In the past I've always done what I thought was right. I would eat breakfast before an early morning ride because "obviously" without some food in my stomache, I would bonk, right? And I would carry a gel or two on my ride. And I would drink water, sometimes mixed with Nuun.
I pay for these products and did these things because it seems like common sense. However, a few months ago I started thinking if I am going to put this stuff in my body, shouldn't I figure out the correct ratios and intervals? For example, for my weight, should I take 1 gel per hour? or 2?
I was reading about speedhiking the John Muir Trail for record times and pretty much everyone uses Hammer Nutrition products on that endurance event, particularly Perpetum/Sustained Energy. So I started reading Hammer's tips and using their products, but I am still not sure if it's the right thing. Here are some of their philosophies. Some are obvious but at least one very controversial, in my book.
1. Any pre-race meal should occur a minimum of 3 hours before your race/training event. The idea is that, assuming you ate a proper dinner the night before, your body has a store of premium muscle glycogen and if you eat food, it accelerate their depletion.
Bottom line: Fast three hours prior to the start of a longer-duration event (60-90+ minutes). For shorter events, consuming a small amount of fuel an hour to two prior to the start may enhance performance.
They say if you really must eat, then have yogurt or oatmeal.
This is the one I worry about the most. Everyone I talk to chastises me for not eating before riding.
2. Fluid intake 16-28 oz per hour. This seems not too controversial. They talk about the fact the body can't absorb unlimited amounts of water and you can get sick from having too much.
3. Caloric intake restricted to 300 cal/hour. Even less depending on weight. Again, body can't absorb as much as you expend.
4. Use liquid/powder fuel as source of energy during ride. When I rode a century last year, I'd gobble up everything the had at the rest stops. That means I was eating pretzels, bananas, trail mix etc. To be honest, I didn't feel bad or sick afterward but again, back to the "optimal" idea. Would I have been better off slurping some Perpetum instead? Why do even pro athletes (marathoners, cyclists, etc) eat this stuff (solid foods, not liquid) during their races and training. They should be experts right?
Most of their advice is divided between rides 2 hours and less and rides over 2 hours because once that magic time is reached you need protein (Perpetum or SE). A few weeks ago I was expecting a 1.5 hour ride and it ended up being 4 hours. I was out of my single gel packet and Heed bottle very quickly and I felt terrible. I wish I had known so I could bring Perpetum or SE. One thing that worries me is they are not very bottle stable. They spoil quickly according to Hammer.
Anyway, do you guys trust what Hammer's doctors say?