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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