How to understand nutrition labels

4 January, 2013 | Written by Recuperat-ion Recuperat-ion
There are many
suppliers of energy drinks called “effort drinks” or “sports drink (as opposed to
“energy” drinks like RedBull, initially not made for athletes). 
We find in
the various products available on the market 4-5 large families ingredients. 
 Fast sugars appear in different molecular forms, but we must learn to
identify them: sucrose (table sugar), glucose or glucose syrup (the fastest
sugar, particularly in the syrup), dextrose (like glucose), ribose (the less
common fast sugar known for its accelerating effect of the restitution of cellular
ATP, thus interesting in situations of explosive efforts such as Sprint, Cross)
Slow sugars appear under the name of maltodextrins (barley, corn like
Vitargo, wheat) or starch. They are often compared to liquid noodles because
their action is spread over time and less aggressive to blood sugar. Without
being a slow sugar, the fructose, which is a sugar found in fruits, is a
molecule that presents similar properties (spread over time and less aggressive
to blood sugar). We can also include in this category TCM oils (medium-chain fatty
acids), vectors of free acids with an energetic purpose (supposedly) on
prolonged effort situations and without having any effects on the blood sugar.  

Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Vitamins and minerals are electrolytes. They play an important role in intra/extracellular
water exchanges and in all chemical reactions. They are better absorbed when
cycling than running. They come in forms that are best assimilated by the body and
sometimes have strange names that should not worry us: magnesium carbonate,
citrate trimagnesium, magnesium chloride … for magnesium; tricalcium
phosphate, calcium gluconate, citrate tricalcium…for calcium … Another
example is vitamin C that can be mentioned under its scientific name “ascorbic
acid” or under the name of the nutriment that contains it (acerola). Same for
vitamin A that is often present via its precursor beta-carotene or vitamin E
(tocopherol). Antioxidants are also classified under this family. They are
often mentioned under the name of the nutriment that contains it (lemon extract
or tea for flavonoids….). They protect the body against cellular oxidation. 
Stimulants and ergogenic also appear in the list of ingredients. At the top of
the list, we find guarana for its caffeine effect more durable than coffee. 
Finally and more rarely, we find proteins. They essentially come in form of
branched amino acids (the “bcaa”: isoleucine, leucine, valine) or in
ultra filtered lactoserum protein (“whey” protein, the richest in
bcaa’s and the most rapidly assimilated). In recovery drinks sometimes we can
find glutamine. It is a nonessential amino acid (in the sense that it can be
manufactured by the body) found in abundance in the muscles. We know that it is
very solicited in situations of metabolic stress. The glutamine protects the
immune system and enhances muscle repair. Glutamine is sometimes associated
with taurine. This derived of nonessential amino acid that is also found in the
muscle, is in this case used to multiply the effect of glutamine or other

Information about the author:
David Padare is a dietician nutritionist specialized in preferred
disciplines such as endurance sports and outdoor running, trail running,
cycling, triathlon, swimming….
He accompanies many athletes in their diverse and varied challenges:
ultra trail, trails stages, marathons, 100kms, 24h….
Member of the AFDN (French Association of Dietitian Nutritionist) and
the nivernais network RESEDIA for the management of DIABETES and OBESITY, he
also put his knowledge to the treatment of pathologies such as obesity,
diabetes, heart disease, food allergies…
Find David in magazines such as Running Coach and Cyclo Coach
Cyclosport, Running attitude trail magazine, running 100%feminin,, nutritiondusportif, traileur outdoor…..
Nuteoconsult is the structure founded to bring together expertise from
various backgrounds (diet, coach, mind trainer…) for one purpose: to provide
simple and clear answers to each level of practice.
Recuperat-ion – Hydration and Nutrition Experts

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