Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Endurance Products I Like

This is a follow up post to my last one, which discusses the importance of maintaining proper hydration and fuel intake during long term athletic activity whether it's racing, hiking, or bugging out.  Especially if you have limited access to supplies, deep woods hiking or a survival scenario, knowing what to bring with you is really important to avoid problems.

I am not sponsored by any of these companies, nor do I receive any financial gain or gain otherwise from discussing them here.  These are simply products I've found that do what they are supposed to, have proven themselves to me in the field, and that I have used extensively.  When I was doing long distance trail running (ultra-running) I always kept these items in stock and then could pick and choose what I needed for each event.

Nuun Tablets
Nuun tablets have been formulated to precisely match electrolytes with the percentages that are sweat out.  You can check their website, they have lots of graphs, studies, and stuff...  I just know they work.  I used to get these really annoying headaches after long races, I couldn't figure out what they were from.  Then I started drinking these during the races and I haven't had a problem since.  Each tube has twelve tablets, they dissolve in water like an alka seltzer and in two minutes you have an electrolyte drink.  Easy to carry and effective, every athlete and survivalist should have a few of these.  And they taste pretty decent too.

Camelbak Elixer
Camelbak Elixir is very similar to the Nuun tablets.  They dissolve in water and produce an electrolyte drink. These are very similar products, both taste good and provide the necessary electrolytes.  I think the ratio on these isn't quite as precise as the Nuun tablets and the Elixir is a little more expensive, but the Elixir produces more drink per tab and seem to be more easily found in stores.  I've used them both a lot, they both seem to be good products.

Perpetuem is a pretty neat product, it's food and fluid rolled up into one.  When they were making this they wanted a single solution for fuel and hydration.  Because the calories and nutrients are in a liquid form they are much more easily digested during activity.  The nutritional info is on the site.  It comes in powder form, just mix it with water, though the taste takes a little getting used to.  I have the "orange" one, you could take a creamsicle and melt in a liter of slightly gritty water, and that would be about the same taste/texture.  However, for a "one size fits all" approach it actually works pretty well.  I like this stuff, it worked extremely well on my last race.  With most drinks you don't get a 'full' feeling in your stomach.  When you're hungry and then drink a sports drink you're still hungry.  With Perpetuem, it's like drinking a class a milk when you're hungry, might not be entirely satisfied but it's a whole lot better than most drinks.

There are a variety of "salt pills" on the market.  Salt Stick has developed tubes for dispensing their version of the electrolyte pills and they've done quite a few studies on what electrolytes and amounts to put in them.  They have links for their studies on their site, whether you believe them or not is up to you.  I haven't tried the dispensing tubes but I have taken these pills during events and found them very effective.  I usually drink Nuun or Perpetuem and take these as back ups, or take one an hour for extended races to make sure I'm keeping up the electrolyte levels.  The dispensers seem kind of neat, they keep the pills dry and easy to access, so they might be a good option for long distances or survival scenarios.  Otherwise, any water tight container works well.

Honey Stingers
These guys have a very wide variety of products, all made with honey.  Waffles, gels, chews, you name it and they probably make it.  Carbohydrates are important for maintaining a high level of activity and honey is an excellent carbohydrate.  There are quite a number of different carbs available, but he best ones come from more natural sources, honey, agave, etc.  Carbs that are more processed get absorbed into the body really fast, which leads to ups and downs in your energy level.  More natural, complex carbs are as effective but absorb at a longer, steadier rate, helping maintain a steadier energy level.

GU Chomps
GU chomps have a pretty standard carb mix, there's lots of chews out there that are similar.  However, GU Chomps also have Amino Acids added.  Amino Acids are kind of a new trend in the endurance world.  During exercise, if your body doesn't get enough calories (because your stomach isn't digesting very well) then it starts to cannibalize your muscle tissue.  If you are already damaging your muscles (by exercising) then the last thing you want is that cannibalization.  There haven't been too many studies on the use of Amino Acids during exercise yet, but the theory is that by taking in Amino Acids you are providing them to the body for fuel, which means your body won't need to break down muscle tissue.  Also, it means that there are extra Amino Acids in the body so that during recovery it should make rebuilding muscle tissue faster and easier.  I like these, they do seem to make a difference during and after a race.

Hammer Endurance Amino
Ok, same reason as above.  The difference here is that these are in pill form, you can just drop a pill before, during, and/or after your endurance event.  Again, there aren't many studies on these yet, but in an endurance event or a survival situation I'll take any advantage I can get.  I've used these and they do seem to make recovery faster, I don't know if that means my muscles aren't getting cannibalized or if they help rebuild muscle faster, but they seemed to work for me.

There are plenty of other products out there, I've used quite a few of them and those above are just a few of my favorites.  My favorite place to purchase these items is online at ZombieRunner.com.  They have a million options and good prices.  I also like the name.  What can I say, I'm a zombie dork.

If you have any questions about endurance events or nutrition, suggestions, or comments feel free to send me a message. 

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