Sam Laidlow's Nutrition Strategy at Ironman World Championship

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What does it take to achieve second place in the toughest triathlon race?
Sam Laidlow Nutrition Strategy at Ironman World Championship

We create sports nutrition for top level athletes. The quality of our products has once again been confirmed, this time on the world's largest endurance sport stage, the Ironman World Championship.

To carry our flag to an amazing second place was our long-time athlete, Sam Laidlow, whose career we've been warmheartedly and eagerly supporting for years, always believing in his amazing potential.

Sam Laidlow achieved career success at the age of 23. On October 8, he crossed the finish line second at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Our supplements played a key role in his success, ensuring he had enough energy for eight hours of effort.

Ironman energy requirements

Ironman is one of the toughest sporting events in the world. That's also confirmed by energy consumption. On average, competitors burn around 8,000 kcal. About 2,000 kcal are stored in the body, and the athlete has to absorb the rest during the race.

The human body can absorb up to 120 g of carbohydrates per hour, which translates to 480 kcal. In eight hours, therefore, an athlete can absorb just under 4,000 kcal. This means the athlete will finish the race in a caloric deficit, so it's essential that the products consumed are of the highest quality and allow the body to maximize absorption and consequently replenish glycogen stores as much as possible.

For such a grueling challenge as the Ironman, the nutrition strategy has to be on point. Sam Laidlow's nutrition strategy was carefully crafted long before the race, and he carried it out like the professional athlete he is.

In his six-years career, Sam Laidlow learned that success correlates with the quality of nutrition. This was confirmed once again at this year's Ironman Championship in Kona, where Nduranz products allowed him to secure second place.

Before the race

Sam Laidlow had been taking care of proper nutrition several days before the race, loading up with carbohydrates to fill up his glycogen stores. He came prepared and on race day, his glycogen stores were full.

Nevertheless, he consumed 1 Nrgy Unit Gel 15 minutes before the race.

Why did he do that?

It takes about 15 minutes to feel the effect of the energy gel. Since it's impossible to consume energy while swimming, Sam took care of it on land. When he jumped into the water, the energy gel started to work and Sam simultaneously began to empty and replenish his energy levels.

Sam loaded up on carbohydrates days before the race, so that his glycogen stores were full before the start. Nevertheless, he consumed one Nrgy Unit Gel 15 minutes before the race to slow down glycogen consumption from the get go.

Swimming segment

Total distance: 3.86 km

Total time of the segment: 00:48:16

Total energy intake:

  • 1 x Nrgy Unit Gel (after coming out of the water)

Nrgy Units per hour: 2

Total Nrgy Units: 2

Swimming is the trickiest part of the race nutrition-wise, as energy intake is impossible.

Sam took care of it right before the swim and right after it. He consumed the Nrgy Unit Gel just after getting out of the water, before getting on the bike. This way he replaced some of the calories he had burnt during the swim while providing the body with the energy for the upcoming bike part of the race.

It's impossible to intake energy during swimming. Sam consumed one Nrgy Unit Gel 15 minutes before this segment and one Nrgy Unit Gel immediately afterwards, resulting in two Nrgy Units per hour.

Cycling segment

Total distance: 180.2 km

Total time of the segment: 4:04:36

Total energy intake:

  • 2 x Nrgy Unit Drink 90
  • 5 x Nrgy Unit Drink
  • 3 x Nrgy Unit Gel

Nrgy Units per hour: 3

Total Nrgy Units: 12

By hour:

Cycling represents the biggest part of Ironman. As a result, the energy expenditure is also the highest.

On the bike, Sam ingested carbohydrates in liquid and gel form.

In the first part, most energy was consumed in liquid form. The Nrgy Unit Drink 90 provided two Nrgy Units and an additional Nrgy Unit was added by Nrgy Unit Gel.

In the second part, Nrgy Unit Drink 90 was replaced by Nrgy Unit Drink, while one Nrgy Unit Gel per hour remained.

This nutritional strategy was very successful. Sam set the best time of the cycling segment and entered the final segment as the leader of the race.

During the cycling segment, Sam consumed three Nrgy Units per hour in the form of Nrgy Unit Drink 90, Nrgy Unit Drink, and Nrgy Unit Gels.

Running segment

Total distance: 42.2 km

Total time of the segment: 2:44:40

Total energy intake: 

  • 4 x Nrgy Unit Gel (every 35 minutes)

Nrgy Units per hour: 2

Total Nrgy Units: 4

The last segment of Ironman is running. This is where you can win or lose the race.

Unfortunately for Sam, he lost it. His flagship discipline is cycling, so he had to concede the race to one of the best runners in the world, Norway's Gustav Iden.

Norwegians have a reputation for being the best runners, so Sam knew there is a chance of losing first place. Nevertheless, he didn't change his nutritional strategy.

He consumed one Nrgy Unit Gel every 35 minutes, providing the body with 45 grams of carbohydrates. This way he managed to keep the pace high in the last kilometers and hold off the Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt, who was closing in behind him.

During the running segment, Sam consumed two Nrgy Unit Gels per hour. This way he preserved enough energy to finish the race at second place.

Conclusion

Sam Laidlow has proven that a proper nutrition strategy is key to success. In eight hours, he burned around 8,000 kcal, which he had to replenish as much as possible during the race.

In total, Sam consumed 3,240 kcal or 18 Nrgy Units.

As mentioned above, about 2,000 kcal are stored in the body, which means that Sam finished the race with a calorie deficit of about 3,000 kcal. Simply put, he was starving at the finish line.

Part of the deficit was covered by drinking the recovery drink Regen, which helped him replenish his energy stores and restore damaged muscles. This way, he was ready for new sporting challenges much sooner.

Find out what your energy needs are!

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Regen Lite
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