So far, you have always heard that sugar is harmful and you should avoid it, especially in its pure refined form. A mixture of water and sugar can, however, be useful as it will give the body valuable ingredients. A great deal of money is spent on marketing those energy and sports drinks but are they really worth the price when all you really need is water and a tablespoon of sugar?
Mary Poppins may of been right when she recommended adding a ‘spoonful of sugar’. Some of the benefits are:
Before or after sport
Drinking sugar and water helps for better recovery of your body. It is also the healthier option, because sometimes in sports drinks there are unknown substances that increase their effect. Energy and carbonated beverages, juices, and all kinds of packaged beverages are usually filled with corn syrup, sucrose and glucose. The concentration of these three ingredients is often too high and damages the body. A better source of energy is a glass of water with sugar once a day.
Easy to digest
Research suggests that glucose causes discomfort. If you have recently suffered from an irritable stomach, nausea or swelling, replace the sweet liquids with sugar water.
Helps sport more effectively
Research suggests that during exercise, the body increases its ability to process carbohydrates. At these times, it is better to fill the body with sucrose instead of glucose. This increases the body’s stamina.
The study : A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, when athletes consumed sucrose-based beverages instead of those that degraded in glucose, showed better physical performance. This is because every time you drink glucose before workout, they get a slight discomfort in the gut because of the difference in glycogen levels in the liver.
So are those sports drinks worth the price?
Not really, according to a new study by researchers in the UK, which found that just stirring some table sugar into water is all that’s necessary to stave off tiredness in endurance sports.
Researchers at the University of Bath tested the effects of both sucrose- and glucose-based drinks on long-distance cyclists to compare how good they were at preventing the decline 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,” said lead researcher Javier Gonzalez. “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.”
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 perspective, they’re quite different. 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 structure of these sugars affects the rate at which we can absorb them in the gut, with sucrose being faster. This means that glucose-only sports drinks can actually produce gut discomfort, leading the researchers to recommend simply stirring some sugar into water as a preferable method of making exercise easier to bear.
While all sugars will help restore your energy levels, it’s the rate at which they do so that becomes all-important when you’re engaged in demanding exercise – especially if performance-based results are important.
So what’s the ideal amount of sugar water you should be consuming when exercising? According to the findings, which are published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology & Metabolism, for optimal performance in sports like long-distance cycling – where exercise may last for over 2.5 hours – consuming up to 90 grams of sugar per hour, diluted to 8 grams of sugar per 100 ml, is the recommended amount.
Now admittedly, measuring out and mixing table sugar into tap water may not look quite as cool as chugging down a bottle of shiny branded sports drink, but you can’t argue with science. And think of all the money you’ll be saving. Just don’t forget to brush afterwards.
But what about electrolytes? After all, they’re one of the core substances energy drinks are specially designed to replenish, right? Luckily, if you search the web, there are about a zillion ways to make electrolyte-laden drinks in the comfort of your own home as well (although none are quite as effortless as just adding sugar to water).
- Resource – Science Alert