There’s a lot of money spent advertising activities and energy products as though they’re a vital, ‘scientifically proven’ element in any self respecting athlete’s course bag, but do you really guzzle containers of colored liquid just to make sure you are maximizing your performance rather than drinking a sugar in water mixture?
Errr not really!
So, why does adding sugar in water better than consuming energy drinks?
Analysts at the University of Bath analyzed the effects of both sucrose – and glucose-based beverages on long distance cyclists to evaluate how good these were at preventing the drop of carbohydrate stores in the body’s liver glycogen levels.
“The carbohydrate stores in our liver are vitally important when it comes to endurance exercise as they help us to maintain a stable blood sugar level. However, whilst we have a relatively good understanding of the changes in our muscle carbohydrate stores with exercise and nutrition, we know very little about optimising liver carbohydrate stores during and after exercise,” said lead researcher Javier Gonzalez.
Both sucrose – which in its refined form is the sugar many of us keep in our cupboards – and glucose are carbohydrates that are known as ‘simple sugars’. They’re quickly absorbed by the body to produce energy.
However, from a molecular perception, they’re not very same. Glucose is a monosaccharide, as is another sugar, fructose. When glucose and fructose combine, they make sucrose, which is classified as a disaccharide.
While many sports and energy drinks use sucrose, some use mixtures of glucose and fructose, and some purely use glucose. To your tongue, these all taste the same (ie. sweet and rather excellent), but when they’re broken down by the body, their differences become pronounced.
The molecular framework of these sugars affects the pace at which we can absorb them in the belly, with sucrose being faster. Which means sugar- sports drinks can actually generate gut distress, leading the researchers to recommend the method of just stirring sugar in water for generating a more straightforward exercise to bear.
While all sugars can help recover your energy degrees, it’s the charge at which they are doing so that becomes all-important in demanding exercise – particularly if performance-based results are important.
We [found] that the exercise felt easier, and the gut comfort of the cyclists was better, when they ingested sucrose compared to glucose. This suggests that, when your goal is to maximise carbohydrate availability, sucrose is probably a better source of carbohydrate to ingest than glucose,” said Gonzales.
There’s no doubt that, mixing sugar in water may well not seem great rather than chugging down a bottle of bright branded sports drink, nevertheless, you cannot fight with science. And consider most of the income you will end up saving. Just don’t forget to brush afterwards.