Optimal Fuel

Short-distance vs. long-distance

BY STEVE BORN

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to endurancefueling. Depending on the duration or type of activity,the nutrients you require for optimal performance vary.Determining how much and what kind of fuel to useduring short workouts or all day races can be tricky.

60-90 minutes:
If you've been faithful withconsistent post-exercise refueling,you'll have a nice reservoir of fuel(muscle glycogen) available whenyou start. That means that minimalamount of calories will be necessaryduring your workout or race. Asingle serving of Hammer Gel 5 to10 minutes prior to the start shouldbe all you need. If you want torefuel during the workout or race,Hammer Gel, HEED, or a lightmix of Perpetuem will be perfectlyacceptable (regarding the latter, seeSpecial Notes below).

2-3 hours:
We consider workouts and racesin this time range to be in a grayarea, which means that you canuse either a carb + protein fuel(Sustained Energy, Perpetuem,ultra Hammer Gels) or a carbonly fuel (HEED, non-proteincontainingflavors of Hammer Gel).Base the selection on the following:

  • The type of exercise thatyou're doing. For example,running is a higher-impactand thus a moredigestivelychallenging type ofexercise than cycling.
  • The intensity ofthe effort. Higherintensity oftentimesmeans decreaseddigestive systemfunctioning.
  • The weather. The hotter theweather, the more compromisedthe digestive systembecomes.
  • The terrain. Lots ofclimbing while on thebike or during a runusually diminishesdigestivecapabilitiessomewhat.

3+ hours:
When exercisegoes beyond 2 to3 hours, you needboth carbohydratesAND protein in yourfuel. This is becauseduring prolongedbouts of exercise, 5to 15% of your caloricutilization comes fromprotein. This process,called gluconeogenesis,is unavoidable. If youdon't supply the needed proteinin your fuel, your body willliterally scavenge it from yourown muscle tissue. This musclebreakdown is called catabolism orprotein cannibalization. It cancause premature muscle fatiguedue to excess ammonia production,muscle depletion, and post-exercisesoreness. Hammer Nutrition'sprotein-containing fuels, SustainedEnergy and Perpetuem, are idealchoices for long-distance fueling.You can use them as your sole fuelfrom beginning to end, or you canuse them as your primary fuelfor roughly 2/3 to 3/4 of the time,augmented with other HammerNutrition fuels.

Remember, no matter the lengthof your exertion, some universalrules should always apply.Recover right by giving yourbody more carbs and proteinto restock glycogen stores.This will ensure you havethem replenished for nexttime. One should also rememberThe 3-Hour Rule and pledge tostop eating three hours priorto the event. Together, thesefueling protocols from HammerNutrition will help you reachpeak performance and have yourbest year yet!

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