Hammer Nutrition Gels

For BattleFrog Xtreme and other multi-lap events, nutrition can make or break your performance. Unlike a short 5k or 5-mile race where nutritional mistakes can easily be overcome, the effects of nutrition on race day are crucial. Furthermore, a mistake early on can have a compounding effect as your body depletes muscle glycogen and desperately tries to refill your fuel tank faster than you are emptying it.

Here is a sample of what I typically use for my BFX nutrition, which has worked well for me for 3 BFX wins and my 7 day OCR America event along with my logic for my choices:

Morning of the Race:

(Normal Breakfast I would eat before working out or a slightly smaller version of my normal breakfast.  This is part of the “don't do anything new on race day” policy when it comes to competing, applicable to both food and clothing choices.):

If at home: Egg whites, Ezekiel toast with almond butter.

If on the go (driving or at a hotel): Greek Yogurt, Starbucks Egg White Sandwich, and/or oatmeal.

Possibly: Sometimes just a couple of sips of coffee….you know…just to move things along pre-race.

In general, you want some carbohydrates to top of your fuel tank.   If you skip breakfast before a BFX, that means you will be starting the race without any fuel in your body in almost 10 hours (sleep time + pre-race).  Additionally, some protein is helpful because it will prevent your body from using your muscles as fuel once you have been racing for a couple of hours.


Melissa Dugan and friends about to start Lap 4.

30 min Prior to Start:

Two Endurolyte capsules (or Endurolyte Extreme if the weather is hot) to prevent cramping once racing begins.

15 min Prior to Start:

Sipping on water all morning then one banana with Nocciola (Nutella flavored) Hammer Gel on my way to the start line to put that final piece of fuel in my stomach.

During Each Lap:

From this point forward, I continue to eat on a regular basis. If you are going for the trident or a podium position, you probably want to leave the water carrier (ex. Camelbak) in the pit area. If you are only going for three laps because that is all you will have time for you may want to bring it with you because of the time it takes to complete each lap. I have personally found there are enough water stops on the course but it is really athlete/course dependent regarding how much food you carry and if you carry water.

For each lap, I typically carry 2-3 Hammer Gels and some trail mix inside of an expandable pouch called a Spibelt. As I approach one of the five aid stations on the course, I will eat a gel and then wash it down with the water available at the aid station. The water stations help ensure I am eating frequently enough because it is a visual cue to eat. Typically I will consume some food every 20-30 minutes whether that is a gel or some trail mix. This consistent but slow input of fuel allows me to maintain a steady, strong pace without bursts and crashes in energy.


Gary Lutwen enjoying some mid-BFX Red Bull.

For the gels, I prefer the non-caffeinated kind for the first half of the race. This also prevents me from starting out too fast.  Caffeine will lower rate of perceived exertion (make things feel easier), so starting off with a strong dose of caffeine will most likely cause you to start at a pace above your capability, a problem most athletes already have without caffeine.  Towards the second half of the race, I start taking caffeine, which allows for the boost of energy when I need it because I am getting tired.  It is usually in the form of caffeinated gels (Espresso or Tropical for Hammer Nutrition’s flavors), but occasionally I go for with some Red Bull.


At the End of Each Lap:

At the end of each lap, I drink part or all of a pre-mixed bottle of Perpetuem or Heed. Perpetuem is a fat, carb and protein mix designed for ultra-endurance racing. Perpetuem contains complex carbohydrates for a steady stream of energy, avoiding the spike and subsequent crash associated with simple sugars. It also has protein so your body does not starting “eating your engine” aka your muscles mid-race. Plus, a little bit of fat for more fuel. I typically also have Heed (an electrolyte, carbohydrate drink) for variety in taste, but the Perpetuem is better suited for BFX events.

Depending on how long I was on the course and the temperature, I would often have two more Endurolyte capsules to prevent cramping. Finally, before heading back out on the course I refill my Spibelt with the required food for the following lap. Whatever you plan on eating during the lap, make sure you bring one extra gel so you have that buffer in case you have been under-fueling throughout the event.

I personally have found that solid food is not necessary for a 6.5-8 hr BFX event.  The carb, protein, and fat in the Pertpetuem will fill my nutritional needs and not leave me hungry for much solid food.  For 24 hours events like BFX 24, I usually mix in more solid food for variety.


BFX NutritionBegin refueling as quick as possible with a carb and protein mixture. I use chocolate Recoverite immediately upon finishing. Then within an hour you want to consume a high protein (to rebuild muscle) and carbohydrate meal (to refill muscle glycogen). This will speed recovery in preparation for future training and/or racing.

As with all race day recommendations, make sure you train with similar products. If this is wildly different from what you normally do, do not just switch cold turkey on race day. Instead, test out these fueling options and techniques during training. Of note, I do not follow this exact nutrition plan while training, but I have used all of these products during training to ensure I feel comfortable with the taste and digestion of each product. For racing, my body is operating at a higher intensity for longer thus the additional nutritional requirements.

For additional information from everything from 5k Warrior Dash fueling to 24 hours World’s Toughest Mudder fueling pick up my book “Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite Obstacle Course Racing.



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