Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A REAL Food Concept Rather Than Manufactured Food For The Athlete

During the High Cascade 100 last year I reached a point when I could no longer take in another swig of the Hammer product that was in my bottle or in my Hammer flask (gel). I was done with all of it. I just wanted REAL food. "Back in the day" (I can say that since I started racing mountain bikes in the mid 80s) our fuel was real food. Bananas and oranges were the most used at aid stations along with cookies, PBJs the size of a Tapas and water. We did long races too. Typically 2-4 hours were the finishing times. Granted the food was not as convenient as today's products but, again, it was real and did not leaving me wanting to hurl with the next suck on the bottle or bite of an energy bar.

My solution to this great dilemma: make my own energy drink using real food. Can Hammer product be BETTER than REAL food in terms of bringing me to a higher level of performance? Logic, of course, dictates a big 'NO' to that question. But, like many, I bought into the rhetoric or, more so, the convenience about performance fuels. Until now.

A few months back we bought a Vitamix blender. For those not familiar with the Vitamix it is a high powered commercial blender that you might think when first turning it to HIGH your lights will suddenly dim in your house. It is that powerful. My wife has always questioned manufactured endurance fuels and suggested I just make a smoothie. Novel ideal. So with the Vitamix sitting on the counter and ready to go I started to experiment. And much to my delight and not really surprised the smoothies work fantastic. After all I am giving my body fuel that we are designed to eat....for the most part...the oats and honey are somewhat of a deviation from that idea but they are...REAL. And they taste good...I get to design the taste around what I am feeling like on a particular day.

An idea to try (this is what I have been doing for 2 bottles):
1 cup blue berries
1 or 2 bananas
1 heaping spoon of honey
1 heaping spoon of almond butter (that I make in the Vitamix after roasting the almonds)
1 cup whole oats (Vitamix will leave you wondering where the oats went...no grittiness whatsoever)
water as much as needed to thin it out and have it fill 2 bottles
Blend on HIGH for 30-60 seconds and it will be smooth.

I have also thrown a carrot in there, kale and chard (a leaf or two...excellent source of vitamins and minerals) as well. One could also get some caffeine in there is wanted with the toss of a few beans (the Vitamix will surely blend it but I am not sure about less powerful blenders) or a shot of espresso. The possibilities are endless and are only limited by one's imagination.

It really has been amazing and kept me going strong. No question about it. My stomach never feels that nasty feeling like after using those manufactured fuels on long rides. 

Should you try it out shoot me a note and let me know if it worked out. Also, if you have a tasty recipe that you would be willing to share let me know so I an try it out and post it.

Thanks for reading!