What’s Really In Those Energy Gels And Chews For Athletes

Posted on July 2, 2014 by


by Sarah Klein, Huffington Post

Evaporated cane juice, fructose, sea salt, tapioca syrup, unsweetened chocolate, invert sugar syrup, cocoa powder, sucrose, confectioner’s glaze.

The ingredients in some of the most popular energy gels and chews for endurance athletes may seem surprisingly familiar (and perhaps not in a good way): They’re awfully similar to candy, with perhaps the occasional electrolyte or amino acid thrown in. But believe it or not, there’s a reason for the marked similarities, and it’s not necessarily a bad one.

Why gummy candy and a marathoner’s fuel share so many common ingredients boils down to what happens in the gut when you eat these types of products. Sugar, in its various forms, is an easily digestible source of the carbohydrates the brain and body need to sustain physical activity. Before these types of products were available, long-distance runners and cyclists really did take candy along for the ride, explains Liz Applegate, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis.

When you exercise, “you’re using up your stores of glycogen, your body’s stores of carbohydrates,” Applegate tells HuffPost. The body replenishes these stores with glucose, some of which is naturally floating around in your bloodstream, but more of which you need to ingest in “whatever simple form of sugary carbohydrates will keep you feeling good,” she says.



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