A team of scientists have discovered that a spoonful of sugar in water has the same effect as that of energy drinks.
In a study, the University of Bath researchers assessed the impact of endurance exercise on liver glycogen levels and tested several drinks to see how different sugars could slow the decline of liver glycogen levels, which leads to tiredness. Their experiment, which used long-distance cyclists as participants, found both glucose and sucrose can help maintain liver glycogen levels.
Both sucrose – in the form of table sugar – and glucose are important carbohydrates, often referred to as simple sugars. However, the researchers did find combining the different sources of sugars improves the rate at which people can absorb them. They warned that glucose-only drinks could produce stomach discomfort and suggested sucrose-based alternatives, or simply sugar in water.
Lead researcher Javier Gonzalez said that the study showed that ingesting carbohydrates during exercise can prevent the depletion of carbohydrate stores in the liver, but not in muscle and that, the exercise felt easier and the gut comfort of the cyclists was better, when they ingested sucrose compared to glucose.
The researcher noted that this suggests, when your goal is to maximise carbohydrate availability, sucrose is probably a better source of carbohydrate to ingest than glucose.