Monday, July 8, 2013

TTT: Fab 5 Products for Endurance Athletes

Hello Tartlets! 

As I was riding my bike last week on a glorious Southern Californian day and loving my nutrition of choice, I thought I would give you my Fab 5 list of products that I like to train with for triathlon and marathons.  I'll explain why I like these products from a preference and formulation standpoint.

1. PowerGel (by PowerBar)
In my opinion, hands-down the best gel on the market.  They are thin (not thick and goopy like some brands you might be familiar with), have 4-5x the amount of sodium compared to every other gel I've seen (~200 mg), and they taste good.  I like vanilla for the run (no caffeine).  I can do Double Latte on the bike (caffeinated).  I'm intrigued by the new Orange Dream flavor.  And YES, PowerBar... I am still crying over the loss of the Caramel flavor, 4 years after its discontinuation.  Please bring it back!

2. Infinit Nutrition (Custom Formulation) / Hammer Nutrition (Sustained Energy or Perpeteum)
All my nutrition for a 4 hour bike ride.
I blogged and gave you vague information on my experiment of n=1 on June 5.  I have not yet raced with my Infinit custom formulation and I will let you know after I race Ironman Calgary 70.3 on July 28, 2013 whether this nutrition worked for me in a race situation.  So far, I can say that I love, love, LOVE racing with only liquid nutrition.  I no longer worry about gels, bars, what fits into your pockets or Bento box and what doesn't, ripping open a wrapper without getting distracted while on the bike, fumbling in pockets, Special Needs nonsense, littering the race course or roads, etc.  How about 3 bottles and a Ziploc of 330 calories?  Genius.

Personally, I absolutely need protein nutrition during prolonged exercise - carbs alone simply does not work.  After 1.5-2 hours of endurance exercise, protein should be incorporated into your nutrition plan (I'll talk more about this later).  Now the question about protein type - which to use?  The jury is out, but it appears that soy protein during exercise may be the better suited protein.  Whey is superior for recovery.  Infinit recommends whey, but I ordered both whey and soy formulations.  I am currently on my soy protein formulation and that is what I will race with in Calgary.  Soy has less potential to form ammonia which leads to muscle fatigue.  It also mops up free radicals, has great acid buffering capabilities, and has a large number of branched-chain amino acids, making it easily converted to energy.  There are more benefits to soy, but this is the short list.

Before I order more Infinit, I'm going to try Hammer's Perpeteum or Sustained Energy (I'm still deciding which is best for me).  They use non-GMO (genetically modified organism) soy.  This is HUGE in my book.  I avoid GMO products at all costs.  I'll get back to you as I work out my nutrition this year.  I had a very difficult time eating on the bike during Ironman Arizona last year, so liquid nutrition is my solution.  Now I have to narrow down the best Trim Tart product.  Would anyone like to weigh in here?  Please give me your feedback/suggestions!

Margarita3. CLIF - Shot Bloks
For my shorter rides, I do love me a CLIF Shot Blok.  The Margarita flavor is my favorite; you either love it, or think I'm disgusting.  All other flavors are pretty delicious, too.  For the milder palate, the Black Cherry, Cran-Razz, Citrus and Orange are great options!

CLIF Bar and Company is an inspirational enterprise, focused on organic ingredients and sustainable business practices.  The majority of their ingredients are organic, and they use non-GMO products.  Philosophically, I am very happy to support CLIF and will go out of my way to do so.

4. Bonk Breaker and CLIF Mojo Bars
FigHoney Roasted PeanutI have a strong dislike of most bars.  As I mentioned here last month, I would much prefer a savory buffet on long bike rides (unfortunately, this is impractical for the endurance athlete.)  It is here that you and I can blame my mother.  She was always cooking and baking so I grew up on real food, all the time, and never anything overly sweet.  Never a bar to be found in our house.  I find many bars far too sweet, strangely textured, and the flavors wear on my tastebuds very quickly.  However, there are a couple bars on the market that I do like.  CLIF makes a great Mojo Bar, and Bonk Breaker bars are also excellent on long bike rides.  Flavors are good; Bonk Breakers are gluten- and dairy-free.  My favs: Bonk Breaker Fig, PB&J - for the bike.  CLIF MOJO - can't decide!  I like them all.  Mojos are great as a snack or after exercise.

5. PowerBar Ironman Recovery
I like Ironman Recovery after a hard 6-hour bike ride.  It contains a blend of maltodextrin, dextrose and fructose, with whey protein that's great for recovery.  It would be nice if this drink included additional sources of amino acids to aid in muscle recovery, but this drink works well from a user perspective, - I like the flavor and it satiates the crazed hunger I feel after long Ironman-effort bike rides during training.  Whatever recovery drink you choose, look for a 4:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio.

Here's another notable recovery drink - plain, old chocolate milk.  Admittedly, I don't drink cow's milk any more but this natural source of proteins mixed with simple sugars in the chocolate make recovery as simple and delicious as when you were a kid.  Whey is optimal for short- to medium-term muscle recovery, while casein has delayed protein absorption into damaged muscles as they repair over the course of a day and overnight.  If you drink milk, this really is nature's recovery drink.

What else, Tartlets?  Post on your favs, or email me at!

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