Is high-fructose corn syrup a bad fuel for athletes?
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
If by “athletes” you mean guys who can drink a case of Coke while watching SportsCenter, probably. But while you might have noticed high-fructose corn syrup is disappearing quickly from mainstream sports drinks, energy bars, and gels, that’s more due to bad PR than hard science. The oft-vilified synthetic sugar that’s at the heart of drinks like Powerade may be goosing the nation’s flab epidemic (since most Americans consume 42 pounds of it a year), but there’s no evidence that athletes who down it during training should worry it’ll suddenly turn them into America’s Biggest Losers. High-fructose corn syrup is really just a mash-up of two sugars—glucose and fructose—in roughly the same ratio as natural cane sugar, and both are ideal fast-burning fuel sources for athletes in the middle of a workout. Guzzling it during training is fine—just stop once you hit the couch.
high-fructose corn syrup energy drinks