Tri-Hard Scientific Study of the Month

Tri-Hard Scientific Study of the Month

Tri-Hard’s Scientific Study of the Month
July 2012

Sun-Dried Raisins are a Cost-Effective Alternative to Sports Jelly Beans in
Prolonged Cycling. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011,
25(11), 3,150-3,156.

Insight from the Study
The researchers compared the use of sun-dried raisins to sports jelly beans as a
means of supplying carbohydrate during prolonged exercise. The participants in
the study were trained triathletes and cyclists. In the study, participants rode
indoors for two hours followed by a 10-kilometer time trial. Each participant did a
trial using sports jelly beans and a trial using sun-dried raisins as a supply of
carbohydrates. They ingested the same amount of calories in both trials. The
researchers measured the participants’ speed, power output, blood-glucose
levels, perceived exertion, hedonic sensory acceptance, and other variables.
Hedonic sensory acceptance refers to the level of “pleasantness” one
experiences when they eat or drink. Eat or drink something that you enjoy and
you would experience what researchers call high sensory acceptance. Eat or
drink something that you don’t enjoy and you would experience low sensory
acceptance. No significant differences in terms of the participants’ speed, power
output, blood-glucose levels, or perceived exertion were observed between the
two trials. Participants had significantly greater scores for the hedonic sensory
acceptance when eating sun-dried raisins. Participants performed equally as
well and “had a better taste in their mouths” (literally) when eating sun-dried
raisins compared to sports jelly beans.

Take-Home Message
Ingesting carbohydrate during prolonged exercise is vital to ensuring optimal
performance. Ingesting appropriate amounts of carbohydrate while cycling and
running is part of every triathlete’s race-nutrition plans. The carbohydrate can
come from a variety of sources including sports drinks, energy gels, energy bars,
and similar race-nutrition products. Real food is also a good option as this study
shows. Raisins, dates, and bananas are a few good options. Twenty-five raisins
supplies about 40 calories of carbohydrates. Two dates supply about 120
calories of carbohydrates. One medium-sized banana supplies about 100
calories of carbohydrates.

As this study showed, real food can taste better than race-nutrition products can.
Everyone has had an experience with a sports drink, gel, or bar that they just
couldn’t stand, tasted way too sweet, left their mouth feeling sticky, or just did not
go down well. If you enjoy something, you are more likely to eat or drink it. So
using some real food can help you to continue to take in carbohydrate during a
race, especially a relatively long race. Real food is also less expensive. Real
food is also generally better for your overall wellness because it has more
naturally occurring micronutrients. On the flip side, race-nutrition products tend
to be more convenient to use when cycling and running. Very importantly, racenutrition
products may also be easier to digest for some triathletes when
exercising. If you can’t digest it, it doesn’t matter how much carbohydrates it

So we’re not saying using real food and we’re not saying use race-nutrition
products. We’re saying that both are good options for supplying carbohydrate
during prolonged exercise and that you should experiment to find what works
best for you. We’re saying that real food has a place in race-nutrition plans and
we think you should consider it an option. Particularly if you struggle with the
palatability of race-nutrition products, real food could be a nice part of your racenutrition
plans. As this study showed, you can perform just as well using real
food as you can using race-nutrition products. This is not always obvious in the
triathlon community because the makers of sports drinks, gels, and bars pay big
bucks for ads in the triathlon magazines making their products seem like rocket
fuel, while the real food just grows on trees without flashy marketing campaigns
to back them up.


About Ian

From first time riders to Olympians, Ian has helped thousands of athletes achieve their cycling and triathlon goals. Ian develops much of the Fit Werx fitting and analysis protocols and is responsible for technology training and development. He is regarded as one of the industry leaders in bicycle fitting, cycling biomechanics and bicycle geometry and design. He is dedicated to making sure the Fit Werx differences are delivered daily and provides Fit Werx with corporate direction and is responsible for uniting our staff and initiatives.

Find out more about Ian Here


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