Orange Juice

By: Arthur Anderson

Is it good for you or is it bad for you?  Definitely a matter of perspective.  Aside from being a good source of vitamin C what else does orange juice provide? Roughly the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of sugar (26 grams) or the equivalent sugar in a can of Coke.

When orange juice hits your digestive system, it makes an unimpeded entry into your blood stream, because the sugar is no longer locked up in the plant cells requiring some level of digestion.  Our bodies try and keep a balance of 4-5 grams of sugar in our bloodstream. A variation in this number by only a few percentage points can cause organ damage or can cause seizures or arrhythmia.  You just dumped 26 grams of sugar into your bloodstream, your body is going to react.  First, the pancreas starts pumping out gobs of insulin to grab onto the excess sugar.  Second, all fat metabolism stops.  Yep, you just finished a 20-minute AMRAP and feeling pretty good about yourself, your body’s digesting fat to help refill your energy stores and you dump two tablespoons of sugar into your system, your fat metabolism stops.  Done for the day.

What if you don’t any extra fat to lose, no big deal, right?  Your body is a pretty incredible machine.  It has mechanisms to metabolize carbohydrates (sugar), fat and protein to create needed energy and glucose.  And it balances these mechanisms based on need and energy source (basically what you eat).  If you have a very heavy carbohydrate eating routine the mechanisms needed to metabolize carbohydrates will be more prominent than the mechanisms needed to metabolize fats or proteins.  Your body can only store a very limited amount of glucose 400-500 (1600-2000 calories).  If your body is carbohydrate dominant, you will need to continually fuel it with carbohydrates, because your body doesn’t have the mechanisms to metabolize fats and proteins efficiently.  You can tell if you are carbohydrate dependent if you need to eat or take a supplement immediately after a workout, or you need to refuel during an endurance (30-minute+) workout.

So, what’s the take away here?  If you want your orange juice, drink it at the end of a balanced meal.  This will slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream and keep your body sugar more balanced.  After a workout you don’t need to ‘carb’ up, all that does is train your body to be dependent on carbohydrates, creating a weakness in your weight loss and workouts.  Eat a balanced meal, or supplement, after your workout.  It doesn’t have to be immediately after a workout, wait an hour or so, train your body to metabolize what it has stored before you start feeding it again.  Or finally, just eat an orange.