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Can Fructose Provide Energy to Exercising Horses?By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · August 6, 2013

The aim of this study was to evaluate the suitability of fructose as a carbohydrate supplement for horses. Specifically, the glycemic response following oral administration of fructose, glucose, and an equal mixture of fructose and glucose was determined at rest and during an endurance exercise period.

At rest, the increase in blood glucose was similar in fructose and fructose/glucose mixture treatments compared to the glucose treatment. During the endurance test horses were subjected to two bouts of exercise, a 90-minute bout and a 120-minute bout separated by a one-hour rest period. The carbohydrate treatments were administered during the rest period between the two bouts of exercise. Plasma glucose and insulin were higher at the beginning of the second bout when horses were given the fructose/glucose mixture compared to the fructose alone. During exercise, however, plasma glucose concentrations did not differ among treatments.

Administration of fructose or a fructose/glucose mixture results in a glycemic response similar to that of an equivalent glucose dose. Fructose appears to be readily absorbed, converted to glucose, and well-tolerated by horses. Therefore, fructose may be a useful carbohydrate supplement for endurance horses.

This report of KER's 1999 research was published in Journal of Nutrition.

Read the entire research paper, titled Carbohydrate Supplementation of Horses During Endurance Exercise-Comparison of Fructose and Glucose.