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Energy supplements

Do these things actually work or is it simply good marketing to get you to spend yet more of your hard earned money?!?!?. Lets face it Triathlon is not the cheapest of sports to take up! As the wife keeps on reminding me!

I have been training hard for my first triathlon at Tatton Park in september, i have tried a few different gels in recent weeks and found them to be a waste of time. Is it a case of keep trying until i find one that suits me? or am i better of concentrating on my diet in general? Which is pretty good, most of the time!

I am considering trying viper active, mule bars and a few other gels but am thinking that it might be a waste of money? Anybody got a few pointers or experience with these and other supplements?

I have been bitten hard by the bug known as Triathlon, possibly divorced by this time next year!!!


  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    How do you know they were a waste of time.... did you hit the wall? ie run out of energy?

    They do work and if you have any notion of going long then you need to work on a nutrition strategy. Generally you shouldn't any nutrition for a sprint. Then a few gels and possibly water+ nuun for OD then when you start stepping up to HIM or equivalent then you seriously need to look at nutrition.

    Get it wrong and your race is over.... too much and you'll cramp up, too little and you'll hit the wall and that is just a minging feeling.

    Generally solids are not the best idea as they can take up to 40mins to digest and leave you feeling like shit, some people tolerate them better than others. Gels - unless they are isotoinc need to be washed down with water otherwise your stomach will overload.

    You could try energy drinks such as High5.. these are very good.

    If you don't believe me then go out a 50mile cycle ride and take just water and then when you come back and you're feeling like shit then ask yourself if energy gels/ drinks don't work....you should at some point try this anyway so that when it does happen you know how to deal with it....
  • GeneralGeneral Posts: 26
    I am only doing the sprint distance this time round. Looking at moving up to the olympic distance middle of next year sometime, after a few more sprints. Maybe my lack of knowledge and experience with energy supplements doesn't help. I have never hit the wall during any training session so maybe they have helped a little? I tend to start struggling energy wise just off the bike, i guess that will come with practice and more training.
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Mate for a sprint, at the very most light breakfast two hours before hand. Then a gel about 15mins before the start of your wave and that should be you.

    For OD at most a few gels and some nuun + water.

    You should be looking to go out for a min 10-15mins run directly off the bike. You need to get used to the feeling of jelly legs and trying to run with it until the feeling wears off.
  • wyno70wyno70 Posts: 189
    I've been doing triathlon now for 5 years. I started with Sprints and then Olympic. I have just completed my first Ironman. I have never bothered with gels until I started training for the Ironman.

    In my first Half Ironman (not using gels) I 'bonked' badly. This sold them to me. I now use them (to good effect) however only for HIM or further.

    For Olympic (or less) I wouldn't bother, simply as the time spent mucking about trying to consume them could be better spent going for it. I know that I can survive on energy drink alone up to Olympic. For HIM or further I'd see them as an essential bit of my kit and wouldn't, now, consider doing a half without them!!

    As for finding one you like, it's trial and error. Try a few and just see which one suits best!

    Good luck.
  • matt333matt333 Posts: 32
    Viper bars are like rocket fule, they are quite expensive but get the job done!!!!
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Good point.

    I struggle with High Five Extreme energy supplements but I'm fine with ordinary High5.

    I've not tried anything else apart from High 5 or SIS.... if it works then you stick with it

    At IM it was High 5 gels and Hight 5 Energy Drink and I was fine.... I took part in a tri and I used the High Five Extreme and got really bad stomach cramps - which brings up the next point makes sure you try it out in training first.

    Your nutrition should be nailed in training and then put into practice on the race.....
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Exactly as SS1 says, train the way you race - race the way you train.

    Three things you need to be aware of:
    1. Lose more than 2% of body fluid and you are dehydrated, serious performance delpetion. E.g average sweat rate 1L hr, weight 70Kg you will dehydrate in about 90mins with no fluids. Drink before you thirst!
    2. Energy drinks aim to assist with glycogen replacement, glycogen helps break down fat for energy. 30-80grams hr of carb replacement typical values thrown about
    3. Sweat and fluid intake deplete/dilute salts needed for electrolyte process about 1gram hr,can lead the evidnce seems to suggest more of a problem for mere mortals such as me rather than elites

    High5 does me fine, keeps me hydrated and the carb/glycogen/energy levels up, so sorts out 1 and 2 above. Gels can be a bit upsetting at times with me, don't know why.

    To help with 3, Nuun is quite popular

    If you cock this up it can hit you quite badly - I know - hopefully I have learned the hard way.
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166

    Zac's comment on 2% fluid loss was interesting, as when I questioned it recently, I was told recently that a 2% loss of body weight during a 2hr10m run was expected, if not more than that. I added it to my list of things to check out.

    It appears fluid loss alone may be hard to measure outside of a lab.

    I found this article ... C3%B3n.pdf which in all data states that during ironman "despite high rates of fluid intake (median hourly fluid intake = 716 ml/h), athletes sustained a median weight loss during the race of 2.5 kg." with the conclusion of "at least 2 kg of weight loss during an ultradistance triathlon is due to factors other than pure fluid loss. This weight loss includes loss of fat and glycogen, and the metabolic water stored with glycogen"

    I'll ping this by the joel-lucozade-man-about-town thread and see what he says about it.

  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    2% of fluid loss is not the same as 2% loss in body weight, as indeed the weight loss includes things other than fluid. The average person feels thirsty when there is 500ml of fluid loss which equates to about 10% by volume of blood plasma so fluid intake is a must before this is experienced, fortunately we do have other fluids other than that contained in blood but that seems to be the unit that medicine bods cite. The average blood volume is about 0.08l per Kg for men and 0.065l for women. So rea

    The article cites observed weight loss of 1kg post swim (probably from weeing, about 1l of wee and sweat sounds about right), 2kg loss post run and gain .5Kg during the bike - 2.5kg weight loss that is almost a 4% loss by body weight. If you think about pre event you will be taking on lots of fluids which simply cannot be stored and this study http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/h ... emia2.html
    suggests that pre race weight increases by 2.5% over normal and reduces by 2.5% post race.

    Most of that pre race weight increase is fluid retention which you will quickly use up as the average sweat rate is .8 – 1.5 l/hr. If you do not match your sweat rate then there will inevitably be an overall weight loss.

    In a Iron distance you will use about 6,500 calaories and that is on top of your normal calory expenditure e.g. 2,500 will give a figure of 9,000 calories. You will not get all of that from from intake on the day so it comes from your body's stores i.e fat. 1Kg of fat is about 7,000 cals

    So depending on your nutrition/hydrartion intake a 2% body weight loss of 2% or 1.4Kg could be 1kg fat and .4kg or 400ml of fluid. Yep you are quite right hard to measure outside the lab and in reality if you take on the fluid that is offered then fluid loss will be within acceptable limits but by taking on fluids and sweating the electrolytes get depleted with the danger of hyponatremia and in the study 28% had signs of hyponatremia.

    So carb replacement helps maintain glycogen and the conversion of body fat to energy and that wight loss
    Fluid intake maintains hydration
    Electrolyte supplements stave off hyponatremia
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    Thanks for that, I was just pointing something out that I hadnt considered.
    2% of fluid loss is not the same as 2% loss in body weight
    Agree, that was my point. But weighing yourself is the way most people like me would have tried to measure fluid loss.
    In a Iron distance you will use about 6,500 calaories
    Interesting - is this right? Admittedly I'm large (89kgs), but according to my HR monitor in my last two HIMs I burnt 5539 and 5650 kcal, excluding the swim.
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Energy products are simply fuel for the body.

    You can't replace what you burn out during a race. Fact. If you try then you will overload the stomach and die a slow death or just simply wither away in a race...

    So treat nutrition as fuel and practice the nutrition plan. Don't deviate from that plan until its nailed to the mast and perfect.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Again S11 - spot on

    Re Calory expenditure, weight loss, fluid loss; this is something I am gradually understanding, for long events we need to understand how our body operates whether intuitively or by monitoring.

    We have enough glycogen to keep us going at the lactate threshold for about 2.5 hrs before we effectively crash, correct me if I'm wrong, I'm still learning this stuff. The trick is to operate below that level where fat becomes a major fuel source (hence the weight loss). 1kg of fat yields 7000 - 7500 calories depending on whose figures you use. The fasttwitch muscles which give explosive power are heavily dependent on glycogen, crank it it up in an IM and burn out, slowtwitch are fat burning endurance muscles so they are the babies we want to use.

    Re calory expenditure, that was a figure that I remembered seeing somwhere, just did a calc now:

    Swim fast crawl 700 cal/hr 1hr
    Cycle 750 cal/hr 6hrs
    Run 900 cal/hr 4.5hrs

    Now that's 8550 for someone doing a sub 12 so I think my figure is about right for the average competitor, again depends on the person and as S11 points out you ain't going to get that from intake otherwise you will be wolfing down sausages and burgers at the feed stations.
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    I did some simulated tris in the lab with a mate who's doing his Phd - over the course of a simulated sprint tri
    (750m pool swim, 500kJ SRM time trial, 5km treadmill), I was losing up to 1.5kg each time, while taking on about 300ml of sports drink.

    Not sure this adds anything to the discussion, just thought you might find it interesting

    When you bonk (on a long ride, for example, you really know about it!
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    I might need to start a new thread for this, but.....Why gels?

    I've always used drinks for longer training sessions, but I know a lot of people use gels, especially on longer distances, but I don't know why?

    As far as I understand it, if you take a gel you need to take plenty of water so you can absorb it? Given optimal concentration for gastric emptying is around 6% (depending on which research you read), and fluid drinks are already at that, what's the benefit of gels?
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    An energy gel is approx 120cals, a 500ml bottle of Gatorade about the same. Gel + swig of water is significantly less volume than 500ml.

    However, I work on a 15 minute cycle. On the hour, Gatorade, 1/4 past, Gel + mouthful of water, 1/2 past Gatorade, 1/4 to, Gel + water. Gives me about 400cals/hours, 750ml of fluid. No GI issues.
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    As far as I understand it, if you take a gel you need to take plenty of water so you can absorb it?
    unless the gels are already isotonic??

    All I know is that when drinking up to 750ml per hour on an Ironman - that could equate to quite a few pee stops.

    However, again its each to their own as everyones nutrition is different. What works for Tri won't necessarily work for Tesser or me and vice versa. So if it works then good whats the issue?
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    Whatever you do, make sure you try it out in training. I tried a Lucozade Gel on one run, straight through me like a Porsche, and had to drop drawers on a golf course before I embarassed myself. Never touch Lucozade again.

    PowerBar = fine
    SIS = fine
    High5 = fine
    ZipVit = fine
    Lucozade = soiled tri suit
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    Lucozade Sport has the same effect on me...

    Given how much I sweat I'll stick with Gatorade for now. I've a 70.3 in 4 weeks, so don't want to change anything now...
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    If it works, don;t change it. Even if what works for you is different to what is supplied at the race, just take your own.

    For IM UK it was PowerBars, but I don;t get on with them, I only train with gels, so I had a stem mounted bottle with 15 gels in, and that kept me going for the whole bike leg. Tasty, well not after a while, but that's life.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Now I may be wrong here but sychool are you by any chance a spamming tw#t? You are reported
  • try energy drinks such as High5,it is a good advise
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