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  • Ew, it's Gu

    This was an article in our local independent newspaper that I thought you all might enjoy:
    *********

    Ew, It's Gu

    When did athletes stop eating actual food?
    By Alastair Bland

    When every 100-calorie morsel of sustenance for the athlete comes in the form of processed goop contained in a disposable foil packet, we know that the cycling industry has completely traded cleanliness and efficiency for slick, processed, artificial imitations of the same.

    But is it anyone's business what another eats? In fact, it is, for when a cloned Lycra nerd throws his gel wrappers on the public pavement, it becomes everyone's business. I've never seen a cyclist in the act of such littering, but I suspect the culprits responsible for the endless road waste we see on popular cycling routes are the same roadies who leave their spent tubes on the ground.

    I can imagine them, panting up a moderate grade with candy wrappers dangling over their chins. Perhaps it's Mt. Tamalpais, a favored route strewn generously with energy-food wrappers. Though this route is a degree less challenging than many like to imagine, these weekend warriors suck their calories from a foil package of syrup and fancy they wouldn't make the distant summit without it. They glance backward to see that the coast is clear, suck out the last drops, and flick their foil to the road.

    I've never felt the attraction that others feel toward these processed foods, so I called Jim Keene, co-owner of Santa Rosa's Nor Cal Bike Sport and sister store the Bike Peddler to discuss. Keene says that energy gels represent advances in nutritional science that have helped lead to improved athletic performance since the 1980s, when he raced frequently and often relied for fuel on archaic products like bananas, grapes and water.

    "A lot of racers just blew it back then, totally hit the wall if they didn't eat right," Keene remembers.

    Today, by contrast, formulated nutrition (which I once innocently believed only the very young or very old needed) has reduced risk of anemia, muscle cramping and of long-distance riders burning into their own body tissues for energy.

    But fresh air still blows through the high summits of cycling superstardom. Mountain biking superstar Gary Fisher prefers to eat "real food," as he calls those things that don't come in foil wrappers. Such items, he says, have delivered him from start to finish in uncounted races and rides since the 1960s. A meatloaf sandwich comes to mind as a favored road food, says Fisher.

    "I don't eat Gu or gel, because it's just sugar and it's not good for you," he told me. "It's like drinking Coca-Cola. You can find all the minerals and nutrients you need in real foods."

    And Fisher's thoughts on those who litter the roads with their candy wrappers?

    "Those guys are in way too big a hurry."

    Legend says that Geronimo could walk 40 miles through the scorching desert carrying a mouthful of water, spit it out at the end, and walk home. I've never tried that, but I did ride a double century (200-mile bike race) several years ago with a package of Clif Shot Energy Gel in my pocket, and I resisted all urge to eat it. Actually, there was no urge. Zero. I ate dried figs, bananas and nuts that day, and I did well.

    I've since pedaled thousands of miles more, and the rejected package of goop still sits on my desk, testimony to its uselessness in a world of wonderful fruits, breads and beer. On the back of the package, instructions recommend that athletes eat a packet before exercise, two to three per hour during exercise and one within 30 minutes after exercise. Had I followed such guiding principles during my 218-mile ride, I would have eaten about two pounds of gel.

    The cycling industry would like us to believe that factory-made goop is more convenient, sexier and generally better than real food. Many have bought into the scheme, yet in this world of carbon, Spandex and maltodextrin, a few Luddites still ride. Some of us even stop to make sandwiches.

  • #2
    Did you ever read the Runner's World article where the author tried to get all of his nutrition for a week from packaged sports nutrition products (Gu, bars, etc.)? It was pretty terrible -- by the end of a few days, his friends were commenting that he smelled like chemicals. Here's the link: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/...2091-0,00.html

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Melantha View Post
      Did you ever read the Runner's World article where the author tried to get all of his nutrition for a week from packaged sports nutrition products (Gu, bars, etc.)? It was pretty terrible -- by the end of a few days, his friends were commenting that he smelled like chemicals. Here's the link: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/...2091-0,00.html
      Hah, that was pretty good! I know for sure I'd be craving eggs by the second day!

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      • #4
        Here's an informal rule that I have adopted for my running: If you have to resort to non-primal calories for energy, then you're either running too fast or too far.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the great article, DM.
          I only tried Gu once, and promptly puked all over my shoes

          If I can't do something on real food only...I don't care to do it!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kuno1chi View Post
            If I can't do something on real food only...I don't care to do it!
            Now thaaaaat's what I'm talkin' 'bout. Thanks, Kuno for translating my post into plain English.

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            • #7
              I prefer dried figs, dates, raisins, or coconut macaroons if I must keep from bonking on an epic mtn bike ride. I have buddies who down that crap along with the high fructose corn syrup "jelly beans". No thanks.....
              You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Geoff View Post
                Now thaaaaat's what I'm talkin' 'bout. Thanks, Kuno for translating my post into plain English.
                Why, thanks, Sweetie. 'Twas a pleasure

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                • #9
                  "Sweetie"?<blush>
                  Last edited by Geoff; 05-16-2010, 04:01 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Let me also state for the record, that chowing "Rebar" for 20 miles during the Marine Corps' Marathon left me longing for a Tylenol and a visit with the "Hash House Harriers" at Mile 21. There's "real food" and REAL FOOD. If you can't defend your "real food" fuel choices with all caps, think about what you're eating and why.
                    Last edited by Geoff; 05-16-2010, 04:05 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Yeah, even before I found the paleo diets, I had started giving up what little sports nutrition product I used. When I was eating a WAPF-style diet, I would drink sauerkraut juice and eat some fruit or even a spoonful of raw honey after long enough runs in the heat, rather than drink Gatorade. I stopped eating most bars when I realized how badly soy affects me.

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                      • #12
                        DragonMamma: Based on your sources, you must be right in my backyard! Hubby and I drove up Sir Francis Drake towards Point Reyes, and all the cyclists were out in full-force today, spandex, Gu, and all.
                        With Mark's help, I've conquered depression, acne, rosacea, scale obsession, migraines, and lethargy. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

                        http://www.theladygrok.blogspot.com/

                        My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread8215.html

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                        • #13
                          I used to use one of those gels before I went primal. It was called PROboom. It was pureed fruit with whey protein added. Still had a lot of sugar, but at least I knew what every ingredient was. Now, I just have a big piece of fatty meat the night before a long run and maybe a few nuts before hand and I'm good.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Primal Diva View Post
                            DragonMamma: Based on your sources, you must be right in my backyard! Hubby and I drove up Sir Francis Drake towards Point Reyes, and all the cyclists were out in full-force today, spandex, Gu, and all.
                            The article is from The Bohemian, which covers much of the North Bay area. Stage II of the Tour de California ends about 3 blocks from my house in downtown Santa Rosa. They'll be riding in about 3-4pm. I'll be watching, of course!

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                            • #15
                              Ahhh, I thought you were talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHKK1ogkO-0 ! Not sure which is worse, to be fair

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