Fructose: Good or Bad? What Athletes Need to Know

Fructose: Good or Bad? What Athletes Need to Know

Fructose is the most common sugar in fruitFructose sometimes gets a bad rap for endurance athletes because it is thought to cause stomach and GI discomfort. Like anything else, if you take too much fructose it can be a problem. But if you use it properly it can actually significantly improve performance … without stomach issues. Here’s why:

Most of the energy that we use during endurance sports comes from consumed carbohydrates that are converted into glycogen and stored in our muscles. Glycogen can then be quickly broken down into glucose and used to fuel the muscles. The liver also stores glycogen which has been converted from fructose and serves as an additional “fuel tank” to power your muscles.

Here’s Where it Gets Interesting

The main route for glucose absorption from the gut is through a transporter called SGLT1 – a protein that acts like a door, helping glucose go from the gut to the bloodstream. SGLT1 has a maximum capacity and can only transport around one gram of glucose per minute (240 calories/hour). Fructose, however, is absorbed with a different transporter, called GLUT5. By using both transporters you can increase the amount of carbohydrate the body can use during exercise up to approximately 300 calories/hour.

GLUT5’s sole job in life is to transport fructose, so if you’re not consuming fructose then you’re not using the GLUT5 transporter … it’s like have an additional fuel line and not using it, why would you do that? In addition, your secondary fuel tank (your liver) will be under utilized as well.

The rapid absorption of fructose mixtures and special handling of fructose in the liver are the two main reasons that fructose can also help to speed up recovery after exercise. A recent study found that when athletes drank sports drinks containing both fructose and complex carbohydrates after exercise, they accelerated the recovery of their liver glycogen stores. It almost doubled this rate of recovery compared with drinks that didn’t have fructose, when the same total amount of carbohydrate was consumed.

Bottom line … if you want to “be your best”, incorporate some fructose into your training and competition nutrition program.

Both e-Gel and e-Fuel are formulated with this in mind. The main ingredient in our products is maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate from corn. Added to the maltodextrin is fructose in levels that can be efficiently processed and stored by the liver, thus supplementing your total available energy without causing stomach issues.

Fructose Research References

Don’t just take our word for it. Independent scientific research has consistently shown that using fructose and maltodextrin together increases total carbohydrate transport, available energy and oxidation (Jentjiens, 2004, Wallis, 2005). The combination of fructose and maltodextrin also allows an athlete to exercise at a higher percent of VO2max, once the muscle glycogen stores have been depleted (Smith, 2010).

Listen to what our customers are saying

Vicki Griffin

"I am an Ironman distance, age grouper triathlete trying to qualify for Kona. Nutrition has always been a struggle... stomach issues, etc.... I used e-Fuel and e-Gel on my last 70.3, had no stomach issues, and won my age group." ...
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Leawood, Kansas
Sport: Triathlon

Keith Castleton

"Figuring out how to stay hydrated, not get upset stomach and prevent muscle cramps during long runs and races has been one of my biggest challenges. In the past my muscles would ache and twitch and cause me a lot of pain after long runs. I came across e-Gel energy gels this summer used them during the Top Of Utah Marathon, took 17 minutes off my previous marathon PR and easily qualified for Boston." ...
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Maricopa, Arizona
Sport: Running

Jeff Rommel

"I broke the golden rule and tried e-Gel for the first time on race day. I ran the Houston Marathon and it was a great experience - no stomach issues and no muscle cramping. Water in my bottle and an e-Gel every hour got me through the race. I'm not the fastest runner, but I set a PR!" ...
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Houston, Texas
Sport: Running

Kathy Murgas

"A friend recommended e-Gel years ago. I tried it, loved it, and 65 marathons (including 1 in each of the 50 states), I am still using it. I've changed the way I train, the shoes and wear, the clothes I wear, but never the gel I use." ...
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Dallas, Texas
Sport: Running & Cycling

Shawn Smith

"At the USA Cycling Marathon Championships it was a 58 mile course and temps around 80-84. ... I raced to a 3rd place on only 2 bottles of e-Fuel and 2 e-Gels. No way around it. This product works and is fueling you can trust." ...
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Gainesville , Florida
Sport: Cycling

Frank Noble

"Gels I've used prior would include Hammer, Honey Stinger, GU, and VFuel. Carb/Electrolyte drinks would include Hammer HEED, VFuel, and Tailwind ... I can say hands down these products are by far the best in both categories" ...
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Dallas, Georgia
Sport: Ultra Running

David Ball

"I've been using e-Gel for 2 years exclusively and will not go with anything else....I qualified for Boston with a 3:18:16 and felt great. One e-Gel 15 minutes before the race and one at miles 6, 12, 18, and 23 mile marks and then the last three miles were my fasted splits" ...
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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sport: Running, Triathlon

Adam Lecompte

"This is by far the best energy gel product on the market, and I have been through them all. I have had nothing but positive training and racing experiences with this product. I trained on and used e-Gel in a half half marathon and busted a 1:32.44! My personal best of 5 half marathons. The sustained energy is incredible! I absolutely love this product." ...
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Houma, Louisiana
Sport: Running and Triathlon

Mary Rogers

"I used e-Gels exclusively and exactly as directed in training for the Lakefront Marathon. This was my fourth marathon and I did not expect to PR, but just to complete it well. With the help of e-Gels taken at miles 2, 7, 13, 18, and 23, I took 10 minutes off of my marathon time and never hit the 'wall' or cramped as I had done in previous events. Some guy laughed at me at the start asking why I had so many energy gels. I told him I had a plan and I was sticking to it. I'm pretty sure I passed him somewhere around mile 22." ...
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Springfield, Illinois
Sport: Running

Sam Albrecht

"40 miles into a 56 mile ride in the desert with two big hills I started cramping, and had to stop several times. The next week I did the same ride with e-Gel and had no cramping despite it being over 100 degrees. My hydration was the same, so I have little doubt the e-Gel played a big part in keeping me going that day." ...
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Big Bear City, California
Sport: Triathlon

David Brumley

"I am an immunodeficient triathlete who has gone through just about every product on the market. My body has difficulty with nutrition absorption and GI distress. After a successful long bike ride (6 hours) without problems during or after I used it on my next race. The results were amazing. My first AG win without any issues or drop in energy late into the race." ...
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McKinney, Texas
Sport: Triathlon

Bruce English

"I recently completed a half-iron distance triathlon with a brutal bike course. At the end of the ride my quads started to cramp. I nursed an e-Gel over the first mile of the run and the cramps abated. I thought it may have been coincidence, but when the cramps resurfaced at mile 7 only to resolve with another e-Gel I was sold. I only drank water on the run and took e-Gel, so I feel confident that this product made the difference. " ...
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Waynesboro, Virginia
Sport: Triathlon

Malcolm Campbell

"I looked for a gel that had less sugar and more potassium/sodium than some of the other energy gels. I came across e-Gel and used them is the US 50K Championships in Caumsett Park, New York. I finished 2nd in 3:04.22, so I guess they worked pretty good!" ...
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Marietta, Georgia
Sport: Ultra Running

Gregory Allen

"I have always had a problem with leg cramps in the 2nd to 3rd hour of an event depending on intensity. I've been using e-Gel and e-Fuel since January of this year. It is the only thing that I have changed in my training and racing protocol. I did Lavaman olympic distance in Hawaii and never cramped (2nd). I did Wildflower olympic distance in California and never cramped (4th). I've done both of these races a number of times in the past and cramped every time. I haven't cramped on any long runs or rides this year. I know it is a short sample period. The combination and concentration of electrolytes in the Crank products seems to have solved my problem. I've never written a testimonial before, nor do I take much stock in them. None of this may work for you. It seems to work for me." ...
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Mill Valley, California
Sport: Triathlon

Jeff Domenico

"I was running my best marathon ever in Detroit, had five miles to go and I took my e-Gel 100 yards before a water station. I got to the station and it was a bunch of guys handing out beer! GU and other energy gels are so thick that I would have needed water right away, but the e-Gel was so thin and easy to digest, I got through it just fine when I hit a water station about a mile later. Not only did I finally hit my sub-three hour dream, I hit 2:57!" ...
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Battle Creek, Michigan
Sport: Running

Tony Madrigal

"I sweat a lot and this was a problem last year. I didn't know how much sweat and salt I would lose when I workout. I cramped on every race last year, which took me from being in the top 5 in every race down to 10-15th place. Not that this is bad, but considering that me a former bodybuilder could of kept up with the veteran racers, well let's just say pride is all I'll ever win in these races. I started using e-Fuel & e-Gels at Sea Otter in Laguna Seca and I was blown away." ...
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Sonoma, California
Sport: Cycling

Paul White

"5 of my swimming buddies (ages 32-41) attemped to swim across San Francisco Bay from our hometown of Alameda, CA, to McCovey Cove at SBCPark.... I completed the 6.5 mile swim in 2 hours, 48 minutes. Conditions included a water temperature 61-63 F with westerly 10-15 MPH winds. We departed Crown Beach State Park, Alameda, on an outgoing tide @ 10:17AM. We stopped about every 30 minutes to drink fluids (carried by our pilot boat) and re-group. I ate an e-Gel an hour before starting the swim and every hour after that. We wore neoprene caps only-- no wetsuits..." ...
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Alameda, California
Sport: Swimming

Heather Keller

"My husband and I started using e-Gel seven years ago. We had tried everything available in local stores - nothing stood as well as e-Gel for us. We are long distance bicycle riders and now motorcycle riders. Look in our packs and you will find two things, packets of e-Gel and e-Fuel and then a baggy of 'USED' products from each outing. We are always giving e-Gel to fellow riders to help when their product has let them down. The overall experience of fellow riders is less bonking and longer ride times. Now for the non-human story. My little West Highland White Terrier, Brodie, attends our rides with us. On a recent return trip Brodie seemed tired and hot as we live in Arizona. Checked with the vet who indicated some type of electrolyte product was needed. With explanation of ingredients and permission from the vet, I put e-Gel in his water bowl, added water and ice. Much to my delight, Brodie lapped almost 4 ounces up and with in just a few minutes was feeling himself. We are sold on e-Gel even for our 4-legged friend." ...
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Phoenix, Arizona
Sport: Cycling

Dave Kumler

"I am an on-ice official in the AHL and I want to share my story about e-Gel ... My job as linesman requires me to sprint repeatedly and physically separate anyone who fights throughout the game. We get no breaks, no downtime, no relaxing...I need my energy level to remain constant. I had yet to find any product that satisfied my requirement. I tried GU, Clif Shots and other energy gels, but found that I was still needing something to get me thru the last half of the game. With e-Gel, I found it." ...
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Cleveland, Ohio
Sport: Hockey

Steve and Lynna Lyn

"My wife and I ride on average 200 miles per week. She is hypoglycemic and has searched for years for an energy source that she can tolerate on long rides up to 100 miles as well as higher intensity shorter rides. e-Gel and e-Fuel are absolutely the best for a no-bonk outing. We both use it on every ride." ...
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Martinsville, Indiana
Sport: Cycling

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