I think my stomach can only handle energy gel for about 6 hours. I have done several endurance and ultra events. Often my stomach is the problem in the later stage and I get incredibly nauseous. I've tried to eliminate the variables such as going out too hard, etc. I think the one constant is that in the events where my stomach shut down, I had fueled ONLY ON ENERGY GEL. (IM Austria, AR50 2012, AR50 2013). Yesterday, during the AR50, my stomach shut down at mile 40, and eventually everything came up by mile 48. Unfortunately, I couldn't start replenishing since I still felt nauseous. In IM AZ, I used Infinit exclusively on the bike. And on the run used 90% gel, but, again, that was for less than 6 hours. And during a double century, I used a combination of things. I have had trouble with liquid fuel like Infinit during cooler months since I just can't seem to force myself to drink in enough of it. So I've faded during longer workouts. I know each person's stomach is different. Mine definitely is on the more sensitive side. That's why I've shied away from using solid foods. I've done lots of half IM and am fine with gel only, but those take less than 6 hours. Have any of you had similar experiences? If so, what changes worked for you? Thanks.
I've shied away from using solid foods.
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I am not help - I can eat anything. I eat 20-25 gels in a 50 mile race. They become yucky/gaggy at some point, but it does not stop the consumption. I do not get that yucky / gaggy feeling if I mix in something like Endurox or perpetuem to the event. If it is cool, I just mix them with a lot less water. If it is hot, I go with 20 ounces of h20 for 300 calories, cool - down to 10 ounces of h20.
I can eat solids if the pace is slow enough (24 hour races)
I have only had a bad stomache a couple of times, but that was because my electrolytes were messed up.
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I've tried to eliminate the variables such as going out too hard, etc.
What are the other variables you've eliminated? I struggle with this also and am trying to figure out what causes it in me. I think falling behind in electrolytes may be one problem that I've had. Ginger chews seem to help some and I felt better after a few tums in my last race.
People may be sensitive to different things. You mention Infinit, which appears to be a custom mix, but only in 3 flavors - all fruity. Many gels are fruity, sweet. I wouldn't last 6 hrs on that, but can handle lots of other things.
Have you tried a less strong flavor or a different amount of whatever in Infinit? What about other brands / flavors of sports drinks? Have you tried Peanut Butter GU? What about something like chocolate slimfast or equivalent? I'm not a heavy sweater so in our cooler temperatures, I need to get calories besides sports drinks. Slimfast has more than my sports drink, BUT it's not fruity tasting so really hits the spot.
I have a history of lots of GI issues. This year, none so far. The changes I've made:
1) I use Stinger Waffles. Kinda like food, but the texture is nice to me and disolve easily in the stomach.
2) Clif or Stinger chews. Still gel-like, but not as harsh and nasty.
3) Main change: I add plain old sugar polymer solution to my water with a dash of electrolytes. I barely taste the carbs and the elec. gives it a hint of lemon flavor. There is a product called CarboMax that uses a variety of long chain sugars and is flavorless at Nutrabio: http://www.nutrabio.com/Products/carbomax_maltodextrin.htm. I just mix up 250 kcals worth and dump in my bottle now.
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Have you tried the Infinit napalm gel? I replaced my custom formula with that for running and to me it's great. I can't do solid during running either so I've gone back and forth with gels and drink and I've settled on the Napalm gel.
For cold weather is always a problem as well to drink enough but I just take a pre-determined number of drinks via my hydration bladder no matter what. I've tried chews but they don't sit well with me running, too solid for me.
I rarely have problems with my stomach. However there is a limit to the amount of gels that I can eat during a race. The longer the body runs the less able it is to process and digest foods. A number of variables can affect the stomach, from the types of food eaten before and during an event to the number of calories taken in. Gels are specially designed to be easily digested by the gut but even they can cause problems if your electrolytes are outta whack or you've taken in too many calories.
Personally I've only experienced stomach problems on a few occasions. The first is because I ate too much at an aid station. the body can only process between 250 to 300 calories and hour. Some people can do more; some less. I try to keep to this as a guideline and have not regretted it yet. The second was at a 100 with high temps. By mile 40 everything sweet got me sick. I stopped everything and began taking electrolytes and water and within an hour I was back to eating gels and feeling good.
Without knowing the variable of the situations (HR, weather, pre race meal, race foods, and whatnot) it's very hard to give you an answer to why after 6 hours your stomach stops. I've learned a lot by reading everything I can from Sunny Blende. She is an ultra runner and a sports nutritionals. you can read a series of articles she's published at: http://www.ultrarunning.com/ultra/9/index.shtml
Good point - In many 24 hour races I have processed 500 per hour without an issue, I tried 600 / hour one race and I had issues.
I think 300 per hour is a mid-point of "normal"
Same thing with liquid - More than you can process and it causes problems.
The first is because I ate too much at an aid station. the body can only process between 250 to 300 calories and hour. Some people can do more; some less.
I have a sensitive stomach, too, and it took me awhile to figure out what works and what doesn't.
I changed from GU drink to Succeed and have stuck with that. The flavor is light and no too sweet.
I DON'T use gu's or chews with Succeed. They just don't mix.
I can eat peanut butter just fine in my regular life, but it doesn't set well with me when running. I stick with more mild foods like bananas, potatoes, salties. I'll throw in some candy once in awhile if I haven't had any problems.
You may need to add solid foods to your routine. Try it, you might like it! My current favorites: Aussie bites, chocolate covered graham crackers, turkey/avo sandwiches, trail mix w/dried fruits (raisins, cranberries). It's tough sometimes at aid stations during races, but trial and error has gone a long way toward making things so much better.
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+1 for Succeed Clip2. Zero stomach problems for me.
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A small what NOT to eat that I just read on Abi Meadows blog. This took place during Vol State (well over six hours), and resulted in massive stomach problems.
I had stopped at McDonald’s for a dinner to go and had added a couple of apple pies thinking I would want them for breakfast while traveling between cities. I had later taken a nap at a construction site in a nice sandy area. I had noticed a few ants in the area, but they didn’t seem to be interested in me so I curled up and went to sleep using my ruck as a pillow. After an hour and a half I woke and decided to continue on. I figured it was a good idea to eat one of the apple pies and took one out of the bag. I don’t use a light of any kind at night on roads and figured my hands were dirty so I opened the box and sort of tapped the pie out into my mouth. I noticed it was really sandy and wondering how I managed to get sand inside the box, inside a bag, inside my ruck I decided to just wash down each bite with water and not chew so I wouldn’t get sand in my teeth. This worked and I didn’t give it another thought until an hour or so after dawn when I decided to eat the other pie. I opened the box and it was a solid mass of ants. I quickly dumped the pie into my hand and proceeded to shake and blow on the pie until all the ants were gone with a “you are NOT getting my breakfast you little buggers” and then ate the pie. It was only an hour or so later that it dawned on me that I had not eaten a box of sand with my pie in the middle of the night, but a box of ants. I figured they were good for a protein boost and that there wasn’t anything I could do about it now so I just kept moving. Anyway, it appears that my system is not geared for the consumption of ants, at least not in the quantity that I consumed and not alive.
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I've used the Infinit Nutrition custom-mixed stuff and have the flavor very, very weak. Works for me.
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Lots of good advice!
With me, it's often too much sweetness of the gels, and lack of electrolytes that gets me nauseated. I eat gels also in long races, but not too many, and I alternate them with other foods. I have tried using perpetuem exclusively, and found that it can also make me nauseous after a while, it feels to "greasy" or "heavy" for me, and I do better when I alternate the perpetuem with Sustained Energy, which contains less fat. I mix the perpetuem/sustained energy to a thicker consistency, like pancake batter, and sip every once in a while on the bottle, and add a gel when I feel I need more energy. Every 20 miles (or more), I add a protein drink that does not contain much else (I'm very sensitive to fat when running), like the "proasis" drinks.
I had to try out many flavors and brands of gels to find out what I tolerate best (CarbBoom Apple Cinnamon or Strawberry, and Hammer Espresso).
It works better for me if I consume the protein not regularly throughout the race, but in batches on slower stretches of the course.
I also eat pretzels and occasionally a few chips in between, the saltier taste works wonders for me. Also watermelon (or cantaloupe) and oranges get me out of the nausea fairly quickly.
On average, I consume about 250-300 calories per hour.
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