Should Bodybuilders Eat Sugar?
Another food myth. This time we have to decide if eating sugar is acceptable in a bodybuilding diet. Sugar can do some nasty things to the body, but it can also help sometimes. Let’s look at the pros and cons of eating sugar so we can decide how, when, where, and why to eat sugar, if at all.
Similar to eating before bed, the sugar myth is another controversial subject about which everyone seems to have an opinion, whether educated or not. The two common opinions on sugar are as follows:
- Sugar will cause obesity, diabetes, and rotten teeth, so it must be avoided at all costs.
- Artificial sweeteners are bad for your health or taste horrible, so we must use sugar in our meals, drinks, and recipes.
The first opinion, that sugar has no place in a bodybuilder’s diet, is the most common myth that needs to be debunked. The second opinion is gaining in popularity, and although there is some sense in this approach, it too can be over used.
Sugar is generally a bad idea for anyone trying to lose fat. The exception is post-workout, when your body needs glucose and amino acids to repair exercise induced muscle trauma and refuel the body for its next workout. At all other times, unless you are an athlete playing a sport, sugar should be avoided. For athletes, during a game or practice it is a good idea to sip on a beverage like Gatorade to keep a positive electrolyte balance.
That being said, it is important to keep in mind that some sugars are not as bad as others. For example, table sugar – which is an ingredient is most junk foods, cereals, and pretty much anything sweet – spikes your insulin levels and should be avoided. However the fructose, found in fruits and vegetables, digests a little slower as is a little less dangerous. Still, the best fruits to choose are those that are lower in fructose such as berries, avocado, and grapefruit.
It is well known and accepted that eating sugary food spikes your insulin levels. High insulin levels prompt your muscle cells to suck up available blood sugar and store it as glycogen for later use in exercise. High insulin levels also encourage adipose cells to store excess blood sugar as fat, which completely blows away any fat burning efforts you may be undertaking.
Essentially this means that when your muscles are already full of glycogen, eating sugar is bad because it will all be stored as fat. However, when your muscles have used up their glycogen stores, eating sugar is exactly what you need to refuel your body and start the protein synthesis – muscle recovery process.
This supports everything I’ve been saying about post-workout meals for the last 15 years. After an intense glycogen-burning workout, you should immediately consume a high-sugar post-workout shake. Chocolate milk also works, but not quite as good as a specially designed post-workout drink with 20-40 grams of protein and 40-80 grams of sugar.
Since insulin also facilitates the uptake of amino acids from the bloodstream, including some easily digested protein like whey protein, is a good idea as well. The P90X Recovery Formula is the perfect solution for your post-workout shake needs. It tastes great, has a ton of high GI carbs, a healthy does of whey protein, and best of all – it’s affordable!