Look! Stop hitting the wall! What did that wall ever do to you?


The Problem

  •  When you exercise (haha yeaaah I know, but stick with me here), your body “burns” through sugars (among other things). And that sugar eventually runs out. This is what causes people, especially marathon runners, to hit the infamous “wall” (aka you want to crawl/nap/curl up and die).
  • Turns out, some sugars can help you avoid smacking face first into that wall better than others.
  • Sports drinks and gels are common/pricey ways to replace the sugars that are burned. Most of these drinks and gels use glucose (a type of sugar) as the “energy” source, but more and more are using sucrose (aka table sugar).
Because why else would you do it?

The Study

  • Scientists wanted to know which sugar is really a sweeter deal for you during your workouts, so they staged a competition between glucose and sucrose to see which one made athletes run faster and jump higher (ok, actually they just looked at how bodies of cyclists used the different sugars).

The Results

  • Sucrose = winner, winner, chicken probably still not a healthy dinner but possibly a “better” source of energy during endurance exercise.
  • Glucose and sucrose were both good at helping the liver store energy.
  • But, sucrose helped the entire body use energy better than glucose did. Sucrose was also easier on the stomachs of the athletes (read: less mid-race puking).
  • Sucrose takes the gold medal for ease-of-use by your body.

The Takeaway

  • Those adorable hummingbirds were right: table sugar + water = simple and effective for keeping your energy up during endurance exercise. Maybe no red dye #40.
  • Look for sports drinks/gels with sucrose- they could help you with that wall-hitting issue you have (unless it’s just anger management you need).
  • Want an easy/delicious homemade sports drink recipe (no dyes, no annoying slogans)? Anne’s got you covered here.

Bonus Super Smart Fun Fact: The ending -ose is a science term for sugar. For example, glucose, sucrose, fructose and lactose are all types of sugar. Now get out there and show off your new vocab, smarty-pants!

Bonus Super Smart Pick-Up Line: “Does your name end in -ose? Because you’ve got a sweet behind!” YOU’RE WELCOME.

Have you ever hit the wall in a race or a workout? Care to share traumatic memories with us?

Maintain your science high! Read more here:

Original study: http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/early/2015/10/19/ajpendo.00376.2015

Even more: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-11-scientists-sweet-solution-marathon-fatigue.html




Author: Emily

I started Rise and Sci because I love science, I love teaching people new things and I want to help build a greater public understanding of all things science. My goal is to take hard to understand concepts and make them accessible to everyone- all in a fun an interesting format!

2 thoughts on “Look! Stop hitting the wall! What did that wall ever do to you?”

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