functioning energy metabolism.


Maltodextrin is a very rapidly available source of carbohydrates for the body. Maltodextrin is moderately sweet and is almost flavourless.


Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and secondary plant compounds. For a well functioning metabolism, e.g. for good health, and maximal performance a sufficient intake of micronutrients is essential.


Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as poly-unsaturated fats according to their chemical structure. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are both commonly found in marine oils and are involved in several bodily functions. For example they are important for normal heart function. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are involved in the regulation of inflammatory processes.


The pH scale is a measure of the acidity, neutrality or alkalinity characteristic of an aqueous solution. A pH value of 7 for an aqueous solution is classified as neutral (e.g. pure water), a pH value > 7 is classified as alkaline (lye pastry, part of pretzel products), and a pH value of < 7 is classified as acid (i.e. stomach acid).


Potassium is one of the 5 electrolytes that are lost in the highest concentration through sweat. Among other functions, potassium is important for muscle and nerve function.


Protein counts as one of the most important building blocks for all living beings. It consists of amino acids and its primary function is the building and maintenance of bodily substance. Among other things it is a structural element of parts of cells, muscle fibres (actin and myosin), tendons, bones and cartilage, as well acting as a building block for defence mechanisms responsible for the immune function.


Coenzyme Q10 is classified as an ubiquinone. It is a coenzyme that is made naturally in the body, as well as consumed as part of food products (e.g. meat, poultry, nuts). Ubiquinone plays a part in the energy production within cells of the body.


Secondary plant products are substances that give plant foods colour, smell and flavour. A variety of health promoting properties are attributed to these substances.


Sodium (part of table salt) is essential for the regulation of body fluid, fluid retention, and for muscle and nerve function. Through sweat we lose considerably higher concentrations of sodium compared to other electrolytes.


Soy protein is isolated from soybeans. Soy protein contains all essential amino acids and is one of the highest quality plant proteins.


Sucrose is table or crystallised sugar and consists of the simple sugars glucose and fructose.


Sugar substitutes are naturally occurring, sweet tasting substances, and in contrast to sweeteners contain energy. Sugar substitutes such as isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol are not (or only partially) fermented by oral bacteria, meaning there is less of an increase in damaging acids, and therefore count as tooth friendly. However, large amounts of sugar substitutes have been shown to have a mild laxative effect on the body.


Sweeteners can be synthetically produced or natural, and are used as a substitute for sugar. They are practically free of calories.


Trans fats are unsaturated fats, which actually have similar properties to saturated fats. While some occur naturally in meat and dairy products, the majority in our dietcome from artificially hardened fats. In particular cheap margarine, baked goods und processed foods can contain large amounts of trans fats. The consumption of large amounts of trans fats is linked with health risks and should therefore be avoided.


Trisource Protein is a combination of 3 high-quality sources of protein: casein, whey- and soy protein.


Depending on their chemical structure, fatty acids can be classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The unsaturated fatty acids are divided into:

a) Monounsaturated fatty acids, e.g. oleic acid (olive oil has a particular high concentration of these fatty acids), which are regarded as good for your health, as they have a positive effect on the blood lipids / fats (blood cholesterol).

b) Polyunsaturated fatty acids are also essential fatty acids. They are either classified as omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in:

Linoleic acid – mainly in plant oils (e.g. wheat germ oil, sunflower oil).

Arachidonic acid – only in animal products e.g. eggs.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in:

Alpha-linolenic acid – e.g. walnuts, linseed, rapeseed oil.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – e.g. in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. EPA and DHA are involved in different functions in the body, and are for example  important for normal heart function.


Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is important for the development of connective tissue and cartilage, as well as being vital for the immune system. Acerola (Barbados cherry), blackcurrants, strawberries and broccoli are especially rich in vitamin C.


At the beginning of the 20th century vitamin D (calciferol) was identified as a fat soluble vitamin. However, the term vitamin is actually misleading. In scientific terms vitamin D is mainly classified as ‘secosteroid hormone” (note: secosteroid = chemical bond, derived from steroids; the most commonly known steroid is cholesterol). Vitamin D is important for the absorption and utilisation of the minerals phosphorus and calcium, and in addition to contributing to bone health is also very important for proper muscle function. A lack of or shortage of vitamin D can negatively affect health and performance in athletes.


Vitamins are organic compounds that the body is unable to synthesise, or not in sufficient quantities. They are involved in numerous metabolic processes. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body; water soluble vitamins in contrast are hardly stored at all. Depending on solubility, they can be classified as fat or water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamin A (retinol), D (calciferol), E (tocopherol) and K (phylloquinone), whereas the water soluble vitamins are the B group vitamin Bs, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), biotin, folic acid and vitamin B12 (cobalamin), as well as vitamin C (ascorbic acid).


Whey protein is a protein fraction of cows’ milk and is a high-quality source of protein. The body absorbs whey protein very quickly, and studies have shown the enhanced stimulation of muscle protein synthesis following training compared to soy protein.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute. The consumption of foods/drinks that contain sugar substitutes like xylitol instead of sugar cause blood sugar levels to increase less than they would after the consumption of sugary foods/drinks. However, care needs to be taken when using xylitol as too much can have a laxative effect on the body.


The mineral Zinc plays a part in the metabolism of macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbohydrates), and contributes to a normal functioning immune system. Shellfish (especially oysters), red meat, nuts and porridge oats are rich in zinc.