California Raisins: The Natural Performance Booster

By Rick Miller, Clinical and Sports Dietitian, Harley Street, London

Anyone who takes their fitness seriously will know that by eating or drinking carbohydrates before, during and after exercise helps maintain performance and aids faster recovery. While there are hundreds of sports gels, drinks, powders and energy bars on the market, there’s actually a 100% natural and less expensive alternative available.

Dried fruit such as California Raisins – along with fresh fruit and 100% natural fruit juices – can also provide that much-needed injection of naturally derived carbohydrates for peak performance. 
During exercise it’s vital to maintain blood glucose levels, and this is where carbohydrates come in. They’re stored in muscle and the liver as glycogen, which acts as a source of reserve fuel. The breakdown of glycogen to glucose drives energy production for muscle contraction; in turn, the harder and longer your muscles work, the more glucose they demand.

The balance of the sugars in raisins – fructose and glucose – is key, too, as our gut lining actually works better with a variety of sugars than just one. A study by Currell & Jeukendrup, outlines the performance benefits when this mix of sugars [fructose and glucose], as found in raisins, are ingested prior to exercise.
The results in cyclists showed an astounding 8% improvement of power output over and above the improvement by glucose alone.

Meanwhile, in a study of endurance cyclists’ performance over 45 minutes, raisins were shown to be a cost-effective source of carbohydrate for pre-exercise nutrition in comparison to sports gels.

A further study reported by The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that 10 endurance cyclists taking 29g of raisins performed equally as well as 29g of sports jellybeans over a two-hour cycling time trial simulation. The cyclists also preferred the taste of the raisins.

So the next time you’re packing your gym bag, why not throw in a pack of California Raisins for a natural performance boost?

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About the Author:

Rick Miller is a registered Clinical and Sports Dietitian based in Harley Street, London.

You can find out more about Rick at