A high fitness level may be achievable a little easier than you think – by adding a spoonful of sugar to your water bottle before working out. This method is “more effective than energy drinks,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The reason is that sucrose is easier for the body to process because it is made up of one glucose and one fructose molecule linked together.
The research evaluated the impact of endurance exercise on liver glycogen levels. The kinds of sportspeople who seem to benefit the most are marathon runners and long distance athletes. A little sugar can turn out to be just what you need to have an advantage over other competitors (and it’s totally legal unlike doping).
Several energy and sports drinks were tested to see how various carbs help deter the decline of liver glycogen levels and tiredness and how the body converts several kinds of sugars into energy while exercising. Consuming carbs while working out stops the reduction of carbohydrate stores in the liver but not in muscle, improving endurance.
The result was that energy drinks actually caused gut discomfort. Cyclists reported that it was much easier for them to carry on exercising after drinking the water with added table sugar (or sucrose).
But don’t go pouring sugar just yet. There is a limit, of course. The study says that 3 ounces for every hour of training – and one-fifth of an ounce for every 3 ounces of water – is what you need.
It turns out that taking in that sugar amount from different sources actually increase the rate at which the body absorbs it from the gut.