Sugar for athletes: natural substitutes

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Sugar for athletes: natural substitutes
Sugar for athletes: natural substitutes

Find out how advisable is the use of natural sweeteners and which one to give preference to. Sugar is literally the most controversial food item today. Moreover, it is found in some form (glucose or fructose) in almost all foods, including vegetables. Today, there is a trendy tendency to abuse sugar. On the other hand, there is every reason for this, since in large quantities this product is really harmful. We are talking now about white refined sugar.

This product has many side effects, such as flushing calcium out of the body. However, if you do not have health problems, then it does not make sense to completely exclude this product from your diet. Among other things, you most likely will not succeed, since sugar is found in many foods.

Today we will talk about what benefits or harm natural sweeteners can bring in sports. In this case, we will talk about replacing exclusively white refined sugar, which we add to coffee, baked goods, tea, etc. If earlier it was believed that sugar has a fairly large list of positive properties, then the results of recent studies have refuted this statement.

Excessive use of this product has a negative effect on the body. Elderly people should also limit the amount of this product in their diet. This is due to the ability of sugar to increase the concentration of cholesterol. However, we are not talking about a complete rejection of sugar, but only a reduction in its consumption. In old age, it is necessary to reduce the amount of carbohydrates by a quarter compared to the norm for a healthy young person.

Often, people notice the appearance of apathy and outbursts of activity when consuming large amounts of sugar. Today, many of us are increasingly deciding to switch to a healthy diet and are trying to find an alternative product to refined white sugar. This is extremely important for athletes who are also interested in the advisability of using natural sweeteners in sports.

Types of natural sugar

Varieties of sugar

Let's first take a look at the types of industrial sugar that are produced. This information can be useful for people who decide to start using natural sugar instead of white refined sugar.

Refined white sugar

White refined sugar, granulated and cubed

During the production of the product, sugar cane is treated with chemicals - sulfur dioxide, slaked lime and carbonic acid. Agree, not the most pleasant list of substances.

Cane brown sugar

Cane brown sugar on a spoon

The raw material for the production of the product is sugarcane juice, which is exposed to hydrated lime to eliminate various toxins. Note that many supporters of a healthy lifestyle use this type of sugar, considering it an excellent alternative to white refined sugar. It should be recognized that this product has a more complete chemical composition and taste in comparison with white sugar. However, in our country it is quite difficult to find it on sale and most often we come across a fake. Brown sugar is not a raw food product, as it undergoes a pasteurization process, due to which not only pathogens, but also enzymes are destroyed.

Beet sugar

Beet sugar

This product is made from sugar beet and, in fact, is also refined. During the production process, it undergoes processing at a temperature of about 60 degrees, as well as exposure to carbonic acid and lime.

Maple sugar

Maple sugar

In comparison with previous varieties of sugar, maple sugar can be considered more useful, since the sap of special trees is boiled down to the required consistency. This product has long been produced by Indian tribes, and today it is popular in Canada and the northeastern United States. By the way, it is also not a raw food product.

Jagre or palm sugar

Palm jagre sugar

It is produced in many Asian countries, and the raw material is the juice of flowers of some types of palm trees, most often coconut. One palm tree can produce about 250 kilograms of sugar throughout the year and the tree cannot be damaged. For the production of jagre, an evaporation process is also used.

There are other types of sugar that are quite rare and are used only in some countries.

Chemical and natural sweeteners in sports

Sweetener tablets and tea

With some of the more popular sugar types in mind, it's worth considering the natural sweeteners in sports, as well as the chemicals used in food. Note that scientists have counted about 140 reasons why you should limit the consumption of white refined sugar. If you decide to follow their advice, then the following information below will definitely be useful to you.

Chemical sweeteners

Sweetener tablets

Artificial sweeteners often taste sweeter than regular sugar and have lower energy values. This is great news for those looking to lose weight. But in bodybuilding, when gaining weight, this fact can be considered rather a disadvantage, because the calorie content of the diet should be high. You've probably noticed that many sports supplements use sugars.

In developed countries such as the United States and Great Britain, seven types of chemical sweeteners are permitted:

  • Stevia.
  • Aspartame - although according to official information this product does not harm the body, according to the results of unofficial research it is the most dangerous.
  • Sucralose
  • Neotam or E961.
  • Nutrinova or acesulfame potassium E950.
  • Saccharin - Can also be a health hazard.
  • Advantam.

Natural sweeteners in sports


During advertising of a product, you can often hear that it is natural, however, this does not mean its complete safety. Fructose was heavily promoted in the nineties, but it is now known that it can lead to obesity and negatively affect the brain. Note that the body of some people cannot process this substance normally. But that's not all, because some studies link fructose not only with obesity, but also with the development of diabetes.

Stevia is becoming more and more popular today, although it also cannot be called a completely safe natural sweetener in sports. It is often used during low-carb nutritional programs and to treat obese hypertension. Today it is much said that stevia has been used as food by the Guarani Indian tribe for many centuries. However, their diet was quite specific, primarily due to cannibalism. You should not idealize the way of food of this people. It should be noted here that representatives of this South American tribe also ate guarana, which is often used today in the production of sports food. Also, during one study on rats, it was found that the juice of this plant leads to sperm drying out by almost 60 percent. It should be admitted that stevia is not yet well understood at the moment.

Coconut sugar has long been positioned as a healthy alternative to refined sugar, but now there are several scandals associated with this product. Scientists have found that the harm of this natural sweetener in sports still outweighs the benefits.If you use this product in large quantities, then the negative effect on the body will be comparable to refined sugar. Moreover, in fact, coconut sugar is no different from refined sugar, except for raw materials. The benefits of this product are limited to the presence of nutrients in it, the dose of which is scanty, but this is not mentioned in the advertisement.

Agave syrup is much sweeter than refined sugar and has practically no negative properties, as well as positive ones. This product is one and a half times more sweet than our usual sugar, and at the same time it is one third more caloric. So far, scientists have not accurately determined the glycemic index of agave syrup, although the manufacturers indicate it and, in their opinion, it is lower than sugar. However, they also assure the naturalness of this product, although chemical processing is also included in its production cycle. In conclusion, we note that agave syrup contains a lot of fructose, the dangers of which we have already talked about.

As you can see, natural sweeteners in sports, like artificial ones, cannot be considered a safe alternative to refined sugar. However, we can advise you on a couple of products that, despite the presence of disadvantages, have a sufficient number and positive aspects.

First of all, it is honey, which is a rather powerful allergen and this should be borne in mind. However, at this point in time, it is honey that is the best alternative to refined sugar. If you decide to replace sugar with honey, then you need to find a reliable beekeeper supplier or pay attention to the products of well-known companies in supermarkets.

The second product is stevia syrup, and if you are not intimidated by the results of studies on rats and their seminal fluid, then you can try it. By the way, in our country, an analogue of this natural sweetener in sports is produced - Jerusalem artichoke syrup. The last product that can be recommended as an alternative to white sugar is sweet dried fruits.

But remember that they also have not only positive but also negative properties. It's up to you to continue using regular sugar or sweeteners. Today, there is no perfect sugar substitute and each of these products has negative properties.

For more on natural sweeteners, see here:

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