Discover The Connection Between Simple Sugars And Fitness

Are simple sugars an important part of your workout nutrition?Simple sugars are the carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly into the body and converted into energy. Also known as simple carbohydrates, they are referred to as simple because they contain only one or two units of saccharides.

The food that we consume every day includes these sugars. Due to their structure, these nutrients can be broken down quite fast in the body to increase the levels of blood sugar. This increases the speed through which energy is delivered to the brain and nervous system. Read on to learn more about simple sugars and their role in fitness today.

Different Sources of simple sugars

Carbohydrates are divided into four groups:

  • Monosaccharides.
  • Disaccharides.
  • Oligosaccharides.
  • Polysaccharides.

The monosaccharides and disaccharides, which are smaller, are commonly known as simple sugars. Examples of monosaccharides are glucose, sucrose, and lactose. Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are called complex sugars.

Where can you get these nutrients? Simple sugars are abundant in specific types of foods. Natural sources of simple carbohydrates include milk, fruit, and vegetables. In these kinds of food, simple sugars exist in the forms of lactose, fructose, and maltose.

Processed foods also have simple carbohydrates in the form of refined sugar. Examples of these include dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, and molasses. They are able to deliver high amounts of energy to your body.

Refined Sugars

English: Glucose metabolism and various forms ...
English: Glucose metabolism and various forms of it in the process. Glucose-containing compounds are digested and taken up by the body in the intestines, including starch, glycogen, disaccharides and as monosaccharide. Glucose is stored in mainly the liver and muscles as glycogen. It is distributed and utilized in tissues as free glucose. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The brain relies on glucose which reaches it through the blood. As a general rule, those foods with a very  high glycemic index (GI)  should be avoided, since sugar is released and absorbed very quickly, causing oscillations in blood sugar levels.

If their intake is excessive, these hydrates pass to the liver and are transformed into fats, which are deposited in adipose tissue and blood in the form of LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Although these sugars can be useful in case of sports or if a diabetic person suffers from hypoglycemia, they can also cause overweight if their use is not controlled.

For metabolism to function correctly is necessary the action of compounds such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin or pantothenic acid. Therefore, eating refined sugar is less healthy than doing it naturally, in more complete foods such as fruit, or milk.

The effects of simple sugars on fitness

These sugars are important in fitness and exercise. That is because they are primarily important for delivering energy. Athletes, fitness enthusiasts and active individuals should get a daily dose of simple sugars before their workouts.

It is advised that they consume a healthy mix of all simple sugars before they work out. This is because science and dietetics have proved that the body is able to oxidize simple sugars when consumed together faster than if they are consumed individually.

For example, a combination of glucose and fructose is more effective than consuming the sugars individually. You can get this combination by eating foods such as popcorn and strawberries before your workout.

Seeing as the two main sources of simple sugars are processed and natural foods, it is best to get your daily dose from natural sources. That’s because you can get other helpful nutrients and minerals along with the simple sugars.

For example, upon consuming a banana, you get fructose and fiber together. Not only does this deliver a quick shot of energy, but the fiber also prevents the simple sugar from being absorbed too fast. Hence, you can enjoy a slow-release of energy. A pre-workout snack of this nature is known as low-glycemic. Low GI foods cause sugar to reach the blood steadily and slower.

Should you consume simple sugars after your workout?

Simple sugars

It has already been proven that consuming a good mix of simple sugars before your workout is important. How about afterward? Well, you should also consume simple sugars after your workout. This is because the consumption jump-starts the process of recovery and muscle growth.

After you engage in a hard workout, your body has very low levels of glycogen and glucose. This is because they utilize these nutrients to get energy. During an intense session, you can reach a point where the levels of blood glucose and stored energy in the form of glycogen become so low that your intense workout simply cannot be sustained.

At this point, the body releases a hormone known as cortisol. It is a stress hormone that converts muscle tissue into protein and then into glucose for energy in a process known as gluconeogenesis. Cortisol breaks down the amino acids in the muscle into glucose. The entire process occurs in the liver and reduces the amount of muscle tissue in the body.

By consuming simple sugars after your workout, you can prevent the degeneration of muscle tissue. Furthermore, they stimulate the production of insulin which is an anabolic hormone which promotes the delivery of energy throughout the body.A good post-workout snack can contain a combination of dextrose and a whey protein shake. This provides you with high-glycemic and low-glycemic sugar sources all in one drink.


Ideally, you should give your body the sugar it needs from products that also provide nutrients and low calories. And if you opt for a product without added sugar, check that it is also low in fat and does not substitute sugars for artificial sweeteners.

The importance of simple sugars in the body cannot be understated. They are essential for the quick delivery of energy. In addition to that, they help to sustain energy and prevent the loss of muscle tissue after a workout. As such, athletes and fitness enthusiasts should consume simple sugars before and after the workout session. Doing so maximizes the intensity of the workout and stimulates positive results.


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