Ultraman Nutrition Strategy, How Not to Poop
Note: UM is short for Ultraman, or in this case, Ultra520kCanada. There is video version at the bottom for those prefer watching over reading. Also, a video about electrolytes will be arriving shortly.
My nutrition strategy for Ultra520kCanada (UM) was simple: eat a lot of fruit. Fruit is super food; more than any other food group, fruit most accurately meets the nutritional needs of a human being. I have been an, fruitarian for over a year and a half, and I attribute a lot of my success to this way of eating. Eating a diet compromised of 90% of total calories from fruit, 5% from vegetables, and 5% from overt fat sources such as nuts, seeds, and avocados has allowed me to stay both healthy and injury free. Fresh, ripe, raw, whole, organic fruits and vegetables digest with ease, therefore allowing for more energy for training and recovery. For more check out The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas N Graham.
The Food Chart
How Not to Poop
One of my concerns going into UM was making it through three hours of swimming without pooping. The day before the race, I did not have any vegetables. The soluble fibre in fruit travels more slowly through the digestive track when compared to the rougher, insoluble vegetable fibre— or at least it feels as if it does. Bananas, I find, are the best for “slowing” things down, which is why my three meals before the swim start (lunch, dinner, pre-race breakfast) were bananas. Bananas do not result in constipation, however, they do allow me to go longer than normal without pooping. I chewed my bananas during the pre-race breakfast; chewing takes longer thus allowing the body to better recognize when it is full—ergo no stomach cramps while swimming. In training, I found that a small amount of electrolytes helped slow things down a bit further. I took a few swigs of electrolytes roughly fifteen minutes before the swim started. I took three poops in the 2-2.5 hours between when I finished breakfast and when the race started. I completed the entire eight race without pooping. Success! Day two was another poop-less race. Day three, the run, was different; I pooped two maybe three times during the race, however, I never had any GI issues. Fruit poops are fast, and during the run, they were small (relative to what is normal for me); I finished pooping before I finished peeing—I took the bathroom breaks at the same time to manage time loss. And finally, fruit poops are clean—one swipe with a leave or a smooth rock is enough.
Bananas have 89 calories and 75 grams of water per 100 grams making them calorically dense when compared to other fruits. Depending on size, one banana contains 80-120 calories. The sugars in bananas, glucose and fructose, are single and double molecules respectively, offer both quick and long lasting energy. I love bananas; they are wonderful for pre, during, and post training/racing. For UM I blended most of my bananas, as this was a quicker and easier way to consume a lot of calories.
Medjool dates contain 277 calories and 21 grams of water per 100 grams. Depending on size, each date contains 50-55 calories. 97% of the total calories in dates comes from carbohydrates. Dates are high in glucose, yet they contain fibre, meaning they absorb with minimal effort without creating a spike and subsequent drop in energy. During the race, my crew put 12 pitted dates into a plastic bag; each bag contained 600-660 calories. Eating the dates from the plastic bag was both easy and pleasurable; I held the outside of the bag and ate the gooey dates as if I was eating an energy bar. During day two, I lost track of how many bags I went through, however, my crew estimates I ate 10-12 bags (120-144 dates, 6,000-8,000 calories). For the nine hour day two ride, this means I was consuming, on average (and using the average 132 dates/7,000 calories) 778 calories per hour. I burned almost 10,000 during the stage; I made the 3,000 calorie difference during my breakfast and two dinners. Maintaining and refilling glycogen stores is crucial to athlete performance and recovery. I slept 10.5 hours a night for each of the stages of UM. Each night I slept without feeling hungry during the night. To me, this is evidence that I was eating enough.
Monomeals are meals that consist of only one food. Monomeals digest with ease, as the body only has to focus on a single item. I find monomeals incredibly satiating. For UM, eating monomeals before, after, and during the race, kept my gut happy and functioning. I was never bored of dates. For my second dinner on day two I wanted a break from bananas, as I wanted a food with greater water content. I went with grapes, which have 69 calories and 80.5 grams of water per 100 grams. As a fruitarian, I have one to two monomeals a day, which is why I was able to eat the same food during a nine hour bike ride without boredom.
Drink lots of water. Being hydrated is crucial to both athletic performance and athletic recovery. All body functions rely on water; the body needs water to absorb salt and to convert sugars to glycogen. I drank a ton of water. I kept it coming in a regular intervals. I have a rule when I race: when I think of water, I drink water.
The video version. And a video about electrolytes will be arriving shortly.