I think sugar gets a bad rap. I mean ... is sugar really as bad for you as people say it is? Well ... not necessarily.
Sugar is a carbohydrate, and like any other carbohydrate, your body needs them for energy. Carbohydrates are actually your body’s preferred source of energy. This is especially true during high-intensity exercise.
It’s more important to think about what your body does with sugar than the sugar itself. Take post-workout for example. After exercise, your body can actually use sugar to benefit you in a way it wouldn't normally be able to.
Believe it or not, eating sugar after workouts can actually be very beneficial for post-workout recovery. I'll explain exactly why that's true below...
What Type of Sugar are We Talking About?
First of all, what are we referring to when we talk about sugar? Well, "sugar" is an umbrella term that can refer to simple carbohydrates, such as...
• Sucrose (table sugar)
• Lactose (found in milk and milk products)
• Glucose (the form used in the body)
• Dextrose (from corn or wheat)
• Fructose (fruit sugar).
Most of the foods we eat regularly have sugars in them. Yes … even fruits and vegetables.
We just use the term “sugar” to describe all of these because they aren’t as hard for the body to break down.
The main difference between the different types of sugars is how your body absorbs, processes, and begins using them as fuel.
But when most people think of “sugar,” they’re usually referring to sucrose. Sucrose is table sugar, and what gets added to most foods for sweetness. People tend to overeat this regularly, because it tastes good.
Overconsumption of sucrose can lead to issues with blood sugar regulation. So, how in the world can sugar be good after a workout? Here's how...
Why Is Sugar After a Workout Encouraged?
To understand how sugar after a workout can help your body, we have to back up and talk about what your body does with carbohydrates. After all, sugar is a simple carbohydrate.
You see, when you eat any form of carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose. This glucose is then used for fuel immediately. Extra glucose that your body doesn't need right now is then stored for later.
Remember, sugars are a type of carbohydrate, so your body does that with sugars as well. So, what's the difference? Well, your body can break them down much quicker and more easily. This is important for one reason ... insulin.
Once any non-glucose sugars are converted to glucose, your body will release the hormone, insulin, which tells your muscle, liver, and fat cells to take in fuel. It also triggers your body to start absorbing other nutrients, like amino acids, from protein.
Normally, you don't want to spike insulin levels often. That's because these repeated cycles can lead to heart problems, obesity, and other issues. Post-workout is different though ... let me explain.
You see, during a workout, you’re obviously using energy. That energy comes primarily from your glycogen stores, which is stored glucose.
During your workout, you deplete these stored sugars, and you also create micro tears in your muscle tissue. So, immediately after a workout, your body wants to restore this energy and fix the muscle damage.
To do this, you will need both carbohydrates and protein ... carbohydrates to replenish glycogen, and protein to repair the muscle. This goes back to why it can be beneficial to spike insulin after your workouts ... because it can speed up recovery. The main reason for this is because of its anti-catabolic properties .
The faster the sugars and protein can get into the muscle, the faster you kick start the recovery process. Like I mentioned earlier, insulin helps your body accept these nutrients. That's why it's so important to utilize a rapid assimilating protein and carbohydrate source after training, like our Phormula-1 and Ignition.
Phormula-1 is whey protein isolate. It's designed to digest and assimilate very rapidly to jump-start the recovery process.
Ignition is a dextrose monohydrate powder. It's the most ideal sugar you can consume post-workout. The reason for this is simple ... it's what your body breaks all carbs down into before it can be used for energy. So really, your body doesn't need time to process the carbohydrate into glucose ... further speeding up recovery.
More importantly though, glucose warrants 6x the insulin response than normal table sugar! This higher insulin response can help your body accept nutrients and jump-start recovery as well. Ignition also comes with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to replenish everything your body is proven to deplete during intense exercise.
All Things in Balance
Using sugar after a workout can be a powerful way to help your body recover. But, if you force your body into that insulin and sugar cycle too often ... it can lead to health complications.
That's why I recommend saving the sugar for your workouts and in moderation.
Now, seeing results doesn't come down to how much sugar you're eating. There are, in fact, a ton of factors that go into earning great results in the gym.
That's what we're here for ... to give you all the knowledge, support, and tools you need to crush your fitness goals. Download the 1st Phorm App and get connected to our team of Certified Personal Trainers (NASM-CPT) and Nutrition Coaches (NASM-CNC). They are more than happy to help you through every step of the process!
If you have questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us!
 Fujita S, Rasmussen BB, Cadenas JG, Grady JJ, Volpi E. Effect of insulin on human skeletal muscle protein synthesis is modulated by insulin-induced changes in muscle blood flow and amino acid availability. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Oct;291(4):E745-54. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00271.2005. Epub 2006 May 16. PMID: 16705054; PMCID: PMC2804964.