The Historian is calling me out. I gotta respond to that.
Originally Posted by The Historian
I want to ride long distances - randonneuring distances - where 100 miles is a good training ride. I'm training for the 2011 North Carolina Tour de Cure; it's my personal goal to ride 100 miles on both June 4th and 5th, and I've got other distance goals for 2011 that lead me up to that.
I had gastric bypass January of 2010. Post-bypass patients have their own unique dietary issues. One of these is called dumping syndrome, which is what happens when you eat high-sugar food that passes through what's left of your stomach too quickly, and causes headaches, muscle cramps, general body aches, nausea, and the entire gamut of dehydration-related symptoms as your body tries to dilute the highly-concentrated sugars in your small intestine. Non-gastric patients can experience the same issues, but they'd have to eat sugar in much higher concentrations. I'm not supposed to drink within an hour before or after eating, and I'm not supposed to eat within than 3-4 hours after my previous meal.
Now, if you're going to ride (or run) more than a couple of hours, you have to replenish energy, or you bonk when your body uses up it's easily accessed energy. Now, the easiest way to do this is to eat and/or drink carb-loaded foods, energy gels, and sports drinks as you go. And, as the activity level increases, it's better to go with more liquid nutritions to compensate for the fact that your digestive system starts to shut down.
While you're doing all of this, you also have to stay hydrated - which isn't an issue, unless, for example, you have some crazy dietary restriction that prevents you from drinking within an hour of eating.
So... best solution for most people is sugary drinks that hit your digestive tract quickly. But that doesn't seem to jive with post-op dietary restrictions, and that's a problem.
I talked to my nutritionist and physician - both gastric bypass specialists, and they gave me the same guidelines they give every other post-op patient - eat every four hours, don't drink an hour after eating, and 'gosh, I don't know how you'll be able to do that'. They said I could fudge the 'before eating' drinks as long as I stopped 15 minutes before. Basically? Worthless advice. If I followed their guidelines, I'd never be able to ride and eat, because I wouldn't be able to stay hydrated or get enough nutrition. Now, I'm NOT their typical patient, but it wasn't until my one-year appointment when they asked if I would be a 'success story' for their clinic and do speeches at the support groups that I realized how atypical I am. So, if I'm so atypical, then maybe all of their advice doesn't really apply to my particular needs.
Mind you, there is basically NOTHING available for endurance nutrition for gastric bypass patients. It just isn't out there. I realized I was going to have to do research that was a bit more in-depth than googling up an answer.
Caveat: If you're a post-op gastric patient, and you're still battling with self-control on what foods to eat, you might want to stop reading. I'm going to discuss solutions that, when doing endurance athletics, will keep you hydrated and fueled. But once you learn how to break the rules for endurance sports, you have need the self-control to follow the old rules (that you'll know how to break) when NOT doing endurance training.
So, I've been doing a lot of trial-and-error. I figured, I had to have enough protein to prevent dumping syndrome. I also figured that I'd have to go with something liquid or semi-liquid so I could ignore the 'don't drink after eating' guideline, and I'd also have to completely ignore the 'eat every four hours' guideline.
In the past, I've tried finding a solution, and I've come up short. Tried traditional sports drinks - great for staying hydrated, but they don't have enough energy, and I bonked after 30 miles. I tried high protein bars that I eat all the time - too heavy on my stomach, and sat like a lead brick in my stomach for an hour, and bonked after 40 miles. I tried protein/carb drinks like Boost and Muscle Milk - not enough energy, heavy on the stomach, and bonked after 40 miles.
This is a huge problem for me. If I can't find a fix for it, I can't safely ride more than about 40 miles. After that, I bonk, and for me, riding after a bonk is dangerous, deadly, in fact. I get dizzy, weak, lose mental focus, and start making bad decisions. If you're an insurance salesman & want to sell me a whole life insurance policy, your best bet is to catch me while I'm slowly weaving dangerously down the road, thinking I'm still doing 'OK'.
So, after several weeks of research, I had an epiphany. If dumping is caused by the body's response to excess sugars - specifically, temporary dehydration by redirecting water to the small intestine to dilute the sugars, then what if I supplied the liquid it needed in the first place???
Would it work? I had to try. If it does, then the solution is simple: eat and/or drink whatever mix of complex/simple carbs I needed to stay energized, and take with it 'enough' liquid to keep me from having an adverse reaction.
Epiphany #2: Is that why all the sports energy gels tell you to take a big drink from your hydration bottle after you suck down their product?? Makes you wonder, eh?
Last Sunday, I tried it. I HAD to try something.
For my main fuel source, I picked generic fig bars (Fig Newton wannabes). At less than two bucks for a container, they're a bargain, especially when compared to energy gels that run you that much for one gel pack (cost ratio: 24-to-1 in favor of fig bars). Took two right when I started, then about two every 45 minutes. Each time, I washed them down with a generous mouthful from my water bottle (full of my normal 'low-carb' sports drink).
Now this _mostly_ worked. I say mostly, because I felt a little light-headed around 40 miles into the ride, but not anywhere close to how I normally feel when I bonk. When I started getting that feeling, I ate an energy gel, switched to a full-calorie sports drink, and kept riding. After a few miles, I felt better.
I rode 53 miles, about 4 1/2 hours with a stop, and when I got home, I felt good*. I didn't bonk. At mile 50, I felt good enough that I considered extending the ride to hit the 63 mile mark (for the metric century), but I decided against it because my wife was waiting and worrying, and keeping her happy is critical to my training success.
This is big. BIG. BIG.
It means I've solved my nutrition problem, and without complicated a formula that to follow requires a calculator, a sliderule and a stopwatch. I'm not yet sure I can stay energized with only simple stuff like fig bars, but I can keep energized. If I can get that far past my normal bonk point, while staying hydrated, then I can theoretically keep riding as long as I can keep my eyes open.
Next up: A metric century in better-quality cycling
* - Well, mostly good - I discovered that my cheap cycling shorts are fine for short rides, but they just don't cut it for that long. Or they do cut it, if by 'it', you mean my skin.