Blogs tagged with "supplements"

With only four weeks to go until Ironman Lake Placid, I just realized that I've not written much about my experimentation with nutritional supplements and my race fueling regime. My experiments have mostly involved trying a few different things while out on long runs and rides and then making sure it's working in my one marathon and two half Ironman races. I also decided to try different daily supplements to find some combination of vitamins and minerals to get me through the stress and fatigue of Ironman training at my age.

I'm happy to report that my supplement regime didn't require much changing -- which was good for my budget. After switching from Hammer Nutrition's Premium Insurance Caps (PICs) to IMPaX Enerprime for a month, I noticed none of the health benefits claimed (more energy, greater endurance, better sleep, less stress, etc.). In fact, I noticed no changes at all, so I went back to the much-less-expensive PICs (1/3 the price). The original reason I switched was because Hammer changed the ingredients and removed the amino acid profile and some other ingredients. As a vegetarian, I tend to skimp on protein in my diet -- an amino acid supplement seems like a good idea. I was still in need of finding one, but I'll talk about that in a minute. I also take an iron supplement (prescribed by my doctor because of low iron levels that cause fatigue), and I have added Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to the supplement regime on the recommendation of several well-known triathlon coaches.
The next problem was to change my training/racing fueling regimen to eliminate nausea during long cycling sessions and races. I had been using Hammer Sustained Energy and Perpetuem for years, and, because of all the great claims and support, I wanted it to work for me, so I tried different concentrations and alternated with Hammergel for my long bike rides. It never completely worked. I'm keeping Hammergel for a fuel because it is one of the fastest-absorbing gels I've ever used, but I still needed to find that high-carbo drink component for the bike.
The quest began with only one constant: calories consumed per hour would remain around 250. I've read enough studies and done enough testing to know that there IS a limit to how many calories the body can absorb. Trying to cram more into my stomach won't make me absorb it any quicker.
The first thing to work on was composition. Carbohydrates and protein. There are two schools of thought when it comes to during-race fueling: those who believe you need protein and those who believe you don't. For the pro-protein camp, there is further disagreement about what type of protein: whey or soy. I read many articles and blogs and the most compelling was a recent blog about a study to determine if protein ingestion enhances performance. (Unfortunately, because the study involved only an hour of cycling, I don't know if it can be trusted to assess Ironman racing.) The author's assessment of protein was that it slows down digestion and caused him to vomit. Bingo! Maybe that was my problem.
But before I read that, my own personal experimentation involved trying Accelerade instead of Perpetuem. Accelerade has whey protein in a 4:1 ratio (carbs:protein), and Perpetuem has soy protein in a 7:1 ratio. Big difference. Accelerade also has sucrose as it's carb component whereas Perpetuem has maltodextrin. Confusing? Yep. My first few rides with Accelerade were marked by no nausea. Hmm.. at that point I was thinking I just needed MORE protein.
Then, because I'm a scatterbrain, I ran out of Accelerade with no time to go shopping. I had an old can of something called Extran -- basically a no-protein drink powder of glucose, vitamin B1 and lemon flavor. I "Acceleraded" it by adding soy protein in a 4:1 ratio and got on the bike. THIS turned out to be the best fueling yet. Was it the glucose?
Before my next ride, I read a race-review blog from pro triathlete Amanda Lovato. She had recently won a 70.3 race and raved about her sponsor's product, E.F.S. Liquid Shot (from First Endurance). She also used something called Carbo-Pro (from SportQuest Direct) - a product I've also seen in the fueling regimen of other pro triathletes. I decided to try those two products -- and found a whole new line-up of endurance fuels and supplements from their manufacturers. With E.F.S. Liquid Shot, First Endurance claims to one-up traditional gels by not adding gelling agents, and packing in electrolytes and amino acids. They claim the amino acids are better than regular protein because your body gets the energy without having to break down the protein. Thus, it does not slow down digestion. I bought it. I also ordered Carbo-Pro, which, like Extran is basically glucose powder. I tried alternating it with the E.F.S. shot on my next long ride.
To make a long story short -- this is now my fueling regimen for long training and racing -- alternating Carbo-Pro and E.F.S. Liquid Shot at a consumption rate of about 250 calories per hour. I add Hammer's Endurolytes and Heed on really hot days. I've done this several times now with two half-Ironman bike legs to prove it works. No nausea. No light-headedness. Energy for the run. For a half, I usually don't need anything other than Gatorade (on course) and water for on the run, but for Ironman, I plan to take Gu Roctane with me on the run because its been proven in marathon training and racing.
The only problem left to solve was that amino acid daily supplement thing. This is where luck came in. SportQuest Direct had a product that fit perfectly: Recover Amino Power (RAP). I ordered a bottle (capsules) and have been supplementing with it. Something must be working because when I think I shouldn't have energy for one more workout, I take it, go to sleep, and wake up with the ability to push my muscles hard yet again.
I've heard so many fueling recommendations throughout the years and my only conclusion is this: unless you have a stomach of steel, it's a long process to find the perfect race fueling for Ironman. If you do it wrong, it can ruin your race. But erring on the side of not enough seems to be more-recoverable than too much. Anyway, as they say, nutrition is the "fourth discipline" of triathlon. I just hope I get it right this time.

Regular followers of my blog are probably aware of my ongoing search for the perfect race nutrition and dietary supplementation. Yesterday's long ride gave me a new data point in the nutrition grid -- all in typical Disaster Magnet style.

The disaster aversion began Friday when I realized I was out of Accelerade, the endurance drink I've been using on my indoor training rides. When riding indoors, I pay less attention to nutrition because any problems can be solved by getting off the bike and going downstairs to raid the refrigerator. But yesterday, I had to face the facts -- riding outside meant that all my nutrition had to be ON me and/or the bike. Being out of Accelerade brought up the possibility of using Hammer Perpetuem, which works ok but at times during rides, I get lightheaded for no apparent reason. A second option was to come up with some other nutrition plan like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or power bars (I could probably scrounge up some age-old energy bars hidden somewhere). Solid food is only ok if I don't run afterward. Not liking either option, I desperately searched the house for a third. Wanting to test the theory that I need more protein in my race nutrition, I came up with a new idea: devise something that mimicked Accelerade's 4:1 carb:protein ratio. I found an old can of Extran -- anyone remember that stuff? it's almost pure glucose with B1 added. I mixed up 1150 calories (going for 250 calories/hour for 4.5 hours) -- 290 g carbs -- and then added 70 g of soy protein (in a powder) to get the 4:1 ratio. In retrospect, that added about 275 total calories that I didn't account for. Then I added 4 Hammer Endurolytes to the mix, water, and shook it up and poured it over ice in a water bottle.

I grabbed two bottles of water (knowing I would refill them) and set out. The ride was not what I had hoped. Although I've been doing lots of drills for fast turnover, I feel like I've sacrificed speed while riding my trainer this winter. But I did feel really strong on the hills (and there are a lot of them). I also spent half the ride into a headwind which might have caused some of the slowdown. Nutrition-wise, it was almost uneventful. From start to finish, I felt no light-headedness or lack of energy. The temperature was between 55 and 60 degrees F, I sweat very little and drank just over 3 24-oz bottles of water. The distance was just over 76 miles, total time was 4:22 -- i.e., average speed was 17.4 mph. My nutrition conclusions would obviously be that I need more protein on my endurance rides, and perhaps 250 calories/hour is not quite enough. Training-wise: duh! I will need more speed work.
After reading blogs and discussions about Ironman fueling, I've decided that my next data point in the nutrition study will include the EFS products by First Endurance. (EFS Energy Drink and Liquid Shot contain "free form amino acids" which First Endurance claims are both equivalent and easier to digest than complete proteins containing branched chain amino acids.) And a quick update on my dietary supplementation: I've been taking EnerPrime capsules for a few weeks now and I have noticed no difference in my energy levels from Hammer Premium Insurance Caps. Thus, I will probably go back to Hammer PIC's, which are significantly less expensive, and find a way to add the ingredients recently removed (the amino acid profile), with a product such as this one from Fitness Nutrition.
Last of all, the disaster report:
  • Potential nutrition disaster -- averted.
  • 2010 riding disaster #1: pothole. As my first outdoor ride of the season in Cleveland, I was out of practice and tried to ride a little strip of flatness between two potholes, ending up rotating my aerobars down and launching all my water bottles from the bike. I don't know what was funnier, me running out into the road waving to motorists to avoid running over my precious plastic bottles, or getting back on the bike to realize I was facing down when I gripped the handlebars. But seriously, it could have been much worse -- but my teeth and wrists were still intact, the wheel rims were unharmed, and an allen wrench was all I needed to fix the handlebars.

Regular followers of my blog are probably aware of my ongoing search for the perfect race nutrition and dietary supplementation. Yesterday's long ride gave me a new data point in the nutrition grid -- all in typical Disaster Magnet style.

In my quest to get healthier and eliminate as much stress as possible, I seem to have done the opposite. Researching nutrition and dietary supplements has actually added stress to my life. I spent the last two weeks trying to determine if what I'm currently doing is working or if I should change it. It all came about with an announcement by Hammer Nutrition that they are changing the make-up one of their supplements. Yep, like so many discontinued running shoes, it's the one I use and love.

This daily vitamin supplement is Hammer's "Premium Insurance Caps" (PICs). It took me two separate tries to get the dosage right -- I had given them up many years ago because the recommended seven-capsules-a-day made me feel bloated and tired. But when I started training for Ironman again two years ago, I went back to Hammer and found that I could drop the dosage to four a day. I gave it a second chance and voila! it worked much better. I feel great during the day now and my workouts are strong. Last year, I stretched my budget to add Hammer's "Race Caps Supreme" to the regimen based on raving testimonials (from Hammer athletes, of course). I noticed nothing -- I didn't feel better than usual after four hours of cycling -- my energy levels didn't change. But I still swore by PICs and many other products in the Hammer line such as "Recoverite," whey and soy protein, and Hammer Gel.
This year, Hammer announced a change in PICs -- they are removing the ingredients that can be found IN THEIR OTHER PRODUCTS. Oh, GREAT! Just what I need -- they're changing the ONE thing that seems to work and is ridiculously affordable. Now I have to buy more to get the same result. Disappointed, I went looking for a new daily supplement.
If you Google "athlete" and "supplements," you will be bombarded with testimonials about breakthrough products that will make you feel "20 years younger." Many of them claim they will turn back time both in how you feel AND how you look. Now that I'm in my mid-40s, I want this. Desperately. I click through. With hundreds of products out there, how can I tell which ones, if any, actually do what they claim? If you're geeky like me, you search for bad reviews of the products on bulletin boards. And what I've determined is this: either there is nothing really scathing to report about any of these products, or people don't waste their time writing a bad review. I've also confirmed something else in my quest: triathletes, in general, have way more disposable income than I do.
There's only one thing left to do: trial and error. It's not something I'm looking forward to when I have so many other things to figure out this year. But I do believe that supplemental vitamins are necessary for endurance athletes training 12-18 hours a week, and I don't get all the nutrients I need through diet alone.
So here's the first item up for trial: Enerprime by IMPax. It's described as "a synergistic blend of superfoods, adaptogens, antioxidants, phytonutrients, herbs, enzymes, and micronutrients," and claims it does everything from increasing endurance to counteracting stress (so we've come full circle). I still can't find info on whether it's a supplement to be taken in addition to regular multivitamins or actually itself a "multivitamin." It's expensive enough that I can't afford to take much else. I'll start at ground zero, one supplement, and go from there. Enerprime is recommended by top triathlon coach and fitness expert Ben Greenfield (who also recommends several other products in the IMPax line, so I'm already wary of those motives). I figure if it doesn't work, I can look elsewhere or go back to Hammer Nutrition and formulate a plan by talking to one of their experts. Hopefully, I'll know the effects within a few weeks and report back. Any recommendations are welcome.

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