THE CLINIC: Juice and Blood Sugar

Thu, 13 Sept. 2012 - 1:06 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I am 53 years old and have been jogging 30 minutes three times a week for at least 16 years. I’d like to know what is the better option, having a daily diet of fruit juices or a daily diet of sports drink. I notice there are between 38 and 48 grams of sugar per serving in most juices, and only 14 grams in most sports drinks—but the latter is of the sucrose type rather than fructose. My blood sugar level is in the normal range (105 to 110, 12 hours fasting), though it has been creeping up in the last few years. I have no health problems except borderline hypertension for which I take 25 mg daily of the beta blocker atenolol. I just want to avoid future problems now, and that’s why I ask.
 
George Kennedy
Stamford, CT
 
ANSWER:
With your present exercise program it would be best for you to drink water and eat fruit. Fruit has soluble fiber that helps with blood sugar regulation and weight control. Maintaining an appropriate weight through diet and exercise is the best strategy for blood sugar control, better than looking at the sugar content of beverages. If you have two to four servings of fruit daily and enough water to quench your thirst then sports drinks or fruit juice are not necessary.
 
Ann Manzi, [MS, RD]
Beverly Farms, MA
 
ANSWER:
Sugar does not cause diabetes; while your blood sugar levels may be creeping up, drinking juice is not likely the cause. As noted above, exercise and weight management are the proper tools to keep blood sugar levels under control. Sports drinks have fewer grams of sugar than juices because they are designed to be consumed during exercise, a time when the body prefers diluted liquids. Fifty to 70 calories of an eight-ounce sports drink get absorbed faster than juices with 100 to 150 calories per eight ounces. While a sports drink is appropriate during runs lasting 60 to 90 minutes, you’ll do your overall health a favor by drinking juices, which have things like phytochemicals that you won’t find in sports drinks, as a routine part of your daily diet. Vitamin-C rich orange and grapefruit juices are among the best choices.
 
Nancy Clark, MS, RD
Chestnut Hill, MA


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(RUNNING & FITNEWS® September/October 2006 • Volume 24, Number 3)




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