PrintThe Right Sports Drink for Exercise

Sports drinks containing fructose enhance exercise recovery, study reports.

Sports drinks containing fructose enhance exercise recovery, study reports.

With its blend of energy-supporting vitamins and minerals, Want More Energy?® can benefit anyone—the young, the weekend warrior, and the athletic—as an excellent during- or post-workout supplement to replenish nutrients in active bodies.

Now according to a recent study (1) from researchers at the Nestle Research Institute in Switzerland, and published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, sports drinks like Want More Energy? that contain fructose may be better at replenishing energy stores depleted during exercise compared with other sugars.

This study found that liver glycogen stores were more quickly restored in athletes that consumed beverages containing fructose or galactose (milk sugar), but not glucose. Glycogen is a polymer of glucose stored in liver and muscle. It’s readily broken down during periods of fasting or during physical activity providing the necessary glucose for cellular energy.

In this double blinded, triple cross-over, randomized clinical trial, ten healthy male athletes exercised to exhaustion on three separate days and then ingested a carbohydrate drink containing 65 grams of fructose, galactose, or glucose. Liver glycogen stores were then monitored every two hours during recovery.

The researchers reported that the beverages containing fructose or galactose restored liver glycogen faster than those consuming the glucose beverage. During exercise, low-glycogen stores can lead to low-blood sugar, the researchers explain, and may be a significant factor in exercise-induced fatigue.

“The liver plays a crucial role in preventing hypoglycemia during exercise and it is generally believed that strategies that enhance liver glycogen post-exercise will increase exercise capacity in a subsequent exercise bout,” the authors wrote.

Glycogen to Go

Glycogen stores are responsible for regulating blood sugar at night and providing cells with a continuous supply of glucose, the authors explain. These findings suggest that fructose leads to faster recovery and more readily supplies the body with energy for additional activity.

“Carbohydrate drinks containing fructose and galactose could help in situations where athletes have to exercise twice in one day with relatively little recovery,” the authors wrote.

While previous research has targeted muscle glycogen levels, the researchers felt that liver glycogen was a better indicator of exercise recovery. This study helps to demonstrate the importance of a variety of carbohydrates to support physical activity and glycogen status.

Facts on Fructose

Fructose, often the target of harsh criticism, is a natural sugar found in most fruits and vegetables. Food manufacturers often prefer fructose because of its higher stability and perceived sweetness, which leads to less use of sugar overall in food products. This monosaccharide is metabolized differently than glucose because it doesn’t stimulate insulin and must be metabolized in the liver, and, hence, is considered ideal for avoiding insulin spikes.

However, in excessive amounts (such as found in soft drinks) fructose can cause increased fat deposition within the liver; although results of a recent randomized controlled trial (2) suggests a diet containing moderate amounts of natural fructose from fruit may be more effective for promoting weight loss and reducing metabolic syndrome parameters than a diet low in fructose containing equal amounts of carbohydrates.

This latest study shows that consuming fructose, particularly after exercising, replenishes glycogen stores efficiently and is an effective fuel source for the body. Drinks like Want More Energy? provide the body with fructose—less than 8 grams, an amount comparable to eating an apple—that may facilitate recovery and support intense and prolonged physical activity.

References

1. Decombaz J, Jentjens R, Ith M et al. Fructose and Galactose Enhance Post-Exercise Human Liver Glycogen Synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318218ca5a

2. Madero M, Arriaga JC, Jalal D et al. The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial. Metabolism 2011. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2011.04.001

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