arm pump & sugar

Willpower! Now thats what I need!!! Trying to stay off of sugar is proving to be more difficult than I thought. Those sodas in their bright shimmering cans, jelly on my toast, and above all syrup on my pancakes.Sorry I just had to vent a little. Eating around all this sugar is tough. After two weeks though my last ride showed definate improvements in stamina with a lot less arm fatigue. Well time to open one of those shiny cans. Its ok to still use soda as a mixer....right? Huge

Howard: I probably went to the extreme in eliminating sugar from my diet. I mean, the diabetic educational specialist didn't stress a total elimination of sugar, but more of a drastic reduction. I decided on my own to cut out the sugar because I want to have a chance at a normal healthy life. The result of my tenacity was a near cure for the crippling arm pump that tormented me for so long. To be able to race at the pace I'm capable of without having to slow down and roll all the jumps after the second lap has inspired me to avoid sugar like PeeWee Herman avoids the movie theatres. I still have a strong urge to feast on chocolate chip cookies when the deli at my local grocery store is baking them. That aroma just draws me like a magnet, but I resist by remembering my type II and the arm pump problem. It's getting easier with time. What you decide to do is strictly up to you. Thanks for the update. I've been wondering if any others have had similar results. :)

Boit,Long live life w/o sugar hope to continue experiment and post results of course :)

Boit, what about diet sodas/aspartame do they affect your blood like real sugars?

Great post, got me thinking hard about my diet.

F-Pilot: Diet sodas have no effect on blood sugar levels. Keep in mind that the other downside to sodas is the carbon dioxide content. CO2 inhibits the muscles ability to maximize use of oxygen which is essential. Initially, I had avoided sodas all together as well as refined sugar. Lately, I've been drinking one diet Dr. Pepper a day with lunch and noticed a slight return of arm pump this past Sunday while racing MX. I raced two classes for the first time ever and was pleased overall with the general decline in this nagging condition. I've decided to avoid soda of any description from now on and switch to herbal teas and mineral water. The arm pump Sunday was no doubt a result of the death grip that creeps up on me when I don't ride often enough. I felt a bit rusty and overcompensated with the grip. Once I caught myself doing it, I made myself relax the grip and the arm pump subsided quickly. I just got a Twist Stik and will use that daily and see if that improves my problem further. I was vying for 2nd place Sunday and was about to attempt a pass when a YZ250 changed his mind when approaching a muddy faced double jump and slammed on his brakes and moved over in front of me. I stalled the engine trying to avoid a collision and it took a few kicks to get going again. Needless to say.....last place that moto for 4th overall. I'm finding racing to be infinitely more enjoyable since getting the arm pump manageable. I have no doubt that if I could get in 2 quality practice days a week, the arm pump would cease to exist. I have absolutely no second thoughts in knowing that diet is about 90% the root of this problem. Proper exercise, bike time, and avoiding the "death grip" comprises the rest.

Thanks Boit,

I dont suffer from chronic arm pump but do get it from the death grip (squeze that tank wih your legs), but I am over 40 and looking for any help I can get.

Your weekend sounds similar to mine, got 3rd in the first moto was working my way up from a bad start in the second moto and 4th endos big time right in front of me. Killed the motor missing his head and finished 14th, wish these had magic button!

Originally posted by F-Pilot:

Thanks Boit,

I dont suffer from chronic arm pump but do get it from the death grip (squeze that tank wih your legs), but I am over 40 and looking for any help I can get.

Your weekend sounds similar to mine, got 3rd in the first moto was working my way up from a bad start in the second moto and 4th endos big time right in front of me. Killed the motor missing his head and finished 14th, wish these had magic button!

I think you guys are too down on sugar. Everyone is different, just because it works for you doesn't mean a sugar free diet will help the next guy. I have done the Hawaii Ironman 4 times and I consume a 32 oz water bottle of Gatorade (major sugar) every 5 miles of the bike. Its usually 100 degrees and the wind howls, sucking your energy away. On the run, even the Gatorade stops working. Guess what they give you every mile of the run. Coca-Cola! (Its flat though). It works amazingly well. The key to making any sports drink work is to sip it constantly-a steady stream of simple sugar. Complex carbs are too hard to digest during maximum exertion. If you do longer races or trailrides try a sports drink in your drinking system-but sip it constantly. If you want to try Coke, water it down 2 to 3 times with water.

I never claimed going sugar-free is the be all..end all answer to arm pump. I was merely passing along my experience in the hopes that it might help others.


I'd like to ad my two cents if you don't mind.

I use to be a sports medicine major in college and I was always a nutrition nut. Let me first start by saying that simple sugar is good and bad, just depending upon when you use it. I think the best way for me to describe my explanations for what I'm going to say is set up a hypothetical scenario.

Let's say Moto Joe is a pretty active rider and racer. He trains 3 times a week and races religiously on most weekends. Since he takes his training seriously, he has to eat balanced,healthy meals in order to stay in optimum shape right? Let's just agree on that one. For MJ to get optimum performance, here are the extra things that MJ has to do before, during, and after training sessions to make the training count. Get familiar with the training drink by TwinLab called Ultra fuel. It's essentially complex carbs in liquid form, or a glucose polymer and maltodextrin (a form of complex carbs). It also has a small percentage of fructose, which aids in muscle glycogen replenishment which I'll explain in a little bit. But, just know that it's a very good supplement to have in your pantry.

So, Moto Joe has to have his muscle glycogen levels at their highs before training and before racing. To do this, he has to drink 100-150g (4-6 scoops in water) 3-4 hours before competition. This will ensure that the carbs are converted into muscle glycogen by the time he competes or trains. So, that's what he needs to do before training.

During training, or long distance endurance racing, he needs a diluted concentration of the ultra fuel while he exercises to keep the muscle glycogen from falling off too fast. As Mike said, he does Triathalon's and he drinks flat coke while training. Well, some experts would advise against pure, simple sugar, but would advocate a mixture of glucose polymers (complex carbs in liquid form), simple sugar, and fructose (found in fruit such as oranges). When you take, say a mixture of Ultra Fuel, say 50g in 16oz of water over a period of 30 min of exercise, it keeps the gut coated with the liquid carbs, which is also a recommedation. But, it's the liquid carb solution that will provide blood glucose that can be used for energy while your doing long events. Blood glucose is just a step before it's converted into muscle glycogen. It's not nearly as effective as stored muscle glycogen, but blood glucose will be converted into energy while you are training. For moto racers, since the moto's are only 20 min. or so, and you don't really want to drink while your fighting for position, wait until after the moto, which is explained in the next paragraph. This is why it's for endurance athlete's and sustained training sessions. Ok, enough about that.

The after training part is very important. Here is where simple sugar can be your friend. After long periods of sustained exercise, your muscles are depleted of their stored muscle glycogen, so it's in search mode for a 1-2 hour period. I've been taught to drink a solution of Ultra fuel, approx. 150-200g (6-8 scoops mixed into 16-20 oz. of water) immediately after sustained workouts. It's also recommended to take simple sugar along with that, either in candy form or whatever. It aids in the absorbtion process, so your muscles replace the lost glycogen levels. Simple sugar taken right after exercise doesn't spike insulin levels because your body is in search mode. But, simple sugar taken before exercise will spike insulin levels, giving you that sugar high, and then it depletes your energy levels.

So, Moto Joe is best off with no sugar, until he has exercised thoughly. I wouldn't recommend sugar on race day though. Just some ultra fuel 3-4 hours before your going to compete, and then at the end of your last moto. Your during drink is really only intended for training days, like mountain biking, running, and endurance athletes that are doing sustained races like marathons and triathalons.

I hope I didn't confuse all of you too much. Good luck with the training. Also, I don't necessarily endorse one product like TwinLab's Ultra Fuel necessarily. It's just what I use. You can buy it at GNC or your local nutrition store. It comes in powder form, so you can regulate how much you use. There are many other makers of those type's of products out there. One side note though, Gatorade isn't one of these products. If you look at the ingredients of gatorade, it's High Fructose Corn Syrup and then maltodextrin in a diminished quantity. I know many sports athlete's drink it, but it's also a huge money maker for Pepsi, who now owns Gatorade. Coke owns Powerade, a better choice, but still not my choice for replenishment. These drinks can be ok for your during exercise replenishment, but you need something in a concentrated (liquid complex carb "glucose polymer") form after your long workouts to give you that replenished fuel needed to prepare you for your next race, training session, or workout.

Good Luck To All.

P.S.- I learned a great deal of my information from the book, "Optimum Sports Nutrition", by Dr. Michael Colgan, of the Colgan Institue.


Great information. I noticed soy milk was mentioned a couple times. I work for Nasoya and Vitasoy. We make all tofu products and soy milk. Soy milk varies greatly from type to type. The inriched soy milk has the best benifits. I prefer the enriche vanilla from Vitasoy. It tastes ok, We make it and I get a case for 8 bucks. But there are other vitamins you get out of inriched.

Non enriched soy milk

Carob (chocolate) supreme

Calories 150 40fat 10 saturated

Total fat 4.5g 7%

sodium 7%

carbs 22g 7%

sugars 9G

protein 7G

vitamins A 0% C 0% calcium 6% iron4%


Enriched vanilla

Calories 110 30fat total 3g 5%

sodium 6%

Carbs 15g 5%

protein 6G

Vitamins A 10% C 0% D 20% thiamin 8%

Riboflavin 20% folate 10%

b12 15% calcium 30% iron 4%

magnesium 6% zinc6%

Basically, more vitamins out of inriched

Thanks for that information, DaveyG. I've been looking for a good supplement with low sugars that I can take for my training regimen. Mike is correct, in my estimation, that each person will respond ifferently and have different requirements than the next person. With my type II diabetes, I had the need to control my blood glucose levels. By cutting out simple sugars as much as possible, exercising properly, and a good iet, I have achieved that. Nobody told me that a side benefit would be the huge improvement in arm pump an increase in endurance and overall energy levels. From the research I've done on sports nutrition, indications are that a good balanced diet day in and day out is probably the best insurance against excessive fatigue come race day. Of course, riding regularly and avoiding the death grip also guard against arm pump.

Agreed Boit. A balanced diet with the right amount of carbs, proteins, and fats will take you further than any supplemental drink out there. Also, as you say, riding regularly is key. If you wait until race day to get your exercise, you will not even get close to your full potential. Yes, it's hard to train during the week, but it makes riding and racing that much more enjoyable. So, properly balanced meals, low sugar diets, liquid complex carb supplementation for stored energy after your long workouts, and plenty of training. OH, did I mention plenty of SLEEP, yea, it's probably the most important aside from eating properly.........

As asked to Lance Armstrong, "What are you on?", insinuating he was on some type of drug to elevate his performance.........

His reply, "I'm on my bike 6 hours a day, what are you on?"



Here's something to think about. When you drink pure water, it's absorbed at a very quick rate through the gut, or the stomach lining. If you drink a coke, it is slowed considerably. Let me quote some paragraph's from Dr. Michael Colgan's book, Optimum Sports Nutrition. You'll see what I'm talking about afterwards.....

Pg. 33 "Maximum Absorbtion"

"Drinking the water is easy: getting the body to absorb it may not be. Our tests agree with David Costill's laboratory that cold water, below 50deg F (10deg C) is absorbed faster than room temp water. As a bonus it supplies a reservoir of cold in the stomach that will absorb considerable body heat. Sip, don't gulp. Gulping swallows air which disturbs stomach function and slows absorbtion. The same applies to carbonated drinks. The gas slows absorbtion. Avoid them."

pg. 33-34

"Almost anything added to water slows absorbtion. The walls of your intestines are semi-permeable membranes like very fine mesh. Water passes through easily but most particles do not. So, pure water, containing no particles (preferably very cold distilled water) is absorbed rapidly. As soon as you dissolve anything in it, say sugar, absorbtion slows. In addition, dissolved particles make it harder for water to pass from the stomach to the small intestine, where it is absorbed."

"Many commercial sports drinks contain high levels of glucose or sucrose or similar simple sugars. They inhibit absorbtion. Don't use them during exercise. Soft drinks and sodas are worse. Typically, they are over 10% simple sugars. If you drink 12 oz. of plain water, 8 oz. of it will empty from your stomach within 15 minutes. If you drink 12 oz. of a 10% sugar solution (coke basically), less than 1 oz. will empty in the same time period."

"But a lesser level of sugar can be helpful. Simple glucose at 1-5% hardly inhibits stomach emptying at all, and does provide a boost to blood glucose. (This is what I was talking about when I said raising blood glucose levels a couple of posts ago)

Fructose at 2% enhances stomach emptying and preferentially restores hepatic (liver) glycogen. And polymerized glucose (found in Hydra fuel and Ultra fuel) also allows rapid emptying. In 1983, Dr. Robert Sieple and colleagues at Ohio State U. confirmed earlier studies that a solution of 2% fructose plus 5% polymerized glucose empties from the stomach only a mite slower than plain water."

He goes on to recommend a solution that was developed by the Colgan Institute called "Crux". He also recommends TwinLab's Hydra Fuel, one that I forget. Similar to Ultra, but is better designed for the during, instead of the after workout drinks. The Hydra Fuel matches the 7% carb profile, which is key. This whole chapter that I quoted from is all about Hydration and proper absorbtion, mainly for Marathoner's or Triathete's. Still, for those motocrossers out there that train during the week, I recommend the 7% solution of Hydra Fuel to maintain your strength and conditioning. Your trophy case will thank you on Sunday.

I recommend you pick up this book if you are serious about your training Mike. It's been a huge motivator for me and has brought me to new levels of endurance and training.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I do hope this helps.


P.S.- Again, all quotes were taken from the book "Optimum Sports Nutrition", by Dr. Michael Colgan.

I thank you for your advice, I am serious about my training (9 1/2 hour Hawaii ironman PR, placing 20th American, 4:12 half ironman PR, and have won several smaller triathlons when I was younger). Cytomax was my drink of choice in the early 90s, but it did not matter. Gatorade sponsored the Ironman and since you can't carry 5 gallons of fluid on the bike, Gatorade was what you had to drink. You had NO PRAYER if you just drank water, as you go through 12000 calories in that race, way more than can be stored as glycogen. Fat burning doesn't lend itself to fast times. But this is a dirt bike forum, so I don't want to get too far off the subject. Your advice is well taken by someone who can choose his drink, which a dirt bike racer can do.

I hear you DaveyG about preparation. If you show up at the starting line at any event without proper preparation, you are obviously not going to perform to your potential. Per the discussion about sports drinks, I have tried many of the complex carb type drinks, some I like, and some won't stay down when you are at a high heart rate. I never had much choice though, you have to use what the race gives you at the aid stations (no outside support allowed). You also need to get used to what they serve, too, so that's what you train with. Fortunately for guys who do 3-4 hour hare scrambles or 7 hour enduros, you supply your own so you can use what works best for you. My point is that sugar isn't evil, and that for hard races over 2 hours sports drinks are better than plain water.

Thanks for all the insightful input. This thread has achieved what I initially started it out do do. I've picked up tons of useful information as well. I hope this has helped out many fellow riders.

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