Ever look at the back of your energy gel and feel confused? Like you need a degree in food science to be able to make any sense of the ingredients? …they want me to put what in my body?!
We are here for you, to help you understand these common ingredients, and how they help you run stronger, longer.
Ok, I know, you’ve seen this one before. But I can’t tell you how many people think fructose is synonymous with high fructose corn syrup (spoiler alert: they are very different!). Let’s dive in and see why this ingredient might help you run better.
What is fructose?
Fructose is a simple carbohydrate made of a single sugar molecule. It is found naturally in honey, fruit, and many vegetables. It’s sometimes called fruit sugar because it’s what makes fruit sweet. It is absorbed directly into the intestine, meaning you reap the benefits of the energy very quickly.
Last time, we talked about how your body needs carbohydrates (sugars) to keep your pace up for all those miles. Fructose helps deliver quick and easily digested energy to your working muscles.
Read about the energy you need to run here: Energy Gels Explained | What is Maltodextrin?
Why is fructose used in energy gels?
Many energy gel companies use fructose to deliver a quick burst of energy to your working muscles when you eat a gel. Some research studies show that eating two different types of carbohydrates at the same time (for example, maltodextrin and fructose) allows your body to access the energy more quickly and efficiently.
This is because your body uses different mechanisms to break down different types of sugar. Some studies show that if you eat two different types of easily digestible sugars while running that your body doesn’t have to put as much effort to yielding energy from the sugars.
The same principle applies for other simple sugars like cane juice (sucrose), dextrose, and others, so if you see these other ingredients listed, know they are doing the same thing as fructose.
What does fructose do for your run?
Obviously, fructose provides you with energy for your run. In energy gels, fructose is usually paired with maltodextrin, making it the sweeter, faster burning energy source. You avoid hitting the wall, and your gel tastes tasty. Run on!
Or, to compare energy gels, visit the Learning Center
Juli is known around Running Warehouse for her vast knowledge of running product, from shoes to hydration to nutrition to… well just about anything running related. With a background in food science (Read: Bachelor’s degree and an addiction to scholarly journal articles on exercise nutrition), she’s also a trail lover that fiends for long runs in beautiful places.