Raisins may be preferable to sports supplement jelly beans and commercial energy gels.
Images thanks to Chris Brown via Wikimedia Commons
After about an hour of strenuous exercise, long-distance athletes can really start to deplete their glycogen stores, the body's source of quick energy. Studies dating back to the 30's found that by hooking athletes on a treadmill up to an IV drip of sugar water, you could delay fatigue, and that drinking sugar water could help as well. So the sports supplement industry has come up with an array of energy shots, gels, bars, and chews—even sports jelly beans, used, what a coincidence, by the Jelly Belly Cycling Team. In fact the Jelly Belly Candy Company paid for a study that found that said jellybeans could shave 4 or 5 seconds off of a 10km cycling trial compared to sports drinks or gels. But what about compared to raisins? Given that professional, collegiate, and recreational sporting events are supplement centered and heavily marketed to, athletes at all levels may be left with the impression that ‘‘specially designed’’ supplements are essential for optimal performance. Yet, these products are often expensive and cheaper, natural foods that may provide a healthier alternative are often overlooked. There are low-cost, natural food products rich in carbs, such as sun-dried raisins that have the potential to improve performance to a similar degree. Raisins are nutritious, convenient, typically palatable, and are a cost-effective source of concentrated carbohydrates. But do they work as well? They work exactly as well. Same time, same power output. Same thing comparing raisins to a commercial sports gels--same respiratory exchange, carb and fat oxidation, and energy expenditure. In fact the only significant difference was that in "hedonic scores" pleasantness scoring of raisins beat out the jelly beans. Versus jelly beans with flavors like extreme watermelon there was a greater preference for just raisin flavored raisins.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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Other sports supplements may be worse than just a waste of money. See, for example, Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine? and Heavy Metals in Protein Powder Supplements.
This is the third of a three part video series on the latest science on dried fruit. Check out the last three here:
Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart—but only the non-jelly variety!
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