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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 05-30-13, 09:44 AM   #1
Monty_the_Mad
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Why do all in-race nutrition options suck?

I'm trying to find some decent "during exercise" nutrition products. I need some that specifically don't upset my stomach -- aka aren't full of crap. Energy gels tend to be the worst offenders. Bonk Breakers, etc, are ok but I'm a slow eater and don't like fumbling with them.

What do you use?
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Old 05-30-13, 09:52 AM   #2
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Although this looks like a shill-post for bonk breakers I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Have you looked at the Clif Bar gels?

Here's a sample ingredient list:

Ingredients: Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Water, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor.

I don't see anything objectionable but if you can't work with that why not just make your own?

Honey, salt, a little bit of lemon/lime juice and/or peanut butter make great gels. Homemade Powerbars are easy as well. Peanutbutter, oats, dried fruit, honey, and salt. Just look up the ingredient values and combine in your preferred ratio. e.g.; I like a lot of fat while riding in the winter so my gels have a lot more peanut butter than honey, opposite in the winter when I don't need the fat.

I'm too lazy to make my own this year but I had no issues last year.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:56 PM   #3
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Old 05-30-13, 01:17 PM   #4
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How would we know what upsets your stomach? You have to experiment, just like everyone did. Number one, don't worry about "junk." All food is fuel. It needs to be consumed appropriately. Things containing fat are problematic for most people. Some random things that do work for most people:

Hammer Nutrition:
HEED
Hammer Gel (in a Hammer flask)
Sustained Energy

Cytomax
Gatorade G2 powder
Cookies
Fig Newtons or Newmans
Clif Bars
Anything that looks like an energy bar in the grocery store
Ensure

If food upsets your stomach on the bike, usually one is not drinking enough or is riding long and hard without using electrolytes or most commonly, both.

None of the stuff listed "sucks."
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Old 05-30-13, 01:21 PM   #5
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I have little difficulty consuming just about anything. Obviously, most effective during a ride is stuff with readily absorbed sugars. Sports drinks, or fruit juice diluted to 100 cal/24 oz are good (add a pinch of Lite Salt for Na and K). Bananas, Fig Newtons, dried fruit, Snickers, etc. all work. I have no issues with gels. Most gels have pretty straightforward, reasonable and appropriate ingredient lists.
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Old 05-30-13, 01:31 PM   #6
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The people at Skratch Labs (my curent favorite drink mix after I discovered them last summer - I even like the flavors I normally loathe) also have a cookbook - "The Feed Zone Cookbook". I've heard good reviews from riders who have tried some of the recipes to make their own stuff.

To each their own - I know a guy training for RAAM who discovered an appetite for cheesburgers during long hard rides - normally avoids them.
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Old 05-31-13, 02:32 AM   #7
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I too tend to dislike sports drinks and gels. They don't upset my stomach, I just find most of them too sweet. I prefer to drink water and eat food. Dried figs work for me. Flapjacks are pretty good, if a bit sticky to fumble around with. On long days I quite often carry a cheese sandwich, which most people think is eccentric. Wouldn't regard the sandwich as race-suitable, though.
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Old 05-31-13, 09:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
I too tend to dislike sports drinks and gels....I just find most of them too sweet.
Yes. I dilute sports drinks down to 100 cal/24 OZ. That about 2 parts sports drink to 1 part water. I dilute fruit juice to 100 cal/ 24 oz too, but that's usually more like 1 part fruit juice to 3 parts water. The sports drinks that use maltodextrin in place of all or some of the sugar are less sweet. You can mix up your own easily enough.

Some gels seem a bit less sweet than others, but I kinda like the sweet one, it's like eating frosting. I don't find 1 or 2 per hour to be overwhelming, although over a long ride I do prefer a bit more variety and like something salty too.
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Old 05-31-13, 01:15 PM   #9
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Sports drinks on hot days. I carry Clif bars on long rides, and nibble on them. Starting about twenty miles in, I eat a piece the size of two sugar cubes every ten miles. I have to stop to do it, but I'm not racing.
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Old 05-31-13, 02:31 PM   #10
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Old 05-31-13, 05:06 PM   #11
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There's so much out there, you just need to try several things to see what you like and what agrees with your gastrointestinal system. You also need to consider how far and how fast you're going, and the weather conditions. When I was starting out I would go into a bike store and purchase one of each of several different foods just to see what worked for me.

I'm partial to the Stinger Waffles (if you can stand the picture of the guy on the package), and the Honey Stinger chews, fig newtons, and Cliff Bloks. I only use electrolyte tablets (Nuun) in my water bottle, I keep my hydration and nutrition separate.

Lim's Savory rice bars are heavenly after nothing but sweets for a few hours.
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Old 05-31-13, 08:38 PM   #12
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Maybe try real food there. Boiled potatoes, a trail mix, sweet or savoury pastries, pizza., real fruit such as bananas.

Much depends on the intensity at which you are riding, too. Maybe you've got to work out whether it's better to back off a little to allow your stomach and intestines to concentrate on processing and absorbing what you have eaten.

Carbonfibreboy's comment about electrolyte intake should be heeded. Along with the comments about diluting drinks and ensuring you are drinking enough to counteract the dryness of what you have eaten.
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Old 06-01-13, 12:23 PM   #13
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If you are actually in need of energy during a race, nothing beats the optimized carb-mix in gels & drinks of various kinds. They use malto-dextrin, large chains of glucose-molecules, to pack as much calories through to the intestines as possible. Simple sugar mixes of same calorie-concentration would upset stomachs and slow gastric-emptying.

If you're not racing and are doing a leisurely 6-hour century, regular food is fine. I like leftover pizza, bean burritos, baked-potatoes, chips, PB&J, pretty much anything at a 250cal/hr pace.
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Old 06-02-13, 09:19 AM   #14
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Drop the carbs. Go low carb, high fat. Tune you body for fat metabolism, and you can ride all day without fuel, just hydration. Hammer has us all believing we need all that sugar crap, and you don't.

I went LCHF last May because of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and joint aches. After I got fat adapted (1 - 3 weeks eating low carb (<50 carbs a day) I got off of the Cholesterol meds and BP meds, and have lost 17 lbs. I've never felt better.

A month after going HCLF I was able to do a 112 mi ride around Lake Okeechobee with only a 1/2 sandwich and a bag of pork rinds. I kept up the 20+ mph pace along with the kids half my age that kept slurping syrup crap in a foil every 45 min to prevent bonking. The temps was 85 - 90 deg, humidity about the same. The last 1/2 mi we sprinted up to 30 mph. I backed off a little early when I felt a cramp coming on. But I wasn't tired or even hungry.

It's a totally different mindset, a different way of eating. But it works.
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Old 06-02-13, 09:52 AM   #15
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Drop the carbs. Go low carb, high fat. Tune you body for fat metabolism, and you can ride all day without fuel, just hydration. Hammer has us all believing we need all that sugar crap, and you don't.

I went LCHF last May because of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and joint aches. After I got fat adapted (1 - 3 weeks eating low carb (<50 carbs a day) I got off of the Cholesterol meds and BP meds, and have lost 17 lbs. I've never felt better.

A month after going HCLF I was able to do a 112 mi ride around Lake Okeechobee with only a 1/2 sandwich and a bag of pork rinds. I kept up the 20+ mph pace along with the kids half my age that kept slurping syrup crap in a foil every 45 min to prevent bonking. The temps was 85 - 90 deg, humidity about the same. The last 1/2 mi we sprinted up to 30 mph. I backed off a little early when I felt a cramp coming on. But I wasn't tired or even hungry.

It's a totally different mindset, a different way of eating. But it works.
It's great you have found a diet that works for you. For most people, however, they will have better performance eating a balanced diet. I'm reasonably fit and have ridden a century on water only. It's not difficult if you don't ride at a high intensity.

If you want to train and/or race at higher intensities and volumes most will have better performance by eating carbs before and during their rides.
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Old 06-02-13, 11:47 AM   #16
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I think most of the people reading these forums would do well to read Phil Maffetone's "Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing." You really don't need to be riding at high intensity all the time. I know it seems "macho" but it comes at a price. Health is not Fitness.
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Old 06-02-13, 01:09 PM   #17
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I think most of the people reading these forums would do well to read Phil Maffetone's "Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing." You really don't need to be riding at high intensity all the time. I know it seems "macho" but it comes at a price. Health is not Fitness.
With respect, I don't think that is what this thread is about. Nobody has advocated riding at high intensity all the time. Take your low-carb evangelism elsewhere.

To be clear, I have no particular objection to the low-carb philosophy, though my own experience was that I was unable to train to race on a low-carb diet. I'm merely pointing out that the OP wasn't asking that question.
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Old 06-03-13, 09:53 AM   #18
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Monty, sounds like you'd enjoy the all-natural products. Bonk Breaker, Huma Gel, and Skratch Labs are the ones that I know a few stores carry that go the all-natural route. There are options out there, just keep trying!
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Old 06-12-13, 05:24 AM   #19
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After bonking once, I never forget to keep fuel in the tank. I've tried all sorts of bars. Powerbars are gooey in the summer, hard as a rock in the winter. Clif bars are a bit dry and some use soy protein which I avoid. Several other bars are too sugary or have too much protein so they sit on your stomach like a rock.

Larabars work well for me. Short ingredient list that doesn't require my chemistry degree to decipher. Gluten free which is helpful for a lot of people but they still taste good.

Homemade bars are easy to make if you plan ahead and cost a lot less. Plus, you can tailor them to what you like/need best.

I also often carry raw almonds, raisins, dried dates, almond butter on bread folded over(much better than peanut butter), apple slices. The fruit provides some quick energy sugar; I just nibble at it rather than tank up. On long days, I'll bring cheese and beef or turkey jerky to eat at a rest stop. The trick for me is to not eat too much at one time but space it out throughout the ride. I don't feel bloated, i don't have sugar crash, and i don't bonk.(a horrible experience)

I use the NUUN tablets, too. Much better than Gatorade, which is way too sweet. Some people swear by chocolate milk at the rest stops. On hot days, I'll look for the small cans of spicy V-8.
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Old 06-12-13, 08:06 AM   #20
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I have a twitchy stomach and love gels and energy bars. Just not powerbars. Eeeek.
A coke is a favorite of mine as well.
I don't have the room to carry much on rides or races so it has to pack a punch. Not that I really need to eat much nowadays.
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Old 06-13-13, 07:11 AM   #21
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Screw gels and bars. they NEVER work

try eating dates. super race food/ 1g if carb/kg of bodyweight/hr
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Old 06-13-13, 01:46 PM   #22
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Really? I wonder why they always work.
Though they are rather tasty, sticky, and bulky.
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Old 06-21-13, 12:30 PM   #23
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I love RevHoney energy gels. The apple cinnamon flavor tastes just like apple pie! I've never seen more than 5 ingredients on any of the tubes, and I can pronounce all of them, which is a bonus.

The only downside is they're a small family business out of Kansas, so they're in fewer stores than national brands. You can order the gels off their website, although I can't speak about ordering from experience.

http://www.revhoney.com/product/u-tubes
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