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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gel Overload

While I was walking around the Race Expo last week, was at the SIS booth and learnt something new which I will share here.

Apparently there can be such a thing as too much gel. This chap, unfortunately I didn’t get his name claimed that he only takes ¾ of the packet of gel and chucked the rest. His reasons was that our body can only convert a certain amount of the carbohydrates in the gel to energy and any excess will be absorb into the stomach which will cause gastrointestinal distress or GI distress for short.

What is GI distress? Stomach feeling bloated even though you haven’t really drink a lot of water? Nausea, feeling of vomiting even though you are not pregnant and haven’t eaten anything oily or heavy before your race? Maybe feeling of getting the runs and I am not talking about the running you do with your legs? These are all symptoms of GI distress.

So according to this guy, if you take too much gel, the rest of the gel goes to the stomach, then you drink isotonic drink at the next water station and wham, trouble starts.

Which bring him to his next point – never down the gel with isotonic drink. The combination will guarantee GI distress as there is carbohydrates overload.

And finally his last point – don’t gulp down too much water especially during the latter part of the race. As the body temperature and the surrounding temperature increases, the body will have lost a lot of salt and drinking too much water will further dilute the salt in the body and that’s where the dread Cramps come in. His advice is to sip 1 or 2 small mouthful at every water station and drink isotonic drink when possible.

Sound easy? To summarise, take ¾ packet of the gel, don’t take gel with isotonic drink and don’t drink too much water. Did I mention how much gel to take throughout the whole race? My rule of thumb used to be 1 packet per 10km and 1 packet as needed between the last 12 km but after hearing him and doing some research on the net, I am totally confused.

Want to be confused with me? Read these:

  1. How much Carbohydrates to consume?
  2. Overcoming GI Distress
  3. Energy Gels and Sports Drinks 

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