Sugar is the ultimate frenemy. You love it. Animals even love it. Hell, the whole world loves it. Almost every part of you loves it, well, except your back end. And your insides. It’s white death to the parts of yourself you’d only get a peek at if you were in a car crash. Sugar makes no secret that it’s not super healthy, but does it have a place in your supplement routine? The answer to that is a timing and frequency issue.
The hidden sugars in your whey
Milk has natural sugars. You almost can’t get away from it, have a glass and you’re having a form of sugar. It’s a milk sugar, so you’re bound to get some of it in your whey protein, even if you’re using whey protein isolate. This means if you see 1-2g of it showing up, that’s fine. The manufacturer has done their level best to rid the product of lion’s share of natural sugars that could be harmful to your health when you take it over the long term. They’re no big deal, so if you see the odd digit across the sugar chart on the nutrition facts label then that’s not going to harm you. The American Heart Association suggests that you have no more than 37.5 grams per day which is roughly 9 teaspoons. Overall, sugar should never make more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
The above advice is fine for those people looking to lose weight, but what if you’re trying to bulk up? Regardless of your goal, sugar shouldn’t be present in your supplements. Including it into something you drink each day will blow your intake into unhealthy territory, even if your main goal is to create a calorie surplus. Loading yourself up with sugars is the epitome of a dirty bulk. From a health perspective you’ll gain fat, increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. From a training aspect you’ll increase the inflammation throughout your entire body, so you’ll recover slower from training. None of these are outcomes you should tolerate in your supplements.
Sugar by the dollar
If you really like sweetness in your protein, that’s fine, just factor it into your daily calorie intake. Alternatively, there are plenty of ways to add it naturally, especially if you create your own smoothies. Just add ingredients such as fruits that are naturally sweet yet are yoked with the nutrients your body uses to thrive. Or you can add some other sweeteners such as Manuka honey that can promote oral health, improve digestion, and even prevent gastric ulcers.
What you should never do it pay for sugar when it’s added to a supplement. If you want it, just add it yourself. It’s the cheapest, and least healthy, addition to your protein or supplement. You can bet you’re paying top dollar for it because it can be masked to bump up calories, which many mass gaining lifters want to do. Don’t be fooled. Buy protein with less than 2g of sugar per serving and you’ll be doing your body, and your training, the ultimate service.