Our Muscle Max Bars contain molasses because glucose triggers crucial processes in muscles post-exercise that allows the protein in our bars to effectively support your horse's topline muscle building and muscle repair.
A mini-lesson on how glucose is used and stored by muscles
Glucose, stored in the horse's muscles as glycogen, is an energy source used by muscles during exercise. During exercise a chemical called glucagon liberates glycogen, so that the stored energy can be used to power muscle contractions - this is part of Catabolism.
When physical exercise finishes the catabolic effects of Glucagon can continue for 45-60 minutes... so the muscles continue to liberate glycogen (wasting energy) even though the glycogen is not required anymore. This actually adds to the horse's muscle fatigue, and delays the start of muscle repair processes.
Eventually, Insulin processes will begin working again, sending any available glucose to the muscles to be stored for future energy requirements.
In summary, glucagon tells glucose to LEAVE the muscles, insulin tells glucose to GO TO MUSCLES to be stored, and glucagon and insulin CANNOT function in the body at the same time.
Muscle Max Bars can switch your horse's body to muscle repair, sooner
We can stop this catabolic process buy introducing dietary Glucose into the horses stomach which triggers or ‘switches on’ Insulin production and, therefore conversely, ‘switches off’ Glucagon production. This switches the body from a catabolic (muscle breakdown) into a, Anabolic (muscle repair and rebuilding) state.
This is why if glucose is fed immediately after exercise it stops the horse's muscles from liberating additional glucose. Instead the Insulin tells the horse's muscles to store glucose, and directs the glucose which has been eaten to the muscles to be stored for future energy. This means that the muscles are not breaking down for an additional 45-60 minutes post-exercise, so the repair and rebuilding processes can start to happen much sooner.
The function of the sugar in the Muscle Max Bar is specifically to trigger an Insulin response which ‘switches off’ muscle breakdown (catabolism) and ‘switches on’ muscle repair (anabolism).
But wait, there's more. The glucose in Muscle Max Bars actually helps deliver protein to the muscles
The advantage of feeding a protein AND glucose rich concentrated supplement immediately after exercise is that with insulin actively directing glucose to the muscles, the protein can "hitch a ride" on these processes and will also be targeted/sent directly to the muscles that have just been exercised. This means your horse's muscles get the exact amino acid building blocks that they need to repair the micro-tears that naturally result from exercise. The special branched chain amino acids of Muscle Max Bars are sent right to the muscles for muscle repair and building.
The molasses in Muscle Max Bars is a key part of delivering successful muscle building results because it TARGETS protein delivery to the muscles that have just been worked.
We do get questions about the molasses in Muscle Max Bars, and we hope this article has explained why it is a crucial part of delivering the topline muscle building and conditioning results that Precision Equine customers see in their horses.
Here are the answers to a few extra questions about sugar in our protein bars:
Do we need to brush their teeth?
No. Horses don’t get cavities in the way that humans do. Horses' teeth grow continuously, and they are constantly grinding down their teeth - which is why they require annual dental checks to even out any uneven wear or sharp edges. In addition, horses' high fibre diet acts as a natural form of ‘toothbrushing’ as fibres are constantly being rubbed against the tooth surface.
Is the sugar content in the bar safe for horses who are prone to laminitis?
Yes. Muscle Max Bars each contain 29g of sugar. This is an exceptionally small amount of sugar and it is 100% digested and absorbed in the small intestine so there is exactly ZERO risk of any sugar overflowing to the hindgut where it could alter the pH balance of the hindgut. The sugar content of the Muscle Max Bars is equivalent to around two regular sized apples.
Can horses with PSSM (Poly saccharide storage myopathy) be fed the bar?
No, we do not recommend that horses that are diagnosed with PSSM be fed the Muscle Max Bars as in PSSM horses there is a fundamental error in the body’s response to Insulin. In these horses the muscles do not store glucose well under the influence of Insulin and so the delivery of glucose and amino acids to the muscles for repair is compromised and inefficient.
Want to know more? This is a useful and informative article.