Monday, June 30, 2008

Endurance Sports Nutrition Book Review

Since we had a power failure that lasted more than 15 hours this past Saturday, I had a chance to sit and read a new sports nutrition book that I picked up a few weeks ago: Endurance Sports Nutritionby Suzanne Girard Eberle. I have at least a half dozen sports nutrition books, either required for graduate school or recommended reading from Registered Dieticians that I've met via professional activities. They all have their strengths and weaknesses - this is one of the best for endurance athletes.

The good:

*This book goes where most don't - extreme environments such as high altitude, extreme heat, extreme cold.
*Most sports nutrition books are geared for marathon runners. This one covers not only the marathon and shorter endurance events, but also has entire chapters devoted to ultras and multi-day events.
*Not just for runners, cyclists, and triathletes, but also an entire chapter devoted to long distance swimmers and rowers.
*Covers endurance eating for vegetarians.
*Covers how to use supplements effectively, timing of fuel and fluids, and how much of what to take (and when).
*Common problems encountered by endurance athletes, such as muscle cramping, upset stomach, runners trots, anemia, immune function, food intolerances or allergies, eating disorders, etc.
*The unique challenges to female endurance athletes, such as female athlete triad, PMS, and training during pregnancy or breast feeding.
*Gives more specific nutrition recommendations based on duration of training compared to other books (ie 1 hour/day vs 3 hours/day). Not just what to eat immediately before or during the event, but on a regular basis.
*Offers sport specific nutrition recommendations for certain events.
*Tips on how to lose body fat without losing strength or endurance.

What's missing:

*Recipes. Not necessarily a bad thing - Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook is another excellent resource that fills that bill if you're looking for easy and healthy recipes. Her book is more of a general sports nutrition book and not necessarily just for endurance athletes.
*Sports nutrition for strength and power sports, hypertrophy, etc. This one specializes in endurance. Again, not a bad thing - just be aware.

The bottom line:

I have both of the books mentioned, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either of them. Right now I'm most interested in moving from general trail running to ultra trail running, and Suzanne Eberle's book is currently my main resource for that endeavor. If you are strictly an endurance athlete, this book is a great resource. If you are interested in sports nutrition for muscle hypertrophy, have specific chronic health challenges such as diabetes or hypertension, you'd do better somewhere else.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

S Caps vs Endurolytes vs Nuun

Did another test run today to try out electrolyte replacement strategies - a 2 hour run on the trails at Afton with Heed and S! caps. Today's weather was mid 70's and sunny, which was similar to last weekend when I tried Nuun (with Clif Shot gel and Endurolytes).

My plan for today was to take the first S cap after 30 minutes, then another at 90 minutes. I had 20 oz of Heed in my water bottle and refilled with plain water approximately 7+ miles into the run. I really don't care for the taste of Heed, but I've used it in the past with no ill effects, and it's the sports drink that is used for several local races (including the upcoming race at Afton in 2 weeks), so I train with it prior to those events.

Results: no cramping, no hand swelling, no upset stomach :))

In the past, I've taken as many as 6 Endurolytes, also with Heed, and still had some cramping and hand swelling under similar conditions.

Some interesting numbers:

Endurolytes: 40 mg Na, 25 mg K, 50 mg Ca, 25 mg Mg, Vit B6, Manganese. Cost 15.8 cents/cap, recommended dose = 1-6 caps/hour. Six caps = 240 mg Na (less sodium than 1 S cap) and cost 94.8 cents/hour. And I was still cramping and having hand swelling.

S Caps: 341 mg Na, 21 mg K. Cost 17.5 cents/cap (when shipping is included for just 1 bottle - they can't be bought locally in the Twin Cities), recommended dose = 1-2 caps/hour. So far, 1 cap/hour has worked just fine, but even 2 caps/hour would cost only 35 cents. If you buy more bottles at a time, it's even cheaper.

Nuun: 360 mg Na, 100 mg K, 125 mg Ca, 25 mg Mg, Vit C, Vit B2 in 16 oz drink. Cost 54 cents/16 oz drink. It worked in the sense that I didn't experience cramps, but I did get a queasy stomach after 12 miles. Still plan to experiment with Nuun a little bit more before giving up on it.

Thoughts: I'm a salty sweater, and the Na content in Endurolytes doesn't seem to keep up with what I lose, even when I max out their recommended dose. It's also almost 3 times more costly than S caps. Nuun seems to work, but doesn't agree with my stomach after 1 major and another minor test. Tastes kinda fizzy, even though it's done fizzing when I drink it.

Bottom line: looks like S caps are the current leader in this battle so far.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

NUUN Product Review

In my continuing quest to figure out hydration and electrolyte replacement strategies for trail running, I decided to try NUUN at the Sour Grapes Half Marathon. I've been having problems with muscle cramping and mild hand swelling at just about every trail race I've run where the mileage has been in the double digits. Never had a problem with road running, but trails have proven to be an entirely different endeavor!

So, what is NUUN? It is an electrolyte replacement drink - just electrolytes - no carbs. It comes as large tablets in a tube (very convenient for traveling), and you simply add 1 tablet to 16 oz of water. It's kinda fizzy and dissolves very quickly, leaving no residue in your water bottle. It does have a mild taste and comes in a few different flavors (I tried lemon lime).

Here's what's in 16 oz of lemon lime NUUNed water by the numbers:

Calories = 6
Na = 360 mg
K = 100 mg
Ca = 12.5 mg
Mg = 25 mg
Vitamin C = 37.5 mg
Riboflavin = 500 ug

Results: no cramping after running a half marathon on trails, but my stomach was feeling a little queasy by mile 12. I should also note that I also took 5 Endurolytes and 2 Clif Shot gels during the run, although those are things that I've already run with in the past with no problems. I still had some very mild finger swelling and wanted salty pepperoni pizza post race, so I don't think I overdid it on the electrolytes.

The good:

*Having the tablets in a tube is a very convenient way to carry them without having to measure dry powder or make a mess. I went through 2 tablets during the run, and refilling my water bottle and plunking a tablet in at the aid station was a breeze.
*The tablet also serves as a premeasured serving, so if you add it to 16 oz (500 ml) of water, you get the correct concentration to make a slightly hypotonic solution that will be absorbed into your body rapidly.
*It dissolves quickly (2 minutes of fizzing) and doesn't leave a residue in your bottle.
*Keeping electrolytes and carbs separate allows you to have more control over your dose of each.
*It worked!

The not so great:

*My stomach was feeling a little queasy after awhile, but it could be that I'm just not used to it yet. I may try the orange ginger flavor (ginger is a stomach settler).

Bottom line:
For the first time this year, I didn't have cramping during a trail run, so I am going to continue to use it and see if the stomach issues are really related to NUUN or something else. I will probably try a few other options too - for example, S caps with my tried and true Gookinaid.

Current pricing: 3 tubes of 12 tablets each for $19.50 + S/H from the NUUN site ($6.50/tube + shipping), or 8 tubes of 12 tablets of NUUN for $44.99 with free S/H from ($5.62/tube). You can also get it at REI or TC Running Co. in the Twin Cities.