Monday, February 18, 2008

Supplements...Chuck Them

What if you purchased a vitamin or sodium replacement and then, after you won a major race, you tested positive? This is what happened to Rebekah Keat. How pissed would you be to be labled a cheat when all you thought you were taking was salt? a 29 year old mad would you be to learn that this was a precurser to what Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and other Major League Baseball dopers were taking? Keat is suing Hammer Nutrition and I hope she wins. (I am assuming innocent until proven guilty here.) If she is proven to be a doper she should get a lifetime ban from all formal race events. I know that after I read this news story on that when I went home I threw out EVERYTHING that I had from Hammer. I had ("Premium" Insurance Caps - a multi vitamin, phytomax - a veggie replacement, "Heed" a sports beverage, and Endurolyte (sodium blend) or "salt tablet" that a lot of folks use. This is what Keat took and tested positive for a steroid precursor norandrostenedione. Endurolytes are passed out at several races and a lot of folks use them. They always make me sick after 4-5 hours of use and 90% of their other products I just cannot stomach. So much for "clean" fuel, eh? Keat alleges that Hammer Nutrition company's supplements were contaminated with the steroid precursor norandrostenedione. My question is how the hell does norandrosteneceliendione get into a company who claims to be the "all natural" cure for everything? Maybe they are clean and the nor-whatever...was from a disgruntled employee. Maybe the lab made a mistake? Who knows?

My point right and you don't need supplements. It's all crap. Expensive crap at that. Just direct me to the Famer's Market and I have a feeling I'll be just fine.
Death: The real side effect
Additionally, this news story broke on the day of a friends funeral. This was my fifth funeral in 2008. (We put the FUN in Funeral...) Friends and family are dying off at a rate of one every two weeks; so forgive me for being a little fatalistic and slap happy. He was 50, father of three- one freshman in college, one senior in high school and one freshman in high school. He was the real income in the family who is going through some hard times now. He was a multiple Ironman finisher including Kona and Canada (the two best Ironman races in the world in my opinion.) Lou Johnson died at the end of a two hour training run on February 9th. Lou had been putting in a solid base this winter in preparation for Ironman Wisconsin 2008. Lou was a great guy. Always willing to help. Willing to help anyone at a moments notice with a hammer, screwdriver and a roll of duct tape! United Airlines take note - that is where Lou worked. If you go to Runner's High 'n Tri in Arlington Heights, IL...Lou built the front desk. He hung the shoe racks on the walls and did so with a smile. Lou was a guy who would turn and smile at me as we hammered a bike repeat at 38 mph, 525 watts, and heart rate ~174 and say, "When are we going to turn up the pace on this interval?" We'll all miss him.
Lou had been taking a "recovery" supplement. There are 300 tablets in each bottle and he had gone through 1.5 bottles (at $55/bottle) in 2008 as of 2/9/08. I'm sure he was following the bottle instructions. I saw the bottle and can't help but wonder what it was doing to him internally. "5-6 tablets for a two hour workout or race." It promises the following:

Use (product) regularly to:
1. Prevent Muscle Breakdown
2. Reduce catabolism
3. Prevent Deamination
4. Improve and increase muscle growth
5. Reduce Fatigue and Soreness
6. Heal injuries quickly and efficiently
7. Increase energy levels
8. Increase strength and stamina
9. Speed time-to-recovery after exercise/workouts
10. Improve and maintain a healthy immune system
11. Increase and improve general health, vitality and vigor

Sounds like a pretty good deal huh? Except, I have more organic and inorganic chemistry classes than the "average Joe" and I have no idea what some of this stuff does in the body... It reminds me of those old ice cream commercials as a 5 year old child tries to read the ice cream ingredients, "Why can't Johnny read?"

SIX capsules provide:
L-Leucine = 875 mg
L-Isoleucine = 400 mg
L-Valine = 400 mg
L-Histidine = 250 mg
L-Lysine = 400 mg
L-Methionine = 100 mg
L-Phenylalanine = 380 mg
L-Threonine = 425 mg
Glutamine alpha-Ketoglutarate = 500 mg
Ornithine alpha-Ketoglutarate = 400 mg
Arginine alpha-Ketoglutarate = 250 mg
Arginine-Ketoisocaproate = 250 mg
I am returning to what I used at my Ironman personal record - sea salt, good diet, good training. It is about health and fitness. So pass the salad... and chuck those supplements in the garbage because if you eat right you don't need them.


  1. ooooh, good post!
    I am so focused on "food for fuel" and could not agree with you more in this comment you wrote:

    My point right and you don't need supplements.

    So true, so true! AND as for Hammer, yeah, that stuff sucks! I tried to get into it when I got on my organic eating habits and noticed all the weirdo stuff in there! I so hope Keat is the "clean" one in this case!

  2. Thank you for this post. I am still trying to figure out my sodium for my IM training, and this has been extremely useful. What kind of sea salt to you/did you use or find effective? It is horrifying to think about all the products out there meant to "improve" performance. I just want to be safe and train smart - without taking a ton of stuff to do so. Thanks Bob - this is really great.

  3. Hi Marit - I use two tabs 1) thermalyte from Sportsquest It is supposed to be only sodium and a buffer. I used it at Ironman Canada. 2) Sea Salt - right out of the grocery store! The same stuff I use on food at home. I separate out the big salt rocks and carry them in a couple of containers - one bike and one run. (Run always turns to powder by the end of an IM.)

    I agree. I would never take anything that illegal. I'm in this for my fitness and if I never qualify/win for anything ever be it! ...but I'll know I'm clean and thats all I can really control.

    If I knew someone who was using PEDs or abusing a legal Rx like an inhaler - I'd disassociate myself from them and put significant (non-threatening and legal) peer pressure on them to the best of my ability - to stop that abuse of the system.

  4. Hi Bob, Lou is the husband of my Alice, my husband's cousin. We had just had a family reunion in July and in February he was gone. He was always eating healthy and running or swimming during our vacation,he never took a break from training. I did not realize that he took supplements, he surely did not need them!I powerwalk marathons myself and find that regular training and healthy living gets me to the finish line. Also, a strong positive attitude doesn't hurt! Lou was too young to die, from all outward appearances, he was healthy. My heart breaks for Alice and the kids. Chris

  5. HI Chris -

    Yeah, I was suprised that Lou was taking the supplements too. All this stuff is supposed to be safe and the promises they make are hard to pass up. In the end, there is not easy way, no short cut. You must endure the pain of training. I feel really bad for them and hope that our local triathlete community can come together and help them. Lou will really be missed by a lot of people.

    Lou's sudden and untimely death really made me take a look at what I was eating and how much. I know he would have said, "What are you doing?" with some of my food choices in December. (Holidaze are no excuse - I partied pretty hard food wise.)

    I am sure I'll see you at Runner's High some day.

    Take care,