Fueling an Ultra (Part 1)

My dear friend Jack aka The Fitness Extremist will be attempting the Singapore 200 Mile (320km) Ultramarathon from 6th-8th August 2016. He has enlisted me to help him plan his race nutrition. This is what I’ve come up with so far. If you’re reading this and are an experienced ultra-runner, please feel free to include your recommendations and suggestions in the comments below. Your feedback is much appreciated!

Race Nutrition Plan

Goal: Understand that in an ultra, you may always be operating on a deficit. You burn ~500 calories/hr but can only consume about ~250/hr. The goal of race nutrition is not to completely replenish every calorie you expand. Rather, to delay and postpone fatigue as much as possible so that you can complete the race and achieve your goals as comfortably as possible. [e.g. it’s important but not as important as staying positive (mental) and pacing well (physical)]

  • Since we’re unsure of your sweat rate, set an alarm every 15 mins to either eat/chew/drink some calories to stay on top of your nutritional needs. (when you eat something, you probably need to wash it down with some liquid anyway)
    • Of course don’t overeat or overdrink. Just some is fine. Listen to your body, and stop when full / satiated.
    • If possible, avoid eating foods with too much simple sugars or avoid them completely.  (Fructose, sucrose, glucose) as they can cause gastric distress.
      • Lessons learnt from previous years: AVOID bread, 100 plus, H20, and other isotonic and soda drinks
      • Try to limit “Kopi / Teh Bing” or “Ice Lemon Tea” as you will get a sugar rush but crash 1-2 hours later
  • Amino Acids: 5-10 grams every hour helps stave off central nervous system fatigue during race and muscle catabolism
  • From now to D-Day, start hydrating very often and frequently. Drink until your urine is transparent.
  • This is obvious but sometimes the obvious should be restated. At least one week before your race, make sure sleep early (before 11pm) and get at > 8 hours of deep good quality sleep.

Hydration Pack

Objective: provide a convenient source of effective and efficient hydration as well as some easily digestible calories that do not cause gastric distress.

  1. Base (Best if chilled)
    – either coconut water or just plain filtered water
  2. 1 electrolyte tablet every time you refill
  3. Amino acid (powder form is best. Easy to mix. 5-10g/hour)
  4. 3 – 5 tbsp of Raw honey* (optional) / 1 scoop of Iskiate Endurance

*might have to test this if your stomach can take it. Can have one bottle with, 1 without

Checkpoint / Aid Station Fuel

Objective: more nutrient dense than what’s in your hydration pack

Notes: understand that most of the gels, bars and foods here contain lots of sugars. Try to go for higher fat sources and complex carbs most of the time and only when feeling really down and out, like when you hit a wall or during the last few hours of the race, then go for the caffeine and gels. Gels as last resort due to the high incidence of gastric distress.

  1. Rice and soup / broth
  2. Fruits (e.g. Bananas, watermelon, berries, dried fruits)
  3. Biscuits, cereals, bars
  4. Packaged Smoked meat (like salmon or bacon) or Jerkys (look for those without nitrates)
  5. Banana chips (cooked in coconut oil is best)
  6. Almond butter / coconut butter. Try to avoid too much peanut butter.
  7. Hummus
  8. Yoghurt (if your stomach can handle)
  9. Don’t recommend too much nuts (anti-nutrients) but if you want, try to get macadamia nuts.
  10. Red Bull (last resort when bonking)
  11. Gel brands
    1. Hammer Nutrition
  12. Bars:
    1. Epic bars
    2. Cliff bars

Meals

Objective: Comfort food for longer rest breaks. Best to have a variety of fresh and warm soup based stuff that’s easily digestible.

  1. Go for more complex carbs in your meals like sweet potato, yam.
  2. White rice / porridge is okay as it is a relatively clean burning fuel. If cooking porridge, add some sweet potato to it! Try to avoid brown rice and other varieties like wild rice as the fiber content from the husk will induce multiple trips to the toilet.
  3. Some bread for breakfast is okay just not every meal as the bread will ferment in your digestive system and can cause GI Issues.
  4. Cook your meals/foods with lots of healthy fats like Coconut Oil or grassfed butter. Drizzle with olive or avocado oil thereafter to get a little more healthy fats.
  5. Avoid Spicy foods like indian / muslim foods.
  6. Avoid foods with too much sauce. Best is soup based.

Example Meals:

  1. Warm baked sweet potatoes drizzled in grassfed butter and free-range unprocessed bacon
  2. Beef bone broth based porridge with sweet potatoes, stewed beef and vegetables
  3. Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese and grassfed butter
  4. Burbur Cha Cha dessert – coconut milk base with sweet potatoes, tapioca starch and yam. (My favorite dessert! *Ask to not add Syrup.)

Grocery List:

  1. Electrolyte Tablets (at least 3 tubes)
    – Good to have different flavors
    – Buy some with caffeine for times when you need it
    – E.g. Nuun,   Camelbak Elixer (my favorite)
  2. Amino acids (powder form best)
    – Just look for Essential Amino Acids (EAAs). They normally have Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) in them too. Don’t get anything that has other ingredients like added sugars.
    – if unable to find powder form, can still get pills but may have to crush if not you will have to keep popping abt 5 pills every hour which is quite tedious.
    – Bengreenfield article here
    – E.g. Nature Aminos
  3. Coconut Water (10 cartons?)
    – best if fresh from the market
    – if not the packaged one last time is good
  4. Raw Honey (I have if you want)
  5. Healthy Fats – Coconut oil / MCT oil / Grassfed Butter / olive oil / avocado oil
  6. Bars
  7. Gels
  8. Fruits (Fresh & Dried) : Bananas, watermelon, Berries, Pineapples, Mango, Apple, Pear, Orange
  9. Snacks
    1. Nuts
    2. Chips
    3. Hummus
    4. Yoghurt
    5. Cereals
    6. Biscuits
  10. Groceries
    1. Sweet potatoes / Yams / Tapioca
    2. Rice
    3. Assortment of meat: Fish, beef, mutton, chicken, bacon,
    4. Veggies / greens supplement powder
  11. Some Energy Drink / Caffeinated Beverage (last resort when bonking):
    Red Bull / Nescafe / Starbucks
  12. Cooler Box (big)
  13. ICE (buy on the go?)

As mentioned earlier, we would appreciate any feedback/suggestions/recommendations!

In part 2, I will be the covering what Jack actually ate for the race!

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