Coconut Water & Bananas…or Gels?


I’m confused. I follow you on twitter and sometimes you post about having just coconut water and a banana or yams whilst training, but I’ve also read your posts about using man-made carbohydrate gel when you are racing.  Can you clarify when to eat what?  I’m training for my first 70.3 race.


Will, London

Great question!  I’ve always been candid about the fact that carbohydrate gels are the one non Paleo item in my diet.   I’d love it if there were a Paleo friendly version on the market, but as far as I’m aware, there currently is not one that’s found in nature.  Honey would be the closest thing and often people will ask why not just use honey; the problem with honey is the rate at which the sugars empty from the gut into the blood stream.    

While I’m working on a project to develop a paleo gel, I continue to use a commercially available gel when I’m racing or training at a high intensity.  How much?  The rule of thumb is 4 kcal/kg bodyweight/ hr of endurance training for bouts of activity lasting upwards of 90 minutes.

The coconut water, banana or yam comes in for efforts that are long and aerobic; fasted training comes into my regime when I’m doing a fast, hard, short effort (like a track workout first thing in the morning).

I find a balance of the three different fueling approaches works best for me, personally.

I’d recommend trying a three-pronged approach and seeing how you feel, what works best for you, and getting it all dialed in well before race day.