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Should I train my gut? Both sides of the coin on preserving endogenous carbohydrates

 - Dan Plews and Ed Maunder 

 

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, during ultra-endurance events lasting ~8-15 hours like long-distance triathlon, the preservation of endogenous carbohydrate (CHO) stores is one of the key determinants of success (25). As humans, we possess a finite capacity to store CHO energy as glycogen, typically <3000 kcal, of which ~80% is stored in muscle and ~10-15% in the liver (7). Assuming typical running economy values observed in highly-trained distance runners (1.07 kcal.kg-1.km-1) (6) and a body mass of 68 kg, these endogenous CHO stores would not be sufficient to support even one marathon alone (~3070 kcal), let alone a marathon following a 3.8-km swim and a 180-km bike ride. Accordingly, exercise of sufficient duration and intensity – such as an Ironman – will deplete these endogenous CHO energy stores to very low concentrations, and this glycogen depletion has been linked to the fatigue we feel in the late stages...

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Exogenous ketones: Something to add to your recovery drink?

We all love a good "pain face" and we all know how much those high intensity interval sessions hurt! Such big sessions, require big recovery; and recovery optimization is always a key question for athletes, sports scientists and coaches looking for a performance advantage. With media reports circulating that many elite road cycling teams are investing huge sums of money in exogenous ketone supplements for their athletes (7), many of us in endurance sport – including the scientists – are asking if exogenous ketones are the next magic bullet in sports nutrition (4). We blogged about exogenous ketones recently, specifically using some of our own data and a recently published review (8) to survey the evidence for supplementing with exogenous ketones during a long-distance triathlon. In this blog, we are going to focus instead on the possible benefits of exogenous ketone supplementation for recovery.

 

Background

Before diving into specific original studies assessing...

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Plyometrics: Free speed for endurance athletes

 

Most people can generally understand training specificity, run more, and I’ll get better at running. Simple, at least until you can’t go running as much as you’d like - maybe because you have a busy work week, family commitments or there’s a global pandemic. Then you must get more creative. One of the more under-utilized concepts of training specificity is training for the adaptations beneficial to the event, rather than just training the event itself. Essentially, if I want to get better at long-distance triathlon (LDT) performance, what metabolic, structural, and neural adaptations do I need to make me stronger, last longer, and ultimately perform better? While you don’t need to start squatting 400 lbs (in fact please don’t!), plyometric training falls into this specific strength category (i.e. hill running, big gear cycling, core training, posture, etc.), which can be valuable to target adaptations directly beneficial to endurance...

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Should we take exogenous ketones during a long-distance triathlon?

- Dr Dan Plews and Ed Maunder

 

A review of the review by David M. Shaw et al. Sports Medicine 50(4): 641-656, 2020

In this blog, we are going to summarize a recently published review by former AUT PhD student Dave Shaw on the evidence for and against exogenous ketone ingestion (11), as well as some of our own personal experiences. Dave’s PhD included studies on both the ingestion of exogenous ketones in a sports drink and longer-term adaptation to a very low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (10, 12), with one of the main purposes of this review being to highlight the stark differences between these two interventions. In this blog however, we are going to focus on studies of exogenous ketone supplementation for endurance performance. Ed (PhD student & Endure IQ LDT102 guest instructor) was fortunate enough to be part of the team of authors writing the review.

  

Exogenous ketones 

A point here to note is that when we discuss exogenous ketones, we are not...

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Training Ironman triathletes in the real-world: Case study of a heat stress training camp

In Endure IQ LDT102: Training Program Fundamentals for Long Distance Triathlon, we explore the best training methods used by long-distance triathletes that facilitate optimal performance, and in LDT103: Heat and Long Distance Triathlon, we focus on something all long-distance triathletes seeking to cross the finish line at the World Championships will encounter, heat. In this blog, we are going to touch the surface of both of these crucial topics by describing a case study that we published this year on a three-week heat stress training camp in Kona, Hawaii undertaken by two elite Ironman triathletes (10). This case study gives strong practical insight into how a very successful three-week block of training can be performed by two elite Ironman triathletes, and the additional considerations that are encountered when temperatures rise.

 Heat stress training camps: What are they? Why do endurance athletes do them?

The first things to ask, then, are what exactly is a...

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“Big” Vegan, and Finding the Real “Game Changer” for Your Endurance Performance

- Professor Grant Schofield and Dr Daniel Plews 

 

We’ve watched  the battleground in diet shift recently from debates around saturated fat, and eating more healthy whole grains, to a largely vegan agenda. The ideology of the Garden of Eden diet, is close to the vegan ideals driven primarily through the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and touted as a recruitment strategy (or “health ministry”). Recently, it's gone to greater levels. The Netflix doco “Game Changers” has seen widespread discussion around this topic, and we’ve been fielding a lot of questions around this of late. This blog is our attempt to sum up our thoughts.

We’ve listed the pros, neutrals, and cons of adopting such a diet for general health and when in the context of sports performance. There are many ways that you can approach this topic, from health, sustainability, moral and personal perspectives to a sports performance perspective. We'll be tackling a few...

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Jan Van Berkel: The Ketocop on the Low Carb Healthy Fat Diet

Fresh off the plane from Zurich, I’m still on a high after seeing my good friend and athlete Jan van Berkel finished on top of the podium at the last ever Zurich-hosted Ironman Switzerland last weekend in a blistering time of 8:17:04. Jan likes to call himself The Ketocop, so the title of this blog is very appropriate.

Jan led the field out of the water with a 51:38 swim, led the field off the bike after a 4:35:14, and romped home to a 6-min victory over countryman Sven Riederer after a 2:46:41 marathon. Jan’s victory seems like an appropriate time to talk you through the journey we have been on through his Ironman career to date.

Jan approached me in 2016 as a very talented triathlete with quality results in Olympic distance triathlon but he was struggling to transition to Ironman. He had, as many do, been consistently blowing up in the last 10-15 km of the marathon, full of gels but out of gas. Given his pedigree at the Olympic...

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How do I fuel my races with low carb healthy fat? - Fat Oxidation and Race Fuelling (Part 1)

F2wwc6rmr3wzvbdz6jo9 screen shot 2019 03 05 at 3.21.53 pmIt’s Monday, and we’re fresh from some great racing at Ironman New Zealand. It was really great to be down watching some racing again (and yes, I did miss racing myself!).

While down at the event, Prof Grant Schofield and I were invited to present on the low carbohydrate healthy fat (LCHF) performance for Ironman.

The link to the presentation can be found in this closed Facebook group here (anyone can join), and we think it was quite well received with 50+ people attending.

However, as always around racing, one of the main questions we always receive is “how do I fuel my races with LCHF?”. Luckily, along with two of my endurance physiology colleagues at AUT, we discussed this very topic in a paper that used theoretical energy fuel requirements of Ironman triathletes at different performance levels (~8 h, ~9 h, and ~13 h).

This paper was published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, and I’ve tried to summarise below. The science is quite heavy...

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My Training Numbers to 8:24 at Ironman World Champs

It’s been a while! After sharing my training for the 2018 Taupo Ironman, which was well received, I thought it was about time to do the same for the magical day I had in Kona on October 13th, 2018.  

Kona 2018 Ironman World Championships sure was one to remember, winning the age-group race overall and breaking the age-group course record in 8:24:36.   

Descending into the Energy Lab during the marathon. This KM was a 3 min 55 sec. 

 

I never wrote a detailed race report, however, I wrote a post shortly after the race called Kona Gems and also talked about the race itself on a number of podcasts such as Fitter RadioTriathlon TarenSwim Smooth and Oxygen Addict. At the end of the day, it’s all about the process. So...

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