By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com
Long distance triathlon breaks into four events; Swim, bike, run and race nutrition. It’s usually the last event that sabotages race plans.
Gastric distress is so common in long distance events from the 70.3 to 140.6 Ironman distance that it may be the second largest limiting factor after inadequate training. In reality those two deficiencies are related. If an athlete did adequate mileage and used the same endurance nutrition products in training as they did in racing their limitations from those factors would be reduced. They would have a better race day.
An important part of a training plan, especially for long distance triathlons like 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman distance is rehearsing your race nutrition plan and getting acclimatedto the nutritional products that will be available on the course in the event. PowerBar’s Ironman Perform is the official sports drink of Ironman 2012 and will be on the course in global Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Series events in North America. Ironman Perform will also be on the course in the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this October. Since PowerBar has done substantial research and development in sports nutritionals and virtually invented the sports bar category it’s worth evaluating their products well before race day and becoming familiar with how they work for you.
Another certainty is that, no matter what nutritional product is offered in aid stations at a given event, some athletes will want something else. In the back to the middle of the pack it is common to see “custom” nutritional strategies that are seemingly as well researched as they are well intentioned. That gastric distress is still such a common limiter even with so many “custom” nutrition plans seems unusual. It’s worth considering that, no matter how diligent your research about endurance nutrition is, PowerBar has done more research and development with their products.
It makes sense to learn to use what is served on the course as race nutrition. There are three compelling reasons to use what is on the course: 1. It’s been developed and tested by a leading sports nutrition brand. You probably can’t do better on your own. 2. It’s convenient. You don’t have to carry extra weight on the bike. You use the aid stations and keep your bike light and aerodynamic. 3. You paid for it in your race entry fee, you may as well use it.
Three Reasons to use the aid stations: 1. It’s been tested. 2. You don’t have to carry it. 3. You paid for it.
PowerBar’s Ironman Perform uses the C2MAX Blend, a 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose. PowerBar asserts this combination of glucose and fructose speeds the absorption of carbohydrates and reduces bloating and gastro-intestinal distress. You absorb calories faster and with less chance of gastric distress. PowerBar claims an 8% better rate of absorption than regular glucose based calorie sources with their combined C2MAX blend. Additionally, this mixture is potentially more versatile across wide temperature ranges that can influence the rate fo fluid absorption. When you consider an event like Ford Ironman Wisconsin has been held in high humidity and temperatures in the high 80’s, but also been held when the temperature was in the high 50’s and it rained consistently, the importance of a temperature adaptable sports drink is significant. The PowerBar C2MAX 2:1 glucose/fructose carbohydrate blend is available in PowerBar Performance Bars, PowerBar Ironman Perform, PowerBar Energy Bites and Blasts and PowerBar Energy Gel.
A key feature to PowerBar’s Ironman Perform is either no or easy acclimation to the product. While reaction to flavor and taste is individual at first, key factors to remember with endurance nutrition are: Products taste differently in a race environment than in a casual trial setting. Because changes in temperature and your level of fatigue affect how you perceive taste letting taste dictate your nutritional strategy is a short sighted agenda. Almost everything will either loose taste or not taste optimal in the 10th hour of a 13 hour Ironman when it is at atmospheric temperature, served from a plastic container and you are extremely fatigued.
PowerBar Ironman Perform is lemon-lime flavored and highly flavor-tolerable. Another advantage is that, at most events, the product is served from a pre-mix container. This means consistent concentrations throughout the day. It’s also faster to simply grab a bottle of pre-mixed drink in an aid station and either drink it from that pre-mixed bottle, which fits a standard bottle cage, or empty the contents into your own handlebar mounted drink system such as TorHans and discard the empty in the aid station where you are allowed to deposit trash.
PowerBar Performance: The Original PowerBar, Still one of the Best.
Another PowerBar product used on the course of Ironman events is the Powerbar Performance energy bar. You could call this the original energy bar, the product that started a category. The original PowerBar packs 230 calories with the C2MAX caloric energy mix and 200 mg of sodium along with 8 grams of protein to help stave off hunger.
A key feature of the PowerBar Performance bar from its introduction has been solubility. While the formula for the bar has evolved from the original version it is still more easily dissolved and digested than many competing energy bars.
I’ve used the PowerBar Performance energy bar since it was introduced in its original formula and flavors years ago. Since the bar is dense and chewy it requires water to speed digestion. It is also calorically dense and seems to provide a steady level of blood sugar over time for me. Some users suggest it is hard to chew, especially on the run. PowerBar Energy Gels, also with the C2MAX formula, may be a better solution if you find the PowerBar Performance energy bar too solid in some situations but each gel only contains 110 calories as opposed to the 230 calories in the PowerBar Performance energy bar. It’s easier to eat solid food bars on the bike, so I like to use PowerBar Performance bars during the bike leg of a long race.
PowerBar Ironman Restore: Recovery Nutrition for After the Event.
Most endurance athletes are familiar with the “glycogen window”, the critical 30 minutes following training and racing where getting calories into your system greatly facilitates recovery and the training effect. PowerBar Ironman Restore drink is specifically formulated as an after- exercise recovery drink with a different formulation to speed absorption and recovery. Ironman Restore is slightly more calorically dense than Ironman Perform and contains more sodium. There are 90 calories per serving in Ironman Restore compared to 70 calories in Ironman Perform. Restore also has more sodium, 250 mg. per serving compared to 190 mg for Ironman Perform. Restore contains 3 grams of protein per 1 scoop serving while PowerBar Ironman Perform has no protein. There is a small difference in carbohydrate concentration with Restore having 20 grams of carbohydrate and Perform carrying 17 grams of carbohydrate per scoop. finally, the caloric concentration in Restore is higher to facilitate recovery, with 1 scoop of Restore carrying 90 calories and 1 scoop of Perform delivering 70 calories. Restore is available in Orange flavor.
It’s unlikely one nutritional product brand will ever be agreed on by all endurance athletes as the de facto“best” but the dedication, history, development and availability of PowerBar Ironman Perform, Restore and the PowerBar Performance Bar mean its important to be familiar with them especially if you are doing events where they are served from the aid stations. I’ve used the products long enough in training and racing to suggest they are among the very best nutritional options.