Sugars decrease the effectiveness of your immune system/growth hormones

It’s too bad too, because they taste so damn great.

Sugar also inhibits the release of growth hormones. So, next time you think that jacking up your insulin post workout is gonna promote recovery and increase muscle, think again.

That page is completely out of context with regards to post training environment. Yes virtually everything they purpose with high levels of simple carbohydrate intake is true, and even understated in my opinion as they left out quite a bit. But after an intense training session supressing cortisol, increasing protein transcription, and the following cascade far outweighs the possible drop in growth hormone that may occur. Some research suggests a positive flow of hormones however.

Following intense exercise (intense exercise is the key), a combination of more easily assimilated carbohydrates and protein is a good choice to jumpstart recovery. If you only train occaisionally or only moderately, yes then avoid high amounts of sugar as there is no need to worry about the calories of quick revovery. But if you are intensely active 6-8 sessions per week for many total hours, the post training environment becomes an extremely valuable and necessary resource to allow for fast consumption of calories and to really take advantage of extremely high levels of transporter proteins that have been integrated into the cellular memberane. I beleive that high glycemic carbohydrates should be utilized in this instance. Because of the extremely active uptake by the muscle cells of the nutrients, the proposed scenerios that have been outlined on that internet page will not occur.

“One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.”

Sounds like something that was written by some Grade 10 students for science class.

But let’s be realistic. If you’re not taking advantage of insulin - especially post-workout, you’re not making optimal gains. Simple as that. The benefits of spiking insulin in a post-workout situation far outweigh any effects listed by the author of that website - especially in healthy athletes who aren’t snacking on high sugar foods throughout the day anyways.

Many of the studies I’ve seen that link insulin with decreased growth hormone, lowered testosterone etc. weren’t done on normral individuals, and often dealt with subjects who had type I diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hyperinsulinemia etc. etc. In other words, people with high insulin resistance to begin with. I doubt many of them even had a workout to consume a insulin spiking PW drink after to begin with.

Yes chronic consumption of sugar is bad, but using it post workout - especially after endurance workouts and heavy training is fine.

While on paper this may seem biased, post workout nutrition works and should be incorporated. Charlie has warned us about the “Urge to Surge” and his wisdom and experiences have motivated me to experiment with some of the concepts that he has shared in the e-books.

T-nation (the artist formally known as t-mag and testosterone magazine) has great info on nutrition but is focused more on hypertrophy and adding muscle mass. Advanced athletes and or athletes with specific weights and somatype needs might not need to be doing during and preworkout insulin flooding. My theory of why Ben and Friends were doing so well from their counterparts was the training sessions were BCAA supported! The sugars were down and the brain was electric! Hence why I feel postworkout formulas should be specifically for postworkout. Now the marketing department at X:Cell Bioenergy might crucify me for my restrictions of a product they sell but longterm spiking has some cons that are not worth risking if you have other options such as BCAAs during workout. In Boston there is a great interest in Nanotechnology from a process view. Some of the advancements in the last three months have caused some changes in the Myomax formula and preworkout Phoenix formula.

Cytofuse is a high glycemic product with fast acting sugar and I don’t suggest it be used all the time. Take it postworkout only unless you are a freshman o-line guy trying to add muscle mass quick…but if you are in the NFL it is likely that you would be large enough. This degree of honesty should be respected since most companies want you to take the product all the time to sell more…that is just not honest.

Those that are trying to gain mass might insure the growth phase by daily multiple spikes to stimulate synthesis. It all depends on your training program…some NCAA schools train so much and so hard you might have to take a postworkout formula all the time…with the new addiction to high speed tempo training form all the HITT programs (mega volume sprints to burn fat and get you in “game shape” ) you may have to spike more to survive. It all depends. Again smarter the training the smarter the nutrition.

Is refined sugar really essential for post-workout recovery though?

Say if one individual were to have a high GI(refined sugar) drink post-workout and another individual were to eat a low GI meal post-workout. Would the differences in recovery be very noticeable? Either way your muscles are getting carbohydrates and protein for recovery. So why would an insulin spike from refined sugar be necessary?

It is in relation to the intensity to the training session and the level of depletion. Initial stages of protein synthesis will occur without the presence of high levels of insulin and even carbohydrates.

I propose three relative uses for a post training shake of this nature (high gi carbs + whey and hydrolyzed whey)

  1. If an athlete took part in an exercise session which was very intense and or very long in duration and relatively sufficient enough to significantly utilize pre-existing stores of glycogen. Glycogen depletion during resistance training is also partially dependant upon the resistance intensity utilized and not just the repetitions. The results of this type of training is also responsible for greater levels of cortisol release, which will in turn be blunted and protein transcription hightened over the next 24 hours. A meal of this fashion will not only clear the “fog”, but also help stabalizing hydration status while still allowing a solid food meal to be consumed 1-2 hours later.

  2. For athletes that take part in a high volume of training sessions over the course of the day/week. As this volume compounds, so does the accumulatve stress upon the metabolic system, immune system and caloric requirements. This meal is a great way to take advantage up full transport protein upregulation minimizing adipose storage. And, as above because of the fast absorbtion/utilization time of the meal, athletes can easily still consume a solid food meal 1-2 hours later.

  3. Athlete needs serious weight gain. Easy calories to consume and utilize. Double dose the shake in the post training session.

  1. Muscle glycogen is replenish with any source of carbohydrate. A meal will accomplish similar effects.

2)The immune system is heavily stressed with high volume training and that is exactly why you should avoid refined sugars. They comprimise the immune system for up to 6 hours after ingestion.

3)Shakes are a convenient source of calories, but eating larger meals will help an athlete gain weight aswell.

  1. Acceleration of carbohydrate synthesis does not occur with just “any source of carbohydrate”. A meal will not accomplish similar effects because of the digestion time required for the meal - not to mention the amount of time it takes to eat the meal. Typically a liquid meal containing fast digesting protein and carbs is absorbed in 30-60 minutes. Compare that to a whole food meal that usually takes 2 to 3 hours before the nutrients actually get to the muscles.

Also, research has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of bodyweight maximizes glycogen synthesis and accelerates protein repair. I doubt many athletes will be able to consume that amount of solid carbohydrates in a short enough period of time to make a meal as effective a liquid source of carbs - especially when you consider that exercise stress results in situation where hunger is supressed.

  1. Suppression of the immune system for 6 hours was shown using 100 grams of sugar, and not in an athletic situation. I doubt any athlete will consume 100 grams of sugar in one sitting. Sugar immediately following or even preceeding a workout is probably more beneficial to the immune system than immuno supressive. Gatorade did a study where runners consumed vitamin C or 16 oz. Gatorade preceeding a big run. Vitamin C supplementation had no effect at all on immune-system functioning following the 2.5-hour run. Runners who took Gatorade had lower neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratios after the run. Exercise induced cortisol release has a large negative effect - the increase of lymphocytes.

  2. No argument there. Though remember, insulin is incredibly anabolic. spiking insulin levels in a situation where insulin sensitivity is high (morning, post workout), provides a tremendous amount of anti-catabolism in the presence of amino acids. Plus it’s easier to do so with a liquid meal - especially for those who find it difficult to digest large amounts of whole food.


I am discussing in terms of multiple training events over the course of one day and over the course of a week when regeneration becomes limited. In this case every hour can be critical. Train at 6am and then again a 3pm, which happens for most athletes 3-4 days per week, and it doesn’t leave enough time to eat and rest, let alone to do it optimally. In this case a quickly utilized shake has many benefits which we have already discussed. If this is not the situation, then skip the carbs and go for the protein only post training as it is by far the most important constituent.

I have yet to see any substantial amount of research showing a negative correlation between the consumption of high gi carbs pre/during/post training and the immune system in comparison to neutral/positive results. Since I have not seen it, I would be very interested in seeing what you have found.

I always see persons who are anti-nutritional drink take the stance that anyone who possibly recommends it thinks that it should take the place of whole food meals. They are both food, one is easier and quicker to prepare and is assimilated faster. That is the key. You can drink quick calories and still be able to eat all the other whole food meals. This essentially adds more calories than this person would consume otherwise AND reinforces hydration status. If this is not of concern, then none of this applies.

We can not examine parts of the system in isolation. You can not take the training session out of the day and just take that small tiny slice. What happens before and after has great affect upon the cumulative result.

These research articles help show a larger relationship. Some show reduced raction, some positive, but most no differences between carbohydrate intake around training and no carbohydrate intake.

To get a more complete picture we must also examine these along side other research findings examining protein transcription, cytoskeleton damage/repair, and hydration status response among others. This is a short list that I had focussing upon cho and exercise of different types, intensity, and duration.

1: Henson DA, Nieman DC, Pistilli EE, Schilling B, Colacino A, Utter AC, Fagoaga OR, Vinci DM, Nehlsen-Cannarella SL. Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Influence of carbohydrate and age on lymphocyte function following a marathon.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Jun;14(3):308-22.
PMID: 15256691 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

2: Nieman DC, Davis JM, Brown VA, Henson DA, Dumke CL, Utter AC, Vinci DM, Downs MF, Smith JC, Carson J, Brown A, McAnulty SR, McAnulty LS. Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Influence of carbohydrate ingestion on immune changes after 2 h of intensive resistance training.
J Appl Physiol. 2004 Apr;96(4):1292-8. Epub 2003 Dec 12.
PMID: 14672962 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

3: McAnulty SR, McAnulty LS, Nieman DC, Morrow JD, Utter AC, Henson DA, Dumke CL, Vinci DM. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Influence of carbohydrate ingestion on oxidative stress and plasma antioxidant potential following a 3 h run.
Free Radic Res. 2003 Aug;37(8):835-40.
PMID: 14567443 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

4: McFarlin BK, Flynn MG, Stewart LK, Timmerman KL. Related Articles, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Carbohydrate intake during endurance exercise increases natural killer cell responsiveness to IL-2.
J Appl Physiol. 2004 Jan;96(1):271-5. Epub 2003 Sep 12.
PMID: 12972438 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

5: Green KJ, Croaker SJ, Rowbottom DG. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Carbohydrate supplementation and exercise-induced changes in T-lymphocyte function.
J Appl Physiol. 2003 Sep;95(3):1216-23.
PMID: 12909602 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

6: Bishop NC, Walsh NP, Scanlon GA. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Effect of prolonged exercise and carbohydrate on total neutrophil elastase content.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Aug;35(8):1326-32.
PMID: 12900686 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

7: Bishop NC, Gleeson M, Nicholas CW, Ali A. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Influence of carbohydrate supplementation on plasma cytokine and neutrophil degranulation responses to high intensity intermittent exercise.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2002 Jun;12(2):145-56.
PMID: 12187615 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

8: Venkatraman JT, Pendergast DR. Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Effect of dietary intake on immune function in athletes.
Sports Med. 2002;32(5):323-37. Review.
PMID: 11929359 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

9: Bishop NC, Walsh NP, Haines DL, Richards EE, Gleeson M. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Pre-exercise carbohydrate status and immune responses to prolonged cycling: I. Effect on neutrophil degranulation.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11(4):490-502.
PMID: 11915783 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

10: Nieman DC. Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Exercise immunology: nutritional countermeasures.
Can J Appl Physiol. 2001;26 Suppl:S45-55. Review.
PMID: 11897882 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

11: Gleeson M, Lancaster GI, Bishop NC. Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Nutritional strategies to minimise exercise-induced immunosuppression in athletes.
Can J Appl Physiol. 2001;26 Suppl:S23-35. Review.
PMID: 11897880 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

12: Koch AJ, Potteiger JA, Chan MA, Benedict SH, Frey BB. Related Articles, Compound via MeSH, Substance via MeSH, Books, LinkOut
Minimal influence of carbohydrate ingestion on the immune response following acute resistance exercise.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Jun;11(2):149-61.
PMID: 11402249 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

After further research, I believe that an insulin spike post-workout is beneficial to the immune system and promotes greater recovery than with no insulin spike alone. I believe that a large dosage(50 - 100 grams) of refined sugar post-workout could have deterimental affects on the immune system and I would appreciate any information on the subject matter.

what? :confused:

No info on the sugar killing the immune system in my library.

How about low GI carbs along with BCAA’s during the workout. It would replenish glycogen as quick as taking a high GI carb post-workout, and would keep you at a high energy level for the last half of the workout. I follow this model sport specific practice—> complex carbs/protein taken throughout weights and after.

I mix dextrose with my post-workout creatine/protein shake, any major cons here?

Con: It’s not as good as Cytofuse! :wink:

It is actually decent though as long as whey protein isolate is what you are using. I’ve used it before.

I’m guessing it has to do with chronic high insulin level. It doesn’t really directly kill the immune system but too much can weaken immune system thus limit GI sugars to PWO only. It just depends…

good point…chronic and selective are not the same…still I suggest small meals to keep the insulin low most of the time to prevent illness.