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What Is Dextrose?

Dextrose is also known as glucose or corn sugar and is basically a simple carbohydrate with a glycaemic index of 100 which is considered very high on the Glycaemic Index scale. It’s been medicinally used by Doctors as an intravenous replenishment for individuals who cannot drink fluids but is more commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders immediately following a training session to help recovery.

Dextrose, Recovery And Muscle

Dextrose raises blood sugar levels and restores muscles glycogen stores very quickly which is why it’s the ideal carbohydrate source for after training or competition since these properties of dextrose mean it’s able to kick-start the recovery process better than slower releasing carbohydrates such as porridge oats. The reason it’s so good is related to how effectively it triggers our body’s to release the hormone insulin. Basically when we consume a high glycaemic index carbohydrate our blood sugar levels rise, this then causes the release of insulin which is a ‘storage hormone’ and is highly anabolic (meaning it promotes muscle growth). Insulin then signals to the body to start recovering and to shuttle much needed nutrients to the muscles as quickly as possible to begin repairing. This is the reason most recovery sports drinks contain a high glycaemic index carbohydrate, such as dextrose, and whilst there are other carbohydrates on the market, dextrose is often the preferred choice of bodybuilders and strength athletes because it’s the best value for money and they often require a lot of it.

Dextrose And Endurance

As well as being used by bodybuilders and strength athletes to bring about an anabolic response after training and increase muscle mass, dextrose is also widely used by endurance athletes as a means of ensuring muscle glycogen stores are fully loaded ready for training or competition. Scientists L. Dunne et al (2006) compared dextrose supplementation to ribose (another form of sugar) supplementation for elite rowers by dividing the athletes into groups and giving one group 10g of ribose before and after training and another group 10g of dextrose before and after training. Following 8 weeks they concluded dextrose positively enhanced performance more than ribose. This is why many sports nutritionists recommend dextrose to athletes who require an instant energy source.


  • Christopher J. Rasmussen (2008) ‘Nutrition Before, During, and After Exercise for the Strength/Power Athlete’ Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements
  • Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Jamie Landis and Mike Greenwood (2008) ‘Nutritional Supplements to Enhance Recovery’ Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise
  • A H Manninen (2006) ‘Hyperinsulinaemia, hyperaminoacidaemia and post-exercise muscle anabolism: the search for the optimal recovery drink’ British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 40, Issue 11, 900-905
  • L. Dunne, S. Worley and M. Macknin (2006) ‘Ribose Versus Dextrose Supplementation, Association With Rowing Performance: A Double-Blind Study’ Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: January 2006 – Volume 16 – Issue 1 – pp 68-71

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