Athlete Education Series
Conquer the most extreme workouts & races with complete confidence!
By Steve Born
In mid-October of 2002, I set out on an ultra cycling feat that had never been attempted – a back-to-back crossing of the brutal Furnace Creek 508 route (a total of 1,016 miles and approximately 70,000 feet of climbing). The plan was to ride the course backward in a fast-but-sensible amount of time, stop for a couple hours of sleep at the starting line hotel, then do the actual Furnace Creek 508 race—competing against the rest of the field of riders—as the second half of the record attempt . . . a Double Furnace Creek 508.
My primary fuel? A new concoction developed by Dr. Bill Misner, Hammer Nutrition’s now-retired head of R & D. I remember him hand-making batches of this new fuel for me to test in my training and, not to sound too clichéd, I took to it like a fish to water. This new fuel really, really worked, even better than I could have imagined, and I had the best training sessions in memory. I received one final batch of the product prior to the record attempt and planned on using it as my primary fuel during an undertaking I could only imagine would be as difficult, if not more so, than anything else I had ever attempted.
To make a long story short, my support crew and I successfully completed history’s first and only Double Furnace Creek 508, finishing the 1,018-mile, reverse-to- forward course in a bit over 82 hours (sleep break and other stops, such as clothing changes, included), with about 75.5 hours of the 82+ comprised of on-the-bike time. I used this new fuel, which would eventually be called Perpetuem (think “perpetual energy”) for roughly 70% of the time that I was on the bike, which equates to 53 or so hours out of the 75.5 hours of riding time. That’s a lot of hours to test the effectiveness of a fuel and I can tell you from firsthand experience that Perpetuem worked perfectly (NOTE: Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel took care of most of the remaining hours of fueling requirements).
I was so thrilled about how well Perpetuem worked that the first person I called upon completion of the race was Hammer Nutrition company owner, Brian Frank. I had completed my successful Double 508 somewhere between 11 p.m. and midnight, Pacific Coast Time (an hour earlier than the time in Montana), so I knew that I’d most likely be waking him out of a deep sleep. It didn’t matter, I had to tell him that I was successful and that Perpetuem worked phenomenally (I think I said something like, “Dude, this stuff is awesome; we just have to get it in other endurance athletes’ hands as soon as possible!”)
In early 2003, we introduced the original Orange-Vanilla Perpetuem. Six years later we introduced the caffè latte flavor, and endurance athletes have been raving about how incredibly well Perpetuem works for them. If you’ve never given Perpetuem a thorough test in your training, now is the time to do so. You can definitely rely on it to fuel your body thoroughly; it will get you where you want to go, no matter how long or hard it may be, trust me. To give you a better idea about Perpetuem’s efficacy, some ingredient information is in order . . .
Complex carbohydrates – Approximately 75% of the formula is comprised of long-chain maltodextrins (complex carbohydrates), with no added simple sugars. Later in this piece we’ll discuss precisely why we don’t use simple sugars (such as glucose, sucrose, or fructose), or combinations of different types of carbohydrates in Perpetuem or any of the Hammer Nutrition fuels. For now, we’ll simply say that if you want consistent, reliable, and long-lasting energy, complex carbohydrates are the ONLY kind of carbohydrates that you want to put in your body.
Soy protein – When exercise goes into the second hour and beyond, you need to incorporate some protein into the fuel mix. At this time, and continuing until you stop your activity, about 5-15% of your caloric utilization comes from protein. This process, called gluconeogenesis, is unavoidable and if you don’t supply the needed protein in your fuel, your body will literally scavenge it from your own muscle tissue. This is called catabolism (muscle breakdown), known informally, but quite accurately, as “protein cannibalization.” It can cause premature muscle fatigue—due to excess ammonia production from the protein breakdown process—as well as excess muscle tissue breakdown and post-exercise soreness. Protein cannibalization also compromises your immune system.
A “carb only” fuel (Hammer Gel or HEED) is perfectly acceptable for workouts and races lasting up to two hours, sometimes up to three hours under certain conditions. The majority of the time, however, when training sessions or races go beyond two or so hours, a “carb + protein” fuel, Perpetuem, should be used as your primary-to-sole fuel, fulfilling about three-quarters or more of your energy requirements.
The preferred protein for use during prolonged exercise is soy, primarily because its metabolization does not readily produce ammonia. Whey protein, with its high glutamine content, makes an excellent post-workout protein, but is not a good choice before or during exercise. You’re already producing ammonia during exercise, so consuming glutamine-enhanced whey protein will only exacerbate the problem.
There is some confusion regarding the glutamine and ammonia buildup. Yes, glutamine does eventually scavenge ammonia. The key word, however, is “eventually.” When glutamine metabolizes, it increases ammonia initially, but then scavenges more than originally induced, but it takes approximately three hours or so to accomplish this.
Soy protein has a couple of other great features, too. First, it is an easily digestible protein. Second, it has an excellent amino acid profile, with a substantial proportion of branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, which your body readily converts for energy. During exercise, nitrogen is removed from BCAAs and used in the production of another amino acid, alanine, high amounts of which also occur naturally in soy protein. The liver converts alanine into glucose, which the bloodstream transports to the muscles for energy. BCAAs and glutamic acid, another amino acid found in significant quantities in soy protein, also aid in the replenishing of glutamine within the body without the risk of ammonia production caused by orally ingested glutamine.
Soy’s amino acid profile has high amounts of both alanine and histidine, which are the amino acid components of the dipeptide known as carnosine, a nutrient known for its antioxidant and acid buffering benefits. Soy protein also has a high level of aspartic acid, which plays an important role in energy production via the Krebs cycle. Additionally, soy protein has high levels of phenylalanine, which may aid in maintaining alertness during extreme ultra distance races.
Lastly, soy produces more uric acid than whey protein. This might not sound good, but uric acid is actually an antioxidant that helps neutralize the excessive free radicals produced during exercise. High uric acid levels, from soy’s naturally occurring isoflavones, are another strong reason for preferring soy protein during endurance exercise.
Lyso-lecithin fatty acids – The longer you exercise, the more your body relies on stored fatty acids to satisfy its fueling requirements. This is because the body, though burning upwards of several hundred calories hourly, is not capable of accepting or assimilating more than approximately one-third of its calorie expenditure from your fuel donation. In other words, you can’t replace all of the calories that you expend. Fortunately, your body easily “bridges the gap” via its vast supply of calories in the form of fatty acids. Needless to say, fatty acids are the fuel of choice when exercise goes beyond about two hours, providing approximately 60-65% of your caloric expenditure.
The small percentage of healthy, soy-derived fat in Perpetuem seems to cue your body to more liberally release its fatty acid stores. A little fat in the fuel also slightly slows the rate of digestion and thus promotes “caloric satisfaction,” another attractive plus during primarily aerobic ultra distance events.
Sodium tribasic phosphate – This is the main nutrient found in Hammer Nutrition’s Race Day Boost product, and is included in Perpetuem in a specific, hourly effective dose. Sodium phosphate is an exceptional buffering agent that neutralizes the effects of excess lactic acid during exercise and helps to increase endurance by balancing the acid/alkaline levels in the blood. Phosphates are also part of a compound found in red blood cells known as 2,3-DPG, an enzyme that releases oxygen from hemoglobin into the muscle cells. Increased amounts and availability of sodium phosphate in the body helps to increase/maximize the concentrations of 2,3-DPG, which improves the availability of oxygen to working muscles for the process of creating ATP, thus aiding in increased endurance.
The electrolytes that are in Perpetuem weren’t put in there intentionally, as they are in HEED; they’re just what occurs naturally from the ingredients in the product. For example, Perpetuem has a bit more sodium in it because of the sodium tribasic phosphate nutrient that it contains (sodium phosphate being a great acid-neutralizing agent). In addition, it has a pretty good amount of calcium and potassium (which comes from the soy protein and maltodextrin) in a two-scoop serving.
Dr. Bill Misner writes, “The electrolyte profile in Perpetuem must be described with reservations as a ‘Self-Contained Electrolyte Profile.’ This merits a precautionary statement suggesting that an athlete may not need to consume as many Endurolytes with Perpetuem. Some using Perpetuem, but not all, who normally use only 1-2 Endurolytes per hour may be able to go without Endurolytes supplementation. The self-contained electrolyte profile in Perpetuem is therefore equivalent to approximately 1-2 Endurolytes per hour dose, depending on the individual athlete. All athletes using Perpetuem should trial this suggestion first in training by reducing a former Endurolytes dose 1-2 capsules per hour.”
What this means is that there are some athletes who find that they can lower their Endurolytes intake by one capsule per hour, sometimes two, when they use Perpetuem. I (Steve Born) have personally not found this to be the case for me but some athletes (again though, not all) are able to get by on just Perpetuem—or with fewer Endurolytes—for meeting their electrolyte requirements.
Auxiliary nutrients – Perpetuem also contains:
- L-carnosine (a.k.a. Carnosine), a naturally occurring dipeptide from the amino acids histidine and alanine, it functions primarily to buffer lactate buildup in the muscles and acts as a multiple free radical-scavenging antioxidant.
- L-carnitine, which is made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine, acts as a transporter of fatty acids into the mitochondria (energy producing “furnaces”) of muscle cells where they are burned for energy production. If the body is depleted or low in L-carnitine, our fatty acid reserves are unavailable because they lack sufficient amounts of this carrier agent.
- Chromium polynicotinate, a trace mineral that supports efficient carbohydrate metabolism and stable blood sugar levels.
- Choline Barbitrate, a member of the B-complex family, also helps the body access its stored fatty acids for energy conversion.
No simple sugars – If you want to enjoy quality energy, it’s imperative to avoid the use of any fuel that contains carbohydrates with the last three letters “ose” in their name. We’re talking about glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, and galactose. They’re what we call simple sugars (1- or 2-chain carbohydrates) and here’s why you need to avoid them:
- They provide a very inconsistent and short-lived “peak & valley,” “flash & crash” type of energy. Unless you want to ride a roller coaster of energy—feeling great for a few brief moments, then struggling to get out of an energy rut—you’d do well to avoid consumption of simple sugars.
- Simple sugar fuels have strict limitations in regards to how many calories the body can accept, assimilate, and utilize for energy. A concentration of 6-8% is the limit; any more concentrated than that and the fuel will be substantially delayed from digesting efficiently, which means an increased risk of a variety of stomach-related problems such as nausea, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. The problem is that a 6-8% concentration is fairly weak in regards to calorie donation, providing only up to about 100 calories per hour, if that. For the average athlete, let alone a larger one, this is an inadequate amount for maintaining optimal energy production hour after hour.What this all means when it comes to an energy fuel that contains simple sugars is that you’ll need more fluid to get it through the GI tract efficiently. When you try to fulfill your body’s optimal calorie requirements by consuming increased quantities of simple sugar-containing energy fuels, you end up having to drink copious amounts of fluids, which can lead to overhydration, and that has a whole host of problems associated with it.
- Most of us already over-consume simple sugars from our daily diets. Numerous studies clearly show that sugar consumption in America is outrageously high. A report from the Berkeley Wellness Letter stated that each American consumes about 133 pounds (60+ kg) of sugar annually . . . that’s over one-third of a pound of sugar every day, 365 days a year! The USDA’s “Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970–2005” (www. ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB33/ EIB33.pdf) illustrates the U.S. sugar/sweetener–consumption problem even more in stating, “In 2005, added sugars and sweeteners available for consumption totaled 142 pounds per person, up 19 percent since 1970.” Excess sugar consumption is implicated in a number of health problems so, for that reason alone, you’d want to avoid putting them in your body during exercise. NOTE: Check out the article, 146 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health it’s a real eye-opening article that will enlighten you to the health hazard properties of simple sugars.
Bottom line: Simple sugars are inefficient fuels, they have little or no value for the exercising athlete, and they have numerous negative health consequences associated with them. AVOID THEM!
No multiple carbohydrate sources – Hammer Nutrition is uncompromising in our stance on the use of complex carbohydrates as THE preferred choice, no matter what the distance or intensity, and all of our fuels—including Perpetuem—contain only complex carbohydrates and no added simple sugars.
However, findings from research conducted by the Dutch sport scientist Asker Jeukendrup have caused quite a stir. In fact, a few companies produce fuels that contain the carbohydrate formulations used in the studies. Here’s the deal: Dr. Jeukendrup’s studies found that a blend of carbohydrates increased oxidation rates, indicating higher energy production. In one study, cyclists who ingested a 2:1 mixture of maltodextrin to fructose oxidized carbohydrate up to 1.5 grams/ minute, or 360 calories per hour. Another study used a mixture of glucose, fructose, and sucrose and had rates that peaked at 1.7 g/ min, or 408 calories per hour. Both of those results are pretty eye opening, considering that complex carbohydrates typically oxidize at a rate of about 1.0 g/min.
However, when you look a little deeper into the research, a key thing comes to the surface. In these studies, subjects cycled at low intensity, only 50-55% maximum power output, which I think we’d all agree is very much a recovery pace, if that; it’s definitely not the kind of output you have when training or racing! To be blunt, at a leisurely 50% VO2 Max pace, athletes can digest cheeseburgers and pizza with no gastric issues. However, if the heart rate is raised to only 70% VO2Max—which also means core temperatures are raised as well—everything changes drastically: the body must divert core-accumulated heat from central to peripheral. This reduces the blood volume available to absorb ingested carbohydrates or whatever the athlete has consumed.
After over two decades of experience, we have found that in the overwhelming majority of the athletes we’ve worked with—athletes engaged in typical 70-85% efforts and/or in multi-hour endurance events—the combination of simple sugars and long-chain carbohydrates (and even complex carbohydrates for that matter), in amounts higher than 1.0 – 1.1 grams per minute (4.1 to slightly-over-4.6 calories per minute/240-280 calories per hour), have not yielded positive results. They did, however, increase performance-inhibiting, stomachrelated maladies.
Dr. Bill Misner summarizes: “Absorption rate and how fast the liver can ‘kick it out’ are limiting factors. No matter what you eat, how much or how little, the body provides glucose to the bloodstream at a rate of about 1 gram/minute. Putting more calories in than can generate energy taxes gastric venues, electrolyte stores, and fluid levels.”
Bottom line: The question is not whether Dr. Jeukendrup’s published studies are disputable, but rather, “Do the results of these studies apply to faster-paced, longer duration bouts of exercise?” We adamantly do not believe this to be the case, which is why we do not recommend the use of multiple carbohydrate sources during exercise. Stick with complex carbohydrate fuels—not simple sugars or fuels containing multiple carbohydrate sources—and we guarantee that you’ll see better results.
NOTE: You’ll notice that fructose was used in the Jeukendrup studies. However, we are convinced that this is not an acceptable carbohydrate source. Need proof? Check out the following articles on the Hammer Nutrition website:
- Fructose Sweeteners Negatively Impact Blood Sugar and Lipid Metabolism, Inhibiting Energy Production
- Fructose (corn syrup) is No Answer For a Sweetener
- Osmolality Review: The Biochemistry of Fuels Absorption
No preservatives – Some endurance fuels contain preservatives to help extend the “shelf life” of the protein component once mixed in solution. This may be convenient but we don’t believe that this convenience should take precedent over your health. Preservatives provide absolutely no benefits for athletic performance or general health—we consider them health hazards, in fact—which is why we do not include them in Perpetuem.
As a result of this, however, once mixed in solution the protein component in Perpetuem is affected in the following ways:
- At some point in time it will eventually sour and no longer be acceptable for consumption.
- It tends to separate after awhile and may settle on the bottom of a bottle or hydration pack bladder.
We believe that not having preservatives in the products is far more important than these two minor inconveniences.
No 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein – Earlier in this piece we mentioned that during prolonged bouts of exercise, about 5-15% of your energy needs will need to be fulfilled from protein. When you think about it, that’s actually a very small percentage in the overall fueling “picture.” That’s why the ratio of carbohydrates to protein should be skewed much more in favor of carbohydrates—we believe that during exercise a 7-8:1 ratio is much more appropriate than a 4:1 ratio—and that is reflected in the Perpetuem formula.
It’s one thing for the Hammer staff to give the “thumbs up” when it comes to a new Hammer Nutrition supplement and/or a new flavor of a Hammer Nutrition fuel . . . after testing so many permutations of a product or flavor over the course of many months, chances are we’re going to love the final result.
Conversely, it may be another thing altogether for our clients to embrace a new product and/or flavor as voraciously as we do. With that said, as long as I’ve been working here at Hammer Nutrition (10 years) I have yet to witness such overwhelmingly positive feedback from our clients on any of our products as I have the Caffé Latte flavor of Perpetuem. Now that it’s been in the Hammer Nutrition line for about a year or so, to say it’s been well received is a huge understatement!
If you’ve yet to try Perpetuem (and why have you waited this long to begin with?!?) we have no doubt that you’ll love the Caffé Latte flavor. Seriously, while the Orange-Vanilla flavor of Perpetuem is still loved by many Hammer clients (including yours truly), the Caffé Latte flavor of the finest endurance fuel around is just superb. And, that little touch of caffeine (12.5 mg per scoop) really comes in handy. It’s nowhere near enough to get you “jangled” but it is enough to provide a nice, continuous little energy “spark.”
Lastly, this is one flavor of an energy fuel that tastes good even when it’s warm . . . how could a true Caffé Latte flavor not?! If you even remotely enjoy the taste of coffee, latte, cappuccino, or anything similar, you have simply got to try the Caffé Latte Perpetuem. It really is that delicious and it works even better than it tastes.
While more and more “endurance fuels” seem to be popping up in ever-increasing numbers, Perpetuem stands alone when it comes to enhancing athletic performance during prolonged exercise. Why? Because we didn’t take any short cuts when designing Perpetuem; it contains the highest quality ingredients—the right ingredients— in the correct amounts & ratios.
Perpetuem has been successfully used in the world’s toughest endurance contests. By using Perpetuem during your longerduration workouts and races, you can stay focused on the job at hand and not have to worry about whether or not you’re going to come up short on energy or get sick from your fuel. As with all Hammer Nutrition products, we guarantee your satisfaction with Perpetuem 100%. Give it a thorough test in your training— especially the phenomenally-tasting Caffé Latte flavor—and see how good you’ll feel when you fuel right! We guarantee you will not find a higher quality, more powerful fuel to use when your workouts or races go beyond 2-3 hours in length.
The goal in fueling is not to try and replace all of the calories that your body is burning with equal to near–equal amounts from your fuel. As explained in various articles found in The Endurance Athlete’s Guide to Success, on the Hammer Nutrition website, and in back issues of Endurance News, the human body is not equipped to replace “X” out with “X” or “near–X” in. Fortunately, the body has many built–in mechanisms that effectively bridge the gap between what it’s losing and what it can comfortably accept in return from your fuel donation. That’s why your focus should NOT be “How many calories can I consume before I get sick?” but rather, “What is the least amount of calories that I need to consume to keep my body doing what I want it to do hour after hour?”Fueling this way—the “less is best” approach—makes much more sense, if only because a “not enough calories” problem is significantly easier to fix (you simply consume more calories) than an “uh oh, I overdid it on the calories” problem.
During exercise, the average–size athlete’s liver can effectively return 4.0 to slightly over 4.6 calories per minute back to the energy cycle. That’s 240 – 280 calories per hour MAXIMUM for the average– size athlete under normal conditions. However, we have consistently noted that most athletes do well on even fewer calories, so average-size athletes (approximately 160–165 lbs/approx 72.5–75 kg) should look at that 240 – 280 gauge only as a reference point (you’ll notice that our recommendations are even less than those amounts). Of course, larger athletes, on occasion, may need slightly more calories and lighter athletes will most certainly need fewer calories.
All athletes must be willing to alter their calorie intake in deference to the weather, the terrain, their pace, and any pre–race anxieties they’re experiencing, as all of these things negatively affect optimal digestive system functioning.
Specifically in regards to Perpetuem, due to this being a high concentration, “meal in a bottle” calorie source (via its complex carbohydrate, soy protein, and healthy fat components), we have noted that many athletes do well with a substantially lower calorie intake when using Perpetuem as their primary–to–sole fuel. Therefore, with this particular fuel we highly recommend starting with the lowest amount suggested— perhaps even a bit lower—and work your way up to a higher amount, if a higher amount has proved to be necessary via testing in training. Please refer to the dosage recommendation chart later in this mailer.
Suggested Doses by Body Weight*:
up to 3/4 scoop/hr. This provides approx. 101 calories.
1 scoop/hr. This provides 135 calories.
1.25 to 1.5 scoops/hr. This provides approx. 169 to 202.5 calories.
up to 2 scoops/hr. This provides 270 calories.
*These are estimated doses. Each athlete should determine in training, under a variety of conditions, their personal optimum.
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Hammer Nutrition Supplements: Real Athletes, Real Results!
“I’m an ‘old’ guy in cycling terms and I love to compete and do well. I regularly race in eight-hour solo MTB races in Northern California and have been working to optimize my feeding and hydrating protocols for some time. I recently tried Perpetuem on a recent training (road) ride. I was reluctant to place my bets on one product because I couldn’t believe it could be so easy . . . I read the book from your site and gave the pre-race concept and Perpetuem a try. I was shocked. Since I wanted to leave early, I didn’t eat breakfast and left with only a bottle of water and a two-hour Perpetuem bottle. I carried enough product for a second batch at the half-way point. sixty miles and just over four hours later I returned to the house completely amazed by my performance. No bloating from breakfast, no spikes from gels and no bonking . . . Steady energy throughout the ride and a surprising finish to what started out as an experiment. Can’t wait to try it in a race. I’m hooked!”
- Michael W.
“Love the Caffè Latte Perpetuem! I never used Perpetuem before this year and it is the bomb! I used it on a 60-mile MTB race this spring and a few long road rides this summer. I will be fueling with only Hammer fuels for RAIN (Ride Across INdiana),160 miles in one day. Hammer products have actually been fueling my desire to ride endurance events this year. I know that they work and I feel good during the ride using them. No worries about bonking due to bad fuel.”
- Ben L.
“Any activity I do for more than an hour calls for Perpetuem. It’s easy on the stomach and that lets me concentrate on my sport instead of whether or not I’ll keep my “food” down. I mix it rich, one scoop to 6 oz water, and keep pushing straight water in a second bottle. Good to go, and go some more!”
- David S.
“I use Perpetuem as my main source of fuel for extended races. I put 5-6 scoops in a 24 oz bottle so it’s a thick paste and will use 3-4 bottles during a race. It allows me to maintain a steady intake of calories and proteins, quickly and easily. When we’re racing for 24+ hours, it’s critical to stay properly fueled!”
- Ryan H.
HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink)
The healthy sports drink choice for superior energy
By: Steve Born with Hammer Nutrition
Whether you’re a hardcore athlete, a weekend warrior, or someone whose job requires a lot of physical exertion, chances are you’ve used a number of sports drinks over the years. That’s not at all surprising because they sure have been around for an awfully long time. Unfortunately, even after all these years, most sports drinks haven’t really evolved. Most of them still aren’t much more than artificially colored and flavored sugar water, which provides minimal, if any, benefits for your athletic performance, and definitely nothing beneficial for your health.
That’s precisely why we designed HEED, and ever since its introduction, it’s not just been well received, it’s been hailed as a breakthrough in the world of sports drinks! Seriously, if you use any kind of sports drink to stay hydrated, energized, and refreshed, HEED is your healthy alternative, rising above the liquid junk food constantly peddled to athletes and active people like you. With HEED, you get a product designed for relatively shorter exercise (two hours and under), but one that’s formulated just like the endurance fuels in our line (Sustained Energy and Perpetuem) – quality fuel designed to give you consistent, long-lasting energy.
Before we discuss what’s in HEED that makes it different from the glut of sports drinks flooding the market, let’s look at what it doesn’t contain, which is of equal importance and worth mentioning:
- No simple sugars – You won’t find any of the “ose” type sugars— glucose, sucrose, fructose—in HEED. As with all of the Hammer Nutrition fuels, we use complex carbohydrates with no added refined sugars. One of the primary reasons is because the use of simple sugars in an energy fuel not only severely limits the amount of calories that can be efficiently digested and utilized for energy, it may cause wild fluctuations in energy levels, the “flash and crash” type of energy that you want to avoid at all costs.
- No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners – There are no general health benefits to be derived from consumption of this junk (but plenty of potential negative effects), so it’s guaranteed that there aren’t any athletic performance-enhancing benefits to be garnered either. Put another way, as a health conscious individual, you try your best to avoid consuming foods with these artificial ingredients in them because you know that they have no benefits for you health-wise. Why deviate from that healthy choice when it comes to what you put in your body during exercise? Seriously, is it necessary to artificially color a sports drink neon green to let you know that the flavor is probably lemon-lime?
Bottom line: Avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners in your daily diet and your exercise fuels.
It would have been easy to make a “just like all the others” sports drink but we couldn’t and wouldn’t do it, simply because it wouldn’t benefit you. No, instead of resorting to making a copycat product—one that, as mentioned earlier, would be little more than artificially colored and flavored sugar water—we designed a sports drink that would match the quality of our other fuels. This means no artificial colors (that’s right, no “electric blue” colors), flavors, or sweeteners and, most importantly, NO ADDED SIMPLE SUGARS. Here’s why this is so important . . .
Both simple sugars and complex carbohydrates are absorbed at equal rates IF the solution concentration is within body fluid osmolality parameters (280-300 mOsm). Simple sugars meet this criteria and are effectively emptied from gastric channels only when they are mixed in 6-8% concentrations; any more concentrated than that and digestion will be delayed or halted, which greatly increases the potential for stomach distress. On the other hand, the complex carbohydrates that we use in HEED and our other fuels, match body fluid osmolality even when mixed in concentrations as high as 18%. This presents a distinct advantage because your body is able to digest, and thus convert to energy, a greater volume of calories from complex carbohydrates than it can from simple sugars.
Now, some “experts” disregard osmolality but we do not believe its importance can be overstated. The reason being (quoting/paraphrasing Dr. Bill Misner), “when osmolality goes above 300 or below 280 mOsm, the gut must pull minerals and fluids out of the serum circulates to mediate a narrow 280-300 mOsm range for immediate calorie absorption.” That’s why, when athletes make a “double strength” batch of a simple sugar-based drink in the hopes of obtaining the calories that their body requires, they most often have problems such as gastric stress, bloating, flatulence, vomiting, and muscle cramps. The reason this happens is simply because the mix is substantially higher than the 6-8% concentration limitation and the body is forced to divert electrolytes and fluids to the gut in order to lower the osmolality of this too-highly concentrated sugar mix.
An interesting point to note is that while a simple sugar like glucose has a high glycemic index (GI) rating of 100, the maltodextrin that we use in our fuels has an even higher GI rating of approximately 130. This means that complex carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels similarly, even more effectively than simple sugars (a desirable effect during exercise), but without the rapid and precipitous drop that is a common and non-beneficial effect of simple sugar fuels.
Bottom line: The complex carbohydrates in HEED provide the rapid energy that you want. Additionally, they allow you to obtain the maximum amount of calories that you need, providing more consistent and longer lasting energy without putting you at risk for stomach distress, a common problem associated with simple sugars.
Hammer Nutrition is uncompromising in our stance on the use of complex carbohydrates as THE preferred choice, no matter what the distance or intensity, and all of our fuels—including HEED— contain complex carbohydrates and NO added simple sugars.
However, published reports have caused quite a stir, piquing the interest of many athletes. In fact, a few companies now produce sports fuels that contain the carbohydrate formulations used in the studies. In a nutshell, the research found that a blend of carbohydrates increased oxidation rates, indicating higher energy production. In one study, cyclists who ingested a 2:1 mixture of maltodextrin to fructose oxidized carbohydrates up to 1.5 grams/minute, or 360 calories per hour. Another study used a mixture of glucose, fructose, and sucrose and had rates that peaked at 1.7 g/min, or 408 calories per hour. These results are pretty eye opening, considering that complex carbohydrates typically oxidize at a rate of about 1.0 g/min.
However, there’s more to the results than what first meets the eye. Subjects in these studies cycled at low intensity, only 50-55% maximum power output, which I think we’d all agree is very much a recovery pace, if that. It’s definitely not the kind of output that you have when training or racing! To be blunt, at a leisurely 50% VO2 Max pace, athletes can digest cheeseburgers and pizza with no gastric issues. However, if the heart rate and core temperature are raised to only 70% VO2 Max, everything changes drastically: the body must divert core-accumulated heat from central to peripheral. This reduces the blood volume available to absorb ingested carbohydrates or whatever the athlete has consumed.
After two decades of experience, we have found that in the overwhelming majority of the athletes that we’ve worked with— athletes engaged in typical 75-85% efforts and/or in multi-hour endurance events—the combination of simple sugars and long chain carbohydrates (and even complex carbohydrates for that matter), in amounts higher than 1.0 – 1.1 grams per minute (4.1 – 4.6 calories per minute/240-276 calories per hour), have not yielded positive results. They did, however, increase performanceinhibiting, stomach-related maladies.
Dr. Bill Misner summarizes: “Absorption rate and how fast the liver can ‘kick it out’ are limiting factors. No matter what you eat, how much or how little, the body provides glucose to the bloodstream at a rate of about 1 gram/minute. Putting more calories in than can generate energy taxes gastric venues, electrolyte stores, and fluid levels.”
Bottom line: It’s not whether or not these published studies are disputable, but rather if these studies apply to normal bouts of exercise (read: faster paced, longer duration). We adamantly do not believe this to be the case, which is why we do not recommend the use of multiple carbohydrate sources during exercise. Please, DON’T fall for the multi-carb fad! Unless you plan on basically walking through your next workout or race, going at an effort no higher than 50-55% max (basically, a recovery pace, if that), stick with complex carbohydrate fuels— not simple sugars or fuels containing multiple carbohydrate sources—and we guarantee that you’ll see better results.
HEED – It’s not just for adults or hard training athletes!
Just because it’s a sports drink used by thousands of adult athletes involved in high intensity training and top-level competitions, doesn’t mean that HEED isn’t appropriate for other applications as well . . . it is!
In fact, it’s an ideal beverage for youth athletics, a much better choice than the plethora of sugar-filled, artificially colored and sweetened sports/energy drinks available. With HEED, your young athlete can replenish their body with high quality complex carbohydrates (no refined sugar!), which means long lasting energy. You’ll also feel better knowing that the two sweeteners used in HEED—xyliltol and stevia—are not only safe, but healthy as well (xylitol is especially beneficial for tooth and gum health). In addition, unlike many of the energy drinks available just about everywhere, there are no stimulants or any questionable ingredients in HEED.
HEED is also great if your job involves a lot of physical labor; in fact, more and more mechanics, construction workers, and landscapers are discovering and appreciating the benefits of HEED. It’s also ideal to use on warm-to-hot days when doing chores inside or out of the house. HEED will help keep you properly hydrated and aid in replenishing perspired-out electrolytes. HEED’s complex carbohydrates will provide you with long lasting energy, not the “flash and crash” that’s a common by-product of those sugar-laden drinks, which means that you can get the job done without having to struggle out of an “energy rut” prior to finishing the task at hand. Plus, HEED’s refreshingly mild taste won’t overwhelm your taste buds or cover your mouth with a yucky, syrupy sweet coating.
For athletes of all ages, and for all types of physical labor, HEED is the refreshing, healthy alternative to all of those junk-filled energy drinks. Give it a try… you’ll love it!
One of the first things that people notice when trying HEED for the first time is that it is significantly less sweet than the typical sports drink. We did this intentionally because the overwhelming majority of the athletes that we talked to told us that they were sick and tired of trying to choke down an overly sweet and syrupy tasting drink. The secret to how we’re able to make a drink that’s short on overt sweetness but not deprived of calories is in the sweeteners we use – Xylitol and Stevia. Neither of these nutrients generates much at all in the way of calories and they’re not intended to; that’s what the complex carbohydrate maltodextrin that we use in HEED is for. On the other hand, maltodextrin contributes almost nothing in regards to sweetness, especially compared to simple sugars such as sucrose or fructose. So while we did want to lightly sweeten the product, we didn’t want to rely on simple sugars (for reasons mentioned earlier) or, even worse, artificial sweeteners to accomplish that. Instead, we chose these two undeniably healthier alternatives.
Xylitol – If there’s such a thing as a perfect sweetener, xylitol is at or near the top of the list. Xylitol is a natural substance that can be found in a variety of fibrous fruits and vegetables. It is also known as birch sugar, primarily because it is usually extracted/produced from birch trees (though it can also be extracted/ produced from corn cobs). The human body naturally produces over 15 grams of xylitol every day by way of normal metabolic processes. Xylitol is used as a sweetener in HEED; however, it is not a major caloric donor. It produces by weight over 7% of the product, but donates only 4.76% of its calories. Additionally, xylitol contains fewer calories than other carbohydrates – 2.4 calories per gram or 40% less than other carbohydrates.
Xylitol’s most unique aspect, however, is in regards to its beneficial effects on oral health. Xylitol is non-fermentable and therefore cannot be converted to acids by oral bacteria, thus it helps to restore a proper alkaline/acid balance in the mouth. This alkaline environment is inhospitable to all of the destructive bacteria and, in fact, studies using xylitol have shown dramatic reductions in tooth decay. That’s why you’ll find this unique sweetener in gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash, and it’s one of the reasons why we include it in HEED.
Note: It is believed that xylitol is unsafe for consumption by dogs; therefore, we do not recommend that you feed your dog any xylitol-containing products, including HEED or Recoverite, nor any products that are made for human consumption.
Stevia – Another ideal natural sweetener is the extract (steviosides) from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana, a plant native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. Stevia’s most obvious and notable characteristic is its sweet taste, considered to be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, which means that minimal amounts are necessary to sweeten a product. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of stevia is that it has no calories, no Glycemic Index rating, and does not affect blood sugar levels. Stevia has been thoroughly tested around the world and found to be non-toxic. It has also been consumed safely in massive quantities (thousands of tons annually) for the past 20+years. Research indicates that stevia is safe for diabetics and effectively regulates blood sugar in people with diabetes and hypoglycemia. It is also purported that stevia tends to lower elevated blood pressure while not affecting people with normal blood pressure. Lastly, like xylitol, stevia inhibits the growth and reproduction of oral bacteria.
Bottom Line: For several reasons, including maintaining and potentially even improving oral health, xylitol and stevia are undeniably healthier alternatives than the simple sugars and/ or artificial sweeteners contained in most sports drinks.
If all we did was use complex carbohydrates and two healthy sweeteners, that alone would make HEED a better choice than the artificially flavored/colored/sweetened and simple sugar-filled sports drinks currently flooding the market. But there are three other features of HEED that are definitely worth noting:
A full-spectrum electrolyte profile – Unlike many sports drinks, which contain only some salt (oftentimes far too much salt) and potassium, HEED also provides a complete and easily assimilated electrolyte profile (sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, magnesium). For some athletes, one or two scoops of HEED will completely fulfill electrolyte requirements (in addition to caloric requirements). For other athletes, the electrolyte profile in HEED will provide an excellent base to which additional Endurolytes can be consumed to completely satisfy electrolyte needs.
Chromium polynicotinate – Chromium may be a trace micronutrient, but its effects on athletic performance cannot be overstated. Considered by many experts to be the “master nutrient” for controlling blood sugar (which means stable blood glucose levels during exercise), chromium also plays a vital role in energy production and the synthesis of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. We use Chromemate™ brand chromium polynicotinate, the natural, niacin-bound form of dietary chromium, for its superior absorption rate over other forms of chromium such as chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.
L-carnosine – Last, but definitely not least, is l-carnosine. Also known simply as carnosine, it is a naturally occurring dipeptide of the amino acids l-alanine and l-histidine. Excess lactic acid accumulation during prolonged or intense exercise creates numerous undesirable effects including premature fatigue, reduced circulation, and increased muscle soreness & inflammation. Carnosine has been shown to effectively buffer lactate buildup in muscle structures so it is a powerful ally against excess lactic acid. Simply put, adequate carnosine stores are associated with an increase in physical performance, especially during anaerobic performance demand.
But that’s only half of the carnosine story. Carnosine is also highly regarded as an antioxidant, with multiple free radical-scavenging capabilities. In addition, carnosine exhibits powerful anti-glycation benefits. A simple definition of glycation is the undesirable cross-linking of proteins and sugars to form nonfunctioning structures in the body. Glycation is cited as an underlying cause of age-related problems including neurologic (brain), vascular (circulatory), and ocular (eye) disorders. Carnosine has been shown to help prevent glycation, so when you drink carnosine-enhanced HEED, you receive that great benefit along with its antioxidant and acidbuffering properties.
Bottom line: In addition to everything that HEED already provides, it contains these important and beneficial features as well, components that are most likely missing in other sports drinks.
Sports drinks can be a convenient way to fulfill energy requirements during shorter-duration exercise, and they can really come in handy to maintain energy levels if your job involves a lot of energy output (such as a construction worker), or if you’re simply doing chores in and out of the house. However, you need to be cognizant that what you put in your body determines the quality of energy you’ll get from it. The oft used saying “garbage in, garbage out” absolutely applies to nutrition, so if you’re serious about enhancing your exercise performance (not to mention your overall health), don’t put anything in your body that won’t benefit you.
HEED contains none of the refined simple sugars that most sports drinks are loaded with, nor does it contain any artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, which your body can’t use nor wants to deal with. What HEED does contain are nutrients that will positively influence the quality of your workouts and races. Additionally, some of the nutrients in HEED have benefits for overall health. Lastly, HEED’s taste is a pleasant departure from the syrupy sweetness that is the norm for most other sports drinks. All flavors of HEED—Lemon- Lime, Mandarin Orange, Strawberry, and Melon—are subtle and easy on the palate, even when mixed in more caloriedense concentrations. And if you don’t want any flavor at all, you’ll want to give the Unflavored version of HEED a try; it’s virtually taste-free!
You don’t need to sacrifice convenience for quality! HEED is a unique alternative in the world of sports drinks and it’s ready to serve you. As with all of our fuels, we guarantee you’ll love HEED or you get your money back, simple as that.
Is the amount of stevia used in HEED safe?
Any substance, solid or liquid (even water), may be toxic if too much is consumed. The term, LD50, describes the oral dose required to kill 50% of the lab animals. Let’s compare the LD50 of these common substances:
|SUBSTANCE||LD50 GRAMS PER KILOGRAM BODYWEIGHT|
|Vitamin C||12.0 grams/kilogram|
|Sodium Chloride||3.0 grams/kilogram|
Note: For a 165-lb/75-kg athlete that translates to 1125 grams (1,125,000 mg) of steviosides.
REFERENCE: Akashi and Yamamoto reported a Stevia-LD50 was 15g/kg in oral administration (1975). 15g/kg means 15 grams of Stevioside for every 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight.
Considering the safety record of stevia, plus the fact that its LD50 is 5x higher than salt, and even higher than vitamin C, the tincture of stevioside formulated in HEED or other Hammer Nutrition products should not be of any concern. In actuality, stevia is a healthy sweetener.