As climbers, we often try to both improve the quality of our diet and restrict our caloric intake in an effort to either lose or maintain our body weight. There’s nothing wrong with these goals as long as they are not taken too far. However, whether we are altering our diet for weight loss or improved performance, limiting or completely eliminating sugar seems to be a common goal for many climbers.

We all know that excess sugar consumption can have negative impacts on our health. However, we need sugar to fuel our climbing and this makes sugar consumption a more complex topic.

To help shed some light on sugar and its place in performance nutrition, here’s an article from Brian Rigby of Climbing Nutrition.

“Sugar is hotly debated. Even discounting carbophobic groups (like keto dieters), sugar is often considered unhealthy and not “worth” putting in your body compared to other sources of calories. Sugar is also demonized as being the foremost cause of poor health outcomes, with entire books written attempting to link sugar intake alone to diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In this light, there’s no truly “safe” amount.”

“On the other hand, from a biochemical perspective all carbohydrates are ultimately sugars, and it’s sugar in the form of glucose that powers our brain and body. Since no human could live very long without adequate blood glucose, it’s clear that sugar is not a menace in-and-of-itself because our body will go to great and complicated lengths to produce it if we do not supply adequate amounts. From this perspective, the harms of sugar are not linked to the six carbon molecule itself, but to our overindulgence in that molecule (and other caloric molecules, as well).” – Brian Rigby

Sugar Guidelines for Climbers

To help provide some clarity on the issue of sugar consumption, Rigby examines sugar guidelines provided by health organizations. Then, he outlines how these guidelines affect athletes like climbers.

This article was a very interesting read. With topics like sugar where we have such ingrained negative responses, it pays to have more factual information. By no means is Rigby suggesting you should simply go out and eat all the sugary snacks you want. However, he is suggesting that we learn more about sugar, its roll in athletic performance, and how our bodies use the nutrient. This way we can make more informed decisions about how we want to restrict our diet for improved climbing performance.

Click through below to learn more about sugar for yourself!

Full Articles: Climbing Nutrition – Sugar Guidelines for Climbers


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