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Sugar: Friend or foe?

Sugar: Friend or foe?

Sugar is everywhere nowadays.

It is in foods you least expect to find it. Sugar is best defined as a fast digesting carbohydrate with a high glycemic index.

It digests quickly which results in a spike in blood sugar levels causing the release of a hormone called insulin which pumps the muscles full of sugar and stores excess sugar as fat.

Carbohydrates you consume also are broken down into a sugar called glucose which is the body’s primary energy source.

The only time sugar can be useful to a bodybuilder is directly after a workout when the muscles are tired and depleted of their energy stores. Sugar helps to speed protein and carbohydrates to muscles to initiate repair. By consuming a mixture of high glycemic sugar with a protein post-workout the body will have a much greater insulin spike than eating sugar by itself.

Can bodybuilders eat sugar when they are trying to bulk up in the off-season? Although sugar may help you to gain weight quickly the question remains if all the added bulk is useful to you as a contender when the contest season rolls around?

Bodybuilders should take note that some nutritional bars and drinks are loaded with sugar. Food which is labelled as low low fat can also contain large quantities of sugar. Sugar consumed in excess can quickly lead to the accumulation of fat around your waist.

There are three forms of sugars:


Monosaccharides are also called simple sugars and consist of glucose, fructose and galactose.

  • Glucose is known as blood sugar, which is found in our blood and produced from the food we consume. When people talk about “blood sugar levels,” they’re referring to the amount of glucose in the blood.
  • Fructose is naturally found in fruit, and also found in processed products such as sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is converted into glucose by the liver and then released into the blood for usage.
  • Galactose is found in dairy products and is metabolized in the same way as fructose.


Oligosaccharides are molecules that contain several monosaccharides linked together in chain-like structures.These sugars are one of the components of fiber found in plants, which the body can break down into glucose.


Polysaccharides are long chains of monosaccharides, usually containing ten or more monosaccharide units. Starch (the energy stores of plants) and cellulose (a natural fiber found in plants) are two examples of polysaccharides we consume.

Verdict on sugar

When your muscles are full of glycogen it is not advisable to consume sugar because it will all be stored as fat. However, when your muscles have used up their glycogen stores, consuming sugar is exactly what you need to refuel your body and to start the muscle recovery process.

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