Hammer Nutrition Blog

Do female athletes performing at levels similar to males have the same nutrient requirements?

January 23, 2014

Running on Mount Jumbo

From Steve Born:

Our position is that a person’s vitamin/mineral needs are based more on body weight, activity level, and other factors, more so versus one’s gender. Generally speaking, there is very little, if any difference between a female athlete’s nutrient requirements and a male’s, aside from the aforementioned body weight, exercise intensity, and other variables (e.g. specific health issues that may require more nutrient support).

A couple nutrients that most-to-all women — athlete and non-athlete alike — may need (key word “may”) more than male athletes:

1) Calcium – The Optimum Daily Intake (ODI) for both men and women is between 1,000 and 1,500 mg/day, and if a woman — especially one over the age of 50 — is consuming the upper end of that recommendation, she will be meeting her daily calcium needs. The only variation in calcium needs (men vs. women) that I have noted is the National Institute of Health’s recommendation of 1,000 mg of calcium for men age 50-71 and 1,200 mg for women age 50-71.

2) Iron – Women lose iron through menstruation, thus needing more iron than men. Ditto for pregnant women. Ditto for older women, primarily because men tend to absorb iron more efficiently, and store it more thoroughly, then women. That’s why the ODI for men is within a range of 15-25 mg for men, and 18-30 mg for women. All this said, the overwhelming majority of people — both male and female — consume far more than the ODI amounts from their food. The consumption of too much iron is particularly problematic in that excess iron generates massive free radical reactions. According to one source, “Human epidemiological studies show that those with high iron levels are far more likely to contract cancer and heart disease. A growing body of evidence implicates iron in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.”

So while iron is indeed a very important nutrient, too much of this particular mineral can present some very serious issues. This is why Premium Insurance Caps (and most other multivitamin/mineral supplements) do not contain iron, and it’s why we do not recommend that iron supplements be taken unless a blood test reveals a deficiency. More information on this topic can be found in the article “Iron – Yes or No?” 

Running on Mount Jumbo

3) When you look at the amount of nutrients in a 7-capsule dose and compare them to the Daily Value (DV) amount, you’ll see that most of them exceed this standard percentage-wise. This is because we don’t calibrate the product to the minimally needed DV amounts (or RDI/RDA amounts), but rather ODI amounts, which we believe are more appropriate. This is detailed in the article “Supplementation – A Necessity for Athletes”. In one section, entitled, “The Recommended Daily Intake: Recommended for what?,” I was given permission by Dr. Shari Lieberman and Nancy Bruning (the creators of the ODI standards), to reprint a portion of their book (which I highly recommend, BTW… great book). Here is that portion of the article…

The Recommended Daily Intake: Recommended for what?
The Reference Daily Intake standard (formerly known as the Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA) doesn’t take into account the higher needs of endurance athletes. Dr. Misner states, “Researchers have established that athletes tend to deplete vitamins, minerals, enzymes, coenzymes, and other substrates more than sedentary people do.” It’s not just more calories that endurance athletes need; it’s the whole nutritional bag.

Moreover, conventional standards are tuned to deficiency avoidance rather than optimal health, so it’s questionable whether anyone should rely on them. In The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book: Using supplements for optimum health, 4th ed. (New York: Avery Publishing Group, 2007), Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., and Nancy Bruning devote a chapter to outlining the benefits of using a higher-dose vitamin/mineral supplementation regimen. I think the title of this particular chapter, “The RDIs – The Minimum Wages of Nutrition,” pretty much says it all. No one spells it out better than Lieberman and Bruning in their book, one that I highly recommend:

Just like the RDAs, the RDIs have three basic problems: (1) you cannot get all of the nutrients you need from today’s food; (2) the RDIs reflect amounts that are adequate to prevent nutrient-deficiency diseases, and are not tailored for individual needs; and (3) the RDIs do not address or consider optimum health or the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”

In another chapter, “The Optimum Daily Intakes (ODIs),” they write:

In order to attain a state of optimum health and disease prevention, we must take into our bodies optimum–not minimum–amounts of vitamins and minerals. To distinguish them from the lesser amounts characteristic of the RDIs, I have called these amounts the Optimum Daily Intakes, or ODIs. The need for ODIs is based on six factors:

  • The RDIs are generally based on an amount that simply prevents overt deficiency diseases.
  • The RDIs do not take into account preventative or therapeutic levels of nutrients.
  • We cannot meet the RDIs even if we eat the “perfect” diet.
  •  Because of many factors, including the loss of nutrients through shipping, storage, and processing, the foods available to us do not contain the amounts of vitamins and minerals they should contain.
  • Owing to the constant bombardment of stress factors, from pollution to emotional stress, we require higher levels of vitamins and minerals than originally thought.
  • We do not absorb 100% of the vitamins and minerals in foods and supplements.

Are you convinced yet that you need to supplement? Remember, Dr. Lieberman has regular human welfare in mind, and not the even higher demands of endurance athletes.

4) Going back to my earlier statement: “When you look at the amount of nutrients in a 7-capsule dose and compare them to the Daily Value (DV) amount, you’ll see that most of them exceed this standard percentage-wise,” you’ll notice that the amounts of calcium and magnesium are lower than the DV recommendations. This is simply because the DV values are so high that it’s not practical (or even possible) to fit this much calcium and magnesium into a capsule that isn’t massively sized. So for these two minerals, supplementing with additional calcium and magnesium from another product is something I consider to be worthwhile.

5) Also, though 7 capsules of Premium Insurance Caps contain 500 mg of vitamin C (834% of the DV), I always supplement with more vitamin C— an additional 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily in divided doses—on a daily basis. I usually take an additional 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily in divided doses. Same thing for vitamin D. Though the amount of vitamin D in 7 capsules of Premium Insurance Caps (500 IU) is 125% of the DV, a huge body of ever-growing research suggests that much more than that is necessary for optimal health… it can be anywhere from 1,000 IU to 10,000 IU (sometimes more). The general consensus is 1,000 – 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, though a specific blood test (Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy) will let an individual know how much vitamin D they need to take to reach optimal vitamin D levels. Dr. Michael Holick, arguably the premier nutritional scientist on all things vitamin D-related, states: “I think you need to maintain your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level above 30 ng/mL. For my patients and for me personally, I like for it to be between 40-60 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to guarantee vitamin D sufficiency and its health benefits.”

Running on Mount Jumbo

Conclusion

While there is “no one size fits all” amount(s) in terms of nutrient requirements, in general — aside from the few nutrients mentioned earlier — male and female nutrient needs are very similar. Body weight, activity level, and specific nutrient needs addressing health issues, are the primary factors in determining how much nutrient support you require. Formulated with Optimum Daily Intake (ODI) amounts, Premium Insurance Caps covers the wide-ranging nutrient needs of both male and female athletes/active people, and much more thoroughly than multivitamin/mineral products that contain extremely low Reference Daily Intake (RDI), Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), or Daily Value (DV) amounts of nutrients.

 

Runners shown in this blog are Anna Zielaski, Daniel Zielaski and Cory Kaufman. Photos provided by Myke Hermsmeyer.

Supplement Bashing – Enough is Enough!

December 20, 2013

Written by Hammer Nutrition’s Steve Born:

A recent editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has mainstream media in a frenzy once again. When there’s a no-punches-pulled headline of “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” and a doctor involved in the editorial is quoted stating, “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” you can bet it’s going to garner front page coverage.

But that’s exactly where the problem lies. The blunt anti-vitamin/mineral stance taken in this editorial is based primarily on the analysis of two recent studies, and on the premise “that most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death.” That’s exactly right, supplements are not meant to do that; they’re not a “cure all” for diseases. Instead, the nutrients in vitamin/mineral supplements help bridge the gap between what our diets supply nutrient-wise and what we should really be obtaining for optimal health.

We believe that this editorial, with its broad-stroke condemnation of vitamins, presents a distinctly one-sided and inaccurate viewpoint, one that doesn’t bother to take into account the established benefits of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. As a result, we consider this editorial to be a disservice to all individuals desiring to make educated decisions in their goal of enjoying optimal health. When you review some of the flaws about the studies involved, we believe you’ll agree that the sensible use of vitamin/mineral supplements is not a waste of money at all.

 What you didn’t hear in the news

There are significant issues in the studies that didn’t get mentioned in any of the news media’s articles. One of the studies involved about 6,000 male doctors 65 years and older and analyzed the effects of vitamin supplementation on cognitive function. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that there was no difference between those who took vitamins and those who took a placebo. Here are the primary problems associated with this study:

1)    The multivitamin used contained extremely low and inadequate amounts of nutrients, such as a mere 60 mg of vitamin C, 50 mg of vitamin E (a poorly absorbed, synthetic vitamin E at that), and 25 mcg of vitamin B12. With such minimal amounts, significant health benefits cannot realistically be expected. Even the researchers took note of that, stating that the “doses of vitamins may be too low.” Still, in spite of the fact that low-potency vitamins were used, after 2.5 years of supplementation, cognitive function was improved as compared to placebo. However, the difference wasn’t statistically significant, which is perhaps why it wasn’t mentioned in any of the news reports.

2)    The standards in terms of adherence were far too relaxed. Study subjects who took the multivitamin just three-quarters of the time were deemed to have properly adhered to the study protocol. Think about that . . . even if they only took the multivitamin 3 out of 4 weeks—missing a full 7 days monthly— that was acceptable in terms of being adherent. How can any reliable conclusions about supplement efficacy, or lack thereof, be formed when a portion of the study subjects are only using the product a portion of the time?

Additionally, instead of requiring participants to provide specific documentation with any frequency, returning any unused product so that its contents can be counted to see how much was actually taken, or other more reliable methods to accurately measure compliance, the participants were simply asked to recall from memory how frequently they used the multivitamin supplement. Compared to the aforementioned methods, a recollection-based-only approach in acquiring data is a less reliable way to truly quantify study participants’ adherence to a study protocol.

A second study involved over 1,700 subjects with an average age of 65 who had suffered a heart attack. The objective was to “assess whether oral multivitamins reduce cardiovascular events and are safe.” Study participants were given either a multivitamin or a placebo, and were monitored for nearly 4.5 years for “cardiovascular events” such as a recurrent heart attack or stroke. At the completion of this time period it was concluded that, “High-dose oral multivitamins and multiminerals did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events in patients after MI [Myocardial Infarction] who received standard medications. However, this conclusion is tempered by the nonadherence rate.”

Take special notice of that last sentence because it brings to light a serious flaw in the study–a whopping 46% of the study subjects did not adhere to the vitamin supplementation regimen! How can any logical and definitive conclusions be made when nearly half of the study subjects don’t follow the protocol? Yet it is the very conclusions of this study that are partially responsible for the blanket statement that, “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

Additionally, there were more diabetics in the multivitamin group than in the group receiving the placebo. Considering that diabetes is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, it’s logical to assume that those who had a higher rate of diabetes at baseline would be at a higher risk of experiencing a “cardiovascular event.” When the playing field isn’t level, so to speak, it can bias the results, which it may very well have done in this particular study.

Lastly, take note of the study conclusions: “High-dose oral multivitamins and multiminerals did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events…” The reason this is true is because a 25% reduction in cardiovascular risk was required to conclude that multivitamins provide effective cardiovascular benefits. As one nutritional scientist remarked, “… the investigators constructed the study so as to ignore anything short of miraculous cardiovascular risk reduction, so the conclusion drawn questions multivitamin benefits.”

 Summary

We do not believe that optimal health comes solely from a bottle of vitamins; it takes a multi-faceted approach to maximize one’s health. Regular exercise, the best possible diet, stress management, and other factors need to be employed as well. And while we adamantly do not believe that taking a handful of supplements ever takes the place of the consumption of the highest quality diet possible, we remain convinced that supplementation is a necessity for three primary reasons:

 

  1. A growing body of research shows that food alone does not supply all of the micronutrients we need to prevent deficiency, let alone achieve optimal health.[1, 2] 
  2. Even if we could obtain all the nutrients we need from our diet, most people do not consume a healthy diet, eating highly processed foods instead 
  3. Numerous studies have shown that the soil crops are now grown in has become depleted in nutrients, resulting in less nutritious produce. Additionally, much of what we eat comes from foods grown far away, picked when unripe, and then sent packing. Nutritional content is thus further depleted. 
  4. A USDA report [3] shows that a sizeable portion of the American population has inadequate intakes of numerous vitamins and minerals. This report is over a decade old, so it’s logical to suggest that an even greater percentage of Americans may not be getting sufficient amounts of nutrients from their diet.

 

[1] www.hammernutrition.com/downloads/diet_deficiencies.pdf

[2] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101959?dopt=AbstractPlus

[3] www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12355000/pdf/0102/usualintaketables2001-02.pdf

 

Alarmist headlines and stories that demonize the use of supplements isn’t anything new. However, we do not believe that this recent editorial, with its overly generalized and blunt stance to “stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements,” provides anywhere near sufficient evidence to merit such a recommendation. Now that you have both sides of the story, we think you’ll agree.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) provides more alternate points of view on this particular topic at crnusa.org/AIMresponses13.html. We highly recommend reading their statements and watching the short videos.

David Steele Aims for the Alpine

November 8, 2013

Paint The Town White: David Steele Season Edit from Jahrig Media on Vimeo.

Who knows how long I’ll paint houses to pay my student loans. How many more trips to new skylines will fit on the odometer. What the changing climate will do to the snow that starts high, fills in the runs from the summit down. And just like the nonsense that will always be there, the freedom and identity found on pair of skis remains steadfast. From Denali to Nelson to the hill I grew up skiing in Montana, there’s certainty. Buzz in the parking lot. Stoke on the skin track. Joy as I’ve ever known it, free as every flake that falls.

Don’t let David Steele’s beard, park tricks and aerial acrobatics fool you. While a prolific park skier (a lot of his recent ski expedition to Denali was paid for by winning rail jams) in recent years David has shifted his focus away from riding lifts to earning his lines by ski touring and mountaineering. A glutton for physically demanding challenges and Type 2 Fun Glacier National Park serves as a perfect playground for David to explore and test his physical limits.

While the physical demands of an alpanist are different than the typical Hammer endurance athlete proper nutrition is no less important. Prolonged exposure to the elements and the need to perform at your peak in a hostile environment with small margins for error means your fueling and rations have to be dialed in. There are no aid stations or medics in the alpine, so carefully planning before a trip and close monitoring of your rations and caloric intake throughout a climb are crucial for success. 

We’ve  found Hammer products shoved into the far reaches of his freezer as he experiments to see what products works best in sub zero temperatures (Perpetuem Solids hold up in a range of conditions, and fruit flavored Hammer Gels tend to hold their viscosity better than other flavors). Fizz and glacier water are a staple in the backcountry, and Premium Insurance Caps are valuable on longer expeditions where well rounded diet is difficult to maintain.

David has some big plans and big mountains on his agenda this winter and we’re excited to see what he’ll be able to accomplish.


To follow David’s trips and adventures this winter follow his blog “Skinning With Bear Spray” or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

Special thanks to Bobby Jehrig for the great edit.

EPIC SESSIONS – STEVE BORN’S SUPPLEMENT SUGGESTIONS FOR WORKOUTS AND RACES

August 1, 2013

Originally posted 06/2011

Details of a supplement program

  1. While fueling (calorie, fluid, and electrolyte) should be the primary focus of all workouts and races, especially epic ones, the incorporation of an intelligent supplement program used prior to, during, and afterward will definitely assist in yielding tremendously positive results.
  2. The supplements suggested for use prior to an epic workout or race can be thought of as a preemptive strike dose, helping to prepare the body for the arduous task ahead, supporting its nutrient needs for the first hour.
  3. The products suggested for use prior to the workout/race and every hour during the workout/race will supply nutrients that, among other things:
    • Support efficient energy production from your calorie and oxyen intake
    • Help neutralize the negative effect of the numerous free radicals that are constantly produced
    • Assist in the removal of excess ammonia and its fatigue-casing effects
    • Aid in the prevention of lean muscle tissue cannibalization
  4. The products suggested for use after the workout/race will supply nutrients whose primary purpose is to:
    • Replenish what has been depleted during the course of the workout/race
    • Help with the muscle-tissue reparation process
    • Support enhanced glycogen synthesis
    • Neutralize free radicals and minimize the damage that they can cause

INTRODUCTION

I put this article together prior to the 2009 Highline Hammer cycling event, in response to the question, “What supplements do you personally take before, during, and after a long, hard ride, an ‘epic’ ride?” Before I go into the details of my supplement program, let me first mention a couple of things:

1. Most of these supplements are ones that I take on a daily basis for general health benefits, though not always in the same amounts that I take for an “epic” ride such as the 130+ mile, mega–climbing Highline Hammer loop through Glacier Park.

2. I take the higher dose of all the supplements on a significantly long ride, such as the Highline Hammer, and I’ll take the lower dose for less intense, less mountainous, shorter–duration rides (say, 3–5 hours).

3. These products, and the amounts listed, are what I use. I’m a pretty big guy (190+ lbs) so the amounts you should consider may be less than that, depending on your weight and activity level. Refer to the updated Product Usage Manual (PDF / 817 KB) (a.k.a. “The Little Red Book”) for suggested dosages.

4. The information I’ve provided in this article—in essence, the rationale for why I take these particular products—is but a sliver of what is available on the products and the nutrients they contain. Consider this information the “Reader’s Digest” version and refer to the Hammer Nutrition website for more detailed information about each of these products.

5. Carrying and consuming lots of pills during a long bike ride is, to some extent, an acquired skill and it may take awhile for your body to “learn” how to take a number of pills on an hourly basis. Additionally, it may be more challenging if you’re doing a more “digestively challenging” type of exercise such as running. If this is the case, simply start slow and increase the number of products you take—and the amounts of each product—gradually. Also, depending on the sport you do, it may be necessary to modify this supplement program in deference to the activity you’re involved in.

6. My hourly intake of each of these supplements, with the exception of Endurolytes, doesn’t change. Therefore, I’ll make “X” number of baggies of these supplements, each baggie containing the identical amounts of each product. I use the small, ziplock bags that are available on the Hammer Nutrition web site to carry the pills, and the amount of baggies I make will, of course, be dependent on how many hours I’ll be out there. Every hour I’ll open up a bag and consume the pills.

7. My dose of Endurolytes oftentimes changes hourly (for example, what I need at 2 p.m. may be higher than what I need at 8 a.m., if only because the weather may be hotter). Therefore, I’ll keep my Endurolytes separate from my zip lock bags of the other supplements. I use the plastic capsule dispenser that is sold on the Hammer Nutrition website to carry Endurolytes, and I’ll dose them as needed.

30–120 Minutes prior to the workout/race

1–2 Race Caps Supreme – This product contains CoQ10 and ibenenone, which are key substrates in the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) process of energy production. Race Caps Supreme also supplies the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are chelated to malic acid, citric acid, aspartic acid, lysine, and glycine, most–to–all of which are involved in the Krebs Cycle process of energy production.

CoQ10 and idebenone are also tremendous antioxidants (as is the vitamin E in the product), and I consider taking this product prior to exercise as giving the body a head start on free radical neutralization.

1–2 Mito Caps – The “mitochondrial support product” provides, among other nutrients, acetyl l–carnitine (ALC) and r–alpha lipoic acid (r–ALA).

Among its many benefits, Acetyl l–carnitine (ALC) helps the body use the calories from fatty acids as fuel more efficiently, while also increasing the volume/amounts/activity of key substances that are involved in the complex process of producing energy from your food and oxygen intake.

R–alpha lipoic acid (r–ALA) plays a major role in specific energy–producing functions within the mitochondria. It is also superb antioxidant, with the unique ability to neutralize both water– and fat–soluble based free radicals. Additionally, r–ALA is able to regenerate “used up” antioxidants, thus extending their activity (“shelf life”) in the body. Lastly, r–ALA assists in maintaining proper glucose metabolism.

Bottom Line: When you take Mito Caps you are providing two key nutrients that will help maintain optimal mitochondrial function, which is vital for energy production and overall health.

Thoughts on Mito Caps

“The longer you can stimulate the lifespan or health of the mitochondria, the longer you will live and the better you will perform in endurance events. Endurance athletes should realize how incredibly important it is to effect mitochondria and that everything formulated in this compound influences mitochondria cell biochemistry function synergistically and remarkably”

William Misner, Ph.D. – Direct of Research & Product Development, Emeritus

2–4 Anti–Fatigue Caps – Provides two nutrients—potassium/magnesium aspartate and OKG—that will help neutralize the negative effects of excess ammonia accumulation, which is arguably the primary culprit in premature fatigue.

2–4 Endurance Amino – Provides the primary amino acids—the three branched chain amino acids (a.k.a.BCAAs, l–leucine, l–isoleucine, l–valine) and l–alanine—that are used in the energy cycle during exercise. Plus, the BCAAs in Endurance Amino assist in replenishing depleted glutamine stores while also aiding in the prevention of muscle tissue breakdown. The latter helps to prevent excess fatigue–causing ammonia from being produced and accumulating. Additionally, research has shown that the intake of BCAAs prior to and during exercise may delay exercise–induced or central nervous system–induced fatigue. It is also believed that BCAAs may improve mood and cognitive performance.

On top of that, the reduced (metabolically active) glutathione component in Endurance Amino provides a number of benefits, primarily powerful antioxidant support.

Endurolytes – Provides a balanced supply of necessary electrolytes. Taking this product prior to a lengthy workout or race provides what I call a “pre–emptive strike dose,” meaning that you’re taking care of electrolyte requirements prior to them truly becoming a necessity. This frees you from having to take the product during the first 30–60 minutes of the ride. The dose will be dependent on a variety of factors (weather, fitness levels, acclimatization levels, body weight, etc.), and what you’ve already tested in training.

Every hour during the workout/race, starting at hour #2

1–2 Race Caps Supreme – By taking this product hourly during prolonged exercise you will be “replacing the spark plugs” in the body, helping to ensure more consistent energy production throughout the workout. In addition, you will also be providing the body with powerful protection (via the CoQ10, idebenone, and vitamin E components) against fat–soluble–based free radicals.

1–2 Mito Caps – By taking this product hourly you will be maintaining optimal mitochondrial function, which translates into more efficient energy production and free radical neutralization (the latter, as is the case with the antioxidants in Race Caps Supreme, being especially important for recovery as well). Plus, the r–ALA component in the product helps maintain proper glucose metabolism, which is undoubtedly beneficial during exercise.

2–4 Anti–Fatigue Caps – By taking this product hourly you supply the body with potassium/magnesium aspartate and OKG, which help to neutralize the negative effects of fatigue–causing excess ammonia accumulation.

2–4 Endurance Amino – By taking this product hourly you provide the primary “used–in–the–energy–cycle” amino acids (the BCAAs). The BCAAs in Endurance Amino, along with the BCAAs that naturally occur in the soy protein component in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem, helps prevent the muscle tissue from being broken down to satisfy the 5% – 15% of the body’s energy requirements. The result is less fatigue–causing ammonia to accumulate and less muscle tissue that will be broken down and needing to be repaired during the recovery process.

You also supply the body with l–alanine. The liver can convert l–alanine into glucose as needed (I like to think of it as an “emergency” energy supply), which the bloodstream transports to the muscles for energy. L–alanine also aids in the synthesis of pantothenic acid (vitamin B–5), which is needed for protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Lastly, you provide the body with glutathione, which is one of the most potent antioxidants there is, with an Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) rating of 12,000+. Dr. Misner writes, “Decline in endurance performance may parallel decline in glutathione concentrations imposed by the aging process.” That alone makes taking glutathione during exercise sound like a very rational idea to me.

Glutathione also facilitates the transport of amino acids which, hypothetically, will assist in directing the amino acids in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem to wherever they’re needed (one athlete reported that taking Endurance Amino is like “supercharging” Perpetuem).

3 Endurolytes (higher amount if weather dictates its necessity) – To keep the body’s “oil reservoir” topped off, which helps maintain the optimal performance of many important bodily functions, in addition to helping prevent cramping.

Special Note: Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps, and Anti–Fatigue Caps also contain the patented Enzyme Enhancement System”, which helps with the absorption of the nutrients and may also aid in the absorption of the carbohydrate and protein components in the Hammer Nutrition fuels.

After the workout/race is over (with Recoverite)

Premium Insurance Caps – My dose after an “epic” ride is 7 capsules with Recoverite, with 7 capsules taken later with a meal. My typical suggested dose for lighter weight athletes after an “epic” workout is 4–5 capsules with Recoverite and 3–4 capsules taken later with a meal. Premium insurance Caps resupplies the body with the vitamins and minerals that have been depleted during exercise, including some key antioxidants such as beta–carotene, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc.

1–2 Race Caps Supreme – For the antioxidant support from CoQ10, idebenone, and vitamin E, all three of which are also tremendous “heart health” nutrients.

1–2 Mito Caps – The r–ALA component provides significant antioxidant support while also helping to increase endogenous supplies of the key antioxidant glutathione. For additional antioxidant support, Mito Caps also contains ascorbyl palmitate, the fat–soluble form of vitamin C, and a small amount of vitamin E.

AO Booster (with another capsule taken with a later meal) - Provides a wide range of fat–soluble antioxidants – the entire vitamin E “family” (the 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols), lutein (which also has eye–specific benefits), and astaxanthin, which is suggested to be up to 50 times more potent in its antioxidant capabilities than vitamin E.

During prolonged events you’re burning a lot of fat (utilizing the calories to satisfy nearly two–thirds of your energy requirements), which means you’re also producing a massive amount of fat–soluble free radicals. AO Booster is designed to neutralize the negative effects of excess fat–soluble free radicals, similar to how Super Antioxidant (below) helps to neutralize primarily water–soluble free radicals. Anti–inflammation is an additional benefit provided from the tocopherol/tocotrienol blend and the astaxanthin.

1–2 Super Antioxidant – Provides a variety of antioxidant nutrients, some of which also have circulation–enhancing benefits, which will help accelerate the clearance of metabolic waste by–products accumulated during prolonged exercise.

2–4 Endurance Amino – Even though the body is getting a significant bolus of BCAAs via the whey protein isolate component in Recoverite, I firmly believe that additionalamounts of these specific “ideal–for–recovery” amino acids is merited and beneficial. Additionally, I believe that providing the body with more glutathione at this critical time is also highly beneficial (in my opinion, any steps you can take to improve glutathione “status” in the body should be taken, especially after exercise). With Endurance Amino the body receives a nice dose of BCAAs and glutathione, complementing the BCAAs and the glutathione precursor amino acids in Recoverite.

Chromemate – Research suggests that athletes who consume chromium polynicotinate (Chromemate) along with ample carbohydrates within two hours of completion of exercise will experience a significant increase in the rate of glycogen synthesis compared to no supplementation.

I am a firm believer in the saying, “How well you recover today determines how well you perform tomorrow.” Taking a capsule of Chromemate with Recoverite is such a simple and inexpensive way to help maximize glycogen synthesis/ storage, which is an undeniably vital component in the recovery process.

Xobaline – Space limits me from listing all of the benefits that vitamin B12 and folic acid provide, though they are arguably best known for their role in the production of red blood cells. B12 and folic acid are also intimately involved in protein utilization and RNA and DNA synthesis, both of which have enhanced recovery implications.

Dr. Misner writes, “There are virtually 100′s of papers demonstrating the health benefits from folic acid and vitamin B12 in the cells, digestion, vision, hair, skin, immune system, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, oral health, and sexual system. It is a supplement I enthusiastically recommend and take every day.”

Boron – Boron is reported to raise testosterone levels to normal physiological values in older men to normal levels that they had in their 20–30′s. Supplementation with 10 mg of boron per day for 28–days increased testosterone levels in healthy males.

Note that Premium Insurance Caps contains 2.5 mg of boron per 7 capsules. Also note that females appear to not require as much boron as do males to attain optimal testosterone levels (3 mg/ day is suggested as being adequate).

Summary

There you have it, my “epic workout/race” supplement program. I hope it helps you as you put together your supplement program for your chosen sport. More information about all of these products can be found on the Hammer Nutrition website, or just call or email us& we’ll be glad to help!

Hydration – What you need to know

June 28, 2013

BY STEVE BORN

Steve Born, Hammer Nutrition's Fueling Expert

Steve Born

Steve’s decade-plus of involvement in the sports nutrition industry, as well as nearly 15 years of independent research in nutritional fueling and supplementation, has given him unmatched familiarity with the myriad product choices available to athletes.

Water is the most important substance on earth, 60% of your body weight, and the number one concern on any athlete’s intake list. For both performance and health, the importance of your water intake exceeds that of your vitamin, calorie, and electrolyte consumption. We want to make sure that you have the right amount on board when you set off on your distance efforts, when you finish, and between efforts during recovery; hence the inclusion of this article in The GUIDE. You’ll learn how sweat loss affects athletic performance, that too much water is as bad, if not worse, than too little, and that you can’t replace all of the water that you sweat out. Yes, we will get to the key issue: Just how much should I drink? Of all the many functions water has in human physiology, we’ll focus on just a couple that pertain especially to the endurance athlete: cooling the body and transporting nutrients. Let’s look at the cooling system first.

How your cooling system works

When we exercise, we burn molecular fuel (mostly glycogen) but also some protein, fat, and blood glucose from ingested nutrients. The breakdown of these energy providers releases heat that builds up and raises our core temperature. The body must rid itself of this heat and maintain a core temperature within a few degrees of the well-known 98.6° F (37° C). An active person needs a reliable cooling mechanism. Actually, you have several. You lose some heat through your skin. Blood carries heat to the capillaries near the skin’s surface, removing heat from the body core. You breathe harder to get more oxygen, expelling heat when you exhale. But by far the most important part of the cooling system, accounting on average for about 75% of all cooling, is your ability to produce and excrete sweat.

Sweat, however, glistening on your forearm or soaking your singlet won’t cool you; it must evaporate. Sweat works on a basic physical premise: water evaporation is an endothermic process, requiring energy (heat) to change from liquid to gas. Thus, water molecules in the gas phase have more energy than water molecules in the liquid phase. As water molecules evaporate from your skin, they remove heat energy; the remaining water molecules have less energy and you feel cooler. Isn’t that cool?

Weather conditions greatly affect sweat production and cooling effectiveness. In cool weather, you get substantial cooling from the heat that escapes directly from your skin. As the temperature increases, you gradually rely more on evaporation. On hot days, with little difference between skin surface and ambient temperatures, your skin surface provides only negligible convective cooling, and you need to sweat more to maintain a safe internal core temperature. At 95° F (35° C) or above, you lose no heat at all from your skin; in fact, you actually start to absorb heat. Evaporative cooling must do all of the work.

Humidity is the other major factor that affects sweat. On humid days, sweat evaporates more slowly because the atmosphere is already saturated with water vapor, retarding the evaporation rate. The sweat accumulates on your skin and soaks your clothes, but you don’t get any cooling from it because it’s not going into the vapor phase. Soaking, dripping sweat may give you a psychological boost, but it has no physical efficacy to cool; sweat must evaporate to remove heat. On days when it’s both hot and humid, well, you don’t need to read about what’s going to happen when you exercise in those conditions. You do need to know that under the worst of conditions you can produce up to three liters of sweat in an hour of strenuous exercise, but your body can only absorb about one liter from fluid consumption. Yes, this will cause problems before long, and we will discuss that issue below.

What happens when the coolant runs low?

Just like a car, your body must dissipate the excess heat generated from burning fuel. Unlike a car, your body’s coolant isn’t in a sealed internal system; you use it once and then it’s gone and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, we don’t come with built-in gauges or indicators that tell us just how much coolant we have left in our system. We can’t run a dipstick down our gullet and get a reading that says, Add a quart. We do have some physiological signs, but they function at the Warning-Danger! level, too late to maintain optimal performance. For instance, by the time you feel thirsty, you could have a 2% body weight water loss, already into the impairment zone.

The chart below shows what happens to human performance at each percent of weight loss. By weight loss, we mean the percentage of your body weight at the start of exercise that you have lost at the end via sweat. If you go out for a run at 160 pounds (approx 72.5 kg) and weigh in 20 miles later at 154 (approx 70 kg), you’ve lost almost 4% of your body weight. That’s too much to maintain your pace to the end, let alone expect to kick.

Symptoms by percent body weight water loss:

  • PERCENT WATER LOST ——— SYMPTOMS
  • 0% — none, optimal performance, normal heat regulation
  • 1% — thirst stimulated, heat regulation during exercise altered, performance declines
  • 2% — further decrease in heat regulation, hinders performance, increased thirst
  • 3% — more of the same (worsening performance)
  • 4% — exercise performance cut by 20 – 30%
  • 5% — headache, irritability, “spaced-out” feeling, fatigue
  • 6% — weakness, severe loss of thermoregulation
  • 7% — collapse likely unless exercise stops
  • 10% — comatose
  • 11% — death likely

[Nutrition for Cyclists, Grandjean & Ruud, Clinics in Sports Med. Vol 13(1);235-246. Jan 1994]

 

Humidity is the other major factor that affects sweat. On humid days, sweat evaporates more slowly because the atmosphere is already saturated with water vapor, retarding the evaporation rate. The sweat accumulates on your skin and soaks your clothes, but you don’t get any cooling from it because it’s not going into the vapor phase.

 

How much is that?

As you can see from the chart above, sweat loss can easily escalate from an athletic performance issue to an acute medical issue. Clearly, we need to have some quantifiable idea of our intake and output. Let’s start with converting the data on the chart to recognizable amounts. Perhaps you remember the saying, a pint’s a pound, the world ’round. Now that’s a convenient conversion for endurance athletes. Here’s another: one pint = one water bottle. Some bottles hold 20 ounces (approx 590 ml), but consider a regular water bottle as a pint (16 ounces/approx 475 ml). Two pints make a quart (32 ounces), which is equivalent to almost a liter – not quite, but almost. So when you read liter, think two water bottles. Losing one pound of weight (slightly less than half a kilogram) means a one-pint loss. One liter (or one quart) is about two pounds (nearly one kilogram).

Can you drink enough?

Needless to say, maintaining optimal fluid intake prior to and during exercise is crucial for both performance and health. However, as is true with calories and electrolytes, you can’t replenish fluids at the same rate you deplete them; your body simply won’t absorb as fast as it loses. Evaporative cooling depletes fluids and electrolytes faster than the body can replenish them. Your body will accept and utilize a certain amount from exogenous (outside) sources, and, similar to calories and electrolytes, maintaining fluid intake within a specific range will postpone fatigue and promote peak performance

Research suggests that while electrolyte needs for individual athletes may vary up to 1000% (tenfold), fluid loss remains fairly constant. Also, we can measure fluid loss more easily than electrolyte loss; we don’t need sophisticated lab equipment, just a scale. Thus, we can come pretty close in calculating fluid loss and replacement.

The numbers

On average, you lose about one liter (approx 34 ounces) of fluid per hour of exercise. Extreme heat and humidity can raise that amount to three liters in one hour. A trained athlete will store enough muscle glycogen to provide energy for approximately 90 minutes of aerobic exercise. As your muscles burn glycogen, water is released as a metabolic by-product and excreted as sweat. Researchers found that during a marathon (26.2 miles), runners released an average of two liters of sweat from muscle glycogen stores. This is in addition to sweat from other body liquids.

You can control or lessen these sweat rates by acclimatization and training for the event. Acclimatized athletes can reduce electrolyte and fluid loss up to 50%, but note that those losses cannot be fully replaced during the event. Remember the words of Dr. Bill Misner (mentioned in the LESS IS BEST – The right way to fuel* article), The endurance exercise outcome is to postpone fatigue, not replace all the fuel, fluids, and electrolytes lost during the event. It can’t be done, though many of us have tried. In other words, our hydration goal is not to replace water ounce-for-ounce or pint-for-pint, but to support natural stores by consuming as much as we can adequately process during exercise.

At the most, you can absorb about one liter (approx 34 fluid ounces) of water per hour, but only in the most extreme heat and humidity. Most of the time you can only absorb about half or not too much over half that amount, even though it won’t fully replace your losses. Repeated intake of one liter (about 34 fluid ounces) per hour will ultimately do you more harm than good.

Can you drink too much?

Ironically, while you can’t drink enough to replace all fluid lost, you can drink too much. Researchers have noted the dangers of excess hydration during events lasting over four hours. Dr. Tim Noakes collected data for ten years from some 10,000 runners participating in the Comrades Marathon. This 52.4-mile (84.33 km) race, held each June (winter) in South Africa, ranks as one of the world’s premier ultra marathons. Noakes showed that endurance athletes who consumed from 16-24 fluid ounces per hour (approx 475-710 milliliters) typically replenished as much fluid as is efficiently possible. He also noted the prevalence of hyponatremia (low blood sodium) during ultra marathons and triathlons in runners who hydrated excessively. This condition can arise from several different physiological scenarios. For endurance athletes, it usually results from sweat-depleted sodium stores diluted by excess hypotonic (low electrolyte content) fluid intake. When blood sodium concentration becomes too dilute, you can develop severe cardiac symptoms leading to collapse.

Problems with too much or too little

Moreover, Noakes noted a pattern of hydration problems among race participants. In ultra events, the leaders usually dehydrate, but the athletes in the middle-to-back of the pack tend to overhydrate. Both may end up suffering from the same hyponatremic symptoms; the former from too little fluid intake combined with too much sodium loss due to profuse sweating, the latter from too much fluid intake and relatively less sodium loss. Because most front-runners are extremely competitive, they don’t stop long enough during the race to overhydrate. In addition, it’s highly likely that elite athletes may be fitter and better acclimatized to deal with hot weather conditions. A tendency to linger at aid stations, attempting to relieve the symptoms of fatigue or heat by drinking too much water, is a fault found among the majority of the remainder of athletes, those in the middle or back of the pack. Also, these athletes may be novices who have heard the drink, drink, drink mantra, but who haven’t had enough experience to personally calibrate their individual needs. After the 1985 Comrades race, 17 runners were hospitalized, nine with dilutional hyponatremia. In the 1987 Comrades Marathon, 24 runners suffered from dilutional hyponatremia. These athletes had seriously overloaded on fluid intake, with the inevitable result of a totally disrupted physiology.

Tragic consequences

Hyponatremia usually results from drinking too much, especially when one drinks fluids such as plain water or a sports drink lacking the proper electrolyte profile. Training and fitness levels, weather conditions, and, undoubtedly, biological predisposition also contribute to developing this form of hyponatremia known as water intoxication.

Sadly, we must note that this condition has led, directly or in part, to the deaths of otherwise healthy runners in major American marathons. It is hard for us to comprehend the grief of the families they left behind. These athletes went out to run a marathon, to achieve a personal victory. Improper hydration took away their day of glory and also their lives. They collapsed and went into an irreversible condition involving uncontrollable brain edema, coma, and death. We report this to help prevent any future such tragedies. Overhydration represents a very serious problem. Unlike dehydration, which will generally only result in painful cramping, possibly a DNF, or at the worst, IV treatment, overhydration can incite a chain of ultimately fatal physiological consequences.

So how much, how often?

The extreme cases cited above happen very rarely. Lesser degrees of impairment occur frequently from excessive fluid intake. We don’t have a chart for overhydration similar to the one for dehydration. Also, you probably don’t carry a scale or have regular access to weigh-ins along your training route. So how do you know when it’s time to drink? You don’t wait until you’re down a quart. A good hydration regimen starts before you even get moving.

Noakes believes intake of hypotonic fluids of one liter/hr (33.8 oz/hr) will likely cause water intoxication and dilutional hyponatremia. He suggests that athletes may do better on 500 ml/hr (approx 17 oz/hr) fluid intake for ultra events performed in hot weather conditions. In THE TOP 10 – The biggest mistakes endurance athletes make* article, Dr. Ian Rogers suggests that between 500-750 ml/hr (about 17-25 oz/hr) will fulfill most athletes’ hydration requirements under most conditions. According to Dr. Rogers, Like most things in life, balance is the key and the balance is likely to be at a fluid intake not much above 500 milliliters (about 17 ounces) per hour in most situations, unless predicted losses are very substantial. Other research suggests a similar consumption of 4.5-7.0 oz (approx 133-207 ml) of water every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.

How much fluid should you drink?

Average Athlete, average temps Lighter athletes or cooler temps Heavier athletes or hotter temps
20-25 oz/hr (approx 590-740 ml/hr) is an appropriate fluid intake for most athletes under most conditions. For lighter weight athletes, or those exercising in cooler temperatures, 16-18 oz/ hr (approx 473-532 ml) may be perfect. Heavier athletes or athletes competing in hotter conditions may consider intakes upwards of 28 oz/hr (approx 830 ml/hr).

 

Based on the available research, along with the thousands of athletes we have monitored, we have found that 20-25 oz/hr (approx 590-740 ml/hr) is an appropriate fluid intake for most athletes under most conditions. For lighter weight athletes, or those exercising in cooler temperatures, 16-18 oz/hr (approx 473-532 ml) may be perfect. Heavier athletes or athletes competing in hotter conditions may consider intakes upwards of 28 oz/hr (approx 830 ml/hr). We also suggest that to avoid dilutional hyponatremia, fluid intake should not routinely exceed 28 oz/hr (830 ml/hr). The exceptions are heavier athletes, athletes exercising at extreme levels (prolonged periods at a high percentage of VO2Max), and athletes competing in severe environmental conditions.

20-25 oz (approx 590-740 ml) is the equivalent of the typical regular-to-large size water bottle, and that’s an excellent gauge to work within.

Remember your electrolytes and calories!

We noted at the beginning of this article that besides cooling, water also plays an important role in nutrient transport. Water consumption bears directly on electrolyte and caloric uptake. You must consider the electrolyte content of your fluid intake, especially if you exceed about 24 oz/hr (710 ml/hr). If temperature and humidity rise above 70° F (21° C) and/or 70% humidity, we recommend that you take electrolytes before and during every hour of exercise. For a full discussion of electrolyte needs, see the article  ELECTROLYTE REPLENISHMENT – Why it’s so important and how to do it right.*

In addition, avoid fructose or other simple sugar-based drinks and gels, especially in the heat – unless you want to deal with a gastric emptying problem, which may result in nausea and other stomach maladies. Compared to complex carbohydrates, drinks or gels that contain simple sugars (typically glucose, fructose, and sucrose) require more fluid and electrolytes for effective absorption. Because they require more fluid, you get fewer calories per unit of water. You must restrict simple sugar drinks to a 6-8% solution range, which provides inadequate amounts of calories for energy production. You can make a nice drink in a water bottle that will absorb well and provide adequate fluid, but your caloric intake will fall far short of your body-s needs and your energy level will suffer.

If you make a double or triple-strength batch of a simple sugar drink hoping to obtain adequate amounts of calories, you’ll require additional fluids and electrolytes to efficiently process the sugar. You will need to guess how much extra water and electrolytes your body needs to handle the sugar. If you guess low, your GI tract will be forced to pull minerals and fluids from other areas of the body. This scenario can cause nauseating results as your body literally dehydrates its working muscles while bloating your belly. Why take chances like that when your performance is on the line?

Your wisest choice is to use fuel comprised of complex carbohydrates, which is the carbohydrate source of all the Hammer Nutrition fuels. Even at a 15-18% concentration, these fuel sources absorb and digest rapidly, do not require excess fluid for transport through the GI system, and provide all of the calories your liver can process. For more details on fueling, see the article PROPER FUELING – Pre-workout & race suggestions*

 

Beat the Heat

Tips to keep cool

A cold, wet towel, sponge, hose, or sprayer on the head and torso. If you’re running, take a one-minute walk, douse yourself with water, and take a good drink. If you’re cycling, find a spot for a good coast or easy spin for a minute. The break from heavy exertion allows dissipation of internal eat.
Combined with hydration and external water, these ideas can effectively relieve heat stress, allowing you to finish hot weather endurance events. Highly competitive athletes might scoff at walking, but when it comes to core temperature, nature gives you two choices: cool down or DNF.

 

Multi-hour bottles of fuel – A convenient way to monitor fluid and calorie intake

If you’re going to be exercising for several hours, a convenient and time-efficient way to fuel (while also helping you monitor calorie and fluid intake with greater precision) is to make concentrated, multi-hour bottles of Sustained Energy or Perpetuem. This is discussed in the article The Hammer Nutrition Fuels found in the supplement to this book. However, since the topic here is hydration, presenting this information now is relevant.

Each scoop of Sustained Energy and Perpetuem that you put in a bottle reduces the water volume by about 1.5 ounces (approx 44 ml). For example, if you add two scoops of Perpetuem to a 21-ounce (approx 620 ml) water bottle, you won’t end up with that same amount of actual fluid; it will be approximately 18 oz (roughly 502 ml), perhaps even slightly less. For some athletes, 18 oz/hr is sufficient, but for many athletes that’s not enough; oftentimes upwards of 25-28 oz (approx 740-830 ml) of fluid are required hourly. As a result, you’ll have to drink your entire fuel bottle plus plain water from another source. After awhile it can be difficult to keep precise track of your fluid intake because you’re fulfilling your needs from two separate sources.

To make things easier when doing a three-hour or longer workout, we suggest making concentrated, multi-hour bottles of fuel. For example, if you’re going to be exercising for four hours and you know that you need two scoops of Perpetuem to satisfy an hours worth of fueling, make an 8-scoop bottle in a 21-ounce (approx 620 ml) water bottle. Now you have four hours of fuel in one bottle and that provides a number of benefits:

  • Because you have four hours of fuel in one bottle, you only need to drink one-fourth of that bottle hourly, which means you don’t have to drink a full bottle of flavored liquid hour after hour.
  • You don’t need to stop every hour to make more fuel because you’ve got four hours in one bottle.
  • You can drink and enjoy plain water from another source (another bottle, hydration system) to cleanse the palate and satisfy hydration needs.

Yes, there is some actual fluid left in that 8-scoop/4-hour bottle of Perpetuem, but the amount is small, yielding less than four ounces (approx 118 ml) hourly over the course of four hours. Does that small amount of fluid count towards fulfilling your overall hydration needs? Yes, but it’s a small enough amount to not have to think about if you’re keeping your overall fluid intake within our suggested guidelines (approximately 20-25 oz / 590-740 ml hourly). Plus, those hourly guidelines do have some flexibility built in (+/- 3-4 oz or approx 89-118 ml).

With that in mind, a concentrated bottle of Perpetuem can thus be thought of as a calories only bottle and you’ll fulfill your hydration needs with plain water from another source. The beauty of this, among the other benefits mentioned earlier, is that because you’re fulfilling your calorie and fluid needs from sources independent of each other, you’re able to gauge your intake with greater precision.

So when your workouts are greater than three hours in length, give the multi-hour bottle of Sustained Energy or Perpetuem a try and you’ll find that it’ll be a lot easier to keep track of both your calorie and fluid intake . . . it’s been a winning strategy for thousands of endurance athletes.

Other ways to cool yourself in extreme heat

Although not directly related to actual water consumption, an external water application can help cool you. A cold, wet towel, sponge, hose, or sprayer on the head and torso can effectively lower body temperature, especially during a one-minute break. If you’re running, take a one-minute walk, douse yourself with water, and take a good drink. If you’re cycling, find a spot for a good coast or easy spin for a minute. The break from heavy exertion allows dissipation of internal heat. Combined with hydration and external water, this can effectively relieve heat stress, allowing you to finish hot weather endurance events. Highly competitive athletes might scoff at walking, but when it comes to core temperature, nature gives you two choices: cool down or DNF.

Fluid intake suggestions apart from the workout or race

Now that you have a good guide for your fluid intake during exercise, we can turn to two other considerations: how much you should drink overall during the day and how you should hydrate just prior to racing or exercise. For your regular daily hydration needs (that is, in addition to your exercise-induced needs), no research has conclusively arrived at an RDA for fluids, but about 0.5-0.6 fluid ounces per pound of body weight (roughly 33-39 ml/kg) makes a more accurate standard than the eight glasses a day commonly recommended for everyone. Multiplying your body weight in pounds by 0.5-0.6 will give you the figure, in fluid ounces, that you should aim for daily. Metrically, you’ll multiply your body weight in kilograms by about 33-39 and that’ll give you a good estimate, in milliliters, of what you should be drinking daily. Caveat: If you have not been following this recommendation consistently, you’ll want to start increasing your daily water consumption gradually until you reach your target amount. If you increase your fluid intake too quickly it will overwhelm your body with too much fluid too soon, which may increase the potential for hyponatremia.

For satisfying hydration requirements prior to a workout or race, there have been a number of recommendations presented over the years. These are the two that we believe to be the most sensible, the ones that will satisfy hydration needs without putting you at the risk for overhydration:

  • One liter of fluid (about 34 ounces) in the two hours prior to the start (about 17 ounces/500 milliliters per hour), ceasing consumption about 20-30 minutes before you begin the workout or race.
  • 10-12 ounces (approx 295-355 milliliters) of fluid each hour up to 30 minutes prior to the start (24-30 ounces total fluid intake). Keep in mind that even though these are our recommendations, you need to determine what works best for your system and the particular logistics of the race or training session ahead.

Keep in mind that even though these are our recommendations, you need to determine what works best for your system and the particular logistics of the race or training session ahead.

Personalized data is the key to hydration efficiency

We offer no “one size fits all” remedies. We do offer prudent and scientifically substantiated advice. We have given you some guidelines to start your assessment and calculation of your personal hydration needs. Each athlete is personally responsible to include hydration, fueling, and electrolyte replacement regimens into his or her training program. You must find out in practice—before competition—what works for you. Most of you will find your final figures will come very close to our suggested starting points. For others, you might find that in certain instances your needs in a particular event will require substantial modification.

If you’ve spent money on a heart rate monitor, a multi-function watch, or a body fat measuring device, and if you use them properly, you already have some serious training tools. We suggest that a good scale (preferably one that can measure less than one pound increments, such as a balance scale) may well prove to be your most valuable fitness investment. Weigh yourself before and after each outing, carefully noting the time, exertion level, miles, weather, and fluid, fuel, and electrolyte consumption. Another low-tech hint: make sure you know the capacity of your water bottles and hydration packs. Once you begin to log your fluid consumption and weight fluctuations, you’ll have the data to accurately calculate your personal needs in this absolutely vital area.

We don’t offer any one size fits all remedies. We do offer prudent and scientifically substantiated advice. Each athlete is personally responsible for including hydration, fueling, and electrolyte replacement in his or her training program.

We have given you some guidelines to start your assessment and calculation of your personal hydration needs. You must find out in practice, before competition, what works for you. Most will find that your final figures will come very close to our suggested starting points. For others, you might find that in certain instances your needs for a particular event will require substantial modification

Final checklist, some quick tips, and summary

1.) If you finish an event weighing the same or more than when you started, you have overhydrated. If you’ve dropped 3% or more, dehydration has occurred. Up to 2% weight loss is safe and reasonable.

2.) For very long events, such as a century bike ride, the average rider will also lose a pound or more in energy stores (glycogen, fat, and muscle tissue) in addition to the water, so figure that into your weight difference.

3.) Don’t assume that you can drink unlimited amounts of water or fluid during exercise and expect that all of it will be absorbed and the excess will be lost in sweat or through the kidneys. You will instead bloat, dilute your blood, urinate excessively, and develop water intoxication.

4.) Train to get fit in the heat. Heat acclimatization and fitness reduce fluid and electrolyte losses by up to 50%.

5.) Wear the lightest, most evaporation-friendly clothing you can afford. Cotton isn’t on the list. Many fibers today provide superior wicking and evaporation that allow your sweat to do the work nature intended.

6.) In general, keep fluid intake between 20-25 oz (approx 590-740 ml)/hr. For lighter weight athletes, or those exercising in cooler temperatures, 16-18 oz (approx 473-532 ml)/hr may be perfect. Heavier athletes or athletes competing in hotter conditions may consider intakes upwards of 28 oz (approx 830 ml)/hr. If you feel you need more fluids, experiment with it in training, keeping in mind that you will require additional electrolytes. Regular fluid intake over 30 oz (approx 890 ml)/hr increases the possibility of dilutional hyponatremia.

7.) Use cold fluids as much as possible as your body absorbs them more rapidly than warm fluids. Know where to find cold water along your training routes. Use frozen and insulated water bottles and hydration packs.

8.) Urine color can indicate hydration level. Dark yellow urine means low hydration. Pale to light yellow is good. Don’t confuse the bright yellow urine you get after vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) supplementation for the dark yellow urine that indicates overly concentrated urine.

9.) During exercise, avoid foods and fuels that contain low chain carbohydrates. These simple sugar fuels require more fluids and electrolytes for digestive purposes. Also avoid carbonated drinks, as the gas inhibits absorption.

10.) Use caffeine with caution. Used properly and sparingly, caffeine has ergogenic benefits. It does, however, act as a diuretic, which may deplete fluid stores more rapidly.

11.) During the hottest weather conditions, sponging yourself off with cold water, while taking a short periodic break from race pace, will provide heat relief.

12.) Know the symptoms of overhydration and dehydration. Stop immediately if you feel lightheaded or queasy or get the dry chills. No race or training is worth compromising your health.

SUMMARY

Dehydration and overhydration are common problems that plague far too many athletes, some with severe consequences. Armed with the guidelines contained in this article, along with practice and testing in training, your performance and health need not suffer. Instead, you’ll be ahead of the vast majority of athletes who continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Getting Started With Hammer Nutrition

June 17, 2013

Some essential knowledge republished from our knowledge base on how to get started with Hammer Nutrition products.

More articles and tips from Hammer Nutrition are available here.

Top 5 things you need to get off on the right foot.

  1. Keep fluid intake during exercise between 16-28 ounces per hour.

    HYDRATION: What You Need to Know
    What Is Hyponatremia? Am I At Risk?

    FACT: In general, most athletes, under most conditions, will satisfy hydration needs with a fluid intake in the range of 20-25-ounces/hour – roughly the equivalent of a standard size small or large water bottle. Lighter athletes and/or athletes exercising in cool weather conditions may only require an intake of 16-18 ounces/hour. Larger athletes and/or athletes exercising under very hot and humid conditions are the ones that can consider a fluid intake in the range of 28 ounces/hour, perhaps up to 30 ounces/hour in extreme conditions. It’s important to remember that regular fluid intake over 30-34 ounces hourly significantly increases the potential for serious performance and health problems.

  2. Restrict caloric intake to 300 cal/hr during exercise.

    Less is Best – The right way to fuel
    Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Events
    The Hammer Nutrition Fuels – What They Are, How To Use Them

    FACT: Your body can’t process caloric intake anywhere near your expenditure rate. If you want to achieve your best performance, DO NOT follow the “calories out, calories in” protocol that some “experts” recommend. Instead, replenish calories in “body cooperative” amounts, allowing your fat stores to make up the difference, which they will easily do. For most athletes, 240-300 calories/hour will do the job. For lighter athletes, 180-200 calories/hour may be perfectly adequate, while larger athletes (190+ lbs) can consider hourly intakes of 300 to slightly over 300 calories/hour.

  3. Avoid simple sugars in your fuels; use complex carbohydrates only. For workouts or races in the 2- to 3-hour or longer range, 10-15% of the calorie content in your fuel should come in the form of protein, ideally soy protein. This protein donation helps satisfy energy requirements more completely while also helping prevent muscle tissue catabolism.

    Simple Sugars and Complex Carbohydrates – An Incompatible Combination
    Fructose – Negative Impact On Energy Production

    FACT: Simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) are inefficient fuels for exercise, and they’re health hazards when consumed regularly in typical dietary quantities. These “ose” sugars give you energy peaks and crashes, and they also have a severe limitation on absorption. They need to be mixed in weak concentrations for efficient digestion, which means you can only intake about 100 cal/hr. You can consume more, but you can’t absorb more. You’ll only get sick trying. Complex carbohydrates, however, absorb at about three times the rate as simple sugars. Plus you get smooth, steady, reliable energy – no peaks and valleys.

  4. Supplemental electrolytes in a balanced formula (not just salt!) should be taken in amounts appropriate to the heat, humidity and personal metabolic characteristics of the athlete.

    Electrolyte Replenishment

    FACT: Sodium chloride (salt) is indeed an important component of electrolyte replenishment but it does not fulfill the entire requirements. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium should be replenished as well as all these minerals play key roles in the maintenance of many important body functions. Additionally, body weight, fitness level, weather conditions, acclimatization level, and biological predisposition all greatly affect electrolyte depletion and the need for replenishment, which is why a “one-size fits all” bottled drink or drink mix usually won’t work. Electrolyte depletion is widely variable, which is why the hourly Endurolytes dose can range from 1-6 capsules/hr. That being said, 2-3 capsules of Endurolytes hourly is a good starting point. Certainly there will be occasions when 1-2 Endurolytes will be completely adequate; on hot-weather workouts or races, it may be necessary to consume 5-6 Endurolytes hourly.

  5. Replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after each exercise session, ideally within the first 30-60 minutes.

    Recovery – A Crucial Component For Athletic Success
    Post-Exercise Meal: Carbs Alone or Carbs + Protein?

    FACT: Equally important as your workout (muscle exhaustion and nutrient depletion) is what you do immediately following your workout (muscle repair and nutrient replenishment). If you neglect to “refill the tank” as soon as possible after your training sessions you’ll never get the full value out of all the work you just put in. Give your body what it needs immediately after exercise, when it’s most receptive to replenishment, and it will respond wonderfully-recovering faster, efficiently adapting to physical stress, and “learning” how to store more and more readily available fuel in the muscles.

 

REM Caps, At Home in the Peloton

January 14, 2011

A guest blog post by Phil Elsasser of the Hagens Berman Elite Team Fueled by Hammer Nutrition.

While I have used several of Hammer’s products such as Heed and Sustained Energy in the past, this year I have had the great opportunity to explore some of their supplements through Hammer’s support of the Hagens Berman Cycling Team. One product that impressed me greatly was Hammer’s REM Caps. Being an endurance athlete means that generally by the time my head hits the pillow at the end of the day I am out like a light. As a result, I have never really thought about using a sleep aid. This year definitely changed that. Continue Reading »

Endurolytes Fizz – How it Compares to Endurolytes Capsules

December 8, 2010

Author: Steve Born

Endurolytes Fizz (introduced recently along with Perpetuem Solids) is the newest member of the Hammer Nutrition lineup of superior, high-quality fuels. This great product gives you yet another option—and a deliciously refreshing one at that—to fulfill your body’s electrolyte requirements. Continue Reading »

Using Perpetuem Solids

December 3, 2010
Brian Frank fuels with the NEW Perpetuem Solids during the Highline Hammer while riding with friend, Marshall Opel.

Brian Frank fuels with the NEW Perpetuem Solids during the Highline Hammer while riding with friend,
Marshall Opel.

Author: Steve Born

We believe that Perpetuem Solids, while they can be used as your sole source of calories, are best used as a part-time, solid-food source of calories. They are designed primarily to augment your use of the Hammer Nutrition liquid fuels, helping you reach your targeted hourly caloric total during exercise/competition, especially that lasting more than two hours. Continue Reading »

Less Is Best – The Right Way To Fuel

October 7, 2010

Less Is Best - The Right Way To Fuel

Author: Steve Born

When it comes to calories, fluids, and electrolytes, the human body is not designed to accept from your fuel donation an amount that comes anywhere near to what it’s losing. The good news is that your body knows this, which is why it has numerous built-in hormonal (survival) mechanisms, which very easily “bridge the gap” between what your body is losing and what it can accept from you. Don’t try to replace what you’re losing; you’ll only make matters worse. Instead, replenish your body with appropriate, “body cooperative” amounts of calories, fluids, and electrolytes. When you do, your body can’t help but respond positively, and it will be able to do what you want it to do more consistently hour after hour. Learn why a “Less is Best” approach is undeniably the right way to fuel and start reaping the benefits today!

» Read the full Less is Best – The Right Way To Fuel article.