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  Last updated: 1/2/2010

Solid Food versus Liquid Nutrition
A Complete Liquid Diet for that Long Ride ?

One often hears the question " I'm riding an ultra distance event (more than a century). Should I consider a liquid nutrition product for all my energy needs (e.g., Spiz, Perpetuem, Boost, Ensure, or should I eat a combination with solid food, too?

There are several pieces to this answer.

A full liquid diet can sustain you on long rides. Some ultra-distance riders do long rides, for example the 3,000 miles of the Race Across America, on only replacement drinks with virtually no solid food. This means upt to 350 miles a day for 8-9 days on only liquids. It does work for riders who have adapted. It allows them to measure their intake and thus assure they are adequately replacing the Calories they are using, and as a side benefit it helps them with their fluid replacement needs. and if you swish, you can supplement the full liquid diet with an energy bar every hour or so.

One risk of a liquid replacement program is monotony and losing one's appetite after several hours. This is always a risk whether it is the same type of solid food or fluid. In addition to the monotony of the same taste day after day, there is the "off" or metallic taste of most liquid replacements to magnify this effect. You can minimize this problem by varying your menu. Throw in some solid foods occasionally. I remeber one rest stop at 150 miles in a double century where a buddy's cold (and salty) prime rib sandwich was the best thing I had ever eaten.

For years European racers have eaten small sandwiches (panini) made with jam, cream cheese and ham during long, chilly spring classics. But again, they have trained to do so, the weather is cool, and the emphasis should be on "small" and frequent.

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