Sugar is an essential element in sports nutrition. Every athlete needs sugar in moderation to maintain blood sugar level, especially during and after exercising. However, excess sugar intake is not healthy for athletes.
As an athlete, eating excess sugar is one of the greatest harm you can do to your body. Aside from the adverse effects, it can cause a major setback in your athletic performance slowing down your career or preventing you from achieving your athletic goals.
To know how much damage excess sugar can cause in your body, let’s look through a few adverse effects of excess sugar in an athlete’s body from a sports nutritionist perspective.
Adverse effects of excess sugar
Excess sugar intake causes several health damages in the body of athletes. These include:
- Increased risk of poor dental health or tooth decay. Athletes who take excess sugar against sports nutritionists’ standard recommendations can have an increased risk of tooth day or poor dental health.
- Excess sugar intake from beverages with very high sugar content can immensely contribute to being overweight. Obesity is a hazardous health problem that can affect the overall performance of an athlete. Although there are a few sports that encourage gaining weight to participate properly but being overweight cannot make any athlete perform at their peak no matter the sports category.
- High sugar intake can also lead to some life-threatening health issues such as Type 2 diabetes.
- Excess sugar intake can also affect your mental health, deprive you of good sleeping hours and cause addictive eating habits. Sport nutrition experts have proved that sugar has a high level of addiction. Most athletes who have been addicted to taking some drinks with excess sugars can find it challenging to stop taking those drinks even when the negative effect on their body is becoming more evident.
- Eating excess sugar from carbohydrate-rich foods is also linked with tiredness after 3o minutes of training and decrease alertness within the first hour.
You must watch your sugar intake if you want to stay healthy and improve your athletic performance. Meanwhile, many athletes facing the addiction of eating excess sugar claimed that it is somewhat difficult to measure the amount of sugar you eat per meal. That may not be true. Here is the good news. Cutting down your sugar intake can be simpler than you ever think.
These Sports nutrition tips provide a detailed guide on how athletes can cut down on sugar intake to stay healthy and improve their athletic performance.
Stay away from drinks with a high sugar content
Most of those chilled drinks you take to cool off after training or competition contains a load of added sugar. Most energy drinks, sports drinks, sodas, fruit drinks, and others contribute a whopping 44% added sugar to your body. It should amaze you that even the so-called healthy drinks such as fruit juice and smoothies can contain a mouth-watering amount of sugar. For instance, 450ml of apple juice contains about 49 grams of sugar.
Sports nutrition experts proved that staying away or reducing the number of sugary drinks you take per day can help maintain your weight. Besides, your body does not take calories from drinks the way it does from foods. Hence, taking sugary drinks will neither make you full for a long nor make you eat less.
Avoid sauces with excess sugar
Typical table sauces such as barbecue sauce, ketchup, and sweet chill sauce contain a high sugar level. However, most athletes are not aware of this shocking fact. So, next time you are hanging out with friends, be careful not to tick a delicacy with any of these common sauces. Always make sure that you read the label to help you choose the lowest sugar option.
For instance, 15 grams serving of your ketchup can contain up to 4 grams of sugar. Instead of consuming excess sugar in the name of sauces, you can consider the following options to add flavor to your meal:
- Fresh chill: Highly rich in flavor but sugar-free.
- Herbs and spices: Whether you take them fresh or dried, they contribute no sugar or calories to your body. They also have some health benefits.
- Vinegar: Contains no sugar, no calories, and will give your meal a taste of ketchup.
- Yellow mustard: Tasty and free of sugar and calories.
- Harissa Paste: Either you buy it or make it yourself; it will give you a sweet chili sauce feel without sugar.
Stop eating sugar loaded-desserts
Sports nutrition does not encourage athletes to eat many desserts because they have little nutritional value and contain a shocking amount of sugar. Excess sugar in desserts can cause blood sugar spikes and can make you feel tired and hungry at the same time.
Another sports nutrition research showed that athletes who eat many desserts tend to have increased cravings for sugar. Cakes, doughnuts, pies, and ice cream can contribute up to 18% of added sugar to your body.
Instead of desserts, you can consider some good alternatives such as fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with fruit or cinnamon, baked fruit with cream, dark chocolate, and a handful of dates.
Eat whole foods
Many sports nutritionists recommend whole foods for athletes because they have neither been processed nor refined. Also, whole foods are free of artificial substances such as additives and others. Bread and cheese are simple examples of processed which athletes need to avoid. Eating whole foods will help reduce the amount of sugar you eat.
Reading labels before consumption is one of the basic rules in sports nutrition. Avoiding sugar-rich foods is not the only way to reduce your sugar intake. You can be deliberate about the amount of sugar you eat per meal by merely reading your foods’ labels to check the sugar content.
However, some food labels don’t differentiate between added sugars and natural sugars. To know whether sugars have been added or not, pay attention to the ingredients lists.
Sugar can natural or added. You would have to cut down these added sugars in your diets to prevent health problems and maintain a balanced diet. Natural sugars in syrups, honey, and fruit juices can also be harmful to your health if you take them in excess.