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sports drinks

2006-03-21 00:34:44.759716+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

I carry a water bottle on my bike in addition to my CamelBak, because of the issues of cleaning and drying the CamelBak I don't want to put anything in there that could lead to mold growth. So the water bottle holds the sugar water for occasional sips.

Anyone got experience or suggestions for said sugar water? From the Gatorade beverage chart it looks like the right sugar water is salted apple or orange juice. I've used Gookinaid in 1984 while hiking in the Grand Canyon, and a powder would be convenient (water is usually easy to come by), but I'm looking for a little more info.

But really what I probably need are some good sources on training, like: If I know I'm going to be averaging 14 MPH on a bicycle, that's probably about 650 calories an hour, when I'm exercising my digestive system will absorb roughly 250 calories an hour, how can I best eat before, during and after to avoid achey muscles (and puking on the side of the road)? Since at rest I should be able to absorb more like 800 calories an hour, if I'm, for instance, doing 160 miles with a known elevation profile, I should have a pretty good handle on how many calories I'll be spending through exercise and thus be able to plan out "rest here for half an hour, consuming N calories, then continue, sipping Y calories from the bottle until the next rest point", right?

[ related topics: Food Physiology Bicycling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 16:37:43.517314+00 by: ebradway

Can't site any particular sources, but here's my take:

  1. Water additives: try a little sea salt and lemon juice. If you're really worried about carbs, add a little agave nectar or drop a date in the bottle. The salt and lemon will increase your body's ability to absorb the water. Plants that grow in the desert are inherently more hydrating. Ever eat a prickly pear cactus fruit while hiking in extremely dry locales?
  2. Eating: limit your intake of food at least 3 hours before riding. If you have to eat, go for melon. You really don't want your digestive system doing much of anything while you are riding. Try to only take fruits on the day of the ride. Night before, eat large quantities of salad and avocados.

What you are essentially doing is an extreme fast. Likely, the achey muscles and puking is as much to do with your body detoxifying from something you ate 10 years ago than what you did before, after or during. Think about all those fat-soluable chemicals that entered your system as pills and crap in your food that have been lodged in your fat cells. Encourage the fast and the detox - get the crap cleaned out. Then you'll go 160 miles without a muscle twitch.

For more serious hydration, try a colonic the morning of the ride. The colon is the body's primary organ for extracting water. Further, if you eat just raw fruits and veggies the day before and the morning of, your entire digestive tract will be fairly empty. Water ingested while you ride will reach the colon faster and will be absorbed quickly.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 18:35:30.281116+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've only had the puking in the bushes issues when I've had a heavy sweet breakfast, so the main thing is to avoid bonking and the achey muscles. Sipping a Gatoradetm and eating a candy bar slowly over the course of that last ride did wonders relative to the 50 miler I did a few weeks ago, and I didn't bonk on the second to last climb (which indicates that I'm on the right track) but I'm fairly sure that there's more science than I've run across thus far that'd let me skip some of the experimentation on myself.

Agave syrup has the same drawback as the candy bar (loaded with corn syrup): a huge fructose load without a lot of glucose to help carry it into the blood stream. And ignoring the trigyceride implications once it gets to the bloodstream, it seems like it's much more reasonable to get that sugar from something with more available glucose, as the liver only has so much throughput. I like the flavor of agave, but even table sugar (sucrose) would apparently be worlds better than something primarily fructose.

And treating the day as a fast and going with just water definitely won't work; on a day like this most recent ride according to a few online calculators I probably burned three thousand to thirty five hundred calories, we'll call that a day and a half of my at-rest calorie consumption. So on a heavy day in the not too distant future I may go as high as the equivalent of four days of food-free fasting. Having gone without food for a day or three before (and watched various other people on assorted straight and juice assisted fasts), I can tell you that that's no way to approach, say, a 40 mile an hour downhill finish or a couple of hundred foot climb.

I also know from experience that without something to buffer the water, I don't absorb it. Which takes us to minerals.

Mineral-wise, sea salt isn't enough. I can say this with some surety, having done a reasonable amount of sustained and desert condition exercise. I'm going to need a reasonable source of metabolizeable potassium (which is why apple and orange juice leap out), but there are, I'm sure, various other minerals that'll help prevent cramping. And that's just prevention of harm, what I'd really like is to figure out not just how I can more effectively avoid hitting walls and aching the next day, but maximize future results. Because it's so low-impact, cyclists tend towards calcium deficiencies. I know that the biological pathways of that aren't well understood (ie: Americans get a hell of a lot of dietary calcium, especially in milk, relative to Asians, but we seem to have more osteoporosis), but something that at least gave a nod in that direction would be nice.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 19:15:34.220485+00 by: ebradway

I guess I should have been more specific - try Celtic Sea Salt. It's much more mineral rich than other Sea Salts.

Not sure what to say about the calorie sources. I guess I've never pushed my body into the zone where I was asking it to perform beyond a three day fast.

And it's funny you bring up the calcium/osteoporosis thing. Contrary to what the USDA wants you to believe, the calcium in milk and dairy and supplements is not in a form usable by your body. This is why we have such high intakes of calcium and an increase in calcium deficencies. Want calcium? Eat kale...

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 20:29:33.242894+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, it's stuff like the USDA stance on milk that makes me veerrrry wary of any information I come up with. In fact, I realized that I should probably just start experimenting on myself, given all of the electronics it's possible to wire onesself up with, taking one for the team with a cheap blood glucose monitor and taking samples throughout the same ride done with several different strategies should be interesting.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 22:29:38.178544+00 by: ebradway

The greatest truth about nutrition and health that I've learned is that your own body is the only source of real information. Unfortunately, most people are so out of touch with their body that they can't even tell when they need to eat - much less what to eat.

The past 50 years, nutritional guidelines have followed the concept that if your body needs X, then you should flood your body with lots of X, regardless of the source. Futher, every body pretty much needs the same X,Y, and Z.

I'm not sure what the potassium content of cacao is, but a good alternative to the Snickers bar would be a high-cacao content chocolate bar - as dark and bitter as you can stand.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-21 22:36:17.879935+00 by: Larry Burton [edit history]

My friend, Cat, tried to comment on this but had trouble creating an account. This is what she had to say:

"I disagree. I always eat within two hours of a good Metric or Century. I ride an average of 18-10mph and if I don't have something before I get going on one of those long rides I'll bonk out at the 50 mile marker.

I also eat during the ride. Not MUCH mind you, but something like half a banana every 40 miles or so goes a long way, and that's in addition to my camelback and the 20oz of gatorade. Now, on a very hot day (like I expect to ride again in July and August) I'll go through twice as much water and gatorade, and still need those snackages to keep going.

Puking is probably because you're either a) suffering a sudden drop in your blood sugar (which would mean you bonk out and have no energy to finish the ride) or more likely, you're driving your heart rate up too high too fast. Try a heart rate monitor and see what you're doing before you blame food and water for that.

Now, I'll agree that you want to avoid simple carbs and sugars like the black plague they are. Go with complex carbs about 2 hours before a ride so your body has some ready-to-burn energy. Eat protien within 30 minutes of the end of that ride so your body has the building blocks to rebuild the muscle you've just torn down in the exercise.

(as an introduction, Larry sent me to this discussion as I've been riding for about 3 years pretty seriously)"

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-23 01:53:38.687516+00 by: Dan Lyke

This article has a bunch of cites that would be worth pursuing.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-03-24 18:18:36.993113+00 by: Dan Lyke

Got email from Bob, a regular at San Anselmo Coffee Roasters[Wiki], who's been doing long-distance riding since before I was a gleam in either of my parents' eyes. He has a couple of interesting observations:

Avoid anything that comes in a powder to be mixed with water and carried on the bike. On a race down south the leader of our group had to drop out when his bottle plugged up, and he was a former national champion in great physical condition.

Which I hadn't thought about, but could easily see happening. He recommends small sandwiches (the key from every source is "no more calories than your body can process, in small spread out doses") and fruit, peeled orange slices, and has some horror stories about what happens when you take the concentrated energy drinks, bars and what-have-you too fast.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-11 01:14:47.82004+00 by: DaveP

If you're still stuck for information, a friend of mine is a serious bike-nut and can probably chime in if I pester him. Email if you want me to ask him more?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-11 01:47:16.331364+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think I'm getting a handle on some of it, and there's enough conflicting info out there that I think much of it is just a matter of experimentation. Considering whether to not go to a local school fund raiser so that I can do the Wine Country Century, and I'm thinking that maybe I'd try for the 200k version... That's how cocky I'm feeling.

On the other hand, I did the Pine Mountain - Alpine Dam - Ridgecrest loop on Saturday, first time with the new bike that only has a double in the front, and while my speed was a little faster than last time when I did it with the old bike with the triple (and the potential for wobble on the high speeds on the downhill), I could clearly feel that I wasn't able to spin and keep the cadence up come Sunday morning.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-04-12 03:14:41.044747+00 by: DaveP

Okay, my friend recommends vitamin water which has C and calcium and electrolytes. And lots of regular water.