Apply It: Eat solid foods
From the field: Lim advocates eating “real, actual food” instead of engineered sports nutrition products. “Rice cakes work really well,” Lim says. “We use a recipe that’s just sushi rice with coconut, currants and a little bit of chocolate.” Ingesting solid food “allows fluid to go around it and get absorbed” rather than mix completely in the gut. Dr. Robert Sallis, who has been involved with the Ironman Hawaii medical tent since 1996, asserts “it was very clear that the ones who were in [the med tent] with GI upset were eating way more solid food and larger quantities.” He does however support eating limited quantities to supplement liquid calories.
From the lab: A 2010 study from the University of Birmingham, England found “carbohydrates from a solid bar are effectively oxidized (digested) during exercise and can be a practical form of supplementation alongside other forms of carbohydrate.”
Do it: Lim and chef Biju Thomas wrote The Feed Zone Cookbook to share the recipes they use to fuel cyclists as they train, race and recover. Sims also suggests consuming solid foods such as bars, non-fat brownie bites or small pieces of a sandwich.
Dr. Gatorade’s Take
Eat real food: Disagree
Sims and Lim found that the Garmin cyclists experience fewer gastric problems when they ate solid foods like bars, but Murray has observed the opposite. “In my experience, endurance athletes who experience the Three B’s—burping, bloating and barfing—do so because they either drank too little or ate too much.”