I have starting to get a bit nervous that I haven't figured out a nutrition plan to my liking for my upcoming half-ironman. Nutrition must be the hardest thing in the world to figure out because everyone is SO different in terms of what their system's can handle.
I am going to be real specific with brands here, not to build or tear down just to state what is working for me. I am not sponsored by anyone or paid for any kind words. Neither am I trained in sports nutrition. Just what's working.
I have tried Hammer Perpetuum and it worked early in my triathlon racing. All of a sudden, one race, I just couldn't stomach it anymore.
I have tried using water and bonk breakers. Worked ok as I liked using "real" food. Especially on the bike. I would use gels then during the run.
One race I lost my gel and took in some gatorade, though I have never trained nor used it. Both gels and gatorade will only work on the short term with me. I experience lots of bloating and energy surging and fallings. No GI issues but I certainly don't feel great.
This training cycle (Jan- present) I planned and started using Poweraid Perform as it is the fuel used in Ironman events. The decision was made to try to use the nutrition on the course as it makes life less complicated on race day. The main problem I had with Perform was it seemed to have too much sodium for my body to tolerate as I would gain weight with each sweat test. As my bike time increased, so did my bloating. I didn't have a lot of discomfort but just didn't feel well or have a lot of energy. My response was then to take in a gel every 1/2 hour but that DID make me feel unwell with such a surge of sugar. The bottom-ing out though was worse. And the disappointing part was just recently finding out that Ironman will no longer have Perform at their events but Gatorade Endurance. It is very expensive and not the easiest right now to get our hands on.
I didn't know what to do until I stumbled across another triathlete, who talked of UCAN and the benefits of the superstarch that doesn't have you on the sugar roller coaster. It is kind to the GI tract and gives consistent energy. It wasn't the easiest to find in Canada and I didn't have the full product line to choose from, but I did order a couple products; the 750 ml plain superstarch, a single serving of cranberry, raspberry, a single serving of the orange and the vanilla cream with protein.
I have been using the products for a couple weeks now for workouts lasting more than an hour. To get optimal results in your workout, I have found that consuming the UCAN 30 min prior is best. I then drink water through my run or bike. UCAN seems to have some lag time in the sense that you don't get the instant pop of energy and when you have been using gels or candy and get that instant energy, this is certainly different. As I have adapted though, I am appreciating the consistent energy. I haven't experienced the bloating or any stomach issues. UCAN is an easy product to drink in my opinion. It does settle a bit so the bottle needs to be shaken up a bit before having a drink. It is worse for settling with the plain UCAN but the other flavours don't need much of a shake.
My rule of thumb is to add a scoop for each hour I anticipate exercising for. So a bike ride of 3 hours means I add 3 scoops to a large water bottle and take 3 additional water bottles with me and to the trainer I go. Just to back up a bit- I get up mix up some protein UCAN (1 scoop 3/4 bottle water) and ingest that while getting dressed, bike tires pumped, movie or tv set up, mix up my other bottle of UCAN and additional water bottles. Then when I am ready to get on the bike, it has been close to 1/2 hour since having the first bottle. A 10 min warm up and I am ready to rock and roll.
I also like that whatever product (UCAN) that I don't finish during my exercise session, I add a little ice to it or more cold water and it is a great recovery drink also.
Food for thought. Happy training!