Technology and Nutrition
Quite a lot of my time has been spent thinking about technology and its role in nutrition, health and performance. More and more, we are inundated with new technology advancements and ultimately more and more metrics. What we do with these metrics is becoming increasingly difficult to understand. Sleep data, heart rate values, wattage numbers, glucose readings... … the list goes on and on and on. At this point in time I am doing my best to compartmentalize what appears valuable to me and certainly to the individuals that work with Tinlane. Currently, the value of sleep hours, heart rate variability and minimum heart rate derived from my Oura Ring is proving valuable in terms of subjective well-being and performance output in the gym. Metrics during exercise performance gathered via my Garmin Fenix 3 and heart rate strap (if you are not wearing a strap and relying on your wrist reading, you are having one) would be my average and peak heart rates along with the arbitrary figure of calories which I use as a mental marker to hit a minimum of 500kcal per session. (NOTE: The reality is that this figure is closer to 400kcal as likely to be 20% overestimate based on previous research investigating accuracy of wearables). And… that is about it at the moment.
I am trialling the SuperSapiens glucose monitor at the moment. It is very interesting and the app interface is extremely engaging and insightful. My concern is over the values being presented yet like nearly everything I look at in terms of numbers, it is rarely an absolute, and rather a marker to guide the user by. So even if the values being presented are overestimations, the overestimations appear to be consistent so i know that there is some reliability in what is being presented. My article on the science behind the Glucose Monitors and how the readings vary between venous vs arterial vs capillary is coming out soon in Triathlete Magazine.
No Technology, No Problem
So what happens when you don't have these cool devices? Do we lose value? Are we unable to achieve anything valuable? The clear answer is no! Often the best progress is made with old school methods. This brings me to what I have been really thinking about a lot and this is carbohydrate consumption rates and the ability of individual athletes to manage differing volumes. So much is talked about the magical ingestion rate of 90g/hr of carbohydrates. The reality is that this number is hard to hit and for a lot of people, physically impossible. Not to mention, perhaps too much, especially if you are a 54kg female running a 3.5 hour marathon during a full ironman. The idea of grams/kg/hour has been dismissed recently due to these blanket recommendations of 90g/hr yet I still see a lot of value in the gram/kg/hour as it can be a stepping stone to better understanding your carb consumption ability and working towards small wins in improving your ability.
Small steps to become better
What I mean by this is that for a female, you may have an end goal of 0.8g/kg/hour or above yet to start it may be a case of aiming for 0.5g/kg/hour and then gradually building this amount over training within sessions. Technology is not required for this process to occur. It is more a case of planning out the proposed consumption rate per hour and planning what fuel sources this is going to be achieved with e.g bloks, gels, fluids and/or bars. The tech that is required to achieve this is either a spreadsheet or even better, our app, to track your progress and adjust the strategy accordingly. A big part of the nutrition program involves this process and educating the athlete on when to fuel prior to sessions, what types of fuel, the amounts and the timing of this fuel in session. It is relatively straightforward. It does take some guidance and repeated efforts to begin to understand what is right for you yet, in the end, is very rewarding.
Too often athletes come to me complaining of race issues such a gastric discomfort, diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, DNF’s etc and when questioned about their nutrition preparation specific to racing, the answer is all too common…
“I didn’t do anything like that!”.
So if you want to understand what might be of value to you with regards to carbohydrate consumption rates, without the tech, start to discover your limits, log it, and create a plan to incrementally improve it.