Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Do I need ALL that sugar?

I went for my cleaning today and my dental hygenist is not happy. She wanted to know what I've been doing differently. More sugared sodas? No, absolutely not. More candy? Nope, no more than usual. I chew sugarless gum, and have an occasional treat, but I'm not a candy eater.
She was perplexed. She acknowledged that as a Vegan, my diet should be pretty healthy and low sugar. (This is a common misconception. After all, potato chips are vegan. So are Sauders Chocolate creme cookies. I've checked.)
Then it occured to her. "What about sports drinks? do you drink a lot of sports drinks?"
Uhhh.... ummmm....

It turns out that every time you take a sip of anything with any kind of sugar in it, it combines with saliva to create acid that remains for the next 20 minutes . Take a 2-hour event, as is my usual glacial time, and all the times that I sip Cytomax during it, well...not to mention, the day before, I try to suck down Gatorade all day to get myself fully hydrated and chock full o' electrolytes.

As well, I've also had some problems at the Olympic even that I did a few weeks ago. Toward the end, I was feeling pretty throw-upy. Not because I had bonked, or because I was dehydrated, but possibly because I'd consumed too much sugar during the four-hours I spent trying to finish it.

Along with this, I've noticed that if I drink Gatorade or Cytomax right before the run portion, I'm almost guarenteed of having side cramps. Which I had at the Milkman this past weekend. Which I forgot to mention. They were fairly crippling for about the first 1/2 of the 5k. I don't get any other kind of cramp but that one.

Finally, my heart beat monitor tells me after certain events that I've burned something akin to 2500 calories. With all the training I've been doing, you'd think I'd be as thin as a rail, but no, I haven't lost a single pound since March of 2005. Like the Whooly mammoth, my body is stubbornly holding on to the idea that there is no food out on the tundra. I'm guessing that all the sugared sports drinks I've been sucking down are partially to blame.

And, let's face it; quite frankly, the Slothful Athena has plenty of fat stores on which to subsist during a sprint triathlon or a workout.

So, do I really need all that extra sugar?

I Googled, and found out that the average American consumed somewhere between 40 (according to the crystal sugar company) and 142 pounds (according to the government) per year. That includes all the uses of sugar, such as processed foods, drinks, alcohol, etc.

So, I'm going to try some experiments (I'll try them in training first before trying them in an event) First, I'm switching to water. It goes down easier and when it gets splashed on me, it's refreshing instead of sticky. Before training or an event (1 hour before) I'm going to take down a Lara Bar. They are simple, wholefood energy bars usually with only 2 or 3 ingredients. I've tried some and they are excellent. Second, for electrolytes, I'm going to try a couple Hammer endurolytes before the swim and maybe halfway through the bike. For the bike and run, water only. If I wind up doing another Olympic event, I'll load up my water bottle with Ultima, which has electrolytes and B vitamins and is sweetened with Stevia, which actually helps regulate blood sugar levels. For longer races, I'm going to check out other Hammer products, like HEED. After the race, it's good old Propel with Calcium. or plain water.

If anyone has any experience with this, I'd appreciate knowing - particularly women, because I do believe that women and men are very different in how they utilize nutrients.


  1. check out Ultima as a rplacement for Gatorade. (www.ultimareplenisher.com) It does not have the simple sugars found in most sport drinks and the orange actually tastes pretty good. The original flavor took some getting used to.

    Glad I found your blog. I am enjoying it.

  2. here's something I learned recently -- anything with "fake" sugars (aspartame, et. al.) will have the same impact on your metabolism as the real thing. While the calories are lower, it tricks your fat stores into thinking they need to stay. It's a glycemic trick. I'll try and find you some lit. High fructose corn syrup will do it too.

  3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8003-2003Mar10?language=printer

    Lara bars are great - here's an article on what's in the rest of the energy bars

    here's a thing on aspartame

  4. except that last one should be

  5. Because I have type 2 diabetes I am careful about sugar, plus I've never liked the taste of sweet drinks. I drink water both in training and racing and get my nutrition separately. I take Succeed capsules for electrolytes, and I like a peanut butter sandwich for the bike. I do use Hammer gels when running. For a half marathon I had one at 4, 6 8, and 10 miles--basically trying to hit the period when my body would benefit from replenishing some glucose.


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