8 DAYS OF HELL
The CAPE EPIC IS MORE THAN A RACE. IT IS AN EXTREME TEST OF ENDURANCE, IN WHICH “NUTRITIONAL BODY MANAGEMENT” PLAYS A GREATER ROLE IN SUCCESS THAN RACING TALENT.
In other words, training, bread & water & “guts” will SIMPLY not be enough.
FAILING to PLAN (YOUR NUTRITIONAL STRATEGY) is PLANNING to FAIL!
Other races and competitions offer similar challenges FiT has therefore provided the following tips & guidelines to help you plan this using supplements that have been well proven by teams such as GT, Mongoose, HSBC and EXEL to provide the highest level of physiological support.
Time spent “on the trail” during each day’s stage will vary between about 7 hrs and 12 hrs for most people. During this time you will need to consume not only your normal daily nutritional intake for basic physiological function, but a huge quantity of additional food to support the additional exercise demands. This includes a high carbohydrate energy component, sufficient protein to support the physiological recovery and tissue repair, plus essential fats, vitamins, anti-oxidants and electrolytes.
Before we start it is useful to get a “broader perspective” on where supplements can help.
SUPPLEMENTS CAN BE GROUPED INTO 3 BROAD CATEGORIES
- ENERGY SUPPORT FOR THE EXERCISE ITSELF (IMMEDIATE / SHORT TERM)
- This really means the “instant energy” products which includes: (1) anything taken immediately preceding the exercise, (2) the nutrition consumed during the exercise itself (eg; energy drinks, gels & bars), and (3) recovery products designed to synergise with the post exercise “window”, helping to ensure you are sufficiently recovered to train or race again the next day
- OVERALL DIETARY CORRECTION (LONGER TERM DEVELOPMENT / MAINTAINING HEALTH)
- This means balancing macro & micronutrient intake, and making up any shortfalls in relation to the individuals lifestyle, goals, exercise pattern (duration & intensity) and “normal food” nutritional intake. This is essential for longer term health and physiological development
- PHYSIOLOGICAL SUPPORT & SPECIAL CONDITIONS
- This includes: Abnormal cramping, free radical protection, vitamins, minerals additional amino acids, joint support, mental concentration, hemodilation (for improved tissue oxygenation which accelerates tissue repair / muscle recovery), growth hormone production etc
To some extent there is always some overlap between these categories.However, one thing stands out; That is, that during an extreme multi-day event like the Cape Epic it is virtually impossible and/or impractical to obtain sufficient nutrition from normal foodstuffs, leading to weaker and weaker performances in the latter stages of the event. Supplemental nutrition is not an option, it is a necessity, & given the extreme nature of the event, supplements from all 3 categories should be considered.
It is suggested that anyone contemplating the Cape Epic visit fitsportslab and read the accompanying information found with products like FiT CarboSupreme™ and How to Choose a Meal Replacement (includes working out optimum protein intake), FiT AnabolicGH™ / Oxy Immune with its tissue oxygenation and healing benefits, and FiT AntilacMSM™ with its high anti-cramping, anti-oxidant and mineral content. You may even find useful information in the Weight Management section.
TIPS & GUIDELINES
Before moving on to the product recommendation the following general tips are useful to bear in mind, and will help you plan your personal nutritional strategy:
- During exercise stomach function (digestive capacity) is impaired as the body is in “exercise mode” and using all its fluid resources (blood volume) for energy production, oxygen transportation etc. The more intensive the exercise, the less digestive capacity there is. It is therefore essential to (1) Give your stomach foodstuffs that require minimal digestion and (2) practice consuming these products during training. Your stomach needs training just the same as your muscles! Under exercise conditions the stomach can generally process between 1 and 2 grams of carbohydrate per minute (60 to 120 grams per hour). Furthermore, digestion cannot simply be accelerated at will, so if you lose nutritional intake time it can never be recovered during the race. You must therefore eat / drink continuously (in small quantities), right from the start line on the very first day. This WILL affect your performance on the THIRD and successive days…
- Carbohydrates will be your main energy source during the event, followed by fat, followed by protein. Total energy obtained from protein is no more than 5% (except obviously in cases of malnutrition when the body has no alternative, but to break down protein (ketosis). See fitsportslab for more on this. Exceeding this will be counterproductive and could hinder consumption of sufficient carbohydrates, which are essentially the “petrol” your body will need the most. Fats will pretty much take care of themselves, and even the leanest competitor has more than enough stored for the event.
GENERAL DIETARY BALANCE
Although protein is not a good source of energy, it does play a role in energy metabolism, especially during longer endurance events. It is essential to consume adequate protein to maintain correct physiological function, stabilize blood sugar and help rebuild damaged tissue. Protein can be obtained through natural foods supplied at meals, but based on past experience of Cape Epic competitors (eg; Team GT & Mongoose), is unlikely to be sufficient. Optimum (usable) protein intake is approximately 1.5 to 2.0 grams per kg of Body Mass per day. A 75kg endurance athlete will therefore require about 130g / day which in turn requires about 500g of protein containing natural foods (eg; chicken, fish meat, eggs) per day. Consuming this quantity may interfere with your all important carbohydrate intake (protein foods are often fatty & slower to digest), which is why good quality liquid meal replacements which are quite high in protein are a better option to help make up any shortfall (see fitsportslab for detail on how to work out your optimum protein intake). There are two options here – FiT DuraTrain™ (higher energy with 20% protein) for use as a light breakfast during each days racing or FiT Metab-Elite 40™ (lower energy with 40% protein). We suggest that you try both / have both available to use depending on how you feel each day (your body will “tell” you!), and what meal types were supplied. Both can be used as either breakfast substitutes, breakfast additions, race snacks, and during the post-exercise “window” for maximum daily recovery. If you take only one, then FiT Metab-Elite 40™ is likely to be the better choice for this particular event, as additional carbohydrates are easier to obtain from many other sources.
- Carbohydrate & fat utilization varies depending on exercise intensity. While you will always tend to use more carbohydrates, a faster pace (heart rate) does use carbs faster than at a slower pace, when fats can also be utilized. However, traveling at a slower pace to use fats will mean that you are out there for a long time, which still means that eventually you will still need a lot of carbohydrates as they are also being consumed! Faster pace (higher heart rate) will consume carbohydrates much faster, but will mean that you are out there for less time burning energy!
- At “elite” pace (above 70% of Max Heart Rate) you only have enough carbohydrate energy stored (assuming ample rest and a high carbohydrate diet) for between 90 and 120 minutes of exercise (without supplemental nutrition). While an event like the Epic is generally covered at a slower pace, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that you are going to have to (1) consume all the carbohydrates you can & (2) work out a balance between pace and nutritional intake!
- Too much carbohydrate (if you are unaccustomed to it) can cause diarrhoea, so be careful not to overdose and make sure you have practiced sufficiently before the time so that your stomach is accustomed to dealing with the type & quantity of food you will consume during the race.
- Solid food vs liquid food – the great debate.
Energy bars make great hiking or adventure racing snacks. However, like any other solid food they first have to broken down by the stomach into liquid form in order to extract the nutrients. But under higher intensity exercise conditions the stomach is inefficient as the production of digestive juices conflicts with the blood supply demands of the working muscles and aerobic system.
So why not make it easier & more efficient for your stomach by trying to take most of your food in semi-liquid or liquid form?
That is what meal replacement type products like FiT DuraTrain™ and FiT MetabElite™ are for. They are actually semi-liquid “nutrition” bars. This is why they are some of the only meal replacement products available that mix easily without a shaker or blender, contain both soluble & insoluble dietary fibre and essential fats (very rare in energy bars), as well as high quality protein & carbohydrates. They are much easier to swallow, don’t clog up your mouth (disrupting breathing rhythm while you try and chew), and are much faster to digest, requiring minimal gastric juice production, improving energy replenishment and placing less stress on the digestive system. FiT even provide little zip-loc bags to carry extra servings of dry (lightweight) powder with you. All you need to do is drop it into a half full water bottle, shake, then sip continuously while you ride. But you will need to experiment first to see what works for you…And don’t be fooled by the myth that only solid food keeps your stomach feeling full! It is nutritional depletion (especially low blood sugar) that causes that extreme “hunger knock” – and it therefore does not happen so long as you stomach is receiving a continuous supply of nutrients appropriate to the demands being placed on it!
- The Epic is not like any one-day event, and we suggest that normal energy replenishment routines be modified and varied to provide more balanced physiological support, including protein and essential fats. This means using specialized meal replacements like FiT MetabElite 40™ as well as energy drinks.
- Clearly, it will be difficult to get sufficient energy from natural foodstuffs, so supplements will play an important role because of their specialized formulation which allows easy digestion under exercise conditions, their convenience factor, and of course the fact that properly formulated products are essentially like survival rations and contain most, if not all the nutrients you need.
EPIC NUTRITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
What follows here are some approximate estimations of the quantities of various products that may be required. Individuals will need to work out personal nutritional strategies and decide which are most likely to benefit them. Some may wish to consider additional or alternative products for variety (eg: alternating FiT CarboSupreme™ with FiT CarboTrain™).
FiT CarboSupreme™ (min of 2x 40 servings buckets recommended) Assuming 1 x 750 ml per 60 minutes = 6 litres / day. Mixed at full strength (to supply 60g of carbohydrates per hour) this will require approx 480g of powder / day. This can be weakened slightly as necessary, especially important if you intend using other energy sources (eg; energy gels and/or meal replacements and/or energy bars) as well. You will therefore need approximately 4 kg of powder for the 8 days. This means 2 to 3 x 1.8kg buckets. We suggest using different flavours for variety. SupaGOO™ (min of 2 x 60 sachets recommended) This is an excellent endurance boosting alternative for those who prefer to drink plain water rather than a pre-mixed drink (or if you prefer weak drink mixtures with insufficient energy content to meet energy demand). The same applies here – You need 60 to 120 grams / hr so 1 x FiT SupaGOO™ (27g of carbohydrates) every 30 to 45 minutes will be right. Use less frequently if combining with a full strength energy drink like FiT CarboSupreme™, or also using high energy meal replacements like FiT DuraTrain™. If you take one FiT SupaGOO™ every 1.5 to 2 hrs – assuming also taking FiT CarboSupreme™ & liquid meal replacements, then you will need about 4 to 6 sachets per 8 hr day (or if a pure water drinker, then about 10 to 15 sachets per 8 hrs of racing). This means between 1 and 2 buckets for the event (the EPIC pack contains 2 buckets = 60 SupaGOO sachets), and possibly a 3rd bucket for “water” drinkers.
MetabElite40™ (1 x 31 serving bucket recommended) Assuming that you are getting half (about 65g) your daily protein needs from other sources, then you will need at least 2 (but possibly 3 or even 4) x 80g servings of FiT MetabElite 40™. Each 80g serving will supply about 32g of protein, 30g of carbohydrates and 8g of essential fats (plus a whole array of vitamins, anti-oxidants, amino acids and so on). FiT MetabElite™ can be taken at breakfast, during the ride, or later in the day with dinner. A 2,5kg bucket contains 31 servings – so one bucket would just about do it.
FiT DuraTrain™ (1 x 26 serving bucket recommended) FiT DuraTrain™ is faster digesting than FiT MetabElite 40™ because it contains half as much protein and less essential fats. This makes it the first choice as a meal replacement to take while actually riding and also for use during the post-exercise window. It also contains a small amount of creatine (1.5g) which assists muscle contraction during short duration efforts. If you also have FiT MetabElite 40™ (2 servings a day), then you will need about 2 -3 servings of FiT DuraTrain™ – 2 during the ride and 1 or possibly 2 immediately after finishing.
FiT AntilacMSM™ (1 x 60 capsules) This is an important physiological support formula which helps prevent cramping, electrolyte and anti-oxidant depletion and also assists with connective tissue production (necessary for muscle tissue repair). Recommended dose: 2 caps 3x daily or 3 caps 2x daily (6 per day – but starting at least a week before the race if not already using them. 60 capsules will suffice for the race – but consider including FiT AntilacMSM™ as a part of a healthy lifestyle / daily training nutrition.
FiT GlutaGrow™ (60 or 200 Capsules) Glutamine is the most abundant (important) amino acid in the muscle tissue and even though it is a component of protein, it plays an important role in energy metabolism, muscle recovery and also strengthens the immune system – incredibly important for any daily training athlete. While Glutamine is produced by the body, it cannot produce enough for extreme exercise regimens, and becomes depleted, causing sub-optimal energy metabolism, slow muscle tissue repair and a depressed immune system. This was well illustrated in the 2004 EPIC where many competitors fell ill in the last 2 days, effectively ending their races. FiT GlutaGrow™ is a more advanced supplement than plain glutamine however, as it effects are amplified through being synergized with Taurine and Alpha Lipoic Acid, one of the most effective anti-oxidants known to science. Cannot go without it… Recommended dosage: 2 caps 3x daily or 3 caps 2x daily = 6 capsules x 8 = 48 capsules
FiT AnabolicGH™ (only available in 180 capsules) Another important physiological support formula. A key part of being successful at the EPIC is to accelerate & maximize recovery between each stage. FiT AnabolicGH™ has healing and immune boosting properties that will help do just that, as well as helping ensure improved blood circulation & maximum tissue oxygenation (through supporting blood vessel dilation) during the stage itself. It also helps to improve cognitive functioning while under stress – and contains ingredients given to US soldiers in battle. Recommended dosage – 3 capsules 2x daily – preferably first thing on waking (effects are better if taken on an empty stomach). Not for migraine sufferers.
Incidentally it is said that “the proof is in the pudding”. Well for what its worth, no less than EIGHT out of the TOP TEN finishers in the 2005 Barberton MTB Classic used FiT nutritional strategies & products…