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Nutrition for a Double Century

As I’m planning on doing a self-supported Death Valley Double on March 3rd (not an official participant, not using their food or support), I’m looking into nutrition for the 10-14 hour day (unsure on wind/pavement conditions), as well as the other double centuries I’m doing this year.

I’m considering my home-made oatmeal concoction, but it’s a Bad Idea to try something new on such a long effort.

Googling a bit, I came across a few suggestions with some interesting ideas, like this one from, “the week before” (see also Nutrition for a Century or Double).

  • Glycogen supercompensation, or carbohydrate loading, helps prolong endurance in events lasting over two hours. Estimates are that it can move the wall about 20% farther down the road.
  • Taper your training during the week before the event, ending with either a rest day or an easy spin. This will allow dietary carbohydrate to be stored as muscle glycogen rather than being used as a fuel for cycling.
  • In conjunction with backing off the mileage, you need to increase carbohydrate intake for the last 3-4 days of the week—aim for 8-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight.
  • Each gram of glycogen is stored with 3 grams of water, so filling glycogen stores with an additional 300-500 grams should lead to a weight gain of up to 2 kg. Don't worry—most of this additional weight is water, and will actually be helpful during the ride.

The last point is particularly interesting, and might help explain those 2-3 pounds weight spikes the next day that I’ve seen after hard rides and a good feeding (also might be increased plasma volume). I hadn’t realized that glycogen might be one reason. It also explains the very large weight loss (up to 10 pounds) that I’ve seen on 4 hour rides and why I’m not nearly as dehydrated as the weight loss would suggest— a lot of that weight is water scavenged along with glycogen consumption.

What’s not mentioned is fat— I suspect that a small fat component, perhaps my favorite pistachios, might be good for a double.

Assuredly, Endurolytes are something I will be sure to take also.

What Hammer Nutrition has to say

I like Hammer Nutrition products a lot, especially Perpetuem and Perpetuem Solids. I also like Hammer Gel because it comes in a 26-serving bottle that I can use to fill a HydraPak SoftFlask with 5 or 8 servings.

For single servings, I still prefer the GU energy gel packets— the Hammer Gel single-serving packets cut my mouth and gag me (too large size of the packet). Single servings are great way to supplement, and/or to stash a few emergency ones into a saddlebag or wherever.


I spoke with Steve Born of Hammer Nutrition on what to use for a double century, in particular the Death Valley Double.

Ah, got it. Now I know why you're doing this self-supported.

Hammer Perpetuem

Yes, Anti-Fatigue Caps will be an ideal supplement to take with Perpetuem. It is a "standard issue" supplement for any workout I do that's over 2-3 hours. Super effective little product.

As far as using Endurance Amino along with Perpetuem, here's my rationale, courtesy of an article I wrote:

ENDURANCE AMINO - By taking this product hourly during prolonged bouts of exercise you provide the primary “used–in–the–energy–cycle” amino acids (the BCAAs). The BCAAs in Endurance Amino, along with the BCAAs that naturally occur in the soy protein component in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem, helps prevent the muscle tissue from being broken down to satisfy the 5% – 15% of the body’s energy requirements. The result is less fatigue–causing ammonia to accumulate and less muscle tissue that will be broken down and needing to be repaired during the recovery process.

You also supply the body with l–alanine. The liver can convert l–alanine into glucose as needed (I like to think of it as an “emergency” energy supply), which the bloodstream transports to the muscles for energy. L–alanine also aids in the synthesis of pantothenic acid (vitamin B–5), which is needed for protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Lastly, you provide the body with glutathione, which is one of the most potent antioxidants there is, with an Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) rating of 12,000+. Dr. Misner writes, “Decline in endurance performance may parallel decline in glutathione concentrations imposed by the aging process.” That alone makes taking glutathione during exercise sound like a very rational idea to me. Glutathione also facilitates the transport of amino acids which, hypothetically, will assist in directing the amino acids in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem to wherever they’re needed (one athlete reported that taking Endurance Amino is like “supercharging” Perpetuem).

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