Member Question: Ironman Distance Nutrition Options

author : mrakes1
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"I've tried several sport drinks during training for last years CDA race and all ended up giving me incredible gas problems during the run."

Member Question from IMIM

"I've tried several sport drinks during training for last years CDA race and all ended up giving me incredible gas problems during the run (all were foamy from the bouncing). In training and during the race, I ended up switching from a sport drink, Saltstik, pb&j, Harvest Bar and Hammer Gel halfway through the bike to only water, gel and Saltstik. That combo worked better but at the halfway mark of the race day run I started feeling nauseous and no gas. I tried to stay with the recommended fluid/calorie counts per hour. The nausea might have been from too much gel - does the bulk Hammer bottle have a preservative? During the run I seemed to have energy to keep a slow pace but had to deal with nausea by finishing with a walk/run."

Answer by Marni Rakes

Practice is key when it comes to long-distance fueling. But, what happens when a well-practiced nutrition plan, intended to put you at ease before and during an Ironman distance triathlon, leaves you bloated and without optimal energy? Certainly, consuming an adequate amount of fluids and calories is vital in having a superior race day experience. However, too much of a good thing, when it comes to nutrition, is not recommended.  

While your IM distance training routine may have required that you trained both anaerobic/lactate thresholds and aerobic thresholds, it’s important to bear in mind that a sustainable 65-80% max heart rate (on average) is advised for a successful Ironman performance. Whereas high-intensity training and racing will increase your lactate threshold, primarily relying on quick-depleting glycogen (stored carbohydrate) stores, long-distance racing and training uses a high proportion of stored fat for usable energy in an effort to provide oxygen to working muscles. Therefore, when deciding on the type and quantity of fuels that you will use on race day, keep in mind that proper pacing is the deciding factor of whether or not you properly digest and absorb your fluids and calories.

Considering that success in an Ironman isn’t dependent on who is the fastest, but rather on who slows down the least, use the following as a baseline, in an effort to create an efficient long distance fueling strategy.

*When:

  • FLUIDS: Every 15-20 min. for fluids (4-6 ounces), aiming for 20-24 ounces per hour.
  • GELS: Every 45 min (bike) or 5-6 miles (running) for gels.
  • PILLS: Once an hour (after the first hour) for pills (ex. Endurolytes, Endurance Amino’s).
  • SOLIDS: Once an hour for solids (if needed), after 3 hours of training/racing.
  • GUMMY'S: Once an hour for gummy’s/chew’s (if needed), after 2 hours of training/racing

*What:

  • Maltodextrin based drink for all training/racing over an hour. Sips of water can be consumed anytime.
  • Maltodextrin based gel for training/racing 90 min. or longer (optional, so long as you are receiving fluid calories, but recommended)
  • Maltodextrin based drink w/ protein/fat (optional) for training/racing lasting more than 3 hours.
  • Easy to digest bar (ex. Hammer bar) for training/racing longer than 3 hours.  
  • *Chews, bars, sport beans, solid food and gummy’s should be seen as stomach satisfiers and not energy givers. The most advantageous way of maintaining energy, properly digesting/absorbing calories, staying hydrated and preventing changes in blood sugar and electrolytes are to prioritize liquid calories, regularly consumed throughout the race.  

*How much per hr:

  • 90-180 kcal for 60min-2 hr workouts.
  • 180-280 kcal for 2+ hr workouts.

*Optional’s for 3+ hr workouts:

  • 3-6 g protein and/or 1-3 g fat (per hr).
  • 25mg caffeine (per hr).
  • 1-2 Endurance Aminos (or 1-3g amino acids) (per hr).
  • 1-2 Endurolytes (per hr).
  • Beans, sport beans, gummy’s, solid food, chews, bars (30-40 calories per hr)

*Examples of fueling:  3 hour workout w/ 3 bottles of fluid using Hammer products:

#1 bottle (first 90 minutes) -1½ scoop Heed in 24 ounces water.

(1 Endurance Amino + 1 Endurolyte each hr after 1st hr)

#2 & #3 bottles (90 min – 3 hrs)

*1 ½ scoop Heed + 1 scoop Sustained Energy in 24 ounces water OR

*1 scoop Heed + ¾ scoop Sustained Energy in 24 ounces water + 1 gel OR

*1 scoop Sustained Energy in 24 ounces water + 1 gel + ¼ Hammer bar OR

*2 scoops Perpeteum in 24 ounces water + 2-4 gummies/beans/chews

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date: March 15, 2010

mrakes1

Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. I am a certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition,I teach spinning and I am CPR certified. I have finished the 2006 Boston marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman world Championship and I am qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I write for Triathlete magazine and I love writing for BT.com!

avatarmrakes1

Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. I am a certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition,I teach spinning and I am CPR certified. I have finished the 2006 Boston marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman world Championship and I am qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I write for Triathlete magazine and I love writing for BT.com!

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