BY DEAN KARNAZES
Standing at the starting line, I felt bloated, my stomach overstretched. Perhaps it was to be expected. For dinner the night before, I’d eaten an outsized bowl of pasta. That could have been part of the problem. The other part quite possibly could have had to do with my breakfast earlier in the morning, which consisted of a bagel with cream cheese, a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, and a stack of pancakes smothered in maple syrup. I needed the carbs, or so I was told, in preparation for the nine-mile race I was about to run.
The gun went off, and the pack surged forward. Everything went reasonably well for the first few miles. And then, quite abruptly, my condition began to deteriorate. My legs suddenly felt heavy, and my mind was in a fog. What was going on? I’d trained diligently for the race so I knew that wasn’t the cause. The only reasonable explanation, I thought, was my diet. I hadn’t consumed enough sugar.
By mile six, I found myself reduced to shuffling, the spring in my legs all but sprung. At mile seven, I started walking. The final couple of miles were spent in a humiliating walk/run just trying to get to the finish line. Next time, I thought, I should put more brown sugar in my oatmeal and more maple syrup on my pancakes. Such a rookie mistake I’d made.
This is what we endurance athletes were brainwashed to believe back then. Carbo loading was essential for peak performance so I continued down this path of pancakes and pasta.
Then, much to my delight, Gatorade started flooding the airwaves with their ads promoting the importance of carbs in an easy-to-consume beverage. In one 16 oz serving of Gatorade, I could get 34 grams of sugar. Perfect! I started swigging Gatorade by the case.
It’s surprising that I was able to keep going as long as I did. Not knowing any better, I thought I was doing everything perfectly. In 2008, I signed up for the 4 Desert Challenge. The format of these races was multi-day, six stages, typically 250 km in total, across the hottest, driest, windiest, and coldest deserts in the world. Oh, and they’re selfsupported, so you must carry everything you need in a pack (you are allotted a daily ration of water, thankfully).
Armed with my canisters of powdered Gatorade, I took up the challenge. During the Sahara Race, a particularly grueling run across endless mountains of soft and shifting sand, I found myself falling to pieces during the fifth day of racing, the notorious “long stage,” which at this event was a hundred scorching, merciless kilometers. At the midpoint, I found myself in lockstep with another athlete, Ryan Sandes of South Africa. We decided to share some miles together; and, as we ran, it was clear he had a reserve of energy, where I was slowly unraveling. On top of bonking, the sugary and overly sweetened Gatorade was making me nauseous.
“Would you like to try some of this?” Ryan offered graciously.
“Sure,” I said, having no idea what it was but knowing that nothing could be worse than what I was consuming. I unscrewed the cap from his flask and squeezed a swig in my mouth. Wow! It tasted different from anything I’d tried before. Slightly sweet, but not overpowering, and smooth and silky on the palate.
“What is this?” I asked him.
“It’s called Perpetuem, by Hammer Nutrition.”
That single slug of Perpetuem sustained me for an amazing duration. I was hooked.
I used Perpetuem® for the remaining races in the series and ended up winning the 4 Deserts Challenge. I also began to educate myself on proper fueling strategies rather than relying on glitzy TV commercials to tell me what to drink.
Turns out, not all carbs are created equal. Simple sugars, like those used in Gatorade and other so-called “sports drinks,” can do more harm than good. They can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, and the corresponding release of insulin can ultimately reduce the amount of energy available, resulting in a crash. Nothing like hitting the wall because of a sports drink that’s supposed to help you!
Hammer Nutrition products like Perpetuem and HEED® contain complex carbohydrates that are more slowly broken down and absorbed than simple sugars. This results in a longer lasting and more sustained release of energy.
Many of you reading this are wondering, “Why is Dean telling us this? It’s common knowledge, sports nutrition 101.”
I only wish everyone had this information. I’ve probably talked to more runners than anyone on earth (with the humble exception of Bart Yasso). My job entails traveling from one race and running event to the next, meeting and talking to people, giving talks, and signing books. It still amazes me how many people are unaware of the perils of refined sugar (even those running ultramarathons!).
And this is precisely why I am so pleased to be joining the Hammer Nutrition family as an ambassador. Not only do I use and believe in Hammer Nutrition products, but I also want to help educate and inform fellow athletes about the importance of proper hydration and fueling strategies. Also, beyond fueling and hydration, Hammer Nutrition offers the highest quality supplements available to endurance athletes, and I always learn something about supplementation with each new issue of Endurance News. Hammer Nutrition truly is a single source destination in my quest toward becoming my best animal.
As we move into 2021, I’m looking forward to the future with promise and enthusiasm. We’re transitioning into a post- Covid-19 world, and the days ahead are looking brighter. There will undoubtedly be challenges yet to overcome, but Hammer Nutrition gives me the strength and endurance to keep hammering.