Refined sugar may contain no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar… it is essentially just pure energy – which is actually the point.
The famous energy spike and subsequent dip is not being denied and it is not ideal for every situation, however when your body is at its lowest and you need a quick boost that has an instant effect sugar is still ideal.
Whilst overconsumption of refined sugar may lead to severe health issues, it does still have a place – and a vital one at that – in many areas of nutrition, in particular in sports drinks, gels and supplements.
Without going into too much detail and getting overly scientific, it is worthwhile understanding what ‘sugars’ we are talking about. Simple sugars i.e. sugar that is in the form of glucose, fructose or sucrose, which quickly breaks down into glucose or fructose, are easy to digest during exercise, particularly endurance sports where the digestive system may be compromised and therefore unable to effectively breakdown more complex carbohydrates to release much needed energy.
Glucose and fructose are important as they are monomers (or single units) of energy which mean they absorb directly into the bloodstream for even fast energy release. This is important as the more broken-down sugar molecules are, the easier they are to digest and the less likely they are to promote abdominal cramping and discomfort.
Interestingly the body also uses separate pathways to absorb glucose and fructose, so getting both may result in more energy being made in less time. This explains why forms of glucose and fructose are ultimately the primary ingredients in endurance sports fuel products.
Even natural or organic alternatives rely on the same chemistry to make them effective, for example, honey is made up primarily of glucose and fructose with the balance being water, maltose (bonded units of glucose), sucrose (fructose bonded to glucose), other carbohydrates (sugar) and minerals. Agave nectar, which is found in many natural energy supplements, is made up of 56% fructose and 20% glucose.
Even popular energy alternatives such as dates, tapioca and corn syrup are made up of combinations of glucose and fructose.
Essentially the evidence is that easily digestible sugar makes for easily digestible energy and despite the negativity regarding sugar, processed sugar has its place in the diet. This is not to say one can drink litres of high sugar fizzy drinks every day when one feels tired, however a high sugar drink can help get you to the end of that marathon or exercise session.
For an more information on sugar and managing sugar intake READ THIS INTERESTING ARTICLE.
Chemgrit Food supplies a number of different sugar products and ingredients and can advise you on the best product for your needs.