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The Sport Information Resource Centre

For those of us who are health conscious and seeking to find alternatives to sugar you can try natural sweeteners. But are they better? Natural sweeteners are sweeteners that go through very little processing, if any, before hitting your local store and have less chemical residues. They are simple carbohydrates that rapidly decreases your energy, increases your blood sugar and are not likely to add any significant minerals and vitamins to your diet.

These natural sweeteners include but are not limited to:

  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Coconut sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Date sugar

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, also known as simple sugar, which is a source of energy during high intense exercise. Simple carbohydrates from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables as opposed to processed foods are much easier on the body since they are high in dietary fibre. The dietary fibre slows down the absorption of sugar and helps provide the body with energy without a rapid decrease in energy.

The reality is, too much sugar is not good for anyone. Sugar when consumed in excess can lead to obesitydiabetes, tooth decay and weakening of the immune system. Using natural sweeteners can be a good alternative but they are still sugar. The best option is having a balanced diet of whole, fresh and real foods. Minimal processed foods for athletes or recreational exercisers can lead to better performance and quality of life. However, life is to be enjoyed and indulging in chocolate is part of the enjoyment. As a result, moderation and knowing your recommended limits are the best options.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Al-Waili N, Saloom K, Ali A, et al. Honey ameliorates influence of hemorrhage and food restriction on renal and hepatic functions, and hematological and biochemical variables. International Journal Of Food Sciences & Nutrition. August 2006;57(5/6):353-362. 
2. Blackwood A, Quick S. beyond table sugar. Health (Time Inc. Health). December 2003;17(10):119-124. 
3. Goyal S, Samsher, Goyal R. Stevia ( Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review. International Journal Of Food Sciences & Nutrition. February 2010;61(1):1-10. 
4. Schryver T. Sweet Switch. Yoga Journal. November 2002;(170):40. 
5. Smurr T. Eating and Exercise. Sports ‘N Spokes Magazine. March 2013;39(2):54-55. 
6. Sweeteners: Good, Bad, and Even Politically Incorrect. Diets Designed For Athletes. January 2002;:198-200.



The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.