This has been a long time coming, I'm sorry I've held out on your so long! But I want to tell you about my favorite nutrition product line, First Endurance. Here's some background. I was a dedicated Hammer Nutrition user for years and years and introduced many people to it. It was last year and we had recently started carrying First Endurance at Powertri. A coworker gave me some comparisons of it to Hammer, and while I didn't think anything would really feel all that different and better that what I was using, about 3 weeks before Ironman last year I decide to try this First Endurance stuff on my last 110 mile long ride just to see if all the hype was for real. It was. My energy and mental state stayed SO steady. It wasn't that I felt hyped up or anything, I just felt so steady and kept going fine and a biggie for me was that I didn't get grumpy and ancy to get home as usually happened at the end of every long workout. It was also so simple! First Endurance has A TON more electrolytes in its products than other nutrition products including Hammer, even with Endurolytes, and it's all in the drink or gel. I can't tell you how many times I got a pill stuck in my throat, fumbled and dropped pills mid ride or run, or found a bunch of pills crushed in my pocket or bento. I really love the fact that the electrolyte complex of First Endurance allows me to only use the drink or the gel or a combination.
They also have a version of a gel, Liquid Shot, but it's actually not a gel at all as it has no gelling agents in it. A gel is closer to a solid, and our guts do not like to digest solids when exercising. So First Endurance 'gel' is like a thick liquid and comes in 4 serving (400 calories) flasks, or big 24 serving jugs. The Liquid Shot comes in vanilla and a new berry flavor. Both are strong flavors and I prefer vanilla, but I started mixing the two in a flask and I really like that combination, really mellows out both flavors. The fact that it's not a gel makes it easier to swallow too. Liquid shot does not have as high an electrolyte count as the EFS drink mix, but still a lot.
The other thing different about First Endurance is that they don't put protein in their products, kind of. Yes our bodies need protein, but what they actually need is from the protein, they need the amino acids. So First Endurance takes the amino acids out of the solid protein and puts it in their drink and gel so you're getting the important part of what you need from protein but without the digestion issues. "EFS contains 2g Free Form Amino Acids per serving which is the equivalent in BCAA and Glutamine profile to 9g Whey Protein." I had used Perpetuem for years and never super successfully. It about killed me at Ogden Marathon 2009 when I just wanted to kill over and vomit the entire last 6 miles because my stomach was so upset. It didn't happen till I started the Perpetuem, and it hasn't happened since (I haven't used Perpetuem since). A lot of people refer to Perpetuem as 'rotgut' because it can be so hard to get something so heavy to settle well in your stomach.
So aside from the high levels of electrolytes (highest level of sodium on the market, and did you realize you can't effectively absorb fluids you drink without proper sodium levels?), the clean and effective amino acids, First Endurance also uses a mixture of simple and complex carbs unlike former fav products of mine. Some simple carbs allow for quicker initial absorption. EFS and Liquid Shot also includes Malic acid in their products. From the website " Malic acid stimulates oxygen consumption by increasing mitochondrial uptake, improving mitochondrial respiration and increasing energy production. Malic acid is essential in the formation of ATP, the body's energy source. Malic acid allows the body to make ATP more efficiently, even under low oxygen, or hypoxic conditions. "
I should also mention that First Endurance makes a great product I used last year when I race prepping for Ironman and racing so much that summer, called Optygen HP. It has some pretty sweet stuff in it and improves oxygen absorption. I don't think I realized the difference it made until I was off it. First Endurance also has a great recovery drink called Ultragen.
So how do I use it? When racing I do my usual 3 hours before race breakfast, then take 100 calories of Liquid shot 15 min before the race. If the race isn't longer than an hour I may carry a flask of calories with me, but I can usually get away with what my body has stored in that amount of time. Now in longer races, I use 200-250 calories on the bike, about 150 on the run. To get those calories for say 3 hours, as I've done in half and full Ironman races, I take a regular sized water bottle (the short ones, not the tall ones) and make 5 tick marks on it with a sharpe, then fill it with water and 3 scoops of EFS. I'll also carry a flask of Liquid Shot. I have my Garmin go off every 15 minutes, and on the :00 and the :30 I'll take in 1/6 of my EFS water bottle (here's where the handy markings come in so I make sure I get in enough) and some water. On the :15 and :45 I'll take almost a serving of Liquid Shot (about two mouthfuls) and some water. This gives me about 250 calories. During IMSG last year I picked up a pre-frozen EFS water bottle and new flask at bike Special Needs. If it's just a running race, or just on the run of a tri half ironman or longer, I carry a Liquid Shot flask with me to sip on every 30 or so minutes while alternating with water. I haven't felt the need for any additional products like salt tabs or anything.
Here is some more good stuff from First Endurance:
"During long races (3 hours+) considerable stress is put on an athlete’s body. 1) Glycogen (energy) stores are depleted 2) cells experience damage from cellular oxidation 3) electrolytes are depleted and 4) amino acids are depleted.
1) EFS replenishes glycogen by using a mix of high glycemic carbohydrates including both simple and complex sugars. This easy to digest mix is rapidly absorbed and delivers fast and long term energy.
2) Formulated with 120mg (200% RDA) of Vitamin C per serving, EFS helps protect cells from oxidation keeping the immune system stronger for better training and faster racing. A depleted immune system can cause upper respiratory distress which generally accompanies long exhaustive exercise.
3) EFS provides the most potent electrolyte profile available. The combination of all five electrolytes deliver a potent 1040mg per serving, helping to prevent cramping. The 300mgs sodium per serving also aids in maximum fluid absorption so you stay hydrated throughout your training and racing. Supplementing with additional salt tabs, electrolyte tabs, or salty snacks is no longer needed when using EFS.
4) 2000mg of Amino Acids offers the same BCAA and Glutamine levels as 9g Whey Protein. These amino acids have clinically shown to improve performance, reduced post-exercise muscle damage, improve muscle glycogen resynthesis, reduced central fatigue and improved rate of perceived exertion."
Heather Wurtele said it very well detailing her nutrition during Ironman St George this year, winning it for the second time. Check it out. I really enjoyed it
There's some really great stuff to read on the website, check out the Q&A of EFS and Liquid Shot at least. So all that said, there are some nutrition companies I will not use period, thick slug like texture, all simple sugars, syrups, artificial colors/flavors (of which First Endurance has none), and I certainly think Hammer is a great company, I just found something better for me. I love the convenience of not having to bring any pills or protein source with me, it's all there in the drink and/or 'gel'. I've had people share concerns about it's higher cost, but I don't think it is in the end since you don't have to buy salt/electrolyte additives or a protein source. If cost is a concern for you, save First Endurance EFS and Liquid Shot for your harder/longer workouts and races. But I really think it's worth it. I love the higher level of electrolytes, and respect the research First Endurance puts into their stuff. Nutrition is a very individual thing that must be practiced and is something everyone has to try for themselves as certain bodies like certain products, but I'm uber impressed with First Endurance. No cramping, great absorption, great energy levels and mental clarity. I've raced with only it since April of last year and don't plan to stop any time soon. So there's my plug (and I'm not sponsored by First Endurance by the way, I buy it at Powertri, and I just love the stuff).
I think you will too, so how about a giveaway?? I have 4 packets of EFS and 2 flasks of Liquid Shot that were generously donated by Robert at First Endurance (who by the way is a head of the company, and has communicated with me in almost every email I've sent, awesome customer service!). Here's what you need to do by Monday June 6th at noon: 1) Go on their website, and leave me a comment here telling me one thing that you like or is appealing to you about First Endurance including a small quote from the website telling me you checked it out, and 2) tell me if you'd like to try the EFS or the Liquid Shot in this giveaway. My followers have been kind of quiet lately, hint hint, so if you I only get a handful of comments then great, you'll all get something, if I get lots of comments I'll do random drawings for the giveaway. Good luck!! ETA: Winner's announced in the comments, thanks for playing!! Another good giveaway in a couple weeks