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OPTIMAL FUELING

Short-distance vs. Long-distance

BY STEVE BORN

One size does not fit all when it comes to endurance fueling. Depending on the duration or type of activity, the nutrients you require for optimal performance vary. For athletes, determining how much and what kind of fuel to use during short workouts or all day races can be tricky.

1) 60-90 MINUTE WORKOUTS AND RACES

If you've been faithful with consistent post-exercise refueling, you'll have a nice reservoir of fuel (muscle glycogen) available when you start. That means that minimal amount of calories will be necessary during your workout or race. A single serving of Hammer Gel 5-10 minutes prior to the start should be all you need. If you want to have some fuel during the workout or race, Hammer Gel, HEED, or a light mix of Perpetuem will be perfectly acceptable (regarding the latter, see "SPECIAL NOTES" below).

2) 2-3 HOUR WORKOUTS AND RACES

We consider workouts and races in this time range to be in a "gray area" so to speak, which means that you can use either a "carb + protein" fuel (Sustained Energy, Perpetuem, "ultra" Hammer Gels) or a "carb only" fuel (HEED, non-protein-containing flavors of Hammer Gel). The selection needs to be based on the following:

  • The type of exercise that you're doing. For example, running is a higher-impact and thus a more "digestively challenging" type of exercise than cycling.
  • The intensity of the effort. Higher intensity oftentimes means decreased digestive system functioning.
  • The weather. How well or poorly you're acclimated to it will be important. The hotter the weather, the more compromised the digestive system becomes.
  • The terrain. Lots of climbing while on the bike or during a run usually diminishes digestive capabilities somewhat.

If you choose to use HEED or Hammer Gel for workouts and races of this duration, I recommend using Endurance Amino. Consuming 2 capsules of Endurance Amino prior to exercise, with an additional 1-2 capsules each hour during exertion, will provide the main amino acids needed to protect the lean muscle tissue and help satisfy a small portion of your body’s energy requirements.

3) 3+ HOUR WORKOUTS AND RACES

Most of the time, when exercise goes beyond 2 hours -- and definitely when you're going 3 hours or longer -- you need both carbohydrates AND protein in your fuel. This is because during prolonged bouts of exercise, 5-15% of your caloric utilization comes from protein. This process, called gluconeogenesis, is unavoidable. If you don't supply the needed protein in your fuel, your body will literally scavenge it from your own muscle tissue. This muscle breakdown is called catabolism or "protein cannibalization." It can cause premature muscle fatigue due to excess ammonia production, muscle depletion, and post-exercise soreness.

Hammer Nutrition's protein-containing fuels, Sustained Energy and Perpetuem, are ideal choices for long-distance fueling. You can use them as your sole fuel from beginning to end, or you can use them as your primary fuel for roughly 2/3 – 3/4 of the time, augmented with other Hammer Nutrition fuels.

Remember, no matter the length of your exertion, some universal rules should always apply:

  • Recover right by giving your body more carbs and protein. Recoverite is the perfect product for replenishing glycogen stores, ensuring that you have them well-stocked for your next workout or race.
  • Remember “The 3-Hour Rule” and pledge to stop eating three hours prior to the event. Together, these fueling protocols from Hammer Nutrition will help you reach peak performance and have your best year yet!

SPECIAL NOTES:

1) Perpetuem for shorter workouts and races? You bet! With its complex carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat components, Perpetuem is best known as the long distance fuel without peer. However, mixed in a slightly lower-calorie amount, Perpetuem is a great fuel for shorter workouts and races. Many athletes have reported to us that they've had such good success using Perpetuem as their only fuel for short and long distances. Give it a try!

2) Remember your electrolytes! They’re as important as the calories you consume to produce energy. Consistent replenishment of electrolytes is a crucially important component of fueling. For shorter-duration workouts and races, a dose of one of the Endurolytes products prior to the start may be all you need. If you're going to be out there for more than 2 hours, take a dose every hour during your workout or race, with a final dose after you're done. Hammer on!