Dump Fructose!


The first question we get when we meet somone who is new to VFuel products is “What makes VFuel different?” Digestibility, Performance and Active Recovery is the answer! For this blog today let’s talk about “Digestibility”.  What is the biggest complaint about energy gels and drinks in general? Besides the fact they don’t taste near as good coming back up as they do going down?

If you’re like us you probably hate what they do to your stomach.  If you are like the most athletes, one of three things happen which induces a majority of all the moaning and groaning (pun intended) during the consumption of gels and, to a lesser degree, sports drinks:

  • They make you bloated.
  • They give you gas and cause stomach pain.
  • They make you nauseated and/or give you diarrhea.

I am sure many of you have experienced all three of these-maybe all at once.  It can be an ugly end to long hours of training when, on race day, instead of taking on your goal race of the year you are looking for the nearest port-o-john.  So why do most gels and sports drinks cause these issues? It’s often something called Fructose Malabsorbtion. You may hear it called a few different things but this is the most common term for it. Get your nerd on and let’s dig into the science of it. 



The simple explanation is pretty straightforward. You consume fructose (let’s say a common gel or sports drink, really anything except VFuel). It goes into your stomach and starts the process of breaking down. Your stomach can’t really do anything with sugars, so it moves on to your small intestine. Here, the fructose should be absorbed and moved onto the liver where it will break down further. However, your system can only process and move so much fructose to the liver. Some people can handle tons of fructose with out issue! Good for them. These folks are few and far between though. I’m sure you know one. The guy or gal who can stuff their face with donuts or gummy bears at an aid station and think nothing of it. Most of us are not that lucky. We can only handle small amounts of fructose before our system gets bogged down. Think of it like a highway. The road is only designed to handle so many vehicles. During rush hour that number can exceed what the highway was designed to handle and cars begin to back up and people get uncomfortable, frustrated, and irritable. It’s the same thing with your digestive tract and fructose. For most of us it only takes a couple of typical gels before things start to slow down in there, fructose-wise.

If the small intestine can’t absorb and send the fructose to the liver, then that fructose will pass on down to the large intestine. This is bad. And for a lot of us, this is very bad. The bacteria in your large intestine can use that fructose as a food source and start to grow and multiply rapidly. This causes excess hydrogen, among other things. Hence the bloating, pain, and gas.  It can also do different things to different people. One, it can cause constipation. And two, it can attract additional water into the large intestine (uh oh, now we’re battling dehydration) and cause diarrhea.

In addition to these issues in a sedentary person, let me ask what your liver is doing when you are running a marathon or competing in an ironman, etc.? It’s filtering toxins out of your system due to the extra effort your giving, taxing that system even more, and causing the side effects of fructose to be exacerbated. It’s not a pretty sight.

So what makes VFuel different? How and why are we known as the having the most easily digestible products available in the world? A big reason is - we don’t use any fructose! No we’re not geniuses, scientists have known this since the 1980’s. Instead we use dextrose, a much easier to handle simple sugar. Every other kind of sugar takes highly specialized enzymes to break that sugar down before it can be used. Except for dextrose! It is directly absorbed without the need for your body to make enzymes, and is quickly available to be used as fuel for your body. There you go. Problem solved. Let's see how we stack up to our competitors. 

VFuel Endurance Gel

How do we stack up?

VFuel Endurance Drink

How do we stack up?

One thing to note, however, is that you should be very cautious when ingesting sugars in the ‘Maybe?’ column. Take sucrose for example. Some companies claim not to have fructose in their products but, instead, use sucrose. Don’t be fooled! Sucrose is made up of one dextrose molecule and one fructose molecule. While not as bad as straight fructose, it’s still half as bad and can certainly cause significant issues.

We hope this has helped explain a little bit as to why VFuel works so well. We also hope this may rid some of the nasty stigmas associated with energy gels and drinks. As long as you use VFuel you shouldn’t experience any of those terrible symptoms from fructose malapsorbsion. Just do us a favor and lay off the donuts and gummy bears at the aid stations (as well as all of the other products that contain fructose)! Those horror stories are on you! 

Tags: dump fructose, endurance sports, energy gels, energygel, gu, nutrition, running, ultrarunning, vfuel

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