"Not trying to be argumentative, just another perspective."
In the same vein, a few comments.
"1. Post exercise refueling: If it works for you great. But the very term "post exercise refueling" reeks of overcomplication. Most people simply call it eating, and do a fine job of it with a banana, a big glass of water, etc."
This works fine in the city. In my situation, on trips of the duration I generally take, it is not feasible to take bananas, chocolate milk, etc. Simplification is being able to pour a powder with a precisely measured number of calories, carbs, and protein into a bottle of water and slug it down to get my recovery started while I am setting up camp. It is NOT the way I eat after training hikes when I'm home. Just eating normal, natural food is far preferable then.
"2. During exercise eating: Obviously, we have to. Do whatever works for you, I'm not knocking it. But I do believe, from personal experience, that people overcomplicate this too. Granted, the Kenyans I mention aren't often running for 8 hours at a time, but at the same time, I think we often get trapped in a little too much of the hype that gets generated to sell sports foods, sports drinks, sports gels, sports supplements...Certainly these things have their place in some situations."
Again, what could be simpler than a powder containing very quickly absorbed carbs poured into a bottle of water to be sipped while on the move, alternated with a bottle of water containing a known amount of sodium, chloride, and potassium? This has the added advantage of not diverting blood from the working muscles to support the digestive process. The Kenyans generally do not run further than marathon distance, which is not a comparable situation to the one we are discussing.
"3. There are plenty of elites out there that do subscribe to a very scientific, supplement-based approach to eating/drinking during and after workouts. But I would argue that are are also quite a few top notch athletes out there that don't. Again, many Kenyans, both established and up-and-comers come to mind here. They just eat and drink sensibly; no measuring calories, sodium, carbs vs. fats vs. proteins, no laboratory recovery drinks. Just sensible eating."
These elites do so for a very good reason: There is a lot of scientific research that supports this approach for the kind of training they do. This is not to say there is no other approach, as the Kenyans obviously prove. Where the scientific approach comes into its own seems to be on the endurance end of the spectrum, think cycling and triathlons, etc, which most closely resemble longer duration, unresupplied backpacking. It's up to each individual to choose, but both approaches are valid, IMO.
"Another example that comes to mind: the XC and track athletes I work with at my high school. I see kids that regularly knock down 15 minute XC 5Ks, 14 second 110 high hurdles, etc. We've got one of the state's top 4x400 relay teams right now. None of them use supplements. None of them think "post exercise refueling". They think "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty" and they eat bananas, granola bars, orange slices, and guzzle water at meets. I like how simple they approach things. Mention half of this sports nutrition to them and they're clueless. They just know hard work and to stay away from junk food."
And I regularly used to knock out low 16 minute 5K's in my 40's. I didn't use supplements back then either, nor was it necessary. Beer was my recovery drink of choice. Looking back, I often wonder how things would have turned out if I had been more scientific about my post exercise regimen, not so much after a race, but after training runs that added up to 70 miles/week. I suspect either the scientific or the Kenyan approach would have produced better results. These days, the scientific approach only makes sense to me for refuelling on the move during training hikes, i.e. Perpetuem, and while I am on backpacking trips, when simplicity and knowing with a fair degree of precision what I am getting are of prime importance. To give you a better picture of where I am coming from: I carry 19 oz of food/day on trips up to 10 days and depend 3-4 pounds of body fat to make up the deficit. Knowing fairly precisely how much carbs and protein are in my carried food is very important if I am to come out the other end in good shape for the next trip. Sports drinks have role to play in this approach, and so far they have served me well. It seems pretty simple to me, once you have done your homework. I also do not generally cook my food, using a stove only to heat water for drinks. How many of you have a system simpler than that?
"I think a good deal of it has been pushed largely to separate athletes from their money."
Perhaps this is their intent, and there is certainly no shortage of garbage products on the market, but I think folks like myself, Greg G, Nathan, et al, are probably intelligent enough to sort out the hype from the useful material. The results speak for themselves as far as I'm concerned. That said, it up to each one of us to figure out what works best for them.
Interesting thread, huh?