Sunday, January 21, 2007

Eating disorder

Date: Jan. 21
Mileage: 29.0
January mileage: 543.5
Temperature upon departure: 35

One thing I have never figured out how to do is eat well while bicycling. It sounds so simple. Even sitting here tonight, contemplating turning the pedals and munching down some Power Bars, I think "that sounds simple enough." For some reason, it never works as well in practice. It's not that I don't want to eat. It's not that I am trying to lose a pound a day by completing 8-hour rides on a couple hundred calories (although wouldn't it be nice if it were that simple?). No ... I don't eat because my body tells me I can't.

It does this in several ways. When I'm cycling, most of my normal triggers turn off. I can ride and ride and ride, and as long as I keep riding, I will never feel hungry. My blood sugar will crash. My hands will start shaking. But I'll never feel hungry. However, I do eat, to ward off the hand shakes. In these situations, eating anything is about as much fun as chugging down Alka Seltzer. So I stick with things that are fast and easy and pack a lot of calories in small bites. I like to eat things with lots of sugar, because it digests so quickly. I stick pretty much exclusively to peanut butter sandwiches, granola/Power bars, and fruit leather/fruit snacks. I also like Gatorade, but drinking it exclusively makes me sick to my stomach. So if I only have one bottle/bladder, water it is.

All of this eating usually has the short-term positive effect of an energy surge followed by a long, debilitating stretch of nausea. I've tried some remedies to ward this off. Pepto Bismal pills; antacid pills; drinking more water after eating; drinking less water after eating; experimenting with different foods (I keep giving Gu and other gels second chances, but they usually only serve to worsen the situation because I find the texture so repulsive.) And you know what's worked best for me? PB&J, Power Bars and fruit snacks (and sometimes turkey jerky) ... the longer between doses, the better.

I have been interested in giving liquid nutrition a try. But Hammer Heed and other products are pretty expensive. I can't really afford to use them throughout my training, and it would be idiotic to pull a complete switch during a race. My attempts with Gatorade haven't been so successful. The caloric intake is still pretty small, and drinking exclusively Gatorade only seems to prolong the nauseated feeling once it hits. So I usually go for the tried and true method of avoiding food while on the bicycle. I'm sure it affects my performance, but so far, it hasn't affected my health.

One thing I've learned about eating and riding is that everyone has their own methods and foods that work for them. I'm wondering if anyone out there also has to deal with what seems to be an unfair amount of gastrointestinal stress while riding, and, if so, what do you do to get around it? I just have a sensitive tummy that was raised on a fairly sugary diet, doesn't take too kindly to digesting large amounts of fat during workouts (really ... cheese and nuts are out), and doesn't seem to know what to do with technology food with ingredients like leucine and maltodextrin (but loves loves loves caffeine.) It seems all of these traits fall outside the "normal" range, so I've never found a catch-all solution. But I keep looking.

18 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:59 AM

    Ensure Plus (old people drink), Poptarts and clifblocks are my new standards.

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  2. Agree with Chris...ClifBloks are great! Salted nut rolls also work for me. A few things that help me get - and keep - the food down: Ease up on your effort when it's time to eat. Sit up and ride no-handed, let your stomach relax and enjoy "food time" as break time. If that still doesn't work, get off the bike. If you're riding/racing for 6, 12 or 24 hours, a few minutes off the bike to re-energize isn't going to hurt...and may help in the long run.

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  3. Anonymous7:55 AM

    you could try one of those "two-sided" water bottles that dispenses both water and gel and would permit you to modulate the concentration of the gel by using the water to "cut" it.

    they're called gel-bots, www.gel-bot.com

    or maybe you could try soup. in a bottle. you might have to blender the shit a little beforehand.

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  4. Anonymous7:59 AM

    The potential for your calories to freeze up during your Susitna 100 race adds another twist to simply getting enough calories. I am a big fan of Hammer Perpetuem in the summer but it would be tough to keep a mix if it in liquid form AND carry water at the same time. Bite sized snacks that are edible even if frozen seem like the way to go.

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  5. JoeDell8:00 AM

    I like taking cold cooked bacon with me on winter excusions.

    How about chocolate milk?

    Have you tried making your own energy bars or cookies with extra stuff in them like protein powder and cran-raisins.

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  6. Anonymous9:41 AM

    I think you experiencing nausea as a result of low blood sugar, I think you just do not feel it until you eat and you keep it until your blood sugar stabilizes. Clifblock or shotblocks would be good to munch on sort of continuously so when you stop for you PB&J it does not hit you so hard.

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  7. I use enervitine shots while riding and racing.

    When racing, I make sure that my first snack is something solid before I switch to gels and liquids.

    Eat early, and eat small amounts often. You're becoming nauseous because your stomach is trying to do too much at once. Don't let yourself sugar crash in the first place.

    Fluids and foods are the same. Drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry.

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  8. Before riding I like caffeine, sugar (some sweet like breakfast bars) and sometimes some Clif bars. Also, have you tried Matisse And Jacks www.matisseandjacks.com ? You can make your own recipes and it tastes delicious. I also like the Clif Shot Bloks they are great and do not have the same texture as the other energy shots.

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  9. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Agreed on pop tarts, then there are the Jelly Belly sport beans....mmmmm, good! Oatmeal cookies, Peanut butter cookiesand if you have support, there's always Elden's chicken soup thing (or a stainless steel thermos of it stuck in your bag if you don't.)! Stanley makes a great thermos that'll keep the soup hot even in subzero weather for several hrs and could be swapped out at the next checkpoint. Just a thought!

    I also agree on not letting the sugars crash, eating early, often and small amounts. I definitely understand about GI upset, remember, my GI tract is modified and I have severe difficulty with sugars and fats.

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  10. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Boost's ensures are great and 200-300 cals + some protein ect in a 6 oz serv

    Not a fan of the clif bloks texture thing for me =)

    Try eating a little bit even on a short ride to work or the store to help yourself get used to things in your belly =)

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  11. Anonymous4:25 PM

    Jill, I see the GU gels haven't worked for you. I at first couldn't stand the flavors, but did a good deal of randonneuring using vanilla GU as my primary on-bike food. I bought it in the 5 oz packs and transfered these to squeeze bottles. I'd down about 1/4 of a bottle every half hour, getting a 5 oz bottle to hold me for 2 hrs of riding (fast touring pace, 170 lb male.) Once I'd done that for a few bottles I found my furnace was fully fired up and could tolerate almost anything as a food source, as long as I kept the amounts moderate. Aside from GU, the other foodstuff I tolerated over long rides were Clif Nectar bars. Didn't require the jaw-numbing chewing of so many other bars, and good flavors to boot. Good luck!

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  12. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Jill, I see the GU gels haven't worked for you. I at first couldn't stand the flavors, but did a good deal of randonneuring using vanilla GU as my primary on-bike food. I bought it in the 5 oz packs and transfered these to squeeze bottles. I'd down about 1/4 of a bottle every half hour, getting a 5 oz bottle to hold me for 2 hrs of riding (fast touring pace, 170 lb male.) Once I'd done that for a few bottles I found my furnace was fully fired up and could tolerate almost anything as a food source, as long as I kept the amounts moderate. Aside from GU, the other foodstuff I tolerated over long rides were Clif Nectar bars. Didn't require the jaw-numbing chewing of so many other bars, and good flavors to boot. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous4:30 PM

    Jill, I see the GU gels haven't worked for you. I at first couldn't stand the flavors, but did a good deal of randonneuring using vanilla GU as my primary on-bike food. I bought it in the 5 oz packs and transfered these to squeeze bottles. I'd down about 1/4 of a bottle every half hour, getting a 5 oz bottle to hold me for 2 hrs of riding (fast touring pace, 170 lb male.) Once I'd done that for a few bottles I found my furnace was fully fired up and could tolerate almost anything as a food source, as long as I kept the amounts moderate. Aside from GU, the other foodstuff I tolerated over long rides were Clif Nectar bars. Didn't require the jaw-numbing chewing of so many other bars, and good flavors to boot. Good luck!

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  14. Anonymous7:26 PM

    old fashioned granola bars, eat a little bit every few minutes for about 10 minutes. Bananas and pretzels, too.

    I also have a hard time with any drink or bar that has a ton of refined sugar. Clifshot drink mix has been ok so far, too.

    Good luck!

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  15. Organic Sesame Tamari Rice Cakes. Try freezing one of those (I don't think it will). Spread with peanut butter & honey if you will.

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  16. Have a similar problem... don't feel hungry but bonk. Can't eat solid food while riding, but need the calories. I have found that 1st Endurance products provide better absorbed nutrients than Gatorade, and the post-ride recovery drink is by far the best. While riding, I like the Carb Boom! brand gel... just fruit, a little bit of salt, a complex carb sugar and natural preservatives. Tastes great, goes down easy. Need to keep it under a leg warmer or inside a jacket pocket to keep from freezing, but is by far a superior taste to the corn-syrup filled gels. (I find the banana-peach gel to be a bit grainy, but it tastes and smells awesome!, Kiwi-Strawberry is my fav tho) Good luck finding something that works... everyone's body reacts in a unique way when stressed to the level we take it. I know a guy who stops at every Mic-E-D'es along the way to grab a $0.39 burger until the next one he sees... I'd puke if I ate that during a ride :)

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  17. Jill,

    We have a product made here North of 60 that might be of interest, called Bold Rush. It's been tested in a lot of extreme Northern races.

    Regards,
    Anthony

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  18. I don't race (I did go through natural child birth 5 times.lol.) so I don't know how helpful I can be for you, but I've found that by adding complex carbs really helps in evening out energy levels.
    I've also avoided the shakes by diluting 100 percent fruit juice with water.

    Good luck!

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