There are various errors which we, at 226ERS, warn against in the queries we receive and respond to daily across our social networks and web forms. These are mainly problems caused by a specific type of product or a specific diet and, therefore, the need to eliminate the use of the product that is thought to obstruct better performance. Complaints about energy gels and bars are usually made however some drinks are also included in the queries.
Generally, we can reduce the majority of the problems down into four main areas:
- Problems with the correct quantity of water in relation to carbohydrates. It is sometimes forgotten that the carbohydrates that are ingested require a certain quantity of water, with 1:10 being the standard ratio. If a minimum quantity of water is not established, this can cause stomach saturation and possibly lead to a domino effect of stomach pain, gases or even digestion interruption causing vomiting and / or diarroea.
- Problems with regard to overlooking the fact that many products contain more than one nutrient. When creating a nutritional plan with the exact quantities of carbohydrates and mineral salts, it is often forgotten that, for example, an energy bar, gel or drink contains not only carbohydrates and mineral salts but also other substances, such as BCAAs and caffeine mainly, which ought to be adequately measured and balanced. If not, this can lead to a saturation of mineral salts in the stomach and cause digestion problems.
- Excess caffeine. Although caffeine improves performance, what appears to be miscalculated is the fact that it must be consumed in measured quantities and that it also takes time to eliminate from the body. This can be quite prolonged and take between 3 to 5 hours to remove. Excess caffeine can cause dizziness, dehydration and even cardiac problems causing a more rapid heartbeat.
- Gels diluted in water bottles. This is a very common practice. Many triathletes tend to think that if they concentrate all the carbohydrate needs in a bottle of gels and take sips throughout the race their needs will be well covered. It is a practice that can give rise to numerous problems, since it is very complicated to measure the amount of carbohydrates that you are ingesting per sip, which in turn makes it very complicated to keep the reserves in optimal condition. This practice also makes it difficult to carry a correct ratio between carbohydrates and ingested liquid.
Other problems that can occur in a race are those derived from the use of products (such as biscuits, sandwiches or fizzy drinks) that are not produced for consumption during races. Other products that contain too high an amount of fibre, lactose or gluten can also slow down digestion.