People train for different reasons—to prepare for an upcoming competition or tournament, gain muscle, maintain their physique, or lose weight. However, they most likely have one goal in mind, and it is to give it their all during training sessions.

That said, what you eat before or after training can increase or reduce energy levels. For example, individuals who are training must understand the amount of sugar to consume. While most people believe that everything about sugar is terrible, when eaten in moderation, it can actually increase one’s energy levels, which is required to perform at an optimum level during training. Nevertheless, when taken in high quantities, it can cause fatigue, interfering with performance.

High sugar intake can also negatively affect one’s journey to losing weight. For this reason, if you’re on a keto diet, you should understand how much sugar can you have on keto diet to avoid gaining instead of shedding unnecessary fat. Now that you understand that sugar can bring forth positive or negative results, depending on the intake level, let’s examine how it impacts training performance.

Is Sugar Good for Training?

Sugar is essential to fuel your body before training to provide the required energy. Among the nutrients that can provide instant energy is carbohydrates, including sugar. Sugar’s role in training has received both praise and criticism. Some believe it’s an ideal energy source, while others think it can cause rapid fatigue. While there’s some truth to such beliefs, it comes down to when the sugar is taken and how much.

Individuals participating in short training programs require nutrient-dense food instead of energy-dense ones. On the other hand, individuals participating in prolonged training require energy-dense food instead of nutrient-dense ones. That said, the amount of sugar you need depends on the level of training you engage in. You can visit sites like to know some of your best food options that’d help spike up that energy.

Now, you might be wondering which type of sugar is ideal for training. It’s vital to note that not all types of carbohydrates are beneficial. Simple carbohydrates, like those found in fruits and milk products, as well as refined sugars, such as table sugar, soft drinks, and candies, are better energy sources since the body absorbs them quickly.

On the one hand, complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are slowly absorbed by the body; hence, they might not be a reliable energy source for anyone looking for instant results. Nevertheless, complex carbs are ideal for those spending more time at the gym since they provide energy for a prolonged period. However, they should be taken moderately before training since they can cause Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance (CCI), interfering with your performance.

When Do You Need Sugar?

It’s recommended that you consume carbs before and after the training, especially if you’re training for less than 90 minutes. However, those who do heavy lifting and extreme workouts need a little more sugar than those who do lighter movements. This is because the more strenuous the activity is, the more energy is required. That said, complex carbs are necessary before training since they take longer to digest and, hence, can serve as an energy source for longer. After training, individuals should consume simple carbs to recover and regain energy quickly.

When performing physical activities, the body releases cortisol to enable muscle breakdown. However, you don’t want high cortisol levels to remain in your bloodstream for longer. By consuming simple carbs after workouts, you increase your blood sugar, releasing insulin to ease the protein and carbohydrate movement into the muscles, maximizing muscle protein synthesis and repair. In short, a small amount of sugar after workouts enhances recovery.

Meanwhile, sugar requirements for long-distance runners and cyclists differ slightly from gymgoers. This is because such activities require more energy and last a couple of hours. Therefore, these individuals are advised to carry candies they could eat during and after training for energy and recovery purposes.

Glycogen stores are limited. So, as one engages in physically demanding activities, the more they deplete their energy. Failure to top it up can lead to exhaustion and fatigue, making it hard to continue. To prevent this, athletes, especially those participating in long-distance running and cycling, are recommended to consume at least 30 grams of carbs an hour throughout the duration of the activity to maintain speed.

Too Much of Anything Is Bad

Refined sugars can increase blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash and decreased motivation. Moreover, consuming lots of sugar is believed to cause dehydration or worsen it. This is because when sugar interacts with water in the body cells, it causes the cells to lose more water, leading to frequent urination. Once this happens, cell volume decreases, affecting blood sugar. With high blood sugar levels, the body borrows water from other body parts to balance cell volume. As a result, cellular dehydration occurs, leading to weakness. For instance, if you drink too much sweetened drinks, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with chronic dehydration, affecting your motivation to participate in physical training.

Too much sugar can also lead to weight gain. Since sugar is high in most processed food, it might be challenging to track your daily consumption. Once your body gets used to eating sugary food, the appetite-regulating hormones get interfered with, leading to excess eating desire that might cause overeating. This could lead to increased body weight, affecting your general lifestyle and, of course, training sessions.

Final Thoughts

Every coin has two sides, so do the effects of sugar in training. While carbohydrates, such as sugar, increase one’s energy levels to perform better during physical activities, they can cause exhaustion and fatigue when taken too much. For this reason, one needs to understand the amount of sugar they need, where to get it, and when to take it. Ideally, you should consult your doctor or nutritionist to help you understand your sugar intake requirements, depending on your training level.

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