Monday, June 24, 2013

Calorie Concentration...What a difference!

Nutrition is the forth leg of triathlon; sometimes the determining factor in a race.  I have experienced both good and bad nutrition during a race throughout the years.  The trickiest part can be, when you think you have it dialed, it may need to be tweeked from race to race depending on the race conditions. I have also found that my nutrition has needed to be tweeked from season to season.  As I have gotten stronger, my nutrition plan needed to be adjusted slightly to accommodate my calorie needs.

With all that being said, there are certainly nutrition no-no's. One of the biggest mistakes I made and learned the hard way, was making my calorie bottles too concentrated.  In an ideal world, you want to keep your calorie bottles below an 8% concentration during really hot races;  it can be 8% concentration during cool races and can go up to 12% concentration during cold races.  If your calorie bottles are too concentrated, your stomach most likely will shut down and not allow you to absorb the calories you are ingesting.  Resulting in either throwing up or risking GI distress.  This is what happened to me at Kansas 70.3 last year (2012).

My Calorie bottles were too concentrated, so half way through the bike, I was feeling bloated.  Shortly thereafter, I was spitting up some of what I was ingesting.  At the time, I didn't know what was causing it.  I naturally backed off my intake until that bloated feeling went away.  Sure enough, shortly after I started ingesting more from my calorie bottles, I started to have the same symptoms, bloating and burping up what I was ingesting.  Again, I waited for a bit before I took in more from my bottles.  It was a catch 22, I knew I needed the calories from those bottles, but I couldn't seem to keep them down.  Needless to say, I came off the bike not feeling great.  After the first loop of the run, I faded fast and was doing everything I could to get more calories in me; it was too late at that point.  Since I wasn't absorbing what I was ingesting on the bike, I went into the run too depleted and too far behind on calories to be able to make up for the deficit.  I got through the run, but it was certainly ugly. I lost a place on the run, when I could have potentially gained a place, if I had the right nutrition plan; finished 4th

 Many people immediately jump to the conclusion that it was the nutrition product vs. a nutrition mistake.  I knew it had to of been a mistake on my end vs the product.  Prior to Kansas, and during years past, I didn't have any problems with First Endurance EFS; I actually love how well First Endurance products fuel me for training and racing.   I made the mistake of adjusted my nutrition plan by increasing my calorie intake per hour the wrong way.  I needed more calories per hour, Just should not have put all my calories into my water bottles, making my bottles too concentrated.

I immediately made an adjustment to my nutrition plan fr my next race.  I decreased the amount of calories per bottle and supplemented with EFS Liquid shot (gel), to make sure I was getting the appropriate amount of calories an hour.  The trick with gels is, you need to make sure you drink a good amount of water after taking a gel.  It dilutes the concentration of the gel and makes it easier to absorb.  Not to mention the fact that you are getting more water in that way.  Dehydration can lead to a 30% decrease in energy.

My race at Kansas 70.3 this year (2013) reiterated the importance of a good nutrition plan and calorie concentration.  This year I made sure my calorie bottles were below 8% concentration and I supplemented with EFS Liquid shot (gel) for additional calories.  My nutrition plan was great.  I never felt low on energy, I was strong throughout the race.  Just as an example, my run at Kansas 70.3 last year (2012) was 10min slower than this year (2013); same course, similar conditions, and same nutrition products (First Endurance). What changed was how I used the First Endurance products.


  1. I am just now experimenting with EFS powder and love the electrolytes and gentle flavor it has ... like it really well. Never tried the EFS Liquid shots though. My nutrition is generally 4 bottles, 1 electrolyte mix, 2 EFS mix, and 1 plain water for doing a powergel about every 30-45 minutes. So far that works great on the bike. Never done the ironman but signed up so I don't know exactly how I will handle the nutrition on that.

  2. Can you explain the 8% and 12% concentrations? How much EFS powder per ounce of water? I find that 1 scoop of EFS in a 24-28 ounce bottle is just about right. Two scoops of EFS per bottle can be overpowering.