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  1. #1
    Gumnut Peddler
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    Allen Lim Demonstrates why you shouldnt drink your calories - thoughts?

    Found this vid on the net, and found it really interesting to see what happens to your bodies when you drink cal's on a ride.

    Allen Lim Demonstrates Why You Shouldn’t Drink Your Calories, UPDATED - Bike Rumor

    Given that I participate in A LOT of XC races over the course of the year, I am now rethinking my hydration/food intake when on the bike.

    Watch the video, and let me know your thoughts? Will be interesting to hear what others have to say on the subject.

    Would have also been interesting to see what happens if you eat calories instead of drinking calories. Would you still dehydrate to a degree? I would say that it would happen as your body would use water to digest food. The question is, would you dehydrate as much?
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  2. #2
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    An advertisement for Lim by Lim.

  3. #3
    hispanic mechanic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grinderz View Post
    Found this vid on the net, and found it really interesting to see what happens to your bodies when you drink cal's on a ride.

    Allen Lim Demonstrates Why You Shouldn’t Drink Your Calories, UPDATED - Bike Rumor

    Given that I participate in A LOT of XC races over the course of the year, I am now rethinking my hydration/food intake when on the bike.

    Watch the video, and let me know your thoughts? Will be interesting to hear what others have to say on the subject.

    Would have also been interesting to see what happens if you eat calories instead of drinking calories. Would you still dehydrate to a degree? I would say that it would happen as your body would use water to digest food. The question is, would you dehydrate as much?
    When you eat your calories, you create a bolus, basically a compacted ball of food. It's essentially a slow-release calorie ball. There's no significant increase in the osmolality of the contents of your small intestine, where the majority of water absorption takes place.

    I have personal experience with this. In last year's High Cascades 100, I decided to try something new- Infinit Nutrition's customized drink mix. I trained with it, and felt like I had a harder time staying hydrated, but chalked it up to living in South Texas and having to train in infernal heat. In the past (Shenandoah 100, El Paso Puzzler 50, Miles of DisComfort,) I'd taken in most of my calories through food, but I liked the idea of combining all my needs into one product ("no gels, no pills, no bars!") This was before I started my education as a Health/Nutritional Coach.

    About 30 miles in, I was experiencing some serious signs of dehydration- cramping, nausea, headache... I was on track with volume of fluids and calories, but my body just couldn't absorb it all. At the next check point, I switched over to Skratch Labs Everyday Hydration Mix, which I packed in a drop bag just in case.

    Switching to a low-osmolality drink and getting my calories from food saved my race, changed the way I though about endurance nutrition, and piqued my interest in nutrition in general. Now, I have no affiliation with Skratch Labs or Allen Lim. I do buy some of their products, but mostly make my own. There is at least one other company, Osmo, who bases their products on these concepts.

    -Dirty $anchez- While I agree that Lim is trying to sell products, his science is well-founded and peer-reviewed.

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  4. #4
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    Given the human stomach linings inability to meet our hydration and nutritional needs simply, I'm inclined to bypass it all together and achieve most of what I need intravenously. Other than the suspicion that this is stupid, dangerous, abnormal and just plain wrong, does anyone see any issues?

  5. #5
    hispanic mechanic
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    Allen Lim Demonstrates why you shouldnt drink your calories - thoughts?

    Ummm... I have to admit that, in my rugby days, we would often IV a potassium drip during tournaments. The combination of several games (and several kegs...) led to fairly serious dehydration.
    Effective, but maybe not the most recommended method.

    Los
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  6. #6
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    The video's fun to watch, but it's really just demonstrating osmosis, which isn't how our bodies actually fuel or hydrate. It's a good thing too because we'd be limited to a calorie rate that would barely let us get out of bed, let alone go ride our bikes for hours.

    This is a little simplified, but we have active transport mechanisms (pumps) in the small intestine for glucose and fructose molecules. These are sodium-potassium pumps, like most of the pumps in our body (sweat pumps, cell fuel and waste, etc), and they require sodium ions present in the fuel mix to function. The transport mechanisms pump glucose/fructose + sodium from the small intestine into the bloodstream. This creates a tonicity difference that drives water into the blood as well. The transport process actually drives in water at a higher rate than if you were consuming just water alone, and it's the primary way we absorb fuel and electrolytes. None of that is happening in the egg demo.

    Everything we consume goes into our stomach, where it's all mixed together and has to be broken down into small particles before it can pass into the small intestine. There aren't separate pathways for liquids and solids, so they have to be considered together as one when using both to meet calorie needs. Liquids pass the fastest, solids the slowest, and gels and chews somewhere in between (often athletes don't take in enough water with gels and chews to process them). Then in the small intesine, the fuel has to be digested into glucose and fructose so it can be absorbed via the active transport mechanisms. Foods that require a lot of digestive effort are taxing and can lead to GI distress or stomach problems, plus it's not doing your muscles any good while it's hanging around being digested.

    Sipping 200-300 kcal per hour (about the practical limit most of us can utilize) of a fuel mix that mimics what our small intestines can absorb is least taxing on the digestive system and fuels muscles the fastest. Fuels with more complex molecules and solid foods take more digestive effort and time to break down into absorbable elements. Meanwhile, we're burning >500 kcal per hour at moderate+ intensities, always running a deficit, so the calories are needed without delay to keep energy levels high and preserve glycogen stores.
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  7. #7
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    Ok, so I take a sport drink or two with me when I ride.
    Nothing fancy as I am not a competitive athlete.
    I just enjoy riding and therefore the longer I ride, the more enjoyment I get.

    With me on my trips, I have been taking a hydration pack with 70oz of water (but just bought a 100oz pack). I also just switched to powdered gatorade (low cal G2).
    This is only 50 cals per 20oz bottle. I drink it more for replacing electrolytes than anything else. Along the ride, I do eat usually cliff bars and pack a lunch for my all day affairs.

    So I assume from watching this video that up to 2 bottles of a 50cal solution in 20oz of water for a total of 100 cal in 40oz of water over a period of 6+ hours is not bad. Or should I consider diluting the solution and maybe splitting 1 pack in to 2 bottles. If so, will I get enough electrolytes?

    I also know there is probably better stuff than powdered low cal G2 but I am budget minded too and since I am not competing being at 100% at any cost is not my concern.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  8. #8
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    Kjlued, one of the problems with the video is it compares a low calorie drink to higher calorie mixes, but doesn't factor in the additional calories you need to eat to sustain riding effort. You are meeting your calorie needs with cliff bars and lunch. In your stomach, it all gets mixed together, and your body doesn't know what you drank vs ate. The food + drink combo completely changes the osmolarity of the mix in your stomach, making the video irrelevant.

    Bottom line, you need between 200-300 calories per hour depending on intensity, duration, and your personal calorie needs. You also need sufficient water (24 oz per hour is a good place to start), and electrolytes to replace what you sweat. Whether you get those from a drink, through bars, food, and supplements, or a combo is up to you, though contrary to the video, a complete drink is actually the easiest form for your body to absorb.
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  9. #9
    hispanic mechanic
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    Quote Originally Posted by avblur View Post
    Kjlued, one of the problems with the video is it compares a low calorie drink to higher calorie mixes, but doesn't factor in the additional calories you need to eat to sustain riding effort. You are meeting your calorie needs with cliff bars and lunch. In your stomach, it all gets mixed together, and your body doesn't know what you drank vs ate. The food + drink combo completely changes the osmolarity of the mix in your stomach, making the video irrelevant.

    Bottom line, you need between 200-300 calories per hour depending on intensity, duration, and your personal calorie needs. You also need sufficient water (24 oz per hour is a good place to start), and electrolytes to replace what you sweat. Whether you get those from a drink, through bars, food, and supplements, or a combo is up to you, though contrary to the video, a complete drink is actually the easiest form for your body to absorb.
    I have to disagree with you. While you bring up very valid points about this demonstration's oversimplification of water absorption, there are a few facts that can't be ignored.

    First, while osmosis doesn't account for all water uptake, it's still an important process.
    Second, you're forgetting bolus formation and it's effect on digestion. It's not as though the solid food you take in gets distributed throughout the gut- in fact, the rate of bolus disintegration doesn't significantly change the osmolality in the stomach and small intestine.
    Third, we need to account for glycogen and fat that's stored in the muscles and liver. In 100 mile races, or any other event that's longer than 5-6 hours, caloric replacement needs to be higher. But in shorter duration events, 150-160 calories of intake should be sufficient.

    kjlued- please keep in mind that your body reacts to artificial sweeteners. The endocrine system doesn't know the difference, so the pancreas secretes insulin as a response. You may want to do some research on several studies on the neurological and endocrine damage from aspartame. Lower concentrate drinks using a carbohydrate source like fructose and glucose are far less harmful than artificial sweeteners.

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  10. #10
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    Osmosis is an important process, but not the dominant one. Studies have shown that what you lose in osmotic flow with a higher concentration formulation is more than offset by active transport (up to a point).

    A food bolus does meter in fuel, and the composition of the food makes a big difference in quickly it disintegrates. But there's no way around the fact that the carbohydrates emptying from the stomach into the small intestine come from both the drink and the disintegrating bolus. If you're getting 80 calories per hour from a drink mix, that leaves 120-170 per hour coming from the bolus in an endurance scenario, and those calories are mixed into the fluid that empties from the stomach into the small intestine.

    Definitely agree with you on the shorter duration and lower calorie needs. Well-trained athletes can often go 2-2.5 hours on glycogen stores and water alone (though they would deplete glycogen stores, which affects recovery). Also on the comment about artificial sweeteners. You might want to read up on fructose as well. It's got some downsides as a fuel used in large quantities.
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  11. #11
    Vegan on the S-Works
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    I always enjoy reading and listening to Lim. He has some great points often. Still this is just a marketing gig IMHO. He got his fame coaching dopers that use guys like Lim to pretend its the 'marginal gainz' that let them perform so well but its actually just the EPO etc lol!

    When you are juiced to the gills, as long as you have a half decent hydration and carb intake and sleep pattern you will dominate.

    Lim doesnt even look lean meaning he either doesnt practice he preaches or his programme doesnt work. Id say the later.

    All said Lim is a GURU when it comes to power data and understanding it. He is also a good presenter. He needs to step outside the square when it comes to nutrition cos he is just parroting old crap that has been debunked over and over. Just look how many cyclists can't maintain the extreme dieting their coaches put em on. They blow right out and lose mega fitness as soon as they get injured, suspended or retire usually.

  12. #12
    hispanic mechanic
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    Quote Originally Posted by durianrider View Post
    He needs to step outside the square when it comes to nutrition cos he is just parroting old crap that has been debunked over and over.
    I'd love to see any peer-reviewed study "debunking" the effect of solutes in water absorption.

    I'm not arguing Lim's involvement with questionably ethical cyclists and teams. We aren't discussing that. What we are discussing is how increased osmolality affects uptake of water in the human body.

    As avblur and I both mentioned, the process of absorption is far more complex than osmosis. The demonstration hugely over-simplifies things, and as such is not terribly valuable for anything other than marketing.


    Los
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  13. #13
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    To say the video is a oversimplification is kind. It is inaccurate physiology and should be taken as strictly marketing.
    I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, I just hate vegetables.

  14. #14
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    I generally like Lim and his products for a certain group, but this is straight snake oil salesmanship.

    His advocacy for real food is right when he is fueling people that have time to eat real food on the bike. Tour riders that spend 5 hrs a day on the bike for 3 weeks need to be getting real nutrition, not just sugar water. However, most mountain bikers don't have that luxury. It's hard enough to drink liquids during a mtb race, let alone eat a rice cake., even during endurance events. Granted multi-day racers like in the ctr, need to have real food coming in.

    He also advocates higher hydration levels, and I agree with that, but you can get that by having more concentrated drinks than his, maybe less than other brands, but drinking more of it, as long as the electrolytes are high enough. Also, by using more digestible higher glycemic index carbs, such as maltodextrine, you can improve absorption rates to a higher concentration than with just dextrose or sucrose. Also, maltodextrine also helps reduce the sweetness in drinks that many find unpalatable after a few hours.

    His drinks are nice that it eliminates artificial flavors and colors.

    Enough people here have already chimed in why the gut does not work as he portrays it in the video, I'll just say I agree with those comments

    Lim, I have a hard time calling you Dr after seeing this pitch. The CU Integrative Physiology Department should be calling you out on this one.

  15. #15
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    I find this thread very informative. I am getting ready to race my first 62 and 100 mile MTB race this summer and am trying to figure out the best way to fuel my body during these races. I see racers in the TDF eating rice cakes, small sandwiches and all kinds of "real" food, I have done 100 mile road rides ( not races) and fueled up at the rest stops on PB&J, Bananas, cookies, Clif bars, and find it seems to work well. I wonder how that diet will work on the upcoming MTB races. I have ordered some Infinit drink mix and am going to test that. The RAAM rides use a product called Spitz and swear by it. Anyone have any tried and proven long distance race fuel that you can pass along?
    Last edited by Ohiorick; 04-07-2013 at 04:28 PM.

  16. #16
    hispanic mechanic
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    Ohiorick- The Infinit didn't work for me, but I've heard many others for whom it has. My body certainly does much better with real food, combined with a lower osmolality electrolyte/carb drink. It's really important to find what your body needs, which will most likely be different in lower intensity training than in higher intensity race situations. Try simulating race situations at least a few times before races to see what your body does well with.

    Whambat- I've found that eating real food is not terribly difficult in the endurance events I've done. There always seems to be a mellow section where I can take a couple of bites, or if nothing else I can stop for 20 seconds. 100 milers are long, and the short stops are worth it compared to the time lost becoming dehydrated or running out of fuel. Keep in mind, I'm certainly not at the top of the single speed leader boars, but I'm faster than many geared riders to the finish line. A truly competitive racer may have a different experience than me with regard to time lost eating.

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  17. #17
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    I have used Infinit for years, and it works great for me. When I did the Shenandoah Mountain 100, I rode for 14 hours, and never once felt hungry, had no GI issues, no cramping, nothing. The only thing that got to me was the taste after awhile, but I have since dialed it down, so it barely has any flavor now, and that appears to be working fine for me at the moment.

  18. #18
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    avblur.. the voice of reason in a bunch of recent nonsense. Whole foods are cool, but training your gut to accept them during intense efforts and training yourself to meter them out properly with the optimum ratio of water is a tall order. Let us not throw that baby out with the bath water. Electrolyte drinks are outstanding for the length of efforts that are typical for MTB races.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sslos View Post

    Whambat- I've found that eating real food is not terribly difficult in the endurance events I've done. There always seems to be a mellow section where I can take a couple of bites, or if nothing else I can stop for 20 seconds. 100 milers are long, and the short stops are worth it compared to the time lost becoming dehydrated or running out of fuel. Keep in mind, I'm certainly not at the top of the single speed leader boars, but I'm faster than many geared riders to the finish line. A truly competitive racer may have a different experience than me with regard to time lost eating.

    Los
    Yeah, I know a few people that are successful with real food, maybe its better overall. I was more or less just offended by Lim's over simplification of the gut in his pitch, and I was probably a little cranky when I wrote that.
    I also know plenty of people that solid food doesn't work for, so it just comes down o individual preference.
    I make my own drinks and make something similar to skratch, but even lower calories, when I take real food on training rides and my wife prefers it over anything else with a higher calorie count, but she also doesn't do anything close to approaching a race. It's also my favorite pre-ride hydration as it doesn't create an insulin spike but it also prevents watering down the electrolytes in the blood stream.

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