The nutritional needs of triathletes are unique. Fuel accordingly.
In many cases, triathletes require more than the basic convenience-store-bought sports bar or drink. In multisport training, especially for long-course distances, we need to think about sustaining energy levels for longer periods of time, and our calorie and electrolyte needs are different. “My issue with hydration has always been the electrolytes and salt content in the drink,” says pro triathlete Cameron Dye. “I’m a super heavy and salty sweater, so I always had to double or triple the amount of drink powder to get the amount of electrolytes that I was going to need, and when you do that the drink tastes so bad it’s hard to drink.”
Then Dye was introduced to First Endurance and its EFS (Electrolyte Fuel System) sports drink, which provides the most potent electrolyte profile available. “That was the best part of EFS — not only are the flavors actually tasty, but the normal serving size has like 10 times the amount of electrolytes of some of the other drinks. I had been taking salt tabs on top of my normal drink mix, so using EFS simplified everything.”
According to Robert Kunz, First Endurance’s co-founder and VP of science and technology, the composition of standard sport drinks may not provide an adequate amount of electrolytes during activity lasting longer than two hours. Most standard sports drinks contain 50–110 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces, while EFS contains 300 milligrams of sodium per 12-ounce serving to aid in maximum fluid absorption. But sodium is only part of the story — one serving contains 1,160 milligrams of all five electrolytes essential for the rigors of tri training. “Your cells require five electrolytes to function properly,” says Kunz. “All five work together to allow nutrients to go out of the cells, allowing them to perform at their best. It’s the balance of all five electrolytes that helps prevent cramping and helps muscles contract more forcefully and efficiently for longer periods of time. Our electrolyte profile is very unique not just because there’s more, but because it’s complete.”
Another caveat to consider: Was the research supporting the product claims done using endurance athletes, and has it been validated by any actual triathletes? At the root of all product development at First Endurance, which sponsors top triathletes like Dye, Heather and Trevor Wurtele, Jordan Rapp, Eric Limkemann, Angela Naeth, and a number of pro cycling teams (they’re the official training and racing supplement provider of RadioShack-Leopard), is the First Endurance Research Board. “These guys are all Ph.D.’s and endurance athletes as well — they do Ironman, they do Leadville — and we ask if they can they shoot any holes in any of the science,” Kunz says. “Oftentimes the sports product research that’s out there isn’t on endurance athletes, but it’s a level of evidence that we demand from our suppliers. If you have a clinical study on an ingredient that’s been done on trained triathletes, cyclists or runners, then we can use the ingredient in our product.”