How I Use Hammer Nutrition and E-CAPS Products

, , , , | UltraRob | Friday, April 14th, 2006 at 11:16 am

Since Al asked about my take on Hammer Nutrition products, I thought I’d write a post rather than just add a comment because I have a lot to say about their products. I’m sponsored by them although it’s a discount, not cash or free product, so if I didn’t like their products it wouldn’t do me any good. If you’ve never ordered from them before, you can get 15% off your first order by following this link. They have a Yahoo group where even the owner will answer questions. Steve Born that has finished RAAM more than once and done things like start at the finish line of the Furnace Creek 508 and ride to the start to do the race has been a big help for me to get my nutrition dialed in for long races. Last year I was really out of shape for the Adirondack 540 and I had to call him the day before the race to be convinced I could do the race.

The best way to explain my take on the products is to tell my experience when I first did Montezuma’s Revenge in 1998. It was my second 24 hour mountain bike race. I was sick when I first did the 24 Hours of Moab and spent 7 hours off the bike but was so congested I couldn’t lie down without starting to choke.

I had tried Sustained Energy during training but had trouble with bloating and gas so I had given up on it. I now know that because it doesn’t have any preservatives it goes bad in about 3 hours in the hot sun and that is what was causing my problems. They actually say it should last a little longer but 3 hours has been my experience. I ended up solving that problem by mixing my 2nd bottle the night before and freezing it. That was back before they had Perpetuem and HEED which take a lot longer to go bad. I had gone back to using CytoMax and GU. I got about 8 hours into Montezuma’s Revenge and got so sick to my stomach I didn’t feel like eating plus I was peeing like crazy but at the same time feeling really dehydrated. I got up on Gray’s Peak above 13,000 feet and was stumbling and falling asleep as I tried hiking with my bike on my back.

After that miserable race, I decided to give Sustained Energy another try along with some Hammer Gel. I used them at the 24 Hours of Moab along with solid food and did much better although still had some stomach problems. Dr. Bill that has had a huge part in developing the Hammer Nutrition products finally convinced me that for 24 hours I was best off without solid foods. The first time I tried without solid food I had plenty of solid foods available and ended up not using any and didn’t have any stomach problems. I now pretty much just use their products except I’ve eaten a small amount of solid foods in my RAAM qualifiers. When I did the Furnace Creek 508 in 2002, I had 36 servings of Sustained Energy and less than a 1,000 calories from other foods.

Now they have more choices in fuels and I mix them depending on what I’m doing. For short, hard group rides I use HEED and some Hammer Gel. When they first came out with HEED, they just had the Lemon-Lime flavor and I didn’t like it but I’ve come to really like the Mandarin Orange. For 2-3 hour mountain bike races, I use Sustained Energy with a couple scoops of the powdered Endurolytes added in plus I use a coin purse to carry more Endurolytes. For 100 mile mountain bike races I mix Sustained Energy and Perpetuem half and half along with some powdered Endurolytes. When I’m going hard I seem to have some problems digesting straight Perpetuem and that’s why I mix it with the Sustained Energy.

In 24 hour mountain bike events and RAAM qualifiers I use mainly Perpetuem but use a little of the other fuels for variety. I always have plain water with me so I can drink what I need independent of the calories I’m getting plus it helps to not have any taste in my mouth. Even under ideal conditions, I have trouble digesting much over 250 calories and hour and try not to go over 28 ounces of fluid an hour. Eating or drinking stuff with simple sugars while using the Hammer fuels is a sure way to bonk. I found this out the hard way doing the Vail Ultra 100. Julie offered a couple bite sized Snickers bars at one of the aid stations and within 20 minutes I was severely bonking and sat at the next aid station for an hour wrapped in blankets and shivering.

If I’m doing an early morning race, I sleep as late as possible and don’t eat anything until I’m on the bike. The first few times I didn’t eat before I felt really hungry and thought for sure I’d bonk but my stomach felt better early in the race than if I had eaten and I didn’t bonk. I do find I have to start eating sooner but my stomach feels fine. If I ate too close to the start, I’d find my stomach didn’t feel the best and it would be an hour or so before I could start eating.

Lately on my long training rides I’ve been mixing one bottle with 4 scoops HEED and 2 scoops plain Perpetuem and another bottle with 1 scoop HEED and 5 scoops Dreamsicle Perpetuem and 3 scoops powdered Endurolytes in each bottle. For performance I’d probably be better off using more Perpetuem but I like the variety of flavors.

For races and rides under 3 hours, I take 1 Race Cap Supreme, 1 Mito-R-Cap, and 4 Anti-Fatigue Caps an hour before the start and then just Endurolytes during the race or ride. I longer races and rides I take the same thing before the start and then starting 2 hours in I take the same thing every hour except drop the Anti-Fatigue Caps to 2 and take 2-3 Endurolytes. I always have more Endurolytes so I can take more if I need them to keep from cramping. The Anti-Fatigue Caps really help keep me from smelling like ammonia. Before I started using them I used to stink of ammonia by the time I’d get 6 hours into a race. For during races and rides, I use the little baggies to but in an hour worth of pills so I can just grab one out of my pocket and dump everything into my month. I can really tell I don’t fatigue as fast and recover faster if I take the supplements. During training I generally open the bag and squeeze from the sides on the zip section to open it wide so I can reuse it but during races I generally tear the top off. If I have a crew with me, I use empty canisters that film come in and have them hand it to me. Now that I’m using a digital camera I have to make sure I don’t lose the ones I have.

After hard rides, I generally have 2 or 3 scoops of Recoverite and then a little while later I mix a bottle of 2 scoops of Recoverite and 1 of Whey Protein. I also take Super AO and Tissue Rejuvenator.

Update: See what I did for nutrition during my 2006 solo RAAM attempt.

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6 responses to “How I Use Hammer Nutrition and E-CAPS Products”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! That’s exactly what my cupboard looks like, too!

    Hammer on…

  2. Al Maviva says:

    Sorry about the long post, but I’ll provide a bunch of comments for general edification of your readers. I’m… unorthodox in my dietetic choices on the bike, but it works for me, and if others have an oddysey like you seem to have, to find the right combination of food, maybe my insane relationship with performance food could be informative…

    I really like Hammer stuff but it has some weird effects on me. On an long ride at a sustainment pace – a pace I could keep up indefinitely, high recovery, low to mid aerobic, 75 to 125 miles or so – HEED and Perpetuum are perfect. They seem especially good when the weather is really hot, and they are mixed kind of thin. I chug gallons of the stuff. Literally, I will knock of 60 ounces of fluid per hour on a hot day. One of the local century rides (Snow Valley’s Bay Century) passed out HEED at the rest stops and I drank two 28 ounce water bottles full at each rest stop (every 20 miles, on a hot day) and then drank two more water bottles full before the next rest stop. I didn’t even feel like taking a nap afterwards, it kept me that well stocked up (along with a PB&J; and a banana at 40 and 80 miles). I loved the stuff and that’s when I got hooked on it. Mixed right, it’s innocuous, which is the best thing you can say about a drink that you have to slam lots of.

    Thing is, if I’m going up past a tempo pace, I have trouble drinking the stuff. It’s just so syrupy tasting when my engine really gets ticking over, like the sugars dry on in my mouth. I’ve tried drinking it during crits – crikey, bad mistake. HEED just gums up my mouth & throat. I may try adding some lemon juice to the mix to give it a little thirst-slaking quality, but I’m not quite sure which crit I’m willing to suffer through if that’s a bad choice, and being a dedicated follower of fashion I’m loathe to carry two water bottles during a crit. In crits I ride at high aerobic / tempo Hr when the pace is slow, LT to 5-10 beats past LT during surges, and then at about 20 beats over during longer surges, primes, and the last few laps. Maybe I’ll check out that Yahoo group.

    Not that I’ve found a good alternative yet. Gatorade is a combination of too sugary and too acidic. I burp it up and get something like acid reflux with it. Gu2o is pretty good, but I have a tendency to throw up a mouthful of that mid-race. I’m experimenting with mixing it thinner. On the horizon for me – Accellerade and Cytomax. Or maybe you have a tip.

    Your discussion of figuring out how to eat and ride amazes me. What a ticklish stomach. I’m more like that RAAM regular who eats spaghetti dinners while he’s riding. As Kent Peterson says, “don’t do what I do… I am not a dietary role model.” My ideal pre-race meal is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and bananas. One of each if it’s a crit or short roadrace, two of each if it’s a long training ride. (As a new roadracer, I can’t really say “long roadrace” with authority, but my club training rides are 45-55 mile near-race-effort hammerfests… two banana two sandwich rides). If it’s a long time between ‘breakfast’ and ride time, I may also snag a bagel with a sweet cream cheese on it. Coffee is also mandatory – a venti of something strong, or a triple espresso with icewater on the side. Underway, I’ll eat just about anything but I’m learning to stay away from the simple carb sugary pastries a lot of guys enjoy, too much up and down with them, better off with a muffin or scone, or even a ham sandwich or something. I prefer to carry baggies of nuts in my pockets. Peanuts are okay, almonds will do, but cashews are God’s own performance food. I’m basically bonk-proof if I’m eating lots of cashews on a ride, but I don’t recommend trying to eat them while attempting a Vo2Max effort. If I’m too lazy to pre-pack nuts, I’ll grab a couple Clif bars, but I hate how tough those things are to chew into swill-able condition. I will sometimes carry a banana or two and apples but I wouldn’t want to eat as much fruit as it would take to get me through a 400K brevet, for instance, it would have *other* side effects. And of course even though I’m somewhat fit performance wise, I’m still a big fat dude, and my body seems to eat a lot of blubber on the longer rides, so it probably makes sense to eat nuts and get it in a fat metabolizing mode.

    As for gels… Gu is a nice post-ride picker-upper but I hate taking it while I ride, it puts me on a sugar roller coaster. I like Hammer gel because I can suck it down without going on the roller coaster, it seems to fit right in with the other foods I eat and not cause any problems. I’ve not bonked from mixing Hammer products with simple carbs, but I have noticed an explosive decompression problem if I stupidly obey my simple-carb-demon and grab a candy bar to go along with my muffin and fruit – the gas produced is spectacular. If you could harness it, it would light up Houston for a week. The Clif Shot Blocks are really tasty post-ride, and they are nice on endurance-paced rides, but I suspect that they are too sugary tasting to eat during max effort rides like roadraces.

  3. mp3 says:

    And I thought I had too many mixes and pills! On a different note, wow that’s the longest comment I’ve ever seen.

  4. UltraRob says:

    Al, since I’ve been focusing on longer events I’m not doing anything as intense as crits. Some to the group rides I do may be that intense for short periods but not as sustained. It’s probably been 5 years since I’ve done a crit. I agree I’d just mix one bottle and not carry 2 for a crit. There was a discussion on the yahoo group about the new unflavored HEED not being as sweet because they don’t put as much stevia in it. I haven’t tried it so don’t know what it’s like. I can sneak in some junk, real food without problems if I’m not racing and doing a moderate intensity ride as long as I time it right and back off on the Hammer stuff. Still I do ride better just sticking with the Hammer stuff but I think some variety is good mentally.

  5. Emiliano says:

    Rob, bummer you didn’t mention anything about the bars. They are a great bar and are vegan. They seem to go down great. But over all Rob as a USCF racer and limited at 252 miles it’s good to hear the ultra take on things. Al, Heed is the way to go. Mix it half strength in plain and get your full serving between 2 water bottles. The key is to keep drinking! The day before and the first 15 minutes of a crit will define your ability to ingest drinks in the last laps more than choosing the right drink. Drink on the start line while your waiting. And try and form a mental game to keep drinking. A good one is just to drink every time someone else does. Or better yet every time someone yells at someone else for doing something dumb. But remember if you get slightly dehydrated drinks become exponentially sweeter avoid that and your set. PS your supporting Rob by following that link when you buy hammer products. Help him out. He writes for us… 🙂

  6. UltraRob says:

    Emiliano, thanks for the comment. As you can see from the picture I do have some of the Hammer bars. They’re very healthy snacks. Other people eat them during ultra races. My stomach doesn’t seem to like them well when I’m riding. I can do alright if I’m riding easy on a long ride and eat them half at a time. Although I do use them some, I use the rest of the Hammer Nutrition products a lot more.

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