Sugar and Bodybuilding

Everything you need to know about sugar as a bodybuilder

Sugar is said to be one of the most dangerous things that we can ingest, and frequent consumption is considered as dangerous as smoking and alcoholism. But, is that true or is it just making dieting unnecessarily difficult? What effects does sugar really have on the body and the growth of muscle mass?

In this post we will detail all the effects from sugar on bodybuilder and explain the topic of what sugar truly is.

Sugar Overview

artificial sweeteners

Sugar has become a misunderstood term including all sorts of substances, ranging from fruit to honey to cake and cookies. Some people make the distinction between natural sugars such as the ones from fruit and raw maple syrup, and processed sugars such as table sugar. So let’s get more precise here and cast some light on this mysterious sugar. First, all sugars are classes of carbohydrates, and their fundamental purpose in the body is energetic. There are three types of sugars:


Monosaccharides are usually described as simple sugars because they have a very simple composition.

  • Glucose is a sort of sugar also perceived as blood sugar, which is found in our blood and fabricated from the food we eat. When people speak about “blood sugar levels,” they’re referring to the quantity of glucose floating throughout the blood.
  • Fructose is a type of sugar normally found in fruit, and also found in processed products like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. Both of them are about 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Fructose is transformed into glucose by the liver and then discharged into the blood for use.
  • Galactose is a type of sugar detected in dairy goods and it’s also metabolized into glucose.


Oligosaccharides are molecules that comprise multiple monosaccharides connected together in chain-like arrangements. These sugars are one of the elements of fiber seen in plants, which our bodies are capable to partially break down into glucose. Many vegetables also carry fructooligosaccharides, which are short strings of fructose molecules.

Another popular sort of oligosaccharide that we eat is raffinose, which is composed of a chain of galactose, glucose, and fructose. This can be detected in beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains. Galactooligosaccharides are also oligosaccharides. These are indigestible but perform a part in stimulating healthy bacteria increase in the gut.


Polysaccharides large chains of monosaccharides, regularly containing ten or more monosaccharide parts. Starch and cellulose are two models of polysaccharides we usually eat. Our bodies are able to quickly break starches down into glucose, but not cellulose.

All kinds of carbohydrates we consume are metabolized into glucose or are left undigested, working as dietary fiber. Our body can’t differentiate between the natural sugar found in fruit, honey or milk, and the processed sugar found in a chocolate bar. This is why they’re all digested in the same way. The chocolate bar will be broken into glucose just like an apple, but only faster. The chocolate bar has a bunch of monosaccharides that are promptly metabolized and the apple has monosaccharides plus fiber so it takes longer to break down.

It’s basically unachievable to avoid sugars. Unless you follow a ketogenic diet, you’re consuming sugars every day, and that’s okay. Table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are massively accused, though. These are the molecules, we’re told, that cause obesity, dysfunction, and disease.

But, why specifically?

Table sugar is a disaccharide consisting of one molecule fructose and one molecule glucose. Sucrose is found in natural foods like pineapples, sugarcane, beets, sweet potatoes,  and even walnuts, pecans, and cashews. It’s also supplemented to foods to make them sweeter. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is chemically similar, normally consisting of about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. It isn’t found in nature and the only distinction between it and sucrose is the fructose and glucose aren’t chemically bonded. So, do we get fatter and unhealthier with each and every gram of sucrose and HFCS that we absorb? No, so let’s find out why.

Sugar Doesn’t Make You Fat, Overeating Does

Sugar is the scapegoat for many. Well, while it’s correct that some people’s bodies do better with carbohydrate than others, it’s really not correct that sucrose or even HFCS are particularly “fattening”. They are just an origin of glucose for the body like all carbohydrates. And in reality, carbohydrates aren’t saved as body fat as efficiently as dietary fats are.

What is very fattening, then? Overeating.

That is, feeding your body more calories than it needs, despite what foods are giving the excess energy. The more carbohydrates you consume, the more calories you insert into your body. The more energy you give your body, the more energy you have to burn to avoid fat storage. If you give your body a lot more calories than it needs every day, whether from excess quantities of protein, carbohydrate, or dietary fat, you’ll become fatter. And this is where we get to the real problem with sugar consumption and getting fat. This is particularly true of liquid carbohydrates, including drinks with added sugar.

They Don’t Ruin Your Health

Long-term consumption of simple sugars has been connected with an enhanced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Many “specialists” will use a statement like this as conclusive proof that simple sugars destroy our health. But there are other circumstances to examine.

One is the fact that the consequences of these simple sugars vary considerably among people depending on how fat and active they are. Overweight, inactive individuals don’t deal with simple sugars nearly as well as lean, physically active ones do due to insulin resistance variation. When you overeat carbohydrates over long periods of time, the insulin response is decreased that’s called insulin resistance. Even as part of a mixed meal, simple sugars still do raise insulin levels greater than more complex forms of carbohydrates, such as the polysaccharides found in vegetables and that’s called the glycemic index.

If you exercise and aren’t overweight, your body can handle the simple sugars just fine though. By eating a lot of meals with added sugars, you might reduce the number of micronutrients your body receives so be aware of consuming variable sources of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, and vegetables. The answer here is simple: get most of your daily calories from healthy foods and you’ll be golden.

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Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.