That’s because Vitargo draws in a very small quantity of water, so the energy in its patented starch formula goes where it’s supposed to go – and gets there fast.
Vitargo is created and processed in south-east Sweden, in a ‘closed system’ factory which produces only the starch that makes up the formula, but our web research brought up at least two companies which use Vitargo in their similar-sounding products, but perhaps not in such a closed system.
So, since imitation might just be the highest form of flattery, as the cliché goes, we looked into Vitargo to see what was so great about the real thing.
Vitargo is a sugar-free carb for fuelling, before and during intense training and recovery afterwards.
It can be made into a drink, a gel or pudding, frozen and mixed with any other low/zero carb nutrition product.
Drink flavours include unflavoured, tropical fruit, orange, grape and melon.
We’re told it’s used by medical professionals – especially before and after operations – because it requires less blood to digest, so that the patient’s blood and energy can go where it’s most needed for repair and recovery.
However, research we’ve done on barley indicates it can interfere with blood sugar control – especially during and after surgery.
Barley contains gluten, and even though the makers of Vitargo claim it’s gluten-free, we’ve found reviews stating that users have reacted to it ‘as though it had gluten in it’.
Other possible side-defects can include allergic reactions and interference with the body’s ability to control blood sugar.
Before we get into how much it costs, it’s worthwhile figuring out how much Vitargo you’re actually going to need. For each 90-minute training session it’s recommended you take 2 scoops of Vitargo beforehand, another couple of scoops during your training, 2 scoops immediately afterwards and then, 90 minutes after that, another 2 scoops.
That works out at 8 scoops per training session – so how much training are you planning on doing each month? If you’re looking at one session every 10 days, then ideally you should be taking advantage of Vitargo’s ‘monthly subscription’, where for $62.99/month you’ll automatically get a 25-serving tub delivered to your door via free ground shipping.
Any more sessions than three a month, then you’d need to consider a subscription for the next size up – the Vitargo 66-serving Bucket. This would set you up neatly for your twice-weekly training sessions, for between $145.99 and $154.99 each month.
If you train more often than that, well, you do the math.
OK, Vitargo is a starch. It’s a carbohydrate. And it’s pricey – especially when you’re training for 90 minutes or longer more than twice a week.
Maybe the additional cost covers the process that gives Vitargo its attractively named ‘improved gastric emptying rate’, because one of its major selling points is exactly that – the speed at which it passes through the stomach and begins to replenish glycogen levels in muscle tissue.
But our concern is the difference of opinion we’ve found about barley – the major ingredient. Where one source – coincidentally the one trying to persuade us to take out a monthly subscription to Vitargo – wants us to think that barley’s ideal for blood sugar control in pre- and post-operation situations, elsewhere on WebMD we’re told otherwise. There, we’re told we should be avoiding barley for a couple of weeks before any operation, and for a couple of weeks afterwards, purely because it can affect how our blood sugar levels are controlled.
So because of the price and the conflicting advice (we know who we’d rather believe) we’re going to take our chances without normal, unimproved gastric emptying rate and reject Vitargo.
We’ll start off by saying we’re not happy about that difference of opinion regarding barley’s effect on pre- and post-op blood sugar levels, but we’re impressed by the performance difference between Vitargo and other carb replacement supplements.
Blood sugar levels raise quicker, mainly because of the speed at which Vitargo – in whatever form – liquid, bar, gel – leaves the stomach and goes to work helping muscles to recover during and after workouts.
Before training, take 1 or 2 level scoops with water. During training take 1 or 2 level scoops with water. After training, take 2 scoops as soon as possible, preferably mixed with 20–25 grams of a protein source. If you’re training for a long time, like 1-1.5 hours, then you’ll need to take another 2 scoops 30 to 90 minutes later.
And if Vitargo makes those usual stomach cramps a thing of the past, then so much the better.
Unfortunately, looking through the American dealership’s website and finding their plans for product improvement coming up in 2016 spoils that impression and looks, unfortunately, like a case of ‘load it, leave it and see who bites’.
Vitargo has been formulated to accelerate glycogen refuelling and recovery. It leaves the stomach faster than other carb supplements in order to boost energy levels higher and faster. It also helps you recover faster for your next training session, while preventing muscle protein breakdown.
The clinical studies available for download on the Vitargo website definitely give the impression that yes, it certainly does work. Two of them were done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, investigating both how fast Vitargo leaves the stomach and how well it replenishes glycogen levels, and the third, published in the Journal of Sports and Science tell us how well Vitargo improves performance during a followup training session.
One serving of Vitargo contains 280 calories and 70 mg of carbohydrates.
Its major ingredient is fractionated barley amylopectin. Plants use amylopectin to support their energy supply, and “fractionating” is the process of separating any mixture into component parts.
Barley might lower blood sugar levels or cause an allergic reaction in those sensitive to cereal grains such as rye, wheat corn or rice.
There’s no caution notice on the company’s website, but WebMD considers barley (in sprout form) “possibly unsafe” for eating in large amounts during pregnancy.
We couldn’t see any reviews on the Vitargo website, so we went to Amazon – our go-to-website in cases like this – for more varied customer reviews than those we tend to find on sales websites.
And yes, we saw plenty of positive reviews there, as well as the kind of reviews you’d never see on a product website. For example, there was “You’re better off buying maltodextrin or other carb powders. Over priced. Works, but the value isn’t there” and other not-so-positive reviews along the theme of how expensive Vitargo is.
However, there were a couple of reviews which disturbed us because Vitargo is claimed to be gluten-free, but:
I got this because it said Gluten Free. It’s made from Barley, however, and although each batch is supposedly tested for gluten, this stuff still screwed with my gut and gave me foggy brain and acne. I’m not saying it’s not gluten free, but I personally reacted to it as though it had gluten in it.
Or, as someone else put it more concisely,
Might be gluten free, but there’s something else in it that gives me the same symptoms as gluten.
Now whether that’s because the process of fractionating is supposed to remove all the gluten from that barley, but doesn’t, is something we have yet to prove one way or the other. Watch this space.
Judging from the US distributors’ website, possibly … or possibly not: if you want to return an item you first have to contact customer service there by post, phone or email.
Presumably they’ll quiz you about why you want to send the item back in the first place and then let you know how best to proceed.
Vitargo has distributorships all over the world, and they’re easy to track down on the company website.
It’s also possible to buy it online at Amazon and eBay.
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Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.