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[RC] Carbohydrates in Beet Pulp - k s swigart

Bruce Weary said:

Most literature says that the sugars left behind in processed beet
is negligible.
Your turn.

Well, since he asked...

From the Ridecamp Archives (April 25, 2004) Susan Garlinghouse said:

When I first started goofing around with beet pulp years ago, I had a
number of samples analyzed for simple sugars, all of which came back
very low.  However, I was recently forwarded a copy of an analysis of
some beet pulp (admittedly, only one sample) in which simple sugars
incredibly high, over 30%
Whether this one sample was a random event, or possibly a current
towards sloppier refining practices, I don't know.  I guess the
issue is that there seems to possibly be wide variation in the
residual sugar
content in commodity beet pulp.

The full message can be found at:


So, while generally speaking the starch/sugar content of beet pulp is
probably quite low, there is some evidence that this may not always be
the case.  Personally, I wouldn't choose beet pulp as a feed for its
starch/sugar content on the hopes that I accidentally got a batch that
may not have had all the sugar processed out of it (or that hasn't had
too much molassas added back).  But it might be worthwhile to realize
that your beet pulp may have more sugar in it that you would first

And, if beet pulp were "loaded" with sugars, and processed in the
hind gut, wouldn't that potentially cause acidosis in the gut as the
bacteria feed on those "loads" of sugars?

Actually, no.  If your batch of beet pulp happens to be loaded with
sugar, that sugar wouldn't be processed in the hind gut (unless there
was so much sugar that the stomach and small intestine couldn't take
care of it before it got to the hind gut, which can also happen by
feeding too much grain or any other starchy feed at once).  It is only
the fiber part of beet pulp that is processed in the hind gut.  If there
happens to be any starch in it, then the upper GI tract is capable of
sorting this out, just as it would if you were to add the starch to your
beet pulp yourself by mixing in some grain.  Whether the starch/sugar is
in the beet pulp when you buy it or you add it to it after you buy it
makes no difference in the ability of the GI tract to process it.

However, none of this changes the fact that beet pulp is loaded with
carbohydrates.  And even if all the carbohydrates in the beet pulp you
feed are of the structural type (i.e. fiber), it can still be useful to
a horse during a ride.  Not for its energy content, as, indeed, the
energy provided by any fiber intake during the course of a ride is not
going to be available for use until long after the ride is over, but
simply because the equine GI tract is designed predominantly (not
exclusively) for processing fiber.  And it is designed for processing
fiber on a pretty much constant basis.  Providing beet pulp, or some
other fiber source during the ride goes a long way towards keeping the
GI tract functioning the way it is supposed to.

Providing it with small quantities of starch which can easily and
quickly be converted to glucose is also a good thing.  During the ride,
I doubt very much of this will be converted to glycogen (as glycogen is
one of the ways the body stores excess glucose, and there is unlikley to
be much by the way of excess glucose during an endurance ride).
However, another way that the body stores excess glucose is as fat...and
the body CAN convert the fat back into glucose...but not without some
glucose already available in the system.

I was not saying that Bruce was wrong to suggest providing small
quantities of feeds that can easily be converted to glucose in order to
maintain enough glucose in the system so that all the other stores can
be mobilized for use, but rather that he was wrong in saying that beet
pulp contains no carbohydrates.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that starch/sugar and
carbohydrate are synonymous.  However, this is not true.  Starch/sugar
is synonymous with non-structural carbohydrate.  Bruce, in his post says
that he was not referring to structural carbohydrates and referred to
them as "tress and sawdust," giving the impression (whether
intentionally or not) that structural carbohydrates are of no use for
providing energy.  But those trees and sawdust are exactly what a horse
uses most for supplying energy to fuel its work....and you had better
make sure that your horse has plenty of them on board before it even
starts an endurance ride, or it will run out of energy pretty damn
quickly no matter how much starch you try to feed it during the ride.
There is no way to even come close to feeding a horse enough during a
ride to fuel the entire effort, no matter what form you provide it in.

Orange County, Calif.

p.s.  I can't speak much to fueling the efforts of marathon runners.
However, in comparison to an endurance ride, the human marathon is
practically a sprint.  Human marathons are completed in times varying
from 2 1/2 to 5 hours.  Endurance rides are completed in times varying
from 5 1/2 to 24 hours.

One of the things that I CAN speak to with respect to human distance
running is for an effort that extended to 14 1/2 hours (a 75 mile RAT).
And one of the things I discovered while competing in that event, and
having my doubts about my ability to complete it when I was about10
hours into the event:  The problem was not that I did not have enough
glucose on board, and eating quick acting starch/sugar rich foods did
nothing to help solve my problem.  My problem was that my stomach was
empty, and my problem didn't go away until I limped into the ~62 mile
vet check and got some food into my stomach that took up some room and
couldn't be processed very quickly.  What I needed was bulk to keep from
doubling over with cramps.  Cramps, I might add that were just made
worse prior to the vet check by trying to feed myself with the fast
acting "carbs" that I had along with me in my fanny pack.  I wasn't out
of fuel.  I just had a stomach ache...because I went for too long
without eating something with some substance to it.


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