Unlike the untrained athlete, a trained athlete has a favorable response to sugar during exercise, not to mention that the sport nutrition has a clear need and reason for consumption - when your body is asked to perform, you give it energy and electrolytes to meet metabolic needs.
Because sugar remains to have a very negative reputation in society, it's understandable why you may feel great confusion, as a health-conscious athlete, whether or not sport nutrition products, which contain a hefty dose of some type of sugar (sucrose, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, can sugar, etc.), have a place in a “healthy” diet.
But if you are starving your body of fuel during a high intensity or long duration workout/race, with the intention of wanting to stay healthy, you may be doing more harm than good.
The sugar found in sport nutrition drinks, chews and gels, consumed at specific frequent intervals during long duration or high-intensity training sessions and races, should not receive the same unhealthy reputation as the sugar found in donuts, cereals, soda and candy bars, especially since most individuals who are "addicted to sugar" are consuming heavily processed foods, rich in sugar, while being sedentary or when exercising at a very low intensity.
Do you prefer the ease and convenience of liquid calories (sport nutrition powder) to meet energy and hydration needs or the simplicity of a concentrated dose of energy (ex. blocks/chews or gels)? Athletes who desire a more real food texture will often look to bars to please the palate while keeping the tummy satisfied.
If you want to reach your performance goals, appreciate sport nutrition products (and the sugar found in them) as they are designed to support your energy, hydration and electrolyte needs to keep your body functioning properly as you train hard to maximize performance.
As a health conscious endurance athlete who believes in a real food diet, I am a firm believer that sport nutrition has it's place in my athlete "diet" as I consume sport nutrition products during key workouts and on race day to support my physiological needs.
In other words, sport nutrition products keep me healthy and performing well.
Campy was really interested in the talk, hoping I would mention about the importance of fueling for an all-day session of napping (which Campy excels at).