Published on April 7, 2012
Last week, at Ironman 70.3 Galveston, Lance Armstrong decimated the field on the bike, but then slipped to a disappointing seventh place finish due to hydration and nutrition problems during the run.
So why does a guy like Lance Armstrong have gastrointestinal issues during a triathlon?
And what should you be eating during a triathlon?
In today's interview with Dr. Stacy Sims, you'll find out what to eat during a triathlon, and also learn fascinating new information about fueling that is going to change many of the recommendations that I personally make, and the way that I eat and drink during Ironman.
Dr. Stacy Sims is an Innovative Exercise Physiologist, and a Nutrition Scientist of Thermoregulation, Hydration, and Performance Nutrition, and also involved with “Kai Nutrition“. She is an accomplished athlete in her own right, having ridden as an elite women's cyclist, won multiple Xterra events, and even raced as a pro triathlete. Her cutting edge research with athletes has led her to work with the likes of Garmin, RadioShack and Lance Armstrong where she has helped athletes of all abilities find the extra edge through science.
During my discussion with Stacy, I ask her:
How common are GI problems among runners and endurance athletes, in terms of rough percentages of athletes who have some kind of GI distress during a race?
What is going on physiologically during intense exercise or dehydration that can cause gut issues?
Can use of any supplements or medications aggravate this issue even more?
Does exercise, and specifically a form of exercise like running, cause changes in your gut muscles or the way your intestines work?
Are these type of GI issues more prevalent in men or women, and if so, why?
What are the most common mistakes athletes make in terms of race day meal planning, and are there specific compounds (lactose, fructose, etc.) that should be avoided?
What do you think is the best carbohydrate fuel during exercise, and why?
Do you think there are any issues with gels and if so, are there better solutions, like blocs, chomps or jelly beans?
What about sucralose and other artificial sweeteners?
There are a variety of concentrated sport drinks on courses, such as Powerbar Performance, Gatorade, etc. Are these OK to drink?
Do you think that endurance athletes should be using electrolytes, or would you agree more with the philosophy of Tim Noakes that the body does a pretty good job maintaining plasma sodium levels? If we do use electrolytes, are certain forms better than others?
Any final tips that can be using in a pinch to stop GI issues?
So what were some of my biggest takeaways and changes that I will personally make in Half and Full Ironman triathlons, based on this discussion?
1) During races, begin using green tea extract, delta-E, or 5 hour energy – rather than coffee or caffeine tablets.
2) During the run, switch a sucrose or glucose based solution, and avoid fructose/maltodextrin sources. I'm doing more research on this right now, because here are the current gel options on the market (notice that Clif uses “brown rice syrup” which is basically sucrose).
3) If I do use any Powerbar Perform or GU Brew drinks during an event, dissolve 3 parts water to 1 part solution.
4) Include 10-20g protein prior to races, or better yet, use a pre-digested aminos source such as MAP capsules
5) Avoid any electrolyte capsules or solutions that use chloride, and instead opt for carbonate, along with a trace minerals solution consumed during week of race and before race.
6) Keep Peppermint Tums on hand during run.
Questions, comments or feedback? Leave them below.