Let me start by saying that there is no one agreed upon nutritional drink for endurance athletes. This is problematic when you are training for a marathon swim, where you will be depending on your drink to fuel potentially 15+ hours of non-stop swimming.
After “renting” what I tried to drink after the first few hours of my English Channel crossing, I went back to the drawing board to find a mix I could use that wouldn’t make me sick, as well as have the perfect amount of calories, protein, salts, carbohydrates and sugars, for swims ahead.
Having spent some time studying human physiology at Smith College, I knew that a drink for a marathon swim would need to contain the following:
1. Enough calories to fuel the exercise and keep the athlete warm (if swimming in cold water)
2. Not have too many calories to the point that the body can’t digest it all, and thus the athlete becomes nauseous.
3. Have a small portion of protein to accelerate the muscle repair process. (Muscles breakdown during extensive exertion)
4. Have some salt and sugar content to prevent “bonking” and cramps
5. Have carbohydrates for quick burning energy
6. Able to be dissolved in 8 ounces of water. Due to keeping my “feeds” in the 15-45 second range, I can’t chug more than 8 ounces. I needed a product that would be able to be dissolved in a small amount of water to prevent clumps of undissolved powder.,..yuck.
I came across BRL Sports Nutrition about a year and a half before I was going to undertake a 120 mile swim down the Hudson River called 8 Bridges. BRL Sports has a product called Tri Fuel which is marketed as a 3 in 1 endurance and recovery drink. This immediately peaked my interest as most of the drinks I tried separated performance and recovery. 8 Bridges was a back to back 7 day event, where you have less than ~14-16 hours to recover before the next marathon swim. It only made sense to start the rebuild during the performance.
In addition to the optimal amount of calories per serving 112 per 8 ounces, it includes branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s), carbohydrates, amino acids for recovery/endurance, an electrolyte complex, and an anti fatigue complex (vitamins C and E). It is 100% drug free and in compliance with the WADA, UCI, IOC, and NCAA.
When using this product I found that I not only felt sustained with improved endurance and lack of hunger and cramping while swimming, I also felt that my recovery time decreased as I was already reducing muscle breakdown while I was swimming. This is crucial. Recovery is key to get the best out of every workout and for a multi-day endurance event. If you don’t recover, you don’t swim your best the next day, and jeopardize your chance of finishing. In addition, the electrolyte content eliminated my cramping (especially since I was swimming in direct summer sunlight), and I was able to digest it with ease and experienced no “renting symptoms.” I felt sustained and never had feelings of muscle weakness or “hitting the wall.” Since I was able to drink it in 8 ounces of water, my feeds remained fast, which means more time gaining distance. It does have a bit of a chalky texture, but given the vast variety of benefits, it was very easy to get used to. My biggest hope is for more flavors (although lemon lime is my favorite).
I’ve now been using Tri fuel for about 2 years, and I have been fully satisfied with my performance. I used Tri-Fuel for almost 40 hours during 7 days of competing it was my only nutritional beverage for the whole event (besides supplementing with water during between swims). I also use it every day for my training. I feel that just the time alone I have spent using Tri-Fuel as my nutrition for 8 Bridges speaks volumes about the products quality, and harmony with ones body. I know what it was like to depend on a nutritional drink that fails you after 4 hours…it is not fun and can jeopardize all you’ve trained for come game day. I recommend Tri-Fuel as it has been tried and true for me, and my results have proved its success. If you are interested visit BRLSports.com and use family and friends promo code: paige20 for 20% off (I do not benefit if you use my promo code, it is just for a discount, not valid on any other site).
*I am not a nutritionist or health professional. Check with your doctor before using any new supplements.