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Nutrition Products for Endurance Athletes, Part 1

Nutritional products can come in many shapes and sizes with a huge range of price tags.

Walk into any drug store, GNC, or bike shop for that matter and you're likely to find yourself drowning in a sea of nutritional products. This is good for consumers as there is a ton of competition in the category, but it can certainly make things confusing. Where to even start?

Well, like many other things (
ski waxing for one), you could obsess over nutrition products or develop a simple system that works for you and stick with it - yielding no surprises.

I like to encourage athletes to break nutrition products down into four basic categories for simplicity sake: vitamins, fuel for use during activity, supplements, and recovery drinks. Note that there are infinitely more products out there than this, but for now, I'm not concerned about them personally, nor should most recreational endurance athletes be. Also note that I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, this advice is simply practical advise I've learned through decades of training, racing, and working in the endurance industry.

may seem relatively self explanatory, yet there are more to them than meets the eye. and they're not all created equal. Of course, we'd all be best off simply eating top quality food with the nutrients our bodies need, but vitamins help to fill in the gaps that we all have in our diets.

Did you know that a good portion of vitamins sold in the US aren't even absorbed by our bodies?
That's right, when the poor person at the city sewer is filtering out all of the "stuff" that we flush down, they're pulling out thousands of little vitamin pills that people took with the best of intentions.

One very simple unscientific test that I have known people to do that want to test if vitamins will be absorbed is to simply drop a vitamin tablet into a glass of vinegar for 20 minutes. If the tablet is dissolved, your body will probably absorb it. It turns out that vinegar has a similar PH to the acids in our stomachs.

When it comes right down to it, athletes are best off keeping their vitamin routine simple and consistent. A good multi-vitamin (sometimes male or female specific due to varying iron content) is all nearly everyone needs. One specific vitamin that many successful racers I know have done very well with is the First Endurance Multi Vitamin. This is a simple product, packed with what athletes need, and easily absorbed by our digestive systems.

Fuel for use during activity, is simply what most people refer to as energy bars/gels/blocks/drink. These products are simply put, fuel that enables your body to continue exerting, hopefully at a high level.

This is likely the most packed category in terms of options for the athlete. There are many great products here that I won't make any specific recommendations. The bottom line is that athletes need fuel in regular increments, particularly during longer workouts and races.

As you are ingesting this stuff, you will do so most willingly if you like the taste of the product and it is convenient.
So, in my opinion, experiment, and try some different products out there. Figure out what tastes good to you, what you can take while working out at a high intensity without feeling sick, what is easy to use, etc. Don't forget to consider different forms of fuel for different purposes; for example, some people prefer bars for slow training sessions, blocks for intensity workouts, and gels or drinks for races.

As I mentioned earlier, I won't make any suggestions other than to say that everyone should have a case of
Salted Nut Rolls in their cupboard!

Stay tuned to CyclovaXC.com for Part 2 of this series on Nutrition Products for Endurance Athletes!

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