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5 Fueling Myths, Busted!

Don't be myth-lead... avoid these common mistakes to achieve race day success


Hammer Nutrition products mentioned in this article:
Hammer Gel, HEED, Perpetuem, Sustained Energy, Endurolytes, Endurolytes Fizz, Endurolytes Extreme

Myths arise when humans attempt to make sense of mystery, to compartmentalize complex ideas. They persist because they are compelling and at some level appealing. Exercise fueling is no exception, and athletes often suffer from poorer than expected performance because they follow well intentioned, but ultimately misguided, advice. We're here to guide you through the wasteland of bad science and misinformation. Here are five common fueling myths, BUSTED!

Myth #1: Drink as much fluid as possible during exercise.

Wrong! Drinking too much fluid during exercise will impair performance, and could even result in potentially life-threatening water intoxication. Instead of trying to replace all of fluids lost during exercise, drink an amount that your body can readily process and that will keep you adequately hydrated.

RECOMMENDATION: 20-25 ounces (approx. 590-740 milliliters) of fluid per hour. Lighter athletes in cooler conditions might need only16-18 ounces per hour; while larger athletes in warmer temperatures might need up to 28 ounces hourly. Remember that the risk of dilutional hyponatremia increases substantially when an athlete repeatedly consumes more than 30 fluid ounces per hour.

Myth #2: A candy bar, or simple sugar fuel, is an ideal energy source for racing.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Neither candy bars nor sports fuels that contain simple sugars (fructose, sucrose, glucose, etc.) provide adequate energy during exercise - and they certainly won't help you reach the finish line faster. The truth is, they cause energy crashes, stomach distress, and failing performances. Candy and simple sugar-based products must be consumed at very calorically weak concentrations to be digested efficiently.

RECOMMENDATION: Fuel with complex carbohydrates, preferably maltodextrin. To get the proper amount of easily digested calories, rely on fuels that use complex carbohydrates (maltodextrins) only, with no added simple sugar. Hammer Gel and HEED are ideal for workouts and races up to 2 hours, sometimes longer under certain circumstances. For longer workouts and races, select Perpetuem or Sustained Energy as your primary fuel. The maltodextrin in these products provides rapid, sustained energy - without the flash and crash of candy or simple sugar fuels.

Myth #3: To stay energized during endurance exercise, stoke your body with at least 300 calories per hour to replace all the calories you're burning.

Wrong! Athletes who try to replace "calories out" with an equal or near equal amount of "calories in" usually suffer digestive maladies, painful cramping, and poorer than expected performance. Body fat and glycogen stores easily fill the gap between energy output and fuel intake, so it's detrimental overkill to attempt calorie-for-calorie replacement.

RECOMMENDATION: 150-180 calories per hour is typically sufficient for the average size endurance athlete (approximately 160-165 pounds). Lighter weight athletes (<120 -125 lbs.) may need less, while heavier athletes (>190 lbs.) may need slightly more on occasion.

Myth #4: Salt tablets will help prevent cramping during exercise.

Nope - wrong! Athletes who fail to replenish electrolytes will impair their performance, and may incur painful and debilitating cramping and spasms. But salt is not the answer! Salt tablets (or sodium loading in any form): 1) provide only sodium and chloride - just two of the electrolytes your body requires; and 2) they can oversupply sodium and overwhelm your body's natural ability to regulate this electrolyte - with potentially dangerous consequences.

RECOMMENDATION: Replenish electrolytes with chemical-free, highly effective Endurolytes. Endurolytes and Endurolytes Extreme capsules and Endurolytes Fizz are an inexpensive, easy-to-dose, and easy-to-consume way to get the full spectrum of necessary electrolytes. Use Endurolytes consistently during workouts and races to fulfill this crucial fueling need.

Myth #5: Fuel up with a hearty breakfast about an hour before your race or workout.

Umm... sorry, NOT a good idea! Far too many athletes consume excess calories of the wrong kind, and at the wrong time, before a race or workout. The goal of pre-exercise calorie consumption is to top off your liver glycogen, which has been depleted during sleep. You can't add anything to muscle glycogen at this time, so stuffing yourself is counterproductive, especially if you've got an early morning workout or race start. A sure way to deplete hard-earned glycogen stores too rapidly is to eat a meal (or an energy bar, gel, or sports drink) an hour or two before the race.

RECOMMENDATION: Consume 300-400 calories, no later than 3 hours before exercise. Consume easily digested, low-fiber complex carbohydrates (not oatmeal) and a small amount of protein. Good choices include a banana and 1 cup of yogurt, Cream of Rice cereal topped with one serving Hammer Gel, or half a skinless baked potato topped with plain yogurt. If it's not logistically feasible to finish your meal 3 hours before the event, have a small amount (100) of easily digested complex carbohydrates, such as a Hammer Gel, 5-10 minutes before the start. Either of these strategies will help top off liver glycogen stores without negatively affecting the way your body burns its muscle glycogen. HN

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