Sugar and Runners

copy-cropped-cross-country_1.jpgWe’ve all seen the commercials touting high fructose corn syrup as bad for your health. But there’s even more sugars to be aware of when you’re shopping at the grocery store.

Research has shown that sugar doesn’t act much differently than other carbohydrates for blood glucose control. Many runners try to avoid sweets, but they still consume sugar more than they think. On average, we eat 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, roughly 350 calories per day.

Try spending time looking at labels for ingredients such as the following:

Evaporated can juice
Cane sugar
High-fructose corn syrup
White sugar
Granulated sugar
Brown sugar
Invert sugar
Maple syrup

For runners, think about switching some of these out every so often. It’s very challenging to do it all of the time, but a few changes really adds up:

Sports drinks. These are very beneficial for electrolytes and sodium, especially after a long run. They can replenish what’s lost due to sweat. However, for shorter runs, try just using water only.

Protein shakes. Many store bought protein shakes come with loads of sugar. Try blending your own using fresh fruit or substitute the shake with peanut butter or eggs. They go down easy on a stomach that’s been jumbled by running.

Cereal. Even the boxed cereals touting health and high protein can come laden with sugar. Be sure the read the label. Try substituting breakfast with steel cut oatmeal and fresh berries to add taste and texture.

Yogurt. This is great to eat after a run–you get protein and it’s easily digestible. Just read the labels for anything labeled from the above list.

English muffins. If you are craving carbs, which runners often are, try eating whole wheat toast instead. You can even add on peanut butter for the protein, but try to avoid jams loaded with sugar.