SUGAR: FRIEND OR FOE?
Sugar can be an athlete’s best friend, but don’t go running to the candy store!!
Sugar is a concentrated source of energy (4 Calories per gram). This means that sugary foods are great for anyone who needs a short-term energy boost, but not ideal of weight control is a priority. Sugar is not nutritionally dense, in fact, its only nutritional value is for energy. Sugar also doesn’t have anything that is detrimental to your health. If you never had another teaspoon of sugar in your life, your nutritional health would not be affected.
Sugar has a specific function in an athlete’s diet; ENERGY and can be found in functional foods such as:
Unlike candy these foods are specifically designed to deliver energy as rapidly as possible to your muscles during and after exercise.
Sugars you might see on Nutrition Labels:
Glucose or Dextrose
Absorbed quickly and put to immediate use by working muscles.
Fruit sugar, a simple sugar that can cause an upset stomach some athletes when used alone. However, when fructose is ingested in combination with other sugars such as glucose and sucrose, it promotes absorption.
Table sugar, a combination of fructose and glucose. When you see “sugar” on an ingredients label, it is referring to sucrose. This is a simple sugar that is quickly absorbed and rarely causes a problem with stomach upset.
A glucose chain. It provides a lot of glucose for energy, but it is far less sweet than simpler sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
“milk sugar” is absorbed slowly and may lead to an upset stomach if taken in alone before exercise.
A component of lactose. It is absorbed relatively slowly and like lactose may carry a higher risk of GI distress if taken in alone before exercise.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup is found in many energy bars. It is derived from sprouted brown rice and is a complex carbohydrate that can take two to three hours to be absorbed.
What does all this mean for you?
Make sure your sports drink and pre practice/competition foods has a combination of sugars (PowerAde does). Since different sugars have slightly different absorption rates and channels, you can maximize total absorption by consuming foods with a variety of sugars.
TIPS ON CHOOSING THE BEST SUGAR AT THE BEST TIME
tsp of sugar
Quaker 100% Natural Granola
Peanut Butter Cups
Starbucks Nonfat Vanilla Latte
Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino