Posts in the category Nutrition

Rebuttal: Why Athletes Should Use Gels

gels-rebuttal-2

Editor’s Note: Last month’s Physiology & Nutrition post, OSMO co-founder Stacy Sims’ regular column, discussed why she thinks gels are a poor choice for fueling endurance athletes. It’s a good read and generated a lot of comments and questions. It also piqued the interest of several brands known for their gels, one of which sent a rebuttal. As did one of the Peaks Coaching coaches, which serves as their column for this month. Both responses are posted below unedited, as was Sims’ post. 

As an introduction and a little background, we’ve interviewed Sims when OSMO launched. We’ve also interviewed Allen Lim when he launched Skratch and asked similar questions. Then, in preparation for last year’s TSEpic, I interviewed Sims again about food choices. That post has a primer about why solids work when gels may not, which was one of the common questions in the comments. And Sims has already prepared Part 2 of “Why No Gels” which expands on that. Look for it this Friday. In the meantime, here are a few counterpoints to the original.

Dear Bikerumor,

My name is Magda Boulet. I have been a pro athlete since 1997, training and competing with GU product for 17 years now. As the VP of Innovation and R&D at GU Energy Labs, I work closely with athletes of all walks of life who train and compete with gels every day at the highest competitive level. Understanding fueling strategies is essential to my long lasting success as an Olympic distance runner.

As an athlete, a scientist, and a consumer, I am passionate about formulating products and delivering research that are supported by experts in the scientific community and validated by athletes in the field. Having said this, I was disappointed to read the recently published article on “Why Not Gels?” in which the author misrepresented scientific facts and concluded that gels are “the most detrimental fuel sources for performance.”

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GU Energy Launches New Chocolate Peanut Butter Gel and Black Cherry Chomps

Chocolate Peanut Butter GU GivesHot on the heels of last years popular Salted Caramel Gel, the new Chocolate Peanut Butter Gel flavor packs the soul of Reese’s Peanut Butter candy in a performance boosting package – complete with 125 mg of sodium, 60 mg of Potassium, and electrolytes.

In addition to giving you a boost, a part of each sale goes towards funding important charities like the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

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Nutrition Roundup: New Treats from CarboRocket, Skout, PowerCrunch, Movit, Powerbar & Sly Fox

carbo-rocket-skout-movit

CarboRocket’s Rehab brings a rapid fire recovery formula in two versions, one with Whey and the other a vegan-friendly Pea Protein.

The Chocolate Coconut (whey), shown, is absolutely delicious and a welcome blend of flavors compared to standard chocolate. The coconut flavor comes from dried coconut water and is subtle but refreshing. The recovery part comes from 15g protein (14g for the Pea Protein’s Cappuccino flavor) and 40g of glucose per serving, plus 5g glutamine and 4g BCAA’s. By using straight glucose, the formula moves through your tummy quickly and causes the insulin response you want to drive the nutrients into your muscles. They’re all natural, gluten free and mixes very easily. And the chocolate coconut flavor is really, really tasty…one of my new favorites. Retail is $44 for a 16-serving canister.

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Physiology and Nutrition: Why Not Gels?

energy-gelsWhen we look at some of the biggest issues endurance athletes face, the balance between nutrition and fluid intake to successfully fuel his or her activity without suffering GI distress and delay fatigue rate right up there with proper training and staying injury-free. Different types of upper and lower GI symptoms occur in ~45-50% of endurance athletes. The symptoms may be related to more than one causal factor. The physiology is complex, so the fuel (carbohydrate choices primarily) and fluid you put into your system may compound the problem(s).

The Physiology: When exercise is intense or when dehydration causes hypovolemia (decreased blood volume), exercise induces changes in blood flow by the virtue of shunting blood from the gut to the working muscles. This blood shunt effectively causes a bit of hypoxia to the GI tract and increases neural activity of the submucosa of the gut (the connective tissue). This change to the GI tract increases the secretion of certain hormones and decreases absorption through the intestinal cells. This combination induces diarrhea, intestinal cramping, delayed gastric emptying (extra pressure in the stomach-“slosh” factor), and some bleeding of the stomach and colon may result (which is why some individuals experience blood in the urine and stool).  The common use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, aspirin) aggravate the bleeding and interferes with fluid balance at the level of the kidneys (perpetuating the dehydration issue). Anxiety tends to induce lower GI symptoms and of additional interest, there tends to be a sex difference in symptoms as well.  Women have a 5 time increased risk of diarrhea, intestinal cramping, and side aches as compared to men; men tend to have greater risks of vomiting and nausea. Most of this increased lower GI symptom risk is attributed to the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone, with a greater incidence of lower GI issues during the 5-7 days preceding menstruation (aka the high hormone phase of the menstrual cycle). But the ingestion of fructose also contributes to women’s GI distress and dehydration.

With energy gels being one of the preferred sources of calorie-dense-easy-to-put-in-the-pocket- fuel-sources, I thought I’d spend some time explaining why these are one of the most detrimental fuel sources for performance…

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SOC14: Coco Hydro Makes Coconut Water on the Go

coco hydro dehydrated coconut water powder

There are a lot of people touting the benefits of coconut water. The fact that it’s purely isotonic, high in potassium and minerals, and low in sugar and carbohydrates leads to claims that it is superior to an energy drink, and better for rehydrating yourself after a long ride. Whether you’re drinking it for the hydration benefits, or because you just like the taste you know that coconut water can be very expensive and also hard to transport. These are all reasons why Coco Hydro has created a dehydrated coconut water powder that can be used to mix up your favorite beverage anywhere.

Owned by Big Tree Farms, Coco Hydro is created by dehydrating the coconut water at the source in Indonesia which means they aren’t shipping water around the world. Using an enzymatic spray dry process, the nutrients are extracted and then mixed with sea salt for the sport version or natrual extracts for flavors and colors for the other versions.  Launched in 2011, Coco Hydro is available in single servings, 25 serving bags, or 30 serving tubs for the Sport version (which has more electrolytes). Original will be the flavor of choice for those who love plain coconut water (which was quite good I must say), while lemon-lime, pineapple, and pomegranate raspberry add flavor for those wanting a little more. Ranging from $1.59 for a single serving to $24.99 for the 30 serving Sport tub, Coco Hydro claims their product is about half priced compared to competing Coconut water.

bigtreefarms.com

Physiology and Nutrition: Do Antioxidants hinder Endurance Performance?

supplementsIf you were to open most athletes’ kitchen cabinet, you’ll probably find a shelf of supplements: the typical sports nutrition cache of electrolyte drinks, bars, recovery drinks, and most often an array of vitamins/supplements purported to maximize workouts, speed recovery, and minimize downtime and the risk of injury.  Most of us are aware that the FDA doesn’t tightly regulate supplements, and often the effects are over-exaggerated or lacking scientific merit. Recently the efficacy of vitamin supplementation has come under scientific scrutiny, in particular antioxidants.

The blurred line comes from the existing mentality “what is good in small doses must be great in large quantities”.

For example, there is strong epidemiological data to suggest that a diet rich in foods that are naturally high in antioxidants is associated with better health outcomes. But when using supplements, the data shifts- individuals supplementing with high dose antioxidants actually have worse health outcomes.

“But I’m an athlete and my body experiences a significantly greater exposure to oxidation because of my training. I need supplements! I can’t eat 10 pounds of kale a day….” you say. Hold on, let’s examine what oxidation in the body actually is…

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Found: Leather Holster for Your Banana

Biken leather bicycle banana holster

Bananas, the perennial threat to cartoon characters everywhere, are also a great source of natural energy. Their high potassium levels make them ideal for recovery, or so I’m told. But the voluminous and bruise-prone banana can be troublesome to portage. Leather goods specialist Biken presents a neat solution that should keep your mid-ride snack from giving you the slip. It’s handmade from genuine leather, and you can suspend it from all sorts of places: handlebars, seat rails, top-tube, belt, or possibly your bag. Keep your banana safe and let everyone know you have a sense of humor by snatching up this a-peel-ing accessory for $55 on Biken’s etsy store.

Friday Roundup – Bicycle Bits & Pieces

  • Stanridge Cycles has announced their collaboration with Ben EINE for the Red Hook Crit, Saturday, March 29th. Ben will be hand painting the two Stanridge High Street frames that will be raced during this years’ Red Hook series by Katie Arnold and previous Red Hook winner Evan Murphy.
  • Interested in learning how to lead mtb clinics and run guided rides? IMBA is offering a Level 1 Ride Guide Certification course March 14-16 in Anniston, AL. Cost for the program is $450 for IMBA members, $500 for non-members. Sign up before March 5th.
  • Trek’s Dirt Series of mountain bike skills camps are now open for registration.
  • SPY Optics is having its 3rd annual SPY Belgian Waffle Ride on Sunday, April 27th, in Carlsbad, CA. They claim the event will be suitable for all bike types: mountain bikes, cyclo-cross bikes, road bikes, and even single speed track bikes!
  • Looking for a cycling specific B&B getaway in southern California? Roadies Hideaway in Bonsall, CA, will cater to your road cycling vacation needs.
  • Ciamillo’s 2014 GSLs are on special at $220 down from $369. Only 22 sets available at this price, black only. First come, first serve.
  • Bike Rags is taking pre-orders for their bike shirts for St. Patrick’s Day: “Irish I Was On A Bike” printed with reflective ink. Order before this Monday, February 24th.
  • XYIENCE is looking for fitness-minded athletes and individuals to join its inaugural Power to Win ambassador program.
  • Smart Growth America has published it’s Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013 analysis.
  • Chat live with Nico Vink this Monday morning, February 24th, at 10am EST. Log on to Cane Creek’s The Lounge rider forum to ask Nico your pressing questions about his DH wins and everything bike.

Physiology and Nutrition: Grain-Free Endurance Performance & Recovery?

grainfree recoveryThere has been an upsurge in an “anti-western diet” philosophy recently, with a movement towards higher fat, higher protein, lower carbohydrate intake where the kinds of food matter as much or moreso than the macronutrient aspect of the diet. Kris Gunnars wrote a great piece on this recently titled What’s Wrong with the Modern Diet. This increased interest in the use of nutrition and nutrient timing as a method for improving general health and wellness is a good thing.

But where does this fit in with regards to athletes? There’s a large debate about the efficacy of a lower carbohydrate-no grain diet and its relationship to actual athletic performance.

But wait, I’ve heard low carbohydrate-high fat diets are awesome for performance.

Sort of. Yes, low carbohydrate diets do increase fatty acid oxidation during exercise and encourage intramuscular fat storage. The body is smart. If there isn’t enough primary fuel to support the stress it’s under, it’ll go for a secondary source -in this case, fat- then store more of it for the next time it encounters that stress. But this does not translate into improved performance as the ability to maintain high-intensity and/or prolonged exercise is compromised(1). Differences aside, the body needs carbohydrate to exist. And it needs accessible carbohydrate to perform in our cycling/endurance world.

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