Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

Does this sound familiar? You know the importance of feeding your body for health and performance; you eat a well balanced diet of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains and stay away from processed foods. You’re careful to choose water over soda and a certain grocery store gets more of your paycheck than you might like, but you’re committed.  So why, then, haven’t you upgraded your sports nutrition? Why settle for products that claim to be for athletes – but are filled with ingredients that provide no benefit – and some that have ingredients that been proven to be actually pretty scary?Is it because you don’t know that the ingredients out there are actually pretty scary?

Take a look at the sports nutrition you have in your cabinet. If yours contains anything other than glucose as the source of carbohydrate, your body had to digest it, turn it into glucose so that your body can use it.  You are also getting byproducts from digestion of these sugars -  lactic acid and triglycerides – which provide no benefit and can cause cramping, bloating and GI distress. This all has to happen while you are working out! Yikes, that’s a lot going on. Wouldn’t you rather have your body focused on the task at-hand?

And what's more scary about the other carbohydrates? Sucrose, fructose and high fructose corn syrup have been shown to be the leading cause of many diseases. Authority Nutrition explains this in a very easy way to understand:

“Sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup both supply a significant portion of the total calories in a standard western diet.

They both consist of two simple sugars: glucose and fructose. 

Glucose also comes from starches like potatoes, our bodies produce it and every cell on earth has glucose in it. Glucose is a molecule absolutely vital to life.

Fructose, however, is not. Humans don’t produce fructose and throughout evolutionary history have never consumed it except seasonally when fruit were ripe.

Glucose and fructose are metabolized very differently by the body.

The key thing to realize, is that while every cell in the body can use glucose, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts.

When people eat a diet that is high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat.

Lustig and other scientists believe that excess fructose consumption may be a key driver of many of the most serious diseases of today. These include obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.”    

And how about highly processed carbs that come with a long list of potential side effects? Here’s a quick excerpt from Livestrong, explaining the downsides of maltodextrin, a common ingredient in sports nutrition products:

“The consumption of maltodextrin has similar side effects and health risks as most food additives. These side effects include allergic reactions, unexplained weight gain, bloating and flatulence. Specific allergic reactions associated with the use of maltodextrin include rash, asthma, itching and difficulty breathing. If you experience any allergic reaction or other side effect after consuming maltodextrin, you should discontinue use and consult with a medical professional. If you're using maltodextrin supplements, depending on the brand you buy, they may have 200 to 250 calories per serving, plus more calories if you mix it with a caloric beverage such as fruit juice. If you’re not active enough to burn all the calories, maltodextrin supplements can lead to weight gain.”

Are you scared yet? We’ve only scratched the surface, and don’t think you’re off the hook because you eat real or whole foods during workouts. The truth is that your body works hard to convert your food into glucose so that you get the energy from it.  That process  just isn’t as effective, quick or gentle on your stomach as taking pure energy (glucose). Save the whole food nutrition for the rest of the day and give your body what it really craves during exercise – energy in the form of glucose. 

Learn more about the science of GLUKOS: