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Table 1. Characteristics of Common Sugars Used in Sport Foods
Carbohydrate
Dextrose/Glucose
Sucrose
Infinit
Nutrition
Fructose
Galactose
Maltodextrin
Infinit
Nutrition
High
Fructose
Corn
Syrup
1. Gastric
Emptying
Excellent
Excellent
Medium
Excellent
Excellent
Medium
2.
Gastrointestinal
Irritation
None
None
High
None
Low
High
3. Digestion
Requirements
None
Low
High
Low
Medium
High
4. Absorption
Easy
Easy
Mediumdifficult
Easy
Easy
Mediumdifficult
5. Exercise
Fueling
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
6. PostExercise
Glycogen
Repletion
Excellent
Very
Good
Poor
Poor
Excellent
Fair
7. Effect of
Fluid/Sodium
Absorption
Excellent
Good
Poor
Excellent
Good
Fair
8. Glycemic
Index
High
Medium
Low
Low
High
Medium
Variable
Definitions:
1. Gastric Emptying: The ability of a sugar to quickly leave the stomach and get
delivered to our working muscles.
2. Gastrointestinal Irritation: The presence of symptoms such as nausea, burping,
diarrhea, and stomach cramps that are solicited by a sugar.
3. Digestion Requirements: The length of time required to break down the carbohydrate
into its constituent components, ultimately becoming available for use. Some
carbohydrates are linked to several molecules and consequently, more steps are needed to
break down the carbohydrate.
4. Absorption: The ease at which a carbohydrate is digested and absorbed. The larger the
carbohydrate molecule, the more likely there will be remnants of the carbohydrate that
escape full digestion, leading to symptoms of flatulence, GI cramping, and diarrhea.
5. Exercise Fueling: The availability of a sugar once processed in the small intestine and
absorbed.
6. Post-Exercise Glycogen Repletion: How well the sugar replenishes lost glycogen
after a workout.
7. Effect of Fluid/Sodium Absorption: How well the sugar facilitates sodium absorption
from the gut and reabsorption from the kidney, ultimately aiding fluid and electrolyte
balance.
8. Glycemic Index: Measures the rate at which 50 grams of a specific carbohydrate or
sugar increases blood glucose levels above basal levels. High glycemic carbohydrates (aka
fast release carbohydrates) solicit a rapid rise in blood sugars whereas low glycemic (aka
slow release) carbohydrates solicit a slower rise in blood sugars.