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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 04-16-10, 04:35 PM   #1
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Does anyone follow Hammer Nutrition guidelines?


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?
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Old 04-16-10, 08:24 PM   #2
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Not all of it.

I have not been able to bring myself to start a long event/race without breakfast. Starting out hungry just means I'll start out behind in my fueling. I have found that I can eat a big breakfast 2 hours before my race start without any trouble... in fact I am often starting to get hungry again by then. But I don't mind getting up early if I have to in order to eat. Some people are more sensitive to sleep than I am and might do better to sleep in and skip breakfast.

SE and Pepetuem make my stomach unhappy if I consume a lot of it. And they taste nasty. But they work well for many people. HEED works for me but not as my sole source of fuel. I also eat Clif bars and home made bars of various sorts.

I am ok with 300 or even 350 cal/hr if it's the right food.

No matter what your fueling strategy, if you plan for 1.5 hours and do a 4 hour ride, you're going to need more food. This is why I carry some cash in my seat pack. BTW if you eat well then you probably don't need any calories for a short 1.5 hour ride.
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Old 04-17-10, 08:27 AM   #3
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I follow their guidelines but don't use their products. The theories they represent do work. If you start out on an empty stomach or after a 3-4 period of fasting as they suggested and fuel properly on the bike, you WILL have better endurance due to your body using a higher % of fats for fuel. However, this is at the price of a small drop in maximal performance, but it means that you will be stronger at the end of a longer race.

I followed this exact plan just this past weekend at a 56mile road race event. 3hrs before I had 300kcals of easy digestible carbohydrate to top of liver glycogen. I never ate anything until I started warming up on the bike, and took 1 gel every 10 miles during the race with water/electrolyte. After 50 miles, everyone was cooked, and I still had plenty left. I rode away from the bunch with a few miles to go and won the race. To prove the theory even further, I refueled myself correctly after that race, then went out and did 70mile with some other riders the next day, not eating beforehand and just fueling as needed on the bike. It was a training ride, but I was first home even after racing the previous day - and the ride was with Elite riders of similar standard to myself.

HOWEVER, I have noticed that for a shorter race, e.g a 2hr XC race, I put out a better performance eating something easily digestable 1hr before the start. This accelerates the release of muscle glycogen faster due to raised blood sugar and results in better performance. I don't run out of gas as I think that due to me being a seasoned racer, I have the glycogen capacity to go 2hrs hard from the gun. Any races longer than this and I don't eat anything 3hrs before, and just fuel on the bike as above.

Something to always remember - if you are starting out a ride/race with low muscle glycogen, eating a massive breakfast beforehand isn't going to do jack all to compensate. It's too late to replenish your stores by that point. You are better off doing what hammer says, which will maximise your endurance capability.

Last edited by paulclaude; 04-17-10 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 04-17-10, 10:27 AM   #4
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I find I can eat 2 hours before, but no later than that, and the 2 hr. meal needs to be liquid, like maltodextrin and protein powder or a Hammer SE or Perpetuem. If I want real food, I have to eat earlier or I'll feel sick during the first hard climb or surge.

If you're not riding competitively it doesn't matter so much. You mostly want to eat foods that don't leave you feeling bloated or sick. Hammer's quantities apply for any type of food, however. Everyone's stomach is different and will tolerate different treatment. Hammer's thing is that pretty much anyone can tolerate their stuff (with the exception of Perpetuem), even though they may not like the taste or mouth feel. The highest complement I can give a bike food is "I never barfed it up!"
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Old 04-17-10, 04:37 PM   #5
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I like Perpetuem, but I can't stand Heed. I've been using the Cafe Latte flavor.
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