By Monique Ryan
Monique Ryan is the nutrition columnist for VeloNews andInsideTriathlon magazines and is founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, aconsulting company based in the Chicago area. Ryan will try to answer selectedquestions each week in her regular on-line question-and-answer column.Readers are welcome to send questions to Ryan.
To dilute or not to dilute
When I train I use electrolyte drinks, like Gatorade. Because theyare too sweet for my taste and too tough for my stomach, I dilute them.But I read that these drinks should be used only in a special concentrationand not be diluted, because they are absorbed better. Or is there anotherreason for this recommendation? — TBDear TB;
It will definitely give you the best performance edge if you consumesports drinks according to manufacturer suggestions. However, many othercyclists and triathletes have mentioned to me that they often find thesedrinks too sweet, or do not tolerate them. First let me address why youshould consume sports drinks at the recommended concentration. When youmix these products properly, most fall into the 6 to 8 percent carbohydrate(by weight) range.Drinks falling in this concentration range empty from the stomachas quickly as water, and are then absorbed through your small intestineas quickly, or even a bit fast than water. When you dilute these drinks,the main benefit is fluid replacement, but not a rate of carbohydrate replacementto keep up with your energy needs. When you make the drinks more concentrated,they provide more carbohydrate per serving, but empty more slowly fromyour stomach and your fluid losses are not replaced as quickly. When youtrain for greater than 90 minutes, you need both the fluid and carbohydratefuel in the balance these products provide.You may want to experiment with different sport drink products, asan athlete’s tolerance can vary among products. Some brands also come withlightly flavored (not low calorie) or flavorless options. Practice takingin properly mixed drinks at more moderate intensities, and see if you caneventually build-up a tolerance for them. Make sure that you do not starttraining with a sensitive stomach from eating any poorly tolerated foods.Allow yourself at least three hours digestion time before training to seeif there is some improvement.Finally, if these products just don’t work for you, try consuminga carbohydrate drink or gel providing 50 to 75 gm of carbohydrate about30 minutes before exercise, and then continue with the diluted drinks duringexercise. However, for very intense training efforts, you may find thatthis strategy does not keep up with your carbohydrate intake. Gels canprovide needed carbohydrate (though they are sweet), and can be consumedquickly and then followed with 16 ounces of water. You may find this easierthan sipping a too sweet sports drink throughout exercise. Other factorsthat can aggravate your tolerance of these drinks is starting exercisea bit dehydrated, so hydrate well before training. Often, you simply needto “train” your body to tolerate these drinks. — MRIs there a dietary approach?
Have you found any supplement or dietary changes that assist the bodyin recovering from tendonitis? I have seen somewhat shady reports thatMSM can be helpful, but would like to know if there are any professionalopinions for against similar preparations. — JHDear JH;
As you are aware, tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon, withthe most common cause being overuse. Consequently, medical treatment focuseson controlling the inflammation with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications(NSAID), rest, and ice, among other therapies. However NSAIDs can causegastrointestinal upset and bleeding problems, which makes nutritional alternativesseem appealing. Like medical treatment, nutritional approaches would alsofocus on controlling inflammation. While there are a number of nutritionalapproaches that may decrease inflammation in the body, I am not aware ofany studies that look at the use of these supplements in treating tendinitis.Therefore positive results are not guaranteed and you need to considerif there are any negative effects of proposed nutritional approaches, aswell consider the expense of these products.Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate both look promising inthe treatment of osteoarthritis, possibly due to their ability to helpin the cartilage production. However, they both may have mild anti-inflammatoryeffects, without any of the GI side effects of NSAIDs, and could potentiallyuseful. Doses of 500 milligrams three times daily of both these productsappears to be safe and well tolerated by most individuals. MSM is a newersupplement that is also supposed to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Thereare very few MSM studies for any disease states, let alone tendinitis.Some other nutritional strategies include increasing your food intakeof vitamin C by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and supplementingwith 500 mg daily. A higher dose of 1000 mg can be used for a limited periodof time. You can also increase your intake of bioflavonoids, which canhave an anti-inflammatory effect. . Good sources include green tea, berries,citrus fruits, cherries, and plums. You can also take a bioflavonoid supplement.Certain oils may help control inflammation in the body. Try to increaseyour intake of fish for the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. Another goodoil is flaxseed oil. You can take 1-2 Tbsp. daily as a supplement, butdon’t cook with this oil as it is not stable under high temperatures. — MR
Monique Ryan, MS, RD is author of “CompleteGuide to Sports Nutrition,” and “SportsNutrition for Endurance Athletes” from VeloPress. She is a regularcolumnist for VeloNews and Inside Triathlon magazines andis founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, a nutrition consulting companybased in the Chicago area. Ryan regularly counsels athletes on performanceand health related nutrition concerns. She has consulted with the SaturnCycling Team since 1994, and has also worked with Volvo-Cannondale, Trek-Volkswagen,and USA Cycling. Ryan offers answers to reader’s questions in this weeklycolumn. Readers are welcome to send questions directly to Ryan.