At many sports events and training session we often see young athletes eating sweets and chocolate bars and drinking energy drinks before training sessions in the belief that sugar will aid their performance. Even the school canteens have been seen stock up on both sugar filled snacks and drinks.
Sadly, consuming sugary foods for energy is quite damaging. Consuming sugar before exercise does NOT improve performance or stamina. It is confirmed in scientific research that refined sugars, result in a high insulin response in order to remove the glucose from the blood as this has life threatening effects. The consequence from a sugar rush is an equally high release of insulin which often results in a sugar low and this creates a roller coaster effect. This ends up leaving the athlete feeling weak and tired.
Long term impact on this pattern is eventually the body becomes resistant to insulin and more and more is needed to reduce the glucose from the blood. This then results in diabetic conditions. The prevalence of high performing sports people and Diabetes Type 2 should come as no surprise
Instead, encourage them to eat a healthy meal based on potatoes, pasta or bread. If they need a pre-training energy boost, it’s safer to choose foods, such as bananas, dried fruit, and cereal bars with natural whole foods that won’t play havoc with blood sugar levels.
Short term fixes may not show the negative health impact immediately but could result in harmful health complications later in life. Nutrition should be core of mind for long term health of an athlete's life we therefore encourage choices that will deliver long term sustainable benefits.