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Study Shows Sugar Mixed with Water is More Effective Than Some Energy Drinks

A new study carried out in the UK suggests, by simply adding a spoonful of sugar to water, cyclists could receive the same performance boost, as many sports on the market provide, which merely contain glucose.

According to the study, 14 experienced, male cyclists were provided water containing sucrose, as opposed to glucose, which in turn yielded the ability to “cycling better”. 

Prior to the study, cyclists were required to fast for 12 hours, before they were randomly given water containing either glucose or sucrose – during a three-hour cycling session.

During those three hours, each cyclist was required to switch drinks twice during the trial, while MRI scans were used to assess the impact the both mixtures had on their performance.

Lead researcher, Dr Javier Gonzalez, commented: “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, while we have a relatively good understanding of the changes in our muscle carbohydrate stores with exercise and nutrition, we know very little about optimizing liver carbohydrate stores during and after exercise.

“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 maximize carbohydrate availability, sucrose is probably a better source of carbohydrate to ingest than glucose,” he added.

“While the findings are interesting,” notes an analysis of the findings on the NHS Choices website, “this is a small study involving just 14 male endurance cyclists.

“The results can’t inform us of the effects in women, less experienced exercisers, or people performing different types of exercise.

“Even for male cyclists, a much larger sample may give different results.

The research adds: “This study does inform us about how the body may use sucrose and glucose differently during exercise, but limited firm conclusions can be drawn about the best form of nutrition before, during or after exercise based on its results alone.”

While each helped the body maintain better glucose levels, it was water mixed with sucrose, that led to a better level of performance, which is soon to be published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Lastly, while there are many sports drinks on the market that contain both sucrose and glucose, there are a fair amount which only contain the latter. 

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