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Coach’s Corner: Why sugar is important

  • August 27, 2019
  • Sofia Marin

MAKE SUGAR YOUR FRIEND

When we talk about sugar, it sets off alarm bells. Rightfully so. With so many sugar-related diseases, it makes sense that we should be vigilant about how much sugar we consume.

However, there is a difference between unhealthy cravings and meeting your body’s demands during long-duration or high intensity exercise. To stay properly fueled, take in plenty of carbs and simple sugars when your body needs it most—this will ramp up your glycogen stores and keep you performing at your full potential.

But did you know sugar plays a vital role in hydration as well?

UNLOCK FASTER HYDRATION

It is established science that the combination of specific sugars and salts with water speeds up and improves fluid absorption in the body.

When it comes to hydration, the primary objective is to efficiently replenish the body water and salt lost in sweat to keep the body cool and functioning optimally.

As we know, sodium is an excellent hydration helper and an essential electrolyte in any rehydration solution. It’s the key electrolyte that allows fluid to move freely through the body and plays a vital role in nearly every cell function, making up for about 90% of the electrolytes we lose in sweat.

However, pair sodium with sugar and you’ve got a superior combination for speedy rehydration! Glucose increases the uptake of sodium and therefore water by the intestines. Without sugar, the constant flow of sodium and water into your bloodstream will slow down.

GLUCOSE AND SODIUM: A WINNING COMBINATION

When paired together, glucose and sodium are outstanding fluid co-transporters. They act like a big water truck that helps carry fluid across your intestinal cells and into the water spaces of the body. When combined in the right ratios, these two molecules activate an additional hydration pathway called the sodium-glucose co-transport. 

The combination of glucose and sodium will help carry significantly more water into the bloodstream than plain water alone. To boot, the sodium-glucose combo will also help prevent gastric distress and cramping. A win-win in our opinion!

Our Osmo Active Hydration mix includes a proprietary blend of two types of all-natural sugars: glucose and sucrose (or table sugar)—a disaccharide which is composed of 1 part glucose and 1 part fructose. By including two types of sugars, we have access to two transporters in the small intestine resulting in optimized hydration and faster fuel transport.

SUGAR PROVIDES RAPID FUEL

Did you know? Glycogen availability is the single most important limiting factor when it comes to performance.

Here’s a quick review: Our bodies predominantly burn carbohydrates for energy during exercise. The carbohydrates we eat are broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver, serving as the primary fuel source during high-intensity or prolonged activity. The problem is that our body’s glycogen stores are limited and require replenishment, especially during long or high-intensity exercise. 

If you’re doing continuous low-intensity exercise, your glycogen stores might last 2 hours without requiring refueling. However, ramp up the intensity and you’ll burn through your glycogen energy reserves in as little as 15 minutes. When glycogen stores are depleted, exhaustion occurs and you “hit the wall.”  

The advantage of taking in simple sugars during high-intensity or prolonged exercise is that they require minimal digestion time and help boost blood sugar quickly. Not only will these simple sugars replenish glycogen stores swiftly to meet the demands of training, but they will also help you fend off the dreaded bonk.

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