UBC’s Racing Teams November 21st, 2011
University Bicycle Center has a rich history of servicing the cycling needs of Tampa and surrounding areas over the past 40 years. As a part of this effort, UBC has sponsored and supported road and mountain bike racing teams that are based out of Tampa, FL since 1972. Currently, our road team has 13 cyclists and our mountain team has 8 cyclists.
Due to their personal training and team efforts, our racing teams have established themselves as top contenders throughout Florida. In 2011, our road team placed 1st in the Florida Crown series, 2nd in the Florida Point, and 3rd in the Florida Cup series. Our riders represent and promote their sponsors with top performance and sportsmanship.
Our cyclists not only perform at a high level when competing, but they also represent University Bicycle Center in charity rides throughout the year. In addition to encouraging our cyclists to personally participate in charitable events, UBC’s commitment to cycling in central Florida extends to charitable donations, financial contributions, and providing SAG support for many events in the Tampa area; including the MS 150, Ride Without Limits, Ride To Defeat ALS, and the Diabetes Challenge.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
Scott Demo Day November 15th, 2011
Scott Bikes will be making available their brand new SPARK 29ers (and 26″) Mountain Bikes as well as the Team Edition FOIL Road Bikes (52, 54, 56, 58 cm) this FRIDAY, Novemeber 18th.
Test rides will be held at two locations in the Tampa area.
San Antonio Ball Fields – 8AM – 10AM
Flatwoods Nature Preserve – 12PM – 4PM
*Morris Bridge Rd. entrance
Come join UBC and Scott Bikes as we enjoy a nice treat for the end of the week. Try out the top of the line bikes that SCOTT has to offer. For more details, call University Bicycle Center @ 813-971-2277.
**You will need to bring your own pedals, helmets, a valid driver’s license and credit card.
The Importance of Protein for the Endurance Athlete April 25th, 2011
The Importance of Protein For Endurance Athletes
By Steve Born
Are you an endurance athlete who believes that protein supplementation is strictly for weightlifters, bodybuilders, and purely–strength athletes? In so, it’s vitally important to understand that hard–training endurance athletes also need a substantial amount of protein in their daily diets. This article focuses on how to obtain adequate amounts of the proper protein at the right time to satisfy the specific needs of endurance athletes.
Endurance athletes need more than just carbohydrates
Endurance athletes tend to focus on carbohydrate intake and pay little, if any, attention to protein. As a result, protein deficiency appears often among endurance athletes, with its attendant negative effects on performance and health. Serious endurance athletes do need considerable amounts of protein, far above the normal adult RDA, because maintenance, repair, and growth of lean muscle mass all depend on it, as well as optimum immune system function. Low dietary protein lengthens recovery time, causes muscle weakness, and suppresses the immune system. Chronic protein deficiency will cancel the beneficial effects of your workouts; instead, you will become susceptible to fatigue, lethargy, anemia, and possibly even more severe disorders. Athletes with over–training syndrome usually have protein deficiency.
Questions, concerns, & answers
In addition to the usual information we offer concerning all of our fuels and supplements, the issue of protein intake also requires dealing with some misperceptions. Endurance athletes have certain oft–spoken beliefs about protein intake, and in this section we’ll look at the three most commonly voiced.
The first is something to the effect of, “I thought only bodybuilders needed high protein diets.” When you get down to it, however, we are body builders in some respects, building our bodies to do what we want them to. The truth is that endurance athletes and bodybuilders have similar protein requirements, but the way in which the body uses the protein differs. Bodybuilders need protein primarily to increase muscle tissue; endurance athletes need protein primarily to repair existing muscle tissue that is undergoing constant breakdown from day–to–day training.
Another concern often heard is that “eating a high protein diet will cause unwanted weight gain and muscle growth.” Actually, the type of training you engage in determines whether you bulk up or not. High volume endurance training does not produce muscle bulk, regardless of protein intake, whereas relatively low volumes of strength training will. Either way, the muscle tissue requires protein. Additionally, it is the volume of calories you consume—be it from carbohydrates, protein, or fat—that is the primary factor in weight gain. You’ve simply got to have more calories going out (i.e. “being burned”) during exercise and other activities than you have coming in via the diet to avoid unwanted weight gain.
“But I thought carbohydrates were the most important fuel for exercise,” is the third most commonly expressed belief. While carbohydrates are indeed the body’s preferred source of fuel, protein plays an important part in the energy and muscle preservation needs of endurance athletes. Protein is mainly known for its role in the repair, maintenance, and growth of body tissues, but it also has a role in energy supply. After about 90 minutes of exercise in well–trained athletes, muscle glycogen stores become nearly depleted, and the body will look for alternative fuel sources. Your own muscle tissue becomes a target for a process called gluconeogenesis, which is the synthesis of glucose from the fatty and amino acids of lean muscle tissue. The degree of soreness and stiffness after a long, intense workout is a good indicator of just how much muscle cannibalization you have incurred. Adding protein to your fuel mix provides amino acids and thus reduces tissue cannibalization.
Protein use during exercise
As discussed in the article Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Exercise, it’s important that the workout fuel contain a small amount of protein when exercise gets into the second hour and beyond. Research [Lemon, PWR “Protein and Exercise Update” 1987, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1987;19 (Suppl): S 179–S 190.] has shown that exercise burns up to 15% of the total amount of calories from protein by extracting particular amino acids from muscle tissues. If the endurance athlete does not provide this protein as part of the fuel mixture, more lean muscle tissue will be sacrificed through gluconeogenesis to provide fuel and preserve biochemical balance. Simply put, when you exercise beyond 2–3 hours, you need to provide protein from a dietary source or your body will “borrow” amino acids from your muscle tissue. The longer you exercise, the more muscle tissue is sacrificed. This creates performance problems both during exercise (due to increased levels of fatigue–causing ammonia) and during your post–exercise recovery (due to excess lean muscle tissue damage).
Bottom line: During exercise that extends beyond about two hours, the wise endurance athlete will make sure that complex carbohydrate and protein intake are both adequate to delay and offset this cannibalization process.
What kind to use?
Which protein is best for use before, during, and after exercise has been a subject of much debate. We recommend a combination of both soy and whey protein, used at separate times, to provide the most comprehensive support for an endurance athlete’s diet. We believe that whey protein is the premier protein for recovery and enhanced immune system function, while soy protein is ideal for fulfilling protein requirements prior to and during endurance exercise. That doesn’t mean using soy protein for recovery purposes would be “wrong” or in any way harmful. For optimal benefits, though, you’ll not find a better protein for recovery and immune system boosting than whey protein, in particular whey protein isolate. For exercise–specific benefits it’s hard to top soy, which is the main reason we use it in both Sustained Energy and Perpetuem.
The benefits of soy protein
Because it has less potential than whey protein for producing ammonia, a primary cause of muscle fatigue, soy protein is best used prior to and during exercise. That alone would make soy the preferential choice for use during exercise, but soy has yet more benefits.
As mentioned in the Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Exercise article, soy protein has a unique amino acid profile. This composition adds to its attractiveness as the ideal protein to use during endurance exercise. Although not as high in concentration as whey protein, soy protein still provides a substantial amount of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which your body readily converts for energy production. BCAAs and glutamic acid, another amino acid found in significant quantity in soy protein, also aid in the replenishing of glutamine within the body, and without the risk of ammonia production caused by orally ingested glutamine, an amino acid usually added to whey protein. Soy has high amounts of both alanine and histidine, which is part of the beta–alanyl l–histidine dipeptide known as carnosine, renowned for its antioxidant and acid buffering benefits. Soy protein also has a high level of aspartic acid, which plays an important role in energy production via the Krebs cycle. Lastly, soy protein has higher levels of phenylalanine than does whey, which may aid in maintaining alertness during extreme ultra distance races.
Soy Protein vs. Whey Protein
A comparison (approximate amounts per gram of protein) of “during exercise” – specific amino acids
|AMINO ACID||Soy Protein||Whey Protein|
|Glutamic acid||138 mg||103 mg|
|Alanine||31 mg||9 mg|
|Aspartic acid||84 mg||78 mg|
|Phenylalnine||38 mg||32 mg|
In addition, for general health benefits it’s hard to beat soy. Soy protein contains multitudes of health–enhancing phytochemicals. Scientific research has established many connections between soy consumption and lower rates of certain cancers, notably breast, prostate, stomach, lung, and colon. Comparing cancer rates for the U.S. with those of Asian countries (which have soy rich diets) shows some remarkable differences. For instance, Japan has one–fourth the rate of breast cancer and one–fifth the rate of prostate cancer. In China, medical researchers linked the consumption of soymilk to a 50% risk reduction for stomach cancer. Studies done in Hong Kong suggest that daily soy consumption was a primary factor in a 50% reduction in the incidence of lung cancer.
Soy Protein – Friend or Foe?
Even though the just–mentioned benefits attributed to soy protein are generally accepted by the majority, there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not soy protein is truly beneficial. Some tout soy as being a super–healthy protein source, while others decry it as being responsible for a variety of undesirable effects. Perhaps the most highly debated topic is in regards to soy’s naturally occurring phytoestrogens and whether or not they negatively affect hormone levels (particularly in males), causing an imbalance leading to increased estrogen levels. Dr. Bill Misner comments, noting that there are those who do not agree with his position:
Phytoestrogens from plant lignans or isoflavonoids from at least 15 plants behave within the body like weak estrogens. Phytoestrogens are so chemically similar to estrogen that they bind to the estrogen receptors on the cells within the body. It should be emphasized that they do not initiate the same biological effects that true estrogens exert.
Phytoestrogens paradoxically act as anti–estrogens, effectively diluting the impact of the body’s own production of estrogen, because they occupy the same receptor sites (estradiol receptor sites) that would otherwise be occupied by endogenous estrogen. Therefore plant phytoestrogens protect the body from the detrimental effects of excessive estrogen. The healthy foods and supplements that introduce phytoestrogens into the diet are Mexican wild yam, black cohosh, red clover, licorice, sage, unicorn root, soy, flax seeds, and even tiny sesame seeds. None of these foods are associated with behavioral change or hormonal modification.
Consuming GMO–free soy protein generates anabolic sequences desirable for the health–conscious male and female endurance athlete, especially the 40–and over athletes. If allergenic, thyroid, or digestion issues are present, then another protein should be selected. Soy’s phyto–estrogen properties block the effects of potent endogenous estrogens, with no known gender effects to males or females as reported from the literature. The net result from soy protein consumption is anabolic lean muscle mass gain. While I regard soy as an excellent dietary protein, alternating soy with other lean dietary proteins during training presents a responsible and defendable rationale.
Each scoop of Hammer Soy provides 25 grams of the highest quality, 100% GMO (genetically modified organism)–free soy protein, without any fillers, added sugar, or artificial sweeteners or flavoring. Hammer Soy’s highly concentrated nature makes it a hunger–satisfying addition anytime, helping you to easily fulfill your daily protein requirements. Add Hammer Soy to juices, smoothies, or other soy–based drinks to make a satisfying and healthy meal. It’s also a great addition when making pancake or muffin batter, adding high quality, all–vegetable protein to the mixture.
The benefits of whey protein
For enhancing the recovery process, whey protein has no peer. As mentioned in the article, Recovery – A crucial component for athletic success, whey protein has the highest biological value (BV) of any protein source. BV rates the availability of the protein once ingested, and whey is arguably the most rapidly absorbed protein, exactly what you want post–workout. Whey protein’s amino acid profile contains the highest percentage of essential amino acids, 25% of which are the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine, the most important for muscle tissue repair. Whey is also a rich source of two other important amino acids, methionine and cysteine, which stimulate the natural production of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants and a major player in maintaining a strong immune system. Glutathione also supports healthy liver function.
Whey Protein vs. Soy Protein
A comparison (approximate amounts per gram of protein) of “after exercise”–specific amino acids
|AMINO ACID||Whey Protein||Soy Protein|
|Leucine||100 mg||56 mg|
|Isoleucine||51 mg||35 mg|
|Valine||36 mg||16 mg|
|Methionine||17 mg||9 mg|
|Cysteine||33 mg||9 mg|
Each scoop of Hammer Whey contains 18 grams of 100% micro–filtered whey protein isolate, with no added fillers, sugar, or artificial sweeteners or flavoring. The key word here is isolate. Manufacturers supply two forms of whey, isolate and concentrate. Whey protein concentrate contains anywhere from 70% to 80% actual protein (and, sadly, sometimes even less), the remainder being fat and lactose. Isolate, on the other hand, contains 90% – 97+% protein, with little, if any, lactose or fat, making it the purest form of whey protein available. Because isolate contains almost no lactose, even those with lactose intolerance find it an easily digestible protein source. We use only isolate in our whey–containing products, Hammer Whey and Recoverite.
In addition, each scoop of Hammer Whey contains a whopping six grams of glutamine, a remarkable amino acid. Space limits all that could be written regarding the benefits of this extraordinary, multi–beneficial amino acid, but needless to say, it’s essential for endurance athletes in supporting enhanced recovery and immune system function. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your muscles. Intense exercise severely depletes glutamine, which makes supplementation so important. Glutamine plays a significant role in the glycogen synthesis process, and along with the branched chain amino acids, glutamine helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue. In addition, glutamine has also been shown to help raise endogenous levels of glutathione, which is intimately involved in immune system health. Glutamine contributes to growth hormone release and is a key component for intestinal health. For more detailed and referenced information on this remarkable amino acid, please read Dr. Bill Misner’s article, Glutamine Benefits, on the Hammer Nutrition web site.
How much do you need?
How much protein do endurance athletes need to consume? Numerous studies have demonstrated that endurance athletes in heavy training need more protein than recreational athletes do. Once it was believed that 1/2 gram of protein per pound (about .5 kilogram) of body weight—75 grams for a 150–lb (68 kg) person—per day was sufficient. Today’s standards, however, would increase that figure to about 100–112 grams (2/3 to 3/4 grams of protein per pound of body weight).
To find out how much you require, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.4 to 1.7, depending on your exercise intensity. This gives you the amount of protein (in grams) that you should consume on a daily basis. (To convert from pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.2). Thus, a 165–pound (75 kg) athlete in high training mode should consume about 128 grams of protein daily.
In real–life amounts, to obtain 128 grams of protein you would need to consume a quart of skim milk (32 grams), 3 oz. of tuna (15 grams), 7 oz. of lean chicken breast (62 grams), 4 slices of whole wheat bread (16 grams), and a few bananas (one gram each).
Of course, we get protein in some amounts from a variety of foods. But how many of us down the equivalent of a quart of milk, a half–can of tuna, two chicken breasts, and four slices of whole wheat bread every day? Track and record your diet and do some calculating. It takes quite a bit of effort to ensure adequate protein intake, especially for vegetarians and those who avoid dairy products. Remember to include protein intake from Sustained Energy, Perpetuem, and Recoverite in your calculations. If you still come up short, consider additional applications of Hammer Whey and/or Hammer Soy. If you’re serious about your performance and also your health, then respect the importance of providing adequate protein in your diet.
HAMMER PROTEIN TIPS
Recovery/Meal Replacement Formulas
1 rounded scoop of Hammer Whey (equal to about 1.25 scoops) with 3 servings (approx. 5 tablespoons) of Hammer Gel in 8–10 ounces of water. This provides approximately 370 calories from approximately 22.5 grams of protein and approximately 69 grams of carbohydrates.
3 – 4 scoops of Sustained Energy with 1/2 scoop of Hammer Whey in 16 ounces of water. This provides roughly 400 – 508 calories from approximately 19 – 22 grams of protein and 68 – 91 grams of carbohydrates.
2–3 scoops of Sustained Energy with 1 scoop of Hammer Whey in 8 ounces of organic orange juice. This provides approximately 404 – 511 calories from 26.5 – 30 grams of protein and approximately 71 – 94 grams of carbohydrates.
1/2 scoop of Hammer Soy with 2 – 3 servings (approximately 3.5 – 5 tablespoons) of Hammer Gel in water. This yields approximately 46 – 69 grams of carbohydrates and approximately 12.5 grams of protein equaling roughly 235 – 325 calories.
1/3 scoop of Hammer Soy with 2–2.5 scoops of Sustained Energy in water. This yields approximately 45 – 57 grams of carbohydrates and approximately 14.75 – 16.5 grams of protein equaling roughly 251 – 305 calories.
3 scoops of Sustained Energy in water supplies 320 calories from 68 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of protein.
2 – 2.5 scoops of Perpetuem in water provides 270 – 337.5 calories from 54 – 67.5 grams of carbohydrates and 7 – 8.75 grams of protein. Note: Before cold weather workouts or races, a WARM bottle of caffe latte Perpetuem is the ticket!
Although it’s not given the same kind of “status” as carbohydrates, there can be no doubt that obtaining adequate amounts of protein in the diet is crucial for endurance athletes. Use the information in this article to help you determine what kind of protein to use and how much, and start reaping the athletic performance and overall health benefits!
© Copyright 2010 Hammer Nutrition, LTD.
Speed Training April 21st, 2011
In cycle racing, as in many other endurance sports, speed is all-important. An efficient speed training zone lies between the aerobic and anaerobic threshold, or around 80-90% maximal heart rate.
The aim of speed training should be to push the athlete’s anaerobic threshold upwards (the level at which the body produces more lactic acid than it can eliminate) as much as possible. For most athletes, the anaerobic threshold is 20 bpm below maximal heart rate. In other words, a cyclist with high aerobic threshold will rarely need to exceed it during races.
Another important goal when training for speed is to maximize the duration that the athlete is able to remain inside the speed training zone. This ability to work long periods close to the aerobic threshold is often crucial for winning races.
Speed training usually takes the form of interval training. Individual laps range between 10-30 minutes, and the entire session usually lasts no longer than 50-80 minutes. The number and duration of intervals can vary greatly depending on fitness level. Recovery lasts 5-20 minutes depending on interval duration and fitness level. Most importantly, heart rate should never exceed the anaerobic threshold during intervals. Otherwise, training becomes too heavy and exhausting and will not improve speed.
Speed training can be performed on different types of terrain. Cycling fast on even terrain will work the muscles, while also developing the nervous system necessary for speed cycling. Speed training in the mountains will put strain on the heart and other cardiovascular system, while musclework is slightly lighter in high altitudes. This, in turn, will enable also a less-fit athlete to train for longer periods of time.
© Polar Electro 2010
Recovery Nutrition April 19th, 2011
Recovery – A Crucial Component for Athletic Success
By Steve Born
Training causes physical stress and depletion. Recovery is when adaptation to that stress occurs; it involves improvements not only in muscle performance, but also in glycogen storage. Hard training followed by timely, adequate nutritional replenishment increases your glycogen storage, as if your body is saying, “If there’s another workout like this tomorrow, I better be prepared with a good supply of available fuel.” If you feed your body correctly after a workout, you’ll have that fuel, muscle glycogen, the next day.
This article answers questions about how to enhance your recovery, and it offers guidelines on what nutrients you need and how much of them to use. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll give your body the support it requires to meet the demands of your next training session or race.
Athletes tend to focus on training and neglect recovery, specifically the critical step of refueling as soon as possible after each workout. We tend to think that a hard workout deserves a nice reward. Do you usually first go for a shower or relaxation after a hard workout? Are beer and pretzels your favored post–workout snack? If so, I want to remind you that a hard workout has left your body in a state of utter depletion and physiological vulnerability. However, it’s also in a state of prime receptivity, ready to absorb nutrients. Taking those few extra minutes to properly refuel is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your race day results. In fact, properly refueling your body immediately after your training session is as important as anything you did in the actual workout. When you give your body what it needs as soon as possible after exercise, it will respond wonderfully in the following ways:
- Your body will be able to store more and more of a premium, ready–to–use fuel known as muscle glycogen.
- You will strengthen, not weaken, your immune system.
- You will “kick start” the rebuilding of muscle tissue.
You can really give yourself a major advantage come race day if you’ll take the time to put some quality fuel into your body as soon as possible after all of your workouts.
If you’re at all serious about performing better in your racing and staying healthier, then take heed to this saying: “When you’ve finished training, you’re still not finished with training!” Here’s what I mean: You must attend as much to recovery as you do to active exercise if you expect to reap the benefits of hard training. In other words, how well you recover today will be a huge factor in how well you perform tomorrow. Exercise, done properly, creates enough stress on your muscles and cardiovascular system to instigate a rebuilding and strengthening program, but without causing big–time damage. Your body responds by adapting to the stress you placed upon it. Too much exercise at once leads to over–training syndrome. If you train within limits, but fail to supply your body with adequate fuel and nutrients, you get pretty much the same thing: over–use symptoms such as weakening, increased susceptibility to infections, and fatigue.
Recovery includes many factors, including rest, stretching, muscle stimulation, and sleep, but we will limit our present discussion to the nutritional aspects. This article will cover the four essential nutritional areas of recovery: rehydration, the two macronutrients (carbohydrates and protein), and micronutrients (primarily antioxidants).
Technically, of course, water has no nutrient value, but it’s essential for performance and recovery, and well worth a couple of paragraphs here. The normal course of recovery nutrition intake will meet most hydration needs, but it is possible for an athlete to suffer from chronic dehydration. In the article on hydration (“Hydration – What you need to know”) we caution against excess fluid intake, a more common problem than dehydration, especially among the mass of recreational and fitness athletes. Top–level competitors, however, tend to under–hydrate during races.
As a rule of thumb, you want to finish a workout with no more than about 2% body weight loss, and certainly no weight gain. Weight loss in excess of 2% signals performance decline. For example, if you go out at 160 lbs (approx 72.5 kg) and return several hours later at 156 lbs (just under 71 kg), you’re probably a bit dehydrated, but that would not be an unusual deficit after a hard workout or race. (Obviously, a steady, reliable scale is important here). At a pint per pound (roughly 475 ml per kilogram), four pounds (nearly two kilograms) lost means you need to drink at least a good half–gallon (64 ounces, or just under two liters) of fluids in the next few hours. That’s fairly easy, and much of the fluid intake will come in the normal course of nutritional replenishment anyway.
Carbohydrate replenishment – The sooner the better
Now let’s consider carbohydrate replenishment, the most obvious nutritional issue caused by endurance exercise. When you know the mechanism of carbohydrate replenishment, you can very effectively dial in your energy recovery program, so let’s briefly review your energy use and restoration cycle.
When you begin a workout or race, the primary fuel your body uses for the first 60–90 minutes or so is known as muscle glycogen, a glucose polymer that contains tens of thousands of glucose units arranged in branched chains. As your stores of muscle glycogen become depleted, your body switches over to burning fat reserves along with carbohydrates and protein consumed during exercise. You’ve only got a finite amount of this premium fuel, muscle glycogen, but its importance can’t be overstated. In fact, several studies have shown that the pre–exercise muscle glycogen level is the most important energy determinant for exercise performance. Needless to say, to have a good race or workout, you need to start with a full load of muscle–stored glycogen; athletes who have more of this readily available fuel in their bodies have a definite advantage. The good news is that you can substantially increase your glycogen storage capacity through the process of training and replenishing.
Here’s how your body does it: Along with insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels of ingested carbohydrates, an enzyme known as glycogen synthase converts carbohydrates from food into glycogen and stores it in muscle cells. This also drives the muscle repair and rebuilding process. However, to maximize the recovery process, you need to take advantage of glycogen synthase when it’s most active. Carbohydrate replenishment as soon as possible after exercise, when the body is most receptive to carbohydrate uptake, maximizes both glycogen synthesis and storage. To paraphrase the late Ed Burke, a well–known nutritional scientist, “The sooner you do it, the better.” Glycogen synthesis from carbohydrate intake takes place most rapidly the first hour after exercise, remains fairly active perhaps another hour, and then occurs at diminished levels for up to 4–6 hours longer. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin demonstrated that glycogen synthesis was highest when subjects were given carbohydrates immediately after exercise. Depletion followed immediately by carbohydrate intake yields the maximum glycogen re–supply.
Complex carbohydrates versus simple sugars
The one time where your body isn’t going to put up much of a fuss regarding complex carbohydrates versus simple sugars is right after a hard, glycogen–depleting workout. At this time your body is in such dire need of replenishment that it’ll accept just about anything. That said, complex carbohydrates still offer a distinct advantage over simple sugars, which is why we strongly recommend using them. Here’s why: Complex carbohydrates (such as the maltodextrin we use in Recoverite) and simple sugars (except fructose) have a high glycemic index (GI). This allows them to raise blood sugar levels and spike insulin rapidly, both desirable functions post–exercise. However, complex carbohydrates allow for a greater volume of calories to be absorbed compared to simple sugars. In other words, when you consume complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars after exercise, your body is able to absorb more calories for conversion to glycogen without the increased potential for stomach distress that commonly occurs with simple sugar fuels.
Additionally, most of us already over–consume simple sugars from our daily diets. Numerous studies clearly show that sugar consumption in America is outrageously high. A report from the Berkeley Wellness Letter stated that each American consumes about 133 pounds (60+ kg) of sugar annually & that’s over 1/3 pound sugar every day, 365 days a year! The USDA’s “Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970–2005” (www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB33/EIB33.pdf) illustrates the U.S sugar/sweetener–consumption problem even more in stating, “In 2005, added sugars and sweeteners available for consumption totaled 142 pounds per person, up 19 percent since 1970.”
It is abundantly clear that most–to–all of us are over–consuming sugar, and that excess sugar consumption is implicated in a number of health problems, so for that reason alone their consumption should be extremely limited. Additionally, if they don’t offer any specific post–workout benefits (which they don’t), then why use them? (Note: Check out the many sugar–related articles in our Endurance Library—particularly the ones written by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.—for more information on this important topic).
Bottom line: Simple sugars don’t provide any benefits for general health or recovery. Use only high glycemic complex carbohydrates (maltodextrins) to optimally replenish glycogen stores.
Important differences with athletic performance implications!
- A less–fit athlete, or one who has not been refueling properly after exercise, has very limited muscle glycogen available, perhaps as little as 10–15 minutes worth.
- A fit athlete who has been consistently refueling his or her body with carbohydrates immediately after exercise can build up a glycogen supply that will last for up to 90 minutes of intense exercise. For instance, a well–trained 160 lb (72.5 kg) marathoner packing some 2000 calories worth of premium fuel can cover 18 miles in 90 minutes at a 5 min/mile pace. He’ll need to consume some carbs to finish the race, but he’s in good shape fuel–wise.
Which would you rather have when the gun goes off, 15 minutes of on–board fuel or 90 minutes?
It should now be clear that by taking in ample amounts of carbohydrates immediately after training and continuing for the next few hours, you can get a head start on refueling your muscles after workouts. Additionally, consumption of carbohydrates will also tip the scales in the direction of protein synthesis instead of protein catabolism (breakdown). In other words, ample carbohydrates are essential in rebuilding muscle cells as well as restoring muscle glycogen. Studies suggest that the carbohydrate inflow gives the muscle cells the necessary fuel to begin the rebuilding process. Using the energy derived from carbohydrates, the muscles absorb amino acids from the bloodstream, helping initiate protein synthesis.
Carbohydrates also boost the production and release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is an anabolic (tissue–building) hormone that has a profound positive impact on protein synthesis in muscles, and it also tends to suppress protein breakdown. A University of Texas study found plasma insulin values three to eight times higher post–workout for subjects ingesting carbohydrates versus placebo.
Bottom line: For replenishing glycogen stores and aiding in the rebuilding of muscle tissue, quick replenishment of carbohydrates is a must. As soon as possible after you finish your workout, ideally within the first 30 minutes, consume 30–60 grams of high quality complex carbohydrates.
Protein – Essential component for recovery
Carbohydrate intake promotes many aspects of post–exercise recovery, but it can’t do the job alone; you need protein as well. Protein in your post–workout fuel provides these benefits:
- Raw materials to rebuild stressed muscles – Whey protein is the premier protein source of the three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, valine) used for muscle tissue repair.
- Enhanced glycogen storage – Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of carbohydrates plus protein, versus carbohydrates alone, is a superior way to maximize post–exercise muscle glycogen synthesis.
- Immune system maintenance – We strongly recommend whey protein, with its high levels of amino acids that spur glutathione production (see below).
Whey is the superior protein source for recovery
Of all the protein sources available, whey protein is considered the ideal protein for recovery, primarily due to its high Biological Value (BV) rating. The BV is an accurate indicator of biological activity of protein, a scale used to determine the percentage of a given nutrient that the body utilizes. In other words, BV refers to how well and how quickly your body can actually use the protein that you consume.
Of all protein sources, whey has the highest BV, with whey protein isolate (the purest form of whey protein) having an outstanding rating of 154, and whey protein concentrate having a 104 rating. Egg protein also has an outstanding BV, with whole eggs rating 100 and egg whites (albumin) rated at 88. With a 49 rating, soy protein ranks far below whey protein, making it a less desirable choice for recovery. (When the BV system was introduced, eggs had the highest known BV and thus were given a value of 100. Whey proteins came to researchers’ attention later, and they rang up even higher scores. The 154 BV of whey protein isolate and the 104 BV of whey concentrate are in comparison with the original BV benchmark, whole eggs.)
Other standards that evaluate protein quality/effect also show whey to be a superb protein source. One of these methods, the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER), while it admittedly has limited applications for humans (PER measures the weight gain of experimental growing rats when being fed the test protein), still shows that whey protein ranks the highest, with a rating of 3.6 (soy protein has a rating of 2.1).
Another protein measurement is the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). Nutritionists who disqualify the PER method for classifying protein quality (because it only references the amino acid requirements for lab rats) often will use the PDCAAS method for evaluating human protein requirements. According to this method, which utilizes an amino acid requirement profile derived from human subjects, an ideal protein is one that meets all of the essential amino acid requirements of humans. An ideal protein receives a rating of 1.0. Three protein sources—whey, soy, and egg—all have a 1.0 PDCAAS ranking.
One very important point about whey protein: for a supplement, make sure you use whey protein isolate, not whey protein concentrate. Whey protein isolate is virtually lactose and fat free; many lactose–intolerant people can still use whey protein isolate because it contains only a minuscule amount of lactose. Also, whey isolate checks in at a sturdy 90–97+% protein, whereas whey concentrate contains only 70–80% protein (and, unfortunately, oftentimes less). Simply put, whey protein isolate is a purer protein, and the best protein you can put into your body after a hard workout.
Hammer Whey and the whey protein used in Recoverite come from grass–fed cows that do not have antibiotics. Every load that is taken into the plant for processing is tested for antibiotics/hormones and rejected if it contains said contents. The end product is a pure un–denatured whey protein isolate of the highest quality. It is 97.7% pure, and virtually fat–free (0.5 g fat/100g), and carbohydrate–free (0.5 g lactose/100g). The whey protein isolate in Hammer Whey and Recoverite delivers rich immune–enhancing beta–lactoalbumins and alpha–lactalbumins. Hammer Whey has a unique profile of highly bioavailable protein with immune factors, potent branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins. Independent laboratory tests show the PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) for the whey protein isolate in Hammer Whey and Recoverite is a whopping 1.14, a score that exceeds all of those reported for egg, milk, caseinates, and soy protein.
Glutathione: The key to optimal immune system support & recovery
Glutathione is a tripeptide consisting of the amino acids glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. It is one of the three endogenous (naturally occurring in the body) antioxidants, the other two being catalase and superoxide dismutase. Many researchers rate glutathione as the number one antioxidant. Ward Dean, MD, a leading nutritional scientist, in his brilliant article “Glutathione: Life–Extending Master Antioxidant,” addresses the importance of glutathione, stating that “Glutathione is present in nearly all living cells, and without it they can’t survive& glutathione has major effects on health at the molecular, cellular and organ levels.”
One of the most important steps we can take to improve our recovery is to enhance/optimize body levels of this important antioxidant, and one of the best ways to do that is by consuming whey protein. Whey protein contains excellent levels of all three of the amino acids that comprise glutathione, as well as high levels of the sulfur–containing amino acid methionine. The two sulfur–containing amino acids (cysteine being the other) are particularly important for proper immune system function and the body’s production of glutathione. In addition, the amino acid glutamine has also been shown to help raise glutathione levels (both Hammer Nutrition whey protein products, Hammer Whey and Recoverite, contain high amounts of glutamine).
Bottom line: Adequate glutathione in the body will enhance your recovery and support optimal health.
Hammer Whey/Recoverite vs. Hammer Soy A comparison (approximate amounts per gram of protein) for glutathione production
|Amino Acid||Whey Protein Isolate||Soy Protein|
|Cysteine||33 mg||9 mg|
|Methionine||17 mg||9 mg|
|Glutamic Acid||103 mg||138 mg|
|Glutamine||333 mg||10.5 mg|
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – Essential for muscle repair
Of the nearly two–dozen different amino acids required by humans, nine are classified as essential because they cannot be synthesized by the body and must be derived from external food sources. Among these nine essential amino acids are the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The term “branched chain” refers to the molecular structure of these particular amino acids. Up to 75% of the body’s muscle tissue is composed of these three amino acids, and they are directly involved in the tissue repair process. BCAAs are present in all protein–containing foods, with whey protein being the best source.
Hammer Whey/Recoverite vs. Hammer Soy A comparison (approximate amounts per gram of protein) of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids)
|Amino Acid||Whey Protein Isolate||Soy Protein|
|Leucine||100 mg||59 mg|
|Isoleucine||51 mg||35 mg|
|Valine||36 mg||36 mg|
Bottom line: Soy protein is certainly an excellent protein source for a variety of health benefits. However, when it comes to enhancing recovery between workouts—maximizing glycogen synthesis, supporting immune system function, and rebuilding lean muscle tissue—you simply won’t find a better protein source than whey protein isolate. After your workouts, consume 10–30 grams of protein, preferably whey isolate, along with your complex carbohydrates. For more information about protein, see the article “The Importance of Protein For Endurance Athletes.”
Recoverite – The perfect carb/protein product
If you’ve read this far, you might be asking yourself, “That’s all fine in theory, but how in the world do I get all those high quality carbohydrates and protein into my body after a workout?” Good question, and we have a good answer, because we’ve formulated a premier recovery–specific product called Recoverite. Recoverite is the easy way to take care of serious recovery needs for serious endurance athletes, providing the high quality complex carbohydrates and whey protein isolate you need. Additionally, Recoverite supplies a generous amount of glutamine, a couple of other recovery–specific micronutrients, and a full–spectrum electrolyte profile. It’s the ideal post–workout fuel.
Why a 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio?
As mentioned earlier in the article, timely post–workout carbohydrate and protein replenishment helps optimize glycogen synthesis and rebuild muscle tissue. While other products use a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, Recoverite supplies those two components in a 3:1 ratio, which we believe is the ideal ratio for enhanced recovery. Dr. Bill Misner explains:
Research supports the concept for utilizing four parts carbohydrate to one part protein during the [brief] window–of–opportunity in order to exogenously impact lean muscle mass growth and glycogen re–storage. Shortly after Ivy and Burke and several others specified results with a 4:1 ratio, a patented product was then marketed. Another research paper using elderly subjects in strength exercise (weights) found conclusively that when these subjects lifted weights three days per week and consumed one part carbohydrate to one part protein, they positively achieved lean muscle mass growth gains. This later study skews the conclusion of the former, calling for the question of what carbohydrate to protein ratio best supports lean muscle mass growth and glycogen re–storage post–depletion workout. In other words, research is inconclusively leaning toward the 4:1 ratio, but has not excluded the 3:1 or 5:1 ratios, due to not having studied them as much as the patented 4:1 ratio. This leaves me with the opinion that as far as conclusive research data goes, the jury is still out, waiting for more papers to be published on other ratio values.
An endurance exercise session lasting more than three hours depletes muscle glycogen and likely cannibalizes around 50–60 grams of lean muscle proteins, and probably around 500–600 grams of glycogen, which should be replaced. The total dietary replacement ratio then is at least 10:1 carbohydrates: protein. Since the glycogen synthase enzyme released during glycogen depletion has a short half–life effective for 90–120 minutes, but most effectively available at 30 minutes post exercise, it behooves us (according to Colgan, Costill, Noakes, Hawley, Ivy, etc) to drive replacement proteins on the insulin–glycogen synthase “train” for effective maximal replacement. If you try to replace all of the glycogen in one or two meals, spaced an hour apart with all the protein, too much carbohydrate in one meal will produce excess adipose fatty acid storage. Cutting the carbs down to small doses will produce the insulin and provide maximum storage rates for the protein fraction delivery into the muscle cell for the lean muscle mass rebuilding process.
The 3:1 carbohydrate to protein post–exercise protocol is rational for the endurance athlete, especially if lean muscle mass recovery is the objective. Adding one more part carbohydrate raises the carbohydrate component (to 4:1) and may be beneficial for athletes who are free from carbohydrate–induced fat weight. Of the two ratios—3:1 or 4:1—the low–carb Recoverite appears to be favorable for endurance lean muscle gain than the 4:1 higher carb patented formula. Altering the formula in any direction toward more protein or more carbohydrate should be monitored by fat weight gain and lean muscle mass gain accordingly.
Since we saw the research that showed positive lean muscle mass growth in older subjects using 1:1 carbohydrate to protein recovery refueling, our opinion is that the lower carbohydrate version [3:1 ratio] is superior to the higher carbohydrate version.
Protein and ancillary nutrients
Regarding protein, Recoverite contains only whey protein isolate, which we discussed earlier. For rebuilding lean muscle tissue and immune system support, whey protein isolate has no peer; it’s simply the purest form of whey protein available. In addition, each serving of Recoverite also supplies a potent, recovery–boosting three grams of l–glutamine. The benefits of l–glutamine are hard to overstate. Among other things, it plays a crucial role in preserving and rebuilding lean tissue as well as supporting the immune system following intense exercise. In addition, l–glutamine is vital for gastrointestinal health.
Recoverite also supplies two other recovery–enhancing nutrients – ChromeMate™ brand chromium polynicotinate and l–carnosine.
The trace mineral chromium helps regulate carbohydrate metabolism. This has profound effects on athletic performance and, especially, recovery. Studies suggest athletes who consume chromium polynicotinate (along with ample carbohydrates) within two hours of completion of exercise will experience a 300% increase in the rate of glycogen synthesis compared to no supplementation. In addition to the chromium provided in a serving of Recoverite, an additional 200 mcg of ChromeMate™ is an excellent recovery–boosting strategy.
L–carnosine, also known simply as carnosine, is one of the most versatile and beneficial nutrients that you can put in your body. During exercise it’s a great lactic acid buffer, and afterwards it continues to offer antioxidant and antiglycation properties.
Antiglycation is a process that may play a substantial role in preventing age–related physiological decline. One theory of aging focuses on the damage done to the cells by free radicals, which antioxidants help neutralize. Another theory points to irreversible damage to the body’s proteins caused by a process called glycation. A simple definition of glycation is the cross–linking of proteins and sugars to form nonfunctioning structures in the body. Glycation is cited as an underlying cause of age–related problems including neurologic (brain), vascular (circulatory), and ocular (eye) disorders. Carnosine has been shown to help prevent glycation.
Recoverite also contains a full–spectrum electrolyte profile, which helps replenish depleted essential electrolytes.
Bottom line: Recoverite provides unsurpassed nutritional support to ensure that you obtain the maximum value from your workouts and complete recovery after each training session and race.
To enhance recovery, it’s important to replenish basic vitamins and minerals depleted during exercise. Additionally, it’s extremely important to provide the body with a variety of antioxidants. You may have noticed that we have not mentioned Recoverite’s vitamin profile. That’s because it contains none. Yes, vitamins are indeed important in recovery, but most, if not all, recovery products contain only a limited number of vitamins and/or insignificant amounts of whatever vitamins they do provide. To completely replenish vitamins and minerals lost during exercise, use a product that provides adequate amounts of the full spectrum of necessary vitamins and minerals. For satisfying this important aspect of recovery, Premium Insurance Caps, a potent, complete vitamin/mineral supplement, is ideal.
Bottom line: While recovery drinks may provide some of the basic vitamins and minerals, they’re either lacking in certain ones and/or contain only token amounts. To fulfill your basic vitamin/mineral requirements more completely, don’t rely on what a recovery drink provides; use Premium Insurance Caps.
Antioxidants – Your body’s protection against free radicals
Our bodies need antioxidants to protect us from the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals (of which there are several types) are unstable atoms or molecules, usually of oxygen, containing at least one unpaired electron. Left unchecked, free radicals seek out and literally steal electrons from whole atoms or molecules, creating a destructive chain reaction. Excess free radicals, in the words of one nutritional scientist, “are capable of damaging virtually any biomolecule, including proteins, sugars, fatty acids, and nucleic acids.”Dr. Bill Misner writes:
Oxygen has the capacity to be both friend and foe. When energy fuels are metabolized in the presence of O2, 5% of them create molecules that contain an odd number of electrons. If free radicals are not neutralized by on–site antioxidant body stores immediately, tissue damage occurs to absolutely every cell membrane touched by these imbalanced molecular wrecking machines. Some theorize soreness and stiffness result because free radicals and waste metabolites build up during either prolonged or intense exercise. The more volume oxygen that passes into our physiology for energy fuel metabolism, the more increased free radical–fatigue symptoms may be experienced.
Those words should sound the alarm bells loud and clear, because as an athlete you consume huge amounts of oxygen and metabolize far greater amounts of calories than a sedentary person does. This means that you’re generating free radicals on the order of 12–20 times more than non–athletes! During periods of peak training and racing stress, free radical production increases even more. While the benefits of exercise far outweigh the potential negatives caused by free radicals, excess free radical production and accumulation, if not properly resolved, may very well be the endurance athlete’s worst foe. The human body can oxidize and decay, like rusting steel, from excess free radical production. Not only can this negate everything that you’ve worked so hard to achieve in your training, but it can also result in severe consequences to your overall health.
Antioxidant roster of Hammer Nutrition products
Recoverite – Cysteine*, Methionine*, Glutamic Acid*, Glutamine*, Carnosine
Premium Insurance Caps – Beta Carotene, Vitamin C*, Vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium*, Manganese
Race Caps Supreme – Coenzyme Q10, Idebenone, Vitamin E, Trimethylglycine
Mito Caps – Vitamin C (as ascorbyl palmitate)*, Vitamin E, Acetyl l–carnitine, R–alpha Lipoic Acid*, DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol), PABA (Para Amino Benzoic Acid)
AO Booster – Gamma E Tocopherol Complex, Tocomin½ Full–Spectrum Natural Tocotrienol Complex, Lutein, Astaxanthin
Super Antioxidant – Enteric Coated Super Oxide Dismutase, Grape Seed Extract*, L–Glutathione*, Ginkgo biloba, Gotu kola, Vinpocetine
*Glutathione precursors and/or glutathione boosting nutrients
Clearly, the necessity of neutralizing excess free radicals cannot be overstated, which is why we recommend supplementation with a variety of antioxidants. We’ll go over some specifics regarding the above–mentioned products as well as provide suggested dosages in a bit, but these are the salient points to keep in mind:
- Antioxidants are a group of micronutrients that are desperately needed post–workout.
- You need a wide spectrum of antioxidants because prolonged exercise produces many different types of free radicals. Each antioxidant targets different free radicals, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that any one antioxidant, say vitamin E, will protect you from all of the ravages of free radical production.
- Consuming antioxidant–rich foods and taking antioxidant supplements throughout the day—targeting primary intake post–workout—is an ideal way to support enhanced immune system health.
Putting it all together – Recovery nutrition recommendations
After extensive training sessions or races, in addition to Recoverite or Hammer Whey + carbohydrates (suggested doses listed below), we recommend the following supplements and suggest the following doses. As always, please consider our doses as guidelines only. Each athlete must design an individualized supplement program to meet his or her particular bodily demands and performance goals. Start with these figures and adjust to your particulars.
Premium Insurance Caps to help replenish the body’s stores of essential vitamins and minerals, including some vital antioxidants. There’s no doubt that your body will have depleted its stores of vitamins and minerals, and quick replenishment will enhance recovery and protect the immune system. Several capsules also provide a substantial dose of chromium polynicotinate, which, as mentioned earlier, is a vital micronutrient involved in the glycogen re–supply process. After exceptionally difficult and/or lengthy workouts, an additional 200–mcg capsule of ChromeMate™ should also be considered.
Race Caps Supreme for its three very powerful antioxidants – Coenzyme Q10, idebenone, and vitamin E. Not only does it support enhanced energy production during exercise (from those nutrients plus other key substrates), it also supports enhanced recovery after your workouts. Additionally, all three nutrients play key roles in maintaining optimal cardiovascular health.
Mito Caps, arguably the most potent supplement you can take for recovery and overall health. The combination of acetyl l–carnitine (ALC) and r–alpha lipoic acid (r–ALA) has many extraordinary benefits; to list them all would fill a book. These two powerful nutrients provide immune system support, lean muscle tissue preservation via decreased levels of excess cortisol, and optimal functioning of the mitochondria, your body’s energy producing “furnaces.” The r–ALA component is especially beneficial in that it extends the usable life of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione.
AO Booster – If there were only one or two types of free radicals negatively affecting our bodies, we’d be able to get by with one, maybe two, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. The truth, however, is that there are a number of free radicals, both water–soluble and fat–soluble, which is why a wide variety of antioxidants is necessary. With AO Booster you have an arsenal of powerful fat–soluble antioxidants to provide even more immune system–boosting power to the water–soluble ones provided in the three above–mentioned products and Super Antioxidant (discussed next). In addition, with AO Booster you’ll also notice benefits for your eyes and skin, as well as reduced muscle soreness and inflammation.
Super Antioxidant, perhaps the strongest non–vitamin antioxidant formula available. As mentioned earlier, because athletes exchange several hundred times more oxygen than sedentary people do, free radical production is a certainty. Left unchecked, free radicals can damage cell membranes, suppress the immune system, and delay recovery. To protect the body’s cells and to promote accelerated recovery, sufficient antioxidant intake is critical. Super Antioxidant perfectly complements the antioxidants found in the earlier–mentioned four products. In addition, several of the nutrients in the product provide additional recovery–enhancing benefits via their effects on increasing circulation. Lastly, the grape seed extract component in Super Antioxidant, in addition to providing substantial free radical neutralizing benefits, is believed to aid in strengthening and repairing connective tissue while also providing anti–inflammation support.
Xobaline for its influence on the resynthesis of RNA, the basis for cellular reproduction. Research suggests that improving RNA “status” within the body results in gains in lean muscle mass, increased mitochondrial resynthesis, and other benefits. When this occurs, the athlete may expect increased energy, improved metabolism, and enhanced recovery after exercise. In addition, the folic acid/vitamin B12 combination is vital for healthy red blood cell production and cardiovascular health, via the reduction of elevated homocysteine levels.
General Dosage Suggestions
DAYS WITH WORKOUTS LESS THAN 90 MINUTES
Premium Insurance Caps:
- Athletes weighing 150 lbs/68 kg or under, or any athlete under the age 20: 4 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food. 1–3 capsules at another time during the day with food.
- Athletes weighing more than 150 lbs/68 kg: 4 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food. 3 capsules at another time during the day with food.
Race Caps Supreme: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food.
Mito Caps: 2 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food. 1 capsule may be taken with dinner.
AO Booster: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food. 1 capsule at another time during the day with food.
Super Antioxidant: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food.
Recoverite: 1–2 scoops, depending on your body weight and severity of the workout. This provides 85 to 170 calories.
- Alternate Choice: 30 grams of carbohydrates (fruit, frozen fruit) + ½ scoop of Hammer Whey (9 grams protein) mixed with cold water in a blender
DAYS WITH WORKOUTS 90 MINUTES OR LONGER
Premium Insurance Caps:
- Athletes weighing 150 lbs/68 kg or under, or any athlete under the age 20: 4–7 capsules (the amount dependent on the duration/intensity of the training session) after workout with Recoverite or food. 3 capsules at another time during the day with food.
- Athletes weighing more than 150 lbs/68 kg: 7 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food. 7 capsules, divided into 2 doses at other times during the day with food.
Race Caps Supreme:
- Athletes weighing less than 150 lbs/68 kg or any athlete under the age of 20: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food.
- Athletes weighing more than 150 lbs/68 kg: 1–2 capsules capsule after workout (the amount dependent on the duration/intensity of the training session) with Recoverite or food.
Mito Caps: 2 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food. 1 capsule may be taken with dinner.
AO Booster: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food. 1 capsule at another time during the day with food.
Super Antioxidant: 2 capsules after workout with Recoverite or food.
ChromeMate™: 1 capsule after workout with Recoverite or food.
Xobaline: 1 tablet dissolved sublingually (under the tongue)
- Up to 120 lbs (Up to 54.5 kg) – 1.5 to 2 scoops. This provides 127.5–170 calories.
- 120–190 lbs (54.5–86 kg) – 2 to 2.5 scoops. This provides 170–212.5 calories.
- 190+ lbs (86+ kg) – 3 or more scoops. This provides 255 or more calories.
Note that these are suggested amounts and may differ for each person.
- Mix 1.25 scoops of Hammer Whey with 3 servings of Hammer Gel in 4–8 ounces of water. This provides approximately 370 calories from roughly 22.5 grams of protein and 69 grams of carbohydrates.
- Mix 3 scoops of HEED with 1.5 scoops of Whey in 4–8 ounces of water. This provides 435 calories from approximately 27 grams of protein and 81 grams of carbohydrates.
Always remember that how well you recover today greatly determines how well you’ll perform tomorrow. The fact is that athletes who attend to the recovery process as much as they do to active training have a distinct advantage over athletes who disregard or neglect it. Therefore, if you want to reap the benefits out of all the time and energy you put into your training, as soon as possible after you finish your workout—ideally within the first 30–60 minutes—it’s crucial for you to replenish your body with adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, whey protein isolate, and upplementary vitamins, minerals, and a wide variety of antioxidants (recommended products and suggested amounts listed earlier).
If you will follow these simple recommendations consistently, you will unquestionably see noticeable improvements in the quality of your workouts as well as better race results. Additionally, via the nutritional support you’re providing your body, your overall health will benefit as well.
© Copyright 2010 Hammer Nutrition, LTD.
Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Exercise April 11th, 2011
Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Exercise
By Steve Born
In this article you’ll learn the right way to deal with the three critical elements of endurance fueling: what kind of fuel to consume, how much, and when. The answers may surprise you, but I can promise you that if you adopt and apply these fueling guidelines, you can expect to see noticeably positive results You put great effort into your training and much expense acquiring the best equipment, so make sure your fueling strategy is equally top of the line. Your body will thank you, and your performance will be the proof.
Endurance and ultra–endurance athletes require all three forms of fuel the human body uses for energy: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. A major factor for optimal performance is using the right fuel, at the right time, in the right amount. Like every aspect of success in endurance events, proper nutrition requires planning, practice, and training to reap the benefits on race day. This article will give you the background information you need about fueling, and concludes with some recommendations about what and how much to use.
As all athletes know, “carbs are king” when it comes to fueling the body for any endurance exercise. That does not mean, however, that any carbohydrate at any time will keep you going. Carbohydrates can either help or hinder performance, depending on what kind you use, how much you use, and when you use them. For example, far too many misinformed athletes continue to use energy products loaded with simple sugars, or they use complex carbs, a superior choice, but at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. These practices will actually impair, not help, your performance.
Simple sugars, maltodextrin, and osmolality
Most dietary sugars are simple molecules known as monosaccharides and disaccharides. The shorter the chain length of a carbohydrate source, the higher it will raise a chemical measure known as osmolality when dissolved. In solution, simple sugars can only attain about 6–8% concentration or they will sit undigested in your stomach, as the osmolality will be incompatible with the digestive juices. Products containing simple sugars, typically sucrose, fructose, and/or glucose (dextrose), must be extremely dilute to match body fluid osmolality (280–303 mOsm). This weak of a concentration presents a problem to athletes because it cannot provide sufficient calories (perhaps only 100 cal/hour, at the most) to working muscles. To obtain enough calories from a weak 6–8% solution, an athlete would have to consume two or more bottles of fuel per hour, which means excess fluids, increasing the risk of fluid intoxication. Using simple sugar–based “energy drinks” is not a wise strategy.
“Well then,” you might say, “I’ll just mix a stronger concentration.” But this approach also fails. Making a double or triple strength mixture from a simple sugar–based carbohydrate fuel won’t work because the concentration of that mixture will exceed 6–8%, far too concentrated to match body fluid osmolality. It will remain in the stomach until sufficiently diluted, which may cause substantial stomach distress. Drinking more water to dilute your over–concentrated concoction puts you back in the original condition of increased risk of overhydration and all the problems that causes, so that’s not a good option. But if you don’t drink more, your body will draw fluids and electrolytes from other areas that critically need these fluids and electrolytes (like blood and muscle) and divert them to the digestive system to lower the osmolality of your over–concentrated simple sugar drink. This also will result in a variety of stomach distresses, not to mention increased cramping potential and other performance–trashing issues.
The same problem occurs when an athlete combines a simple sugar fuel with a complex carbohydrate fuel. Consumed together or within close proximity of each other, simple sugars and complex carbohydrates increase the solution concentration beyond the efficient digestion level for either component. This will compromise energy production and promote the likelihood of a variety of stomach issues. In the words of Dr. Bill Misner, “Adding simple sugar fractions [any of the “ose” carbohydrates] to complex carbohydrate fractions [maltodextrins] may double the osmolar pressure of the solution to hypertonic values. When a 6–8% simple sugar solution is added to a 15–18% complex carbohydrate solution, the osmolality of the combined solutions is simply not absorbable in the human gut.”
The simple fact is that using simple sugar–based products—either by themselves or in tandem with complex carbohydrate products—is simply futile! Endurance athletes who try to fulfill calorie/energy requirements with sugar–based drinks, gels, and powder mixes usually end up with a variety of complaints and poor performances.
Molecules that contain many sugar units chained together are called polysaccharides, known familiarly as complex carbs and starches. One of these, maltodextrin, can make up to an 18% solution concentration and still match digestive system osmolality. This allows very efficient passage from the digestive tract to the liver, which converts some of the maltodextrin to glycogen for storage and some directly to glucose for immediate use by the muscles. With polysaccharides you get much more energy from stomach to liver, thus providing maximal amounts of energy to be produced, and in a form your body can efficiently process.
Based on caloric delivery alone, complex carbohydrates such as maltodextrin are far superior to simple carbohydrates (simple sugars). But that’s not all. Simple sugars, even in small amounts, can incite a condition known as “insulin spike.” This sudden recruitment of insulin causes a subsequent dramatic drop in blood sugar, which can take blood sugar levels even below the fasting level! This “flash and crash” type of energy typically results in the dreaded “bonk,” something every athlete wants to avoid. However, complex carbs, which enter the bloodstream at a 15–18% solution, do not promote this wild fluctuation in blood sugar levels. Even though a maltodextrin might have a high GI (see below) and rapidly elevate blood sugar levels (a desirable effect), during exercise your body processes them with far less insulin fluctuation, most likely due to the steady release and breakdown of glucose from its polymeric source, and other hormonal factors. You never get the below–baseline drop in blood glucose that simple sugars cause.
Some athletic nutritionists disregard osmolality, but we do not believe its importance can be overstated. As Dr. Misner states, “when osmolality goes above 303 or below 280 mOsm, the gut must pull minerals and fluids& to mediate a narrow 280–303 mOsm range for immediate calorie absorption.” Both simple sugars and complex carbohydrate maltodextrins are absorbed at equal rates if the solution concentration matches body fluid osmolality (280–303 mOsm). Simple sugars meet this criterion only when they are mixed in calorically weak 6–8% concentrations; digestion slows down or ceases at higher concentrations. When athletes make a double or triple strength simple sugar–based drink, trying to increase caloric input, they usually develop problems such as gastric distress, bloating, flatulence, vomiting, and muscle cramps.
On the other hand, the maltodextrins (complex carbohydrates) used in Hammer Nutrition fuels match body fluid osmolality even when mixed in concentrations as high as 15–18%. This presents a distinct advantage because your body is able to digest, and thus convert to energy, a greater volume of calories from complex carbohydrates than it can from simple sugars.
Simple sugars = Ineffective fuel
The bottom line is that simple sugars are a very inefficient fuel source. Using them to fuel your body is like trying to heat your house by burning newspapers in your stove. You get a fast heat, but it burns out quickly, and you have to continually feed the fire. Not good! Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are similar to putting a nice big log on the fire in that they burn longer and more evenly, with the declination in “heat” (energy levels) being much more gradual. The maltodextrin in Hammer Nutrition fuels allow you to obtain the maximum amount of calories you need. They provide a more consistent and longer lasting energy supply, without putting you at risk for stomach distress.
Some manufacturers formulate their sports drinks with complex carbs, but almost all of them lade their products with cheap, inefficient simple sugars. Read the label before you buy. If there’s anything that ends in “ose” in the ingredient list, put it back on the shelf. We include only complex carbohydrates in Hammer Nutrition fuels (Hammer Gel, HEED, Sustained Energy, Perpetuem, and Recoverite). They contain no added simple sugars.
People often ask about the Glycemic Index (GI) of various carbohydrates and how those figures relate to fueling for endurance exercise. Here’s the scoop: GI rates the speed at which the body breaks down a carbohydrate into glucose. The lower the GI, the slower the process, and therefore the more stable the energy release. For food eaten at times other than exercise and recovery, GI is an important dietary factor, and we recommend eating foods with a low–to–middle GI rating.
However, during and immediately following exercise, a high–GI carbohydrate—one that elevates blood sugar levels rapidly—is desirable, as long as you keep caloric intake within approximately 280 cal/hour, as hormones associated with sympathetic nervous system activity will inhibit GI impact on insulin release. Negative diet/health–specific effects associated with consumption of high GI carbohydrates are not a concern during and immediately after exercise; high GI carbs actually perform better than low GI carbs at these times.
Long–chain, high–GI maltodextrins have a GI value of about 130, compared to glucose (100) or sucrose (62). This means that maltodextrins raise blood insulin more effectively than simple sugars, but without the rapid and precipitous drop that is a common (and deleterious) effect of simple sugars. Also, as mentioned earlier, maltodextrins allow you to absorb a greater volume of calories than you can from simple sugars.
Don’t complex carbs take longer to utilize?
Some suggest that since maltodextrin is many chains of glucose “hooked” together, it takes the body longer to break those chains down for conversion to glucose. In fact, one well–known triathlete contends that “your body uses sugar first before anything else so it makes sense to consume sugars like glucose.”
Technically, this is true; all carbohydrates will eventually be broken down to glucose. However, the first fuel (sugar) the body will use when exercise commences is muscle–stored glycogen, which is a long–chain (complex) carbohydrate that, as Dr. Misner puts it: “…is a form of starch which contains 8 parts amylopectin to 2 parts a–amylose.” Thus, wouldn’t it make sense to say that if the body’s first–used fuel is muscle glycogen and that its makeup is “complex” in nature, the body obviously is very efficient in breaking it down for rapid conversion to energy?
This particular athlete goes on to say, “As the race progresses your ability to cleave it [maltodextrin] into the absorbable form of carbohydrate (glucose) gets slower and slower. But maltodextrin is patient. It will sit in your stomach and wait for quite a while for something to come along and break it into glucose. This, my friend, is what causes that very undesirable bloating and eventual feeling like you want to hurl.”
We could not disagree more. Our unflinching belief is that the time it takes “from gut to muscle” isn’t nearly as long as some “experts” think it is, if there is any difference to begin with. And even if maltodextrin took slightly longer in “breaking down in the gut” as compared to glucose—and the difference, if any, would be fractional—the earlier–mentioned benefits of using complex carbohydrates only versus simple sugars (such as glucose) or combinations of carbohydrates (which we’ll discuss shortly) more than justifies the use of complex carbohydrates.
Interestingly, the very company this athlete is affiliated with (at least to some degree) states the following on their web site: “Maltodextrin has a much lower osmolality than glucose and fructose and therefore can be mixed in much higher concentrations without any stomach issues. Molecules of maltodextrin are larger than glucose, so drinks with maltodextrin will have a few large particles compared to a drink with glucose. The number of particles determines how much water it will hold. The more molecules of smaller sized glucose in the drink, the more water will be pulled into the intestine than the maltodextrin–based drink. Since maltodextrine based products don’t pull as much water into the intestine, it is absorbed faster into the bloodstream.”
Bottom line: While the process is, of course, quite detailed, the truth is that the bonds that compose maltodextrin are very weak and readily broken apart in the stomach. As already mentioned a couple times now (but worth repeating again), maltodextrin allows you to absorb a greater volume of calories for use as energy than you can from simple sugars.
Complex carbohydrates only or a combination of carbohydrate sources: Which is better for the endurance athlete?
Findings from research conducted by the Dutch sport scientist Asker Jeukendrup has caused quite a stir. In fact, a few companies now produce fuels that contain the carbohydrate formulations used in the studies. In general, Jeukendrup found that a blend of carbohydrates increased oxidation rates, indicating higher energy production. In one study, cyclists who ingested a 2:1 mixture of maltodextrin to fructose oxidized carbohydrate up to 1.5 grams/minute. Another study used a mixture of glucose, fructose, and sucrose and had rates that peaked at 1.7 g/min. Both those results are pretty eye opening, considering that complex carbohydrates typically oxidize at a rate of about 1.0 g/min.
However, there’s more to the results than what first meets the eye. Most of Jeukendrup’s subjects cycled at low intensity, only 50–55% maximum power output, which I think we’d all agree is very much a recovery pace, if that.
To be blunt, at a leisurely 50% VO2 Max pace, athletes can digest cheeseburgers and pizza with no gastric issues. However, if the heart rate and core temperature are raised to only 70% VO2 Max, the body must divert core accumulated heat from central to peripheral. This reduces the blood volume available to absorb ingested carbohydrates or whatever the athlete has consumed. After two decades of experience, we have found that in the overwhelming majority of the athletes we’ve worked with—athletes engaged in typical 75–85% efforts and/or in multi–hour endurance events—the combination of simple sugars and long chain carbohydrates, and in amounts higher than approximately 1.0 – 1.1 grams per minute (roughly 4.0 – 4.6 calories per minute), have not yielded positive results. They did, however, increase performance–inhibiting, stomach–related maladies.
Lowell Greib, MSc ND, explains that gastric emptying is a key limiting step in carbohydrate metabolism: “If your stomach can’t empty the product (no matter what it is) you are going to get nothing from it except a huge gut ache and possibly lots of vomiting! Unless there is new research that I am unaware of, gastric emptying is directly proportional to the osmolality of the solution in the stomach. Long chain carbohydrate (maltodextrin) contributes less to increasing the osmolality than do disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, etc.).”
Augmenting Greib’s statements, Dr. Bill Misner writes, “Absorption rate and how fast the liver can ‘kick it out’ are limiting factors. No matter what you eat, how much or how little, the body provides glucose to the bloodstream at a rate of about 1 gram/minute. Putting more calories in than can generate energy taxes gastric venues, electrolyte stores, and fluid levels.”
The question is not whether or not Jeukendrup’s published studies are disputable, but rather if these studies apply to faster paced, longer duration bouts of exercise. We do not believe this to be the case, which is why we do not recommend the use of multiple carbohydrate sources during exercise.
Bottom line: Stick with complex carbohydrate fuels, don’t consume simple sugars with or within close proximity of complex carbohydrates, and we guarantee you’ll see better results.
How much to consume
Now that you know what kind of carbohydrate to use, the next question is, “How much?” With some allowances provided for very large athletes, the average size (approximately 160–165 lbs/approx 72.5–75 kg) human body can only return (from the liver to muscle tissue) about 4.0 – 4.6 calories per minute, or about 240–280 cal/hr. Most of the time, when the majority of athletes consume more than 280 cal/hr during an event, the excess remains undigested in the stomach, or passes unused into the bowel, where, in the unmincing words of Dr. Bill Misner, “they accumulate in gastric or intestinal channels in 100–degree temperatures and putrefy in time.”
You may be burning up to 800 cal/hr, but your body cannot replace that amount during exercise. Trying to replenish calories at the same rate as depletion only causes problems. Instead of having more energy available, you’ll have a bloated stomach, and perhaps even nausea and vomiting. You’ve seen it happen, but it’s not a necessary aspect of intense competition; more likely it’s the result of improper caloric intake.
Fatty acids for fuel
If we can’t replace all of the calories we expend, then how do we keep going hour after hour? The answer is that we have an enormous supply of calories in body fat. The typical athlete can count on a reserve of up to 100,000 calories in the form of stored fatty acids—that’s enough, if you could process it all, to fuel a run from Portland, OR to Los Angeles, CA—a distance of almost 1000 miles! These fatty acids are the fuel of choice when exercise goes beyond about two hours, providing approx 60–65% of your caloric expenditure. In other words, your body has a vast reservoir of calories available from body fat stores, and it will use those liberally to satisfy energy requirements during lengthy workouts and races.
However, for this process to continue without compromise or interruption, you must not consume excess calories. If you try to match energy losses with caloric replacement from your fuel, you will not only cause a variety of stomach–related ailments, you will also inhibit the efficient utilization of fats for fuel. The bottom line is that caloric donation from consumed fuels must cooperate with your internal fat–to–fuel conversion system. Do not attempt to completely replace caloric expenditure. Your best strategy is to replenish calories in amounts that support efficient energy production and do not interfere with the use of fatty acids for fuel. For what that means in real life training and racing, see the chart at the end of this article.
Protein for fuel
Aside from certain circumstances, which we’ll discuss shortly, when exercise goes beyond about two hours, you need to incorporate some protein into the fuel mix. After approximately 90–120 minutes, and continuing until you stop your activity, about 5–15% of your caloric utilization comes from protein. This process, called gluconeogenesis, is unavoidable, and if you don’t supply the needed protein in your fuel, your body will literally scavenge it from your own muscle tissue. This is called catabolism (muscle breakdown), known informally, but quite accurately, as “protein cannibalization.” It can cause premature muscle fatigue (due to excess ammonia production from the protein breakdown process) as well as muscle depletion and post–exercise soreness. Protein cannibalization also compromises your immune system, leading to increased risk for colds, flu, and other diseases.
For exercise and competition that extends about two hours or more, your primary fuel should incorporate protein in a ratio of about 8:1 (by weight) carbs to protein. Both Sustained Energy and Perpetuem meet this requirement; they are your best choices for fueling any endurance activity.
The benefits of soy protein during endurance exercise
As noted above, it’s good to have a little protein along with your complex carbs to avoid the negative effects of muscle catabolism, but you must have the right kind of protein. The preferred protein for use during prolonged exercise is soy, primarily because its metabolization does not readily produce ammonia. Whey protein, with its high glutamine content, makes an excellent post–workout protein, but is not a good choice before or during exercise. You’re already producing ammonia during exercise, so consuming glutamine–enhanced whey protein will only exacerbate that problem.
There is some confusion regarding the glutamine and ammonia build–up. Yes, glutamine does eventually scavenge ammonia. The key word, however, is “eventually.” When glutamine metabolizes, it increases ammonia initially, then scavenges more than originally induced, but it takes approximately three hours or so to accomplish this. You’re already producing ammonia during endurance exercise, and since ammonia is a primary culprit in premature fatigue, it seems logical that you’d not want to increase ammonia levels even more. However, that’s exactly what you’ll do when you consume glutamine supplements or glutamine–enhanced whey protein during exercise. That’s one reason why soy protein is preferable for use during prolonged exercise.
Soy protein has a couple of other great features, too. First, it is an easily digestible protein. Second, it has an excellent amino acid profile, with a substantial proportion of branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, which your body readily converts for energy. During exercise, nitrogen is removed from BCAAs and used in the production of another amino acid, alanine, high amounts of which also occur naturally in soy protein. The liver converts alanine into glucose, which the bloodstream transports to the muscles for energy.
BCAAs and glutamic acid, another amino acid found in significant quantities in soy protein, also aid in the replenishing of glutamine within the body without the risk of ammonia production caused by orally ingested glutamine.
Soy’s amino acid profile has high amounts of both alanine and histidine, which are the amino acid components of the dipeptide known as carnosine, a nutrient known for its antioxidant and acid buffering benefits. Soy protein also has a high level of aspartic acid, which plays an important role in energy production via the Krebs cycle. Additionally, soy protein has high levels of phenylalanine, which may aid in maintaining alertness during extreme ultra distance races.
Lastly, soy produces more uric acid than whey protein. This might not sound good, but uric acid is actually an antioxidant that helps neutralize the excessive free radicals produced during exercise. High uric acid levels, from soy’s naturally occurring isoflavones, are another strong reason for preferring soy protein during endurance exercise.
The “Gray Area” of fueling
As discussed earlier, when exercise goes beyond two hours, we generally recommend that athletes use a “carb + protein” fuel (Sustained Energy or Perpetuem), either as their sole fuel from beginning to end, or as their primary fuel (roughly 2/3 – 3/4 of the time). The reason for this recommendation is that once you hit that second hour and beyond, a small percentage (roughly 5–15%) of their energy requirements will be fulfilled from protein. If you don’t provide some in the fuel mix, at least part of the time, your body has to cannibalize the lean muscle tissue to obtain the amino acids it needs to fulfill that small percentage of its energy requirements.
The last thing you want to do is have your body literally digest its own muscle tissue to make fuel. One reason is the increase in fatigue–causing ammonia; there is no doubt that excess ammonia is a primary culprit—perhaps THE primary culprit—in premature fatigue during endurance events. The other reason is that you’ll have broken down a greater volume of muscle tissue, which will prolong recovery time. So again, generally speaking, when exercise goes beyond two hours, we recommend that athletes use Sustained Energy or Perpetuem, either as their sole fuel from beginning to end, or as their primary fuel (roughly 2/3 – 3/4 of the time), with Hammer Gel or HEED used to augment that. If it’s a really long bout of exercise, a Hammer Bar on occasion would be perfectly acceptable.
Things may (key word “may”) be a little different come race day. We believe that a race that’s in the 2–3 hour range, perhaps just slightly longer, is in a “gray area” so to speak, which means that you can use either a “carb + protein” fuel (Sustained Energy or Perpetuem) or a “carb only” fuel (HEED or Hammer Gel). The selection needs to be based on the following:
- The type of race that you’re doing. For example, running is a more impactive and thus a more “digestively challenging” type of exercise than cycling.
- The intensity of the effort. It’s a lot easier to digest calories when the pace is more relaxed, which it usually is during a training session rather than during a race. That’s why, in the “10 Biggest Mistakes” article, we suggest having a fueling game plan but to “write it in pencil, not in ink.” What is meant by that saying is that caloric intakes that worked during training may not be appropriate during a race; you may need to consume slightly less in a race than you did during training. Increased anxiety, increased pace, and increased potential for dehydration all contribute to the possibility of a less–than–optimally–functioning digestive system. In addition, at the increased pace during a race, more blood is diverted from digestion and directed toward maintaining muscle performance.
- The weather and how well or poorly you’re acclimated to it. The hotter the weather, the more compromised the digestive system becomes. During hot–weather racing, athletes usually find that they need to increase their water and Endurolytes intake while lowering their calorie intake.
- The terrain. For example, doing lots of climbing while on the bike or during a run usually diminishes digestive capabilities somewhat.
Our belief is that if the race is going to involve high intensity right from the gun, and/or if the weather is going to be very warm–to–hot, and/or if other factors such as hilly–to–mountainous terrain come into play, deference should be given to the fuel that is the quickest to digest, and that means HEED or Hammer Gel. Yes, some ammonia will be produced during the effort by not providing the body with some protein along with the carbs. However, if the race is in the 2–3 hour range—and perhaps just slightly longer—it will be over long before the issues involved with ammonia accumulation truly become problematic.
Once again, in general we recommend a “carb + protein” drink (Sustained Energy or Perpetuem) when exercise goes beyond two or so hours. However, come race day— when a lot of variables need to be taken into consideration—you have a lot of options to choose from when the race is in the 2–3 hour range… you need to go with the fuel that makes the most sense, based on the above–listed factors/ variables. If those factors do come into play, we recommend the use of Hammer Gel or HEED for a high intensity race that’s in the 2–hour to 3–hour range. If you know you’re going to be out there for more than three hours we believe your body is going to perform a better if Sustained Energy or Perpetuem is used as the primary–to–sole fuel.
All this said, this is not meant to be a “set in stone” rule. Everyone is different so your fuel selection may be different than another athlete’s. The earlier–listed information is just a suggestion for you to consider when doing a race that is 2–3 hours in length – the “gray area” of fueling.
How Endurance Amino fits in
For these “gray area”–duration events, a HEED or Hammer Gel (or both), Endurolytes, and Endurance Amino is a superb combination. You’re supplying your body with high quality calories from two very easily digested fuel sources, you’re taking care of electrolyte replenishment in ideal fashion via Endurolytes, and, with Endurance Amino, you’re supplying your body with the primary amino acids (the three branched chain amino acids and alanine) that are used in the energy cycle. Plus, the BCAAs in Endurance Amino assist in replenishing depleted glutamine stores while also helping to prevent muscle tissue breakdown, the latter helping to prevent excess fatigue–causing ammonia from being produced and accumulating. On top of that, the glutathione component in Endurance Amino provides a number of benefits, primarily powerful antioxidant support.
Endurance Amino supplies some key amino acids required during prolonged exercise. During a “gray area”–duration event, you could certainly use Sustained Energy or Perpetuem (absolutely no problem there), but for events in that 2–3 hour range it may be more feasible to use Hammer Gel or HEED to cover your calorie requirements, augmented by a dose or two of Endurance Amino to cover some of the amino acid requirements. It’s certainly worth testing in your training!
Now, in longer races (3+ hours or longer) the amino acids in Endurance Amino enhance the full–spectrum amino acid profile that naturally occurs from the protein component in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem. However, with Endurance Amino we’re only talking about a few specific amino acids— the three BCAAs, alanine, and glutathione (which is actually a tripeptide)—so you’re not fully replacing the full–spectrum amino acid profile that occurs in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem. For example, by going solely with Endurance Amino, you’re not receiving any histidine, aspartic acid, or phenylalanine (among other amino acids), which have some “during exercise” benefits.
What you are getting with a combination of Endurance Amino and Sustained Energy or Perpetuem is more of some of the primary “during exercise” amino acids, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, we believe it’s highly beneficial because you’re providing the body with even greater amounts of some key “during exercise” amino acids without oversupplying the body with more amounts of amino acids that it may not really require. Plus, with Endurance Amino, you’re providing your body with a nice dose of multi–beneficial glutathione.
Summary and suggested amounts to consider
If you’ve read this far, you might be thinking, “Enough with the biochemistry lessons! Just tell me how much to take!” Now we will sum up all of the info into hard numbers. Please remember, however, the most important point about these figures is to customize them to your own personal needs. In your training log, make sure you include fueling data, too. We give you “pretty close” numbers to start with, and you might end up with them, too, but we don’t offer them as a one–size–fits–all remedy. Your needs will vary with a number of factors besides body weight, such as fitness level, exercise intensity, weather, altitude, type of sport, and innate physiological differences.
When considering your basic caloric needs, think complex carbohydrates such as a maltodextrin–based product, and—most of the time—supplemental protein for exercise over two hours. To give you a practical application of these numbers, we’ve “translated” the data into servings of Hammer Gel, and scoops of HEED, Sustained Energy, and Perpetuem. No matter what your sport or length of exercise, these fuels give your body exactly what it needs to operate at maximum efficiency.
Suggested Amounts by Body Weight
Hammer Gel (90 – 100 calories per serving, depending on flavor)
- 0 – 120 lbs (approx 54.5 kg) – up to 1 serving /hr. This provides up to 90–100 calories.
- 120–155 lbs (approx 54.5–70 kg) – 1 to 2 servings/hr. This provides 90–100 to 180–200 calories
- 155–190 lbs (approx 70–86 kg) – 2 to 2.5 servings/hr. This provides 180–200 to 225–250 calories
- 190+ lbs (86+ kg) – up to 3 servings/hr. This provides 270–300 calories
» Hammer flask holds 5–6 servings
» Espresso Hammer Gel contains 50 mg caffeine per serving
» Tropical Hammer Gel contains 25 mg caffeine per serving
» You can use Hammer Gel to flavor Sustained Energy, Hammer Soy or Hammer Whey smoothies, etc.
HEED (105 calories per scoop)
- 0 – 120 lbs (approx 54.5 kg) – up to 1 scoop/hr. This provides 105 calories
- 120–155 lbs (approx 54.5–70 kg) – 1 to 1.5 scoops/hr. This provides 105 to 157.5 calories
- 155–190 lbs (approx 70–86 kg) – 2 to 2.5 scoops/hr. This provides 210 to 262.5 calories
- 190+ lbs (86+ kg) – up to 2.75 scoops/hr. This provides approx 289 calories
NOTE: Each scoop of HEED contains the equivalent amount of electrolytes as approximately 2/3 of one Endurolytes capsule. For many athletes, under normal conditions, one or two scoops of HEED will completely fulfill electrolyte requirements. When heat stress increases significantly, you will need to consume additional Endurolytes.
Sustained Energy (107 calories per scoop)
- 0 – 120 lbs (approx 54.5 kg) – up to 1 scoop/hr. This provides 107 calories
- 120–155 lbs (approx 54.5–70 kg) – 1 to 1.5 scoops/hr. This provides 107 to 160.5 calories
- 155–190 lbs (approx 70–86 kg) – 2 to 2.5 scoops/hr. This provides approx 214 to 267.5 calories
- 190+ lbs (86+ kg) – up to 2.75 scoops/hr. This provides approx 294 calories
Perpetuem (135 calories per scoop)*
- 0 – 120 lbs (approx 54.5 kg) – up to 3/4 scoop/hr. This provides approximately 101 calories
- 120–155 lbs (approx 54.5–70 kg) – 1 scoop/hr. This provides 135 calories
- 155–190 lbs (approx 70–86 kg) – 1.25 to 1.5 scoops/hr. This provides approx 169 to 202.5 calories
- 190+ lbs (86+ kg) – up to 2 scoops/hr. This provides 270 calories
NOTE: Due to Perpetuem being a high concentration calorie source (via its complex carbohydrate, soy protein, and healthy fat components), we have noted that many athletes do well with a substantially lower calorie intake when using Perpetuem as their primary–to–sole fuel. Therefore, with this particular fuel we highly recommend starting with the lowest amount suggested—perhaps even a bit lower—and work your way up to a higher amount, if a higher amount has proved to be necessary via testing in training.
Also note that these are estimated doses for each of these fuels. Each athlete should determine in training, under a variety of conditions, their personal optimum.
As you can see, there is a lot information in this article to digest (no pun intended), but we’re convinced that if you follow our recommendations you will no longer have to suffer with a number of performance–inhibiting–to–ruining problems—stomach issues included—that are involved with improper fueling.
When considering your basic caloric needs, think complex carbohydrates such as the maltodextrin–based products, Hammer Gel and HEED, and—most of the time—a “complex carbohydrate + soy protein” fuel, Sustained Energy or Perpetuem, for exercise over two hours.
When it comes to calorie replenishment, you’ve probably noticed that the amounts we recommend do not come anywhere near the “replace what you’re losing” figures that far too many so–called experts recommend. However, our recommendations more accurately reflect what your body can comfortably accept from you. Remember, the body is not equipped to replace “X” out with “X” or “near–X” back in, it knows this, and is very capable of “bridging the gap” between what it’s losing calorie–wise and what it can accept in return from your fuel donation.
With that said, please remember that the most important point about our calorie intake recommendations is to customize them to your own personal needs. In your training log, make sure you include fueling data, too. We give you “pretty close” numbers to start with, and you might end up with them, too, but we don’t offer them as a one–size–fits–all remedy. Your needs will vary with a number of factors besides body weight, such as fitness level, exercise intensity, weather, altitude, type of sport, and innate physiological differences.
© Copyright 2010 Hammer Nutrition, LTD.
Polar Sport Zones for Cycling April 11th, 2011
Polar sport zones spell a new level of effectiveness in heart rate-based training. Training is divided into five sport zones based on percentages of your maximum heart rate. With sport zones, you can easily select and monitor training intensities and follow Polar’s sport zones-based training programs.
Training in sport zone 1 is very low-intensity. Instead of resting during recovery, speed the process up by training in this zone.
Endurance training at an easy pace in sport zone 2 is an essential part of every cyclist’s training program. Cycling long distances in sport zone 2 increases metabolic economy. It helps save glycogen for higher intensities and uses fat as the main energy source.
Aerobic power is enhanced in sport zone 3 with mainly aerobic cycling. Training can consist of long intervals, for example uphill intervals or high-cadence intervals.
Cycling in sport zones 4 and 5 means cycling anaerobically in intervals of up to 12 minutes. The shorter the interval, the higher the intensity. Sufficient recovery between intervals is very important. Polar sport zones makes training easier (planning, controlling and documenting), especially for beginners and intermediate cyclists. Polar sport zones can be personalized by using a measured maximum heart rate.
When cycling in a certain sport zone, the mid-zone is a good target but you don’t need to keep your heart rate at that exact point all the time. Training intensity, recovery level, environmental and other such factors will all contribute to heart rate responses. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to subjective feelings of tiredness and to adjust the training program accordingly.
© Polar Electro 2010
Performance Testing March 28th, 2011
How it works
VO2 Max Testing
This exercise test which helps maximize performance is routinely done on Olympic and professional athletes. VO2 max testing used to be costly and time consuming. Cutting edge technology has now made this testing less costly and available to the average person.
The cardiovascular system’s ability to utilize oxygen can be measured by the volume of oxygen you consume while exercising at your maximum capacity. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters, one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight.
Lactate Threshold Testing
While VO2 Max is important to know as it gives you a comparison to other people, the real value in metabolic testing is in determining the point in which your body relies less on fat as the primary energy source and begins to use carbohydrates as the key energy source. This point of exertion is called the anaerobic threshold (AT) and corresponds to the lactate threshold (LT). The AT is crucial for development of heart rate training zones.
How are VO2 max and Lactate threshold tests performed?
You can either run a treadmill or use a bicycle ergometer on a set protocol, which increases in speed and gradient. This process usually lasts around 10 – 15 minutes depending on the individual. The athlete wears a mask with sensors attached to a metabolic analyzer so that respiratory gases can be measured (Oxygen uptake, Carbon Dioxide production, and total volume).
For multisport athletes it is highly recommended to test both the bike and run as heart rate training zones are different for each sport. Usually running heart rates are slightly higher, but this is not always the case.
The testing helps determine the best program for improvement. It can also help determine what type of “engine” you have and how to improve your weaknesses.
The Right Way to Fuel March 28th, 2011
Less is Best: The Right Way to Fuel
This is the keynote article on what constitutes proper fluid, calorie, and electrolyte intake during exercise. Our scientifically and experientially established position is this: replenish your body with what it can comfortably accept instead of trying to replace what your body expends. You must calculate your fluid, calorie, and electrolyte intake in accord with your body’s intake mechanisms, and not according to its output. If you follow this principle, you will greatly reduce or entirely avoid bloating, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bonking. Fueling your body in a way that works with it, and not against it, not only feels better, it also yields higher quality workouts and improved race results.
Your body is extraordinarily designed and knows how to regulate itself when it comes to fueling. During prolonged exercise it does need your help, but you must cooperate with your body’s innate survival mechanisms. Give your body “a helping hand” by providing it with what it can effectively assimilate (instead of trying to replace everything it’s losing), and I absolutely guarantee that you will feel better during exercise and enjoy dramatic performance improvements.
We at Hammer Nutrition consistently deal with many fueling myths, and I’d rate the “replace what you lose” approach as probably the worst offender of all. Many organizations and alleged experts continue to recommend that athletes need to replace what they expend during exercise in equal or near-equal amounts, hour after hour. They cite data such as “you lose up to two grams of sodium per hour, burn up to 900 calories hourly, and sweat up to two liters an hour” to defend their position. Even worse, sometimes they don’t give any numeric guidelines, just vague statements like “take salt tablets” or “drink as much as you can.” Sadly, far too many athletes fuel their bodies exactly this way, and they get only poorer-than-expected results or a DNF to show for their efforts.
The figures that the “replacement” proponents cite are often valid: a vigorously exercising athlete, especially a big guy, can really expend significant amounts of fluids, calories, and sodium. We don’t argue at all with most expenditure figures. However, expenditure just isn’t the appropriate measure to guide your fueling. The best guideline is what you can effectively assimilate. Don’t go by what you burn/lose, but rather what the body can reasonably absorb and process during any given period of time.
Two statements from Dr. Bill Misner represent our position on what proper fueling is all about:
“To suggest that fluids, sodium, and fuels-induced glycogen replenishment can happen at the same rate as it is spent during exercise is simply not true. Endurance exercise beyond 1-2 hours is a deficit spending entity, with proportionate return or replenishment always in arrears. The endurance exercise outcome is to postpone fatigue, not to replace all the fuel, fluids, and electrolytes lost during the event. It can’t be done, though many of us have tried.”
“The human body has so many survival safeguards by which it regulates living one more minute, that when we try too hard to fulfill all its needs we interfere, doing more harm than good.”
What this means is that the body cannot replace fluids and nutrients at the same rate it depletes them. Yes, the body needs your assistance in replenishing what it loses, but that donation must be in amounts that cooperate with normal body mechanisms, not in amounts that override them. Here’s an important fact to keep in mind: at an easy aerobic pace, the metabolic rate increases 1200-2000% over the sedentary state. As a result, the body goes into “survival mode,” where blood volume is routed to working muscles, fluids are used for evaporative cooling mechanisms, and oxygen is routed to the brain, heart, and other internal organisms. With all this going on, your body isn’t terribly interested in handling large quantities of calories, fluids, and electrolytes; its priorities lie elsewhere.
Your body already “knows” it is unable to immediately replenish calories, fluids, and electrolytes at the same rate it uses/loses them, and it has the ability to effectively deal with this issue. That’s why we don’t recommend trying to replace hourly losses of calories, fluids, and electrolytes with loss amounts. Instead, we recommend smaller replenishment amounts that cooperate with normal body mechanisms. We’ll discuss this in more detail later in the article.
Fueling variability among athletes
Over the course of over two decades, we’ve had the opportunity to observe the fueling habits (consumption of fluids, calories, and electrolytes) of thousands of athletes. Needless to say, these fueling protocols have varied tremendously. Here are some of the variations we have observed:
ELECTROLYTES: The female winner of a past Leadville 100 mile ultramarathon won the event by over an hour (beating most of the men as well) consuming only one Endurolytes capsule per hour. Her electrolyte profile (done via blood labs) taken before the event was remarkably the same after the event. At the other end of the scale, one triathlete client of ours regularly consumes up to eight Endurolytes per hour in his iron distance triathlons. At six Endurolytes per hour, which is an upper-end dose for most athletes, he cramps or has gastric upset.
FLUIDS: Fluid intake with the athletes we’ve observed ranges from 12-40 fluid ounces per hour.
CALORIES: Calorie intake also varies considerably, with intakes ranging from 200-700 calories per hour.
The data from athletes reporting success (no fuel-related, performance-inhibiting problems and consistent energy levels)
- Fluid intake was at or under 28 fluid ounces/hour.
- Electrolyte intake via Endurolytes was between 3-6 capsules/hour, with 4 capsules/hour being the most often reported dose.
- Calorie intake was at 280/hour or less.
- Body weight at finish decreased no more than 2-3%.
The data from athletes who suffered poor performance due to fueling-related problems
- Fluid intake was almost always over 30 fluid ounces/hour.
- Body weight at finish was hyper-hydrated with weight gain from 1-2%, or dehydrated at over 3% body weight loss.
- Excess calorie consumption, at or greater than 300 cal/hr, primarily from simple sugared-based fuels, causing stomach shutdown.
- High sodium diets. Athletes who consume that type of diet are predisposed to higher sodium intake during an event than the low sodium purist.
- Ultra distance athletes who suffered cramps, sour stomach, malaise, and/or hyponatremia in the last half of their event often did not train adequately at race-level fluid/fuel/electrolyte dosing, or the athlete used a different fueling protocol than in training. Athletes need to not only train appropriately leading up to their race, they also must test, evaluate, and fine-tune their fueling plan in training prior to using it in a race.
What you should derive from all of this is that while there is no “one size fits all” fueling formula, there are some good guidelines in terms of what has been shown to be successful for athletes and also consistent observations (read: fueling errors) noted from athletes who had unsuccessful races.
What does research show regarding replenishment?
This is a suggested comparison showing approximated upper values for what is lost during prolonged endurance exercise to what can be successfully absorbed, replaced, and routed into the energy cycle for the majority of fit, acclimatized endurance athletes:
|SUBSTANCE||RATE LOSS/hr||ASSIMILATION RATE|
|Fluids (ml)||1000-3000 (30-90 oz)||500-830 (17-28 oz)|
|Fuel (carb cell)||700-900||240-280|
Below are the corresponding replenishment values that we have observed for the majority of fit, acclimatized endurance athletes (+/-5%):
This material was extracted from the following literature:
- Noakes T.D., 2003, Lore of Running. Leisure Press. Champaign Illinois. Pages 768-770 29 published and unpublished papers cited on fuels, fluids, electrolyte issues during endurance exercise.
- Moodley D. et al., 1992, Exogenous carbohydrate oxidation during prolonged exercise. The effect of carbohydrate type and solution concentration. Unpublished manuscript in #1 above.
- Sweat Composition in Exercise and Heat. Verde T, Shephard RJ, Corey P, Moore R, 1982, J Appl Phys 53(6) 1541-1542.
- Sweating: Its composition and effects on body fluids. Costill DL, 1977 & 1982, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 301, p.162.
- American Dietetics Association Position Statement
- American College of Sports Medicine Position Statement
As you can see, there is a tremendous difference between what is lost and what can effectively be replenished during exercise. For calories, on average only 30-40% of what is utilized (“burned”) can be efficiently replenished. In general, fluids are replenished at a rate of only 20-33% of what is spent, and sodium 20-35%. What’s important to keep in mind is that the body is keenly sensitive to this, recognizing its inability to replenish what it loses at anywhere near the rate that it’s losing it.
For example, body fat stores satisfy upwards of two-thirds of energy requirements, very easily making up the difference between what is burned and what the body can accept in replenishment. For the majority of athletes, calorie oxidation rate and gastric absorption rate typically allow for no more than 280 calories per hour-at the most-to be consumed for successful gastric absorption to energy transfer. Consuming greater than 280 cal/hr increases potential for a number of stomach/digestive distress issues.
In regards to body fluid volume and serum sodium concentration, both are controlled to a degree by hormone pathways between the brain and internal organs. As Dr. Misner stated, the body has remarkably complex and efficient “built-in” survival safeguards that very capably deal with the difference between what it loses and what it can accept in replenishment. The various systems involved are complex, but the bottom line is that only a relatively small consumption will keep you going. On the other hand, over-consumption can easily throw the systems out of whack.
This is why we are so adamant about the “less is best” way of fueling. For example, if you err on the “not enough” side in regards to calories that’s a very easy problem to fix – you simply consume more calories. However, if you over-supply your body with too many calories that’s a much harder (and longer) problem to resolve (at the very least you’ll have to deal with an upset stomach for quite awhile). The simple truth is that once excess amounts of calories, fluids, and/or sodium are in your body they’re not coming out, at least not the way that you want them to! Bottom line? Over-supplying your body will absolutely not enhance athletic performance but will most definitely inhibit-to-ruin it.
Our basic recommendations
Based on what science has shown us, plus over two decades of working with athletes, we have determined the following ranges as ideal for most athletes the majority of the time for maintaining optimum exercise performance:
- Fluids: 12-24 ounces hourly
- Sodium chloride (salt) in a balanced formula with other electrolytic minerals: 100-600 mg hourly (1-6 Endurolytes)
- Calories: 150-280 calories hourly
Of course, there are many individual variations that you will need to consider (age, weight, training/racing stress, fitness, acclimatization levels, weather conditions) to determine what works best for you. Some athletes will need less than these suggested amounts, a handful slightly more. Certain circumstances require flexibility. For instance, hot weather and high-impact exercise, such as the run portion of a long-distance triathlon. Hot weather usually means lower hourly calorie intake, a slightly higher fluid intake, and an increased electrolyte intake. High impact exercise such as running does better with roughly 30%-50% lower caloric intake per hour than what you’d consume during a less jarring exercise such as cycling.
All this said, the above-listed figures make good starting points for determining your ideal intakes for varying conditions and circumstances. As far as calorie intake is concerned, we highly recommend that you use our weight-specific dosage suggestions, which are listed in the article The Hammer Nutrition Fuels – What they are and how to use them.
We have been advocating the “less is best” recommendation for over two decades. Sadly, many athletes continue to listen to “consume what you lose” propaganda, arguing that nutrients and water need to be replaced immediately. This is neither true nor possible; fluids, calories, and electrolytes cannot be replaced 100%, or even 50%. As a result of following this flawed advice, athletes continue to experience cramping, vomiting, gastric distress, diarrhea, and other problems. The safe rule of thumb is to replenish at about one-third of loss values, obviously adjusting as conditions dictate.
As you read through our other fueling-related articles, you’ll see this principle applied repeatedly and further details given. It might seem like we’re banging the same drum all the time, but when it comes to fueling, we cannot emphasize enough that less is better than more. Rather than attempting to resolve your fueling requirements by replacing hourly loss with hourly intake, we suggest small doses, generally about a third of what is lost, if not lower. In conjunction with longstanding research regarding this subject, over two decades of successful experience with athletes testifies to the reliability of the “less is best” and “fuel in cooperation with your body” concepts of fueling. Yes, there are people who can complete events on high intakes of fluids, calories, and electrolytes, but the overwhelming majority of athletes are impaired or stopped by such fueling protocols. Athletes who do use less see their fueling-related problems end and their performance improve dramatically.
That’s why our battle cry is “Less is Best!” Remember, the goal of fueling is NOT to see how much you can consume and get away with before your body rebels, you end up getting sick, and your performance goes in the tank. Proper fueling is consuming the least amount necessary to keep your body doing what you want it to do hour after hour. And if you do err on the “not enough” side, that’s a lot easier problem to resolve than an “uh oh, I overdid it” problem. We’re pretty darn sure once you get away from those 500-700 calorie and liter-of fluid-an-hour regimens, your body will perform much better, you’ll feel better, and you’ll get the results you trained so hard for.
Copyright 2010 Hammer Nutrition, LTD