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Why sports drinks containing both glucose and fructose can help performance

Why sports drinks containing both glucose and fructose can help performance

Wondering what are the physiological effects and performance benefits of using sports drinks containing glucose and fructose (two sugar types) are? Here are Andrew Hamilton with the answers

Triathlete drinking on the bike

Dubbed ‘multiple intestinal transporter’ drinks, glucose/fructose drinks are formulated with fructose and glucose rather than just glucose. The benefit of having a drink containing two sugar types rather than just one is that the maximum rate at which your body can absorb carbohydrate is increased from around 60g per hour to 80g per hour.

This is because each sugar type uses a different route from the intestine into the bloodstream – with a blend of two sugars, there are, in effect, twice as many routes for the sugars to reach the bloodstream.

And ultimately, a faster rate of carbohydrate absorption means more carbohydrate for those working muscles, which means, theoretically at least, you can work harder for longer.

Research shows that glucose/fructose drinks are effective; a study on cyclists showed that a glucose/fructose drink substantially reduced race times, with cyclists recording on average a 1.8% faster time compared to the glucose-only drink. Even better, the glucose/fructose drink resulted in a reduction in abdominal cramps.

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Profile image of Andrew Hamilton Andrew Hamilton Sports performace science writer


Andrew Hamilton (BSc Hons, MRSC, ACSM) has been involved in the fitness and sports-performance industries for over 30 years. As a former cyclist, runner and triathlete, Andrew became interested in enhancing performance through structured training and nutrition. After training to become a fitness teacher, Andrew taught in the fitness industry for 10 years before taking a degree in chemistry at the University of Aberdeen with a view to underpinning his growing interest in nutrition and performance. With extensive practical experience of the fitness industry and an in-depth scientific grounding, Andrew began writing for Ultra-Fit Magazine (then the UK’s longest established fitness publication) back in 1997 and subsequently became its features editor. During the following years, he became accredited to teach and assess the national NVQ qualification in Exercise and Gym by gaining D32/33 Assessor’s Award and was also awarded full membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) as well as being nominated for Energise Nutrition’s ‘Fitness Professional of the Year’ award. In 2003, Andrew became a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, universally acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on fitness, sports training and sports medicine. Since 2005, Andrew has been the editor of and a writer for Peak Performance, the authoritative online sport performance publication that reports on the latest sports science findings, and how athletes and coaches can apply these findings to maximise performance. In addition, Andrew is also a contributor to and sub editor for Peak Performance’s sister publication Sports Injury Bulletin, which provides the latest sports-injury science and best practice for physiotherapists and clinicians with athletes in their care. In addition to his regular work, Andrew also writes for other sports-related publications. In recent years, these have included: ‘Cycling Weekly’, ‘The British Journal of Cycle Coaching’, ‘Athletics Weekly’, ‘Australian Ultra-Fit’ and ‘Workout Magazine’. Andrew has also advised as a scientific consultant to the fitness and sports nutrition industries, including High5, one of UK’s leading sports nutrition manufacturers. After 30 years in this industry, Andrew is as passionate as ever about fitness and sports performance; indeed, he can still be spotted cycling and running the hills of the Northumberland Pennines in the far north of England where he now lives.