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  1. #1
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    High fructose corn syrup in energy gels?

    The energy gels make heavy use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been implicated as a villain in the development of obesity and diabetes in our society.

    Any problem with a cyclist using it as an energy gel, when the cyclist is eating 250 Cal/hr of HFCS, but is probably burning 2x or 3x that number of Cal/hr on the bike? My thought (hope?) is that the substance will be burned off so fast it won't hang around long enough to do any damage.

    I suppose one could always suck on honey. Also, HFCS is getting more expensive as cars compete with humans for corn (corn-based ethanol).
    Peter Wang, LCI
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  2. #2
    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    I don't think fructcose is the same as HFCS, right? Here's the nutrition info/ingredients for the gels I like. I see fructose listed, but not HFCS.

    http://www.gusports.com/html/gu_vanilla.htm
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    Clif shots. No HFCS

    [edit]

    I don't think fructcose is the same as HFCS
    That is true. There is a difference.
    [edit]

    -D
    Last edited by derath; 03-19-07 at 09:04 AM.

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    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    But does a listing of fructcose imply HFCS?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mateo44
    But does a listing of fructcose imply HFCS?

    Hmm good question. Not sure. I can't get a solid answer anywhere. Usually HFCS is listed as such, but that doesn't mean companies can get around it. Although I would imagine they list HFCS rather than just fructose because they are required to, which would lead me to believe that just listing fructose would imply it is a different source.

    Either way that is one reason I stick to clif shots. They use Brown rice syrup, which is made differently (not synthesized like HFCS). It also yields a different type of sugar. Rather than just fructose, brown rice syrup is more complex.

    According to wikipedia:

    "Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (usually from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and cooking it until the desired consistency is reached. The final product is roughly 50% soluble complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately, the maltose takes up to one and a half hours to be digested, and the complex carbohydrates take from two to three hours, providing a steady supply of energy. "

    Plus I just like the tastes of the clif stuff.

    -D

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    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Fructcose is the stuff you add to fruit to make it jell as in making Jam. I think it is tootally different that corn syrup.

    Joe

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    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    I think (am not sure, but have heard) that most fructose is from corn syrup. I could be wrong, though

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    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    Seems logical...thanks!

    I never knew cycling would make me into an armchair chemist...
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    I think (am not sure, but have heard) that most fructose is from corn syrup. I could be wrong, though

    Probably so. So 2 questions then remain.

    1. Are companies required to list HFCS as such on their labels? If so then listing simply fructose would mean it is not HFCS

    2. Is the link to obesity ALL forms of fructose, or just HFCS?

    Also, some of the stuff I have read is that it isn't just fructose or even HFCS in general that is the culprit. It is that it is in so much of the processed food that people eat way more of it than before.

    -D

  10. #10
    Senior Member tbdean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    2. Is the link to obesity ALL forms of fructose, or just HFCS?
    The "link to obesity" is from people eating too much food, too sugary food, and not getting enough / any exercise. If you eating one gel an hour while cycling an all day event I really doubt you have much to worry about.

    Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar - it occurs in may foods, fruits, and the body produces it after breaking down other foods. We need it to live - ask any diabetic.

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    Power Bar brand has no HFCS in their gels. A major reason I use that brand plus I love the vanilla. Their actual power bar does or did use HFCS.

    Al

  12. #12
    Pokes On Spokes JPradun's Avatar
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    High fructose corn syrup is different than corn syrup is different than fructose, and manufacturers are required to list if it is high fructose corn syrup.

    In general, fructose is less healthy than glucose, but HFCS is worse than fructose. Fructose (and HFCS) is almost all broken down into glucose, glycogen, lactic acid, or fat. If you eat more sugar than your body can digest and process, it is converted mostly into fat (long after you could use it in a 2-3hr ride).

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    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    Thanks JPradun!

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    The only problem with HFCS is the same as with sucrose (table-sugar), glucose or fructose. And that's eating too much, more than you need for activities. The excess of which is converted to fat once your glycogen-stores are fully-packed in the muscles.

    Eating it before or during a ride for energy is fine. Even afterwards for recovery is fine. Just be careful of the amounts.

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    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    The only problem with HFCS is the same as with sucrose (table-sugar), glucose or fructose. And that's eating too much, more than you need for activities. The excess of which is converted to fat once your glycogen-stores are fully-packed in the muscles.

    Eating it before or during a ride for energy is fine. Even afterwards for recovery is fine. Just be careful of the amounts.
    I just wish my glycogen stores wouldn't become fully packed before my stomach is! But I guess that's the problem...
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    Quote Originally Posted by mateo44
    I just wish my glycogen stores wouldn't become fully packed before my stomach is! But I guess that's the problem...
    'Calorie-density', that's called (in the food, I mean). Packing more and more calories into smaller and smaller units... which is what you want, I guess, in something like a gel for nothing but fuel on a long ride, but not good to sit down to a plateful of enough of them to make you feel full.

  17. #17
    mateo for short mateo44's Avatar
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    Right -- a spinach salad (low density) rather than cheesecake (high density)....
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  18. #18
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    Hmm good question. Not sure. I can't get a solid answer anywhere. Usually HFCS is listed as such, but that doesn't mean companies can get around it. Although I would imagine they list HFCS rather than just fructose because they are required to, which would lead me to believe that just listing fructose would imply it is a different source.

    Either way that is one reason I stick to clif shots. They use Brown rice syrup, which is made differently (not synthesized like HFCS). It also yields a different type of sugar. Rather than just fructose, brown rice syrup is more complex.

    According to wikipedia:

    "Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (usually from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and cooking it until the desired consistency is reached. The final product is roughly 50% soluble complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately, the maltose takes up to one and a half hours to be digested, and the complex carbohydrates take from two to three hours, providing a steady supply of energy. "

    Plus I just like the tastes of the clif stuff.

    -D
    I also thought that maltose was slow to be absorbed, but it appears that studies of blood levels show that it is absorbed faster than even glucose. See this glycemic index list. But I use Clif bars, and they don't seem to give me a sugar jolt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    The energy gels make heavy use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been implicated as a villain in the development of obesity and diabetes in our society.

    Any problem with a cyclist using it as an energy gel, when the cyclist is eating 250 Cal/hr of HFCS, but is probably burning 2x or 3x that number of Cal/hr on the bike? My thought (hope?) is that the substance will be burned off so fast it won't hang around long enough to do any damage.

    I suppose one could always suck on honey. Also, HFCS is getting more expensive as cars compete with humans for corn (corn-based ethanol).
    It seems that HFCS is being demonized as what is making people obese. It is probably more of a case of people not working off the food that they eat. HFCS is used in lots of processed foods for a sweetener. If it were honey used in processed foods the result would be no different than HFCS. If you eat too much processed food you are eating too much of what is used to sweeten it, whether it be HFCS, sucrose, beet sugar, barley sugar, etc.

  20. #20
    grilled cheesus aham23's Avatar
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    HCFS is a man made product. It extends the self life of a product and can help make it taste "sweeter" without jacking the calories all the way up. It is also in almost every processed food product. It will be listed on the label as HCFS. It is in barbecue sauce, ketchup, Nature Valley Granola Bars, some Quaker Oatmeal, Yoplait yogurts, and so on and so on. Cliff bars are marketed as an all Natural bar and since this is a man made substance and not natural it is not in them. Later.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    The energy gels make heavy use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been implicated as a villain in the development of obesity and diabetes in our society.

    Any problem with a cyclist using it as an energy gel, when the cyclist is eating 250 Cal/hr of HFCS, but is probably burning 2x or 3x that number of Cal/hr on the bike? My thought (hope?) is that the substance will be burned off so fast it won't hang around long enough to do any damage.

    I suppose one could always suck on honey. Also, HFCS is getting more expensive as cars compete with humans for corn (corn-based ethanol).
    Simple sugars (and other carbs) taken in with full glucose stores cause an insulin spike, which leads to the sugar being stored as fat, a drop in blood sugar, and hunger. Over time, it leads to insulin resistance and sometimes type 2 diabetes.

    The story during exercise is very different. Taking in sugars keeps up the blood sugar, which is what you need to delay exhaustion. You don't get the down side because it's not excess sugar.

    Food for fitness covers all of this.

    Too much fructose may be an issue. Fructose absorption is slower than that of other sugars (it's believed that it operates by diffusion rather than by sodium-mediated transport, as glucose does). This means that it sticks around in the stomach longer, and if it's not absorbed fast enough, it can cause the dreaded "GI distress". Fructose is absorbed faster when in combination with other sugars, which is why many drinks use both.

    There's also some evidence that a fair number of people don't absorb fructose as well as others.
    Eric

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  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by !!Comatoa$ted
    It seems that HFCS is being demonized as what is making people obese. It is probably more of a case of people not working off the food that they eat. HFCS is used in lots of processed foods for a sweetener. If it were honey used in processed foods the result would be no different than HFCS. If you eat too much processed food you are eating too much of what is used to sweeten it, whether it be HFCS, sucrose, beet sugar, barley sugar, etc.
    +1

    People need something to blame. It couldn't possibly be the fact that they don't exercise enough, or generally make good food choices!!


    Just because someone consumes fructose does NOT mean they are going to become obese.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    +1

    People need something to blame. It couldn't possibly be the fact that they don't exercise enough, or generally make good food choices!!


    Just because someone consumes fructose does NOT mean they are going to become obese.
    No of course not. And sure exercise is a factor as well.

    But one of the big problems with HFCS is that it has opened the door. It is such a low cost sweetener, with an extended shelf life it gets used everywhere.

    I bought a loaf of bread the other day. HFCS was the third ingredient, behind flour and water. It is almost impossible to find canned peaches that don't contain it.

    These days it isn't even good enough to just make good food choices. You have to be extra vigilent about it.

    So sure, just consuming fructose does not mean people are going to become obese. It is that it is becoming a staple ingredient in the vast majority of foods.

    -D

  24. #24
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    No of course not. And sure exercise is a factor as well.

    But one of the big problems with HFCS is that it has opened the door. It is such a low cost sweetener, with an extended shelf life it gets used everywhere.

    I bought a loaf of bread the other day. HFCS was the third ingredient, behind flour and water. It is almost impossible to find canned peaches that don't contain it.

    These days it isn't even good enough to just make good food choices. You have to be extra vigilent about it.

    So sure, just consuming fructose does not mean people are going to become obese. It is that it is becoming a staple ingredient in the vast majority of foods.

    -D
    Before HFCS, it was sucrose (sugar) that was used as the main sweetener in foods. HFCS is just cheaper than sugar, so it's used instead.

    BTW, after flour and water, there remaining ingredients in a regular loaf of bread are generally used in pretty small amounts. So having some HFCS as the third ingredient doesn't necessarily mean there's a lot of it.

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