Nutrition used in endurance events such as marathons, cycling and swimming is rapidly changing. The days of sugary caffeinated treats could be numbered. Athletes are looking for more sustainable healthy options.
Last weekend I ran a 34 mile mountain ultra race where I tested out three unusual fueling options. They all worked quite well for me and I’d like to share my results so others can comment on and help to further refine these options. This is what I used:
These fuels are light, energy rich and prevent the body from ripping itself apart. There is no caffeine and a absolutely minimum carbohydrate content.
Ketones – As we burn fat our body produces ketones which our muscles and brain can run on. This is very clean fuel. The trouble is you need to be on a low carbohydrate diet for several weeks to be good at this process. You can shortcut that and drink exogenous ketones. I use KetoCaNa because they taste delicious (orange flavor). 1 teaspoon will last me two hours while racing.
Branch Chain Amino Acids – These are also pretty tasty and come from the bodybuilding world. BCAA’s are absolutely critical to use when training fasted for multiple hours. Otherwise your body will turn on you, go catabolic and start tearing up muscles for sugar. One teaspoon every two hours has been working for me.
MCT Oil – This is a refined coconut oil that can convert energy in as little as 3 steps directly into ATP which your muscles can use. Sugar takes 26 steps! I suggest putting the MCT oil into a spray bottle and using up to four squirts every hour. I also added one drop of peppermint essential oil to mine which turned it into a delicious breath spray. This is an oil so keep in mind that going overboard can quickly cause gut irritation.
I botched up too many races by trying to eat solid foods which left me choking and dehydrated. Chia seed mixed with 2c water, 1tsp ketones and 1tsp branch chain aminos is what I carry in my race bottle. By keeping my heart rate down and utilizing these techno fuels I was able to avoid bonking and finished strong passing 88 other runners. I also found it incredibly easy to run at over 10,000′ of elevation even though I had not been trying anywhere near that high. Ketones are excellent at elevation as they require less oxygen per unit of energy.