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Nathan Hays
(oroambulant)

Locale: San Francisco
FeSO4 on 02/21/2013 20:21:36 MST Print View

I've been trying to push VO2max on the elliptical and have been slowly creeping up, but not where I want to be. Then two weeks ago on a whim I started taking 28mg FeSO4 every day.

Instaboost!

Has anyone had experience preparing for altitude using iron supplements?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: FeSO4 on 02/21/2013 20:37:55 MST Print View

"I've been trying to push VO2max on the elliptical and have been slowly creeping up, but not where I want to be. Then two weeks ago on a whim I started taking 28mg FeSO4 every day.

Instaboost!"

Instant gratification can have its dark side. Better living thru chemisty is part of American culture, not least in sports, but it has its dark side. You might want to have a heart to heart with your doc before getting too far into this. Better to do it the old fashioned way: Good hard work over a period of time that allows your body to build naturally. Be patient and consistent, and you will improve as fast as your body safely can. You would be better off, IMO, getting advice from a good trainer on how to improve your VO2 max by HR Zone Training. I've seen it in action, and the results can be impressive. It is certainly safer. My 2 cents.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: FeSO4 on 02/21/2013 20:50:13 MST Print View

The symptoms of iron poisoning get pretty awkward.

--B.G.--

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: FeSO4 on 02/21/2013 21:29:50 MST Print View

You might want to couple the iron supplements with some prunes. Constipation is a PITA, literally.

"Nathan" doesn't sound very female so monthly blood loss is likely not an issue. If you're not vegan or strictly vegetarian, it would surprise me that you'd get such a boost from a supplement.

Perhaps the non-iron-aspects of your training were just starting to pay off? You don't say that your red-blood-cell count shot up. Just, I think, that you had more energy and stamina and a higher VO2max. There are many more factors in that than iron/red blood cells.

My crit values run high anyway, so it isn't a concern of mine. It might be interesting to have your hematocrit checked pre- and post-iron supplement. If you have enough iron stores to make more red blood cells, excess iron in your diet won't help.

Nathan Hays
(oroambulant)

Locale: San Francisco
Instaboost on 02/22/2013 16:32:13 MST Print View

I personally don't think it's a good idea to go pill-aging the supplement shelves to get a quick boost. I train quite a bit and can handily hike 40+ miles/day at 3+ mph. I'm up against the zones where glycogen droops and I have to slow down so I don't cramp on the next hill. I'm trying to bump my fat and glucose rates so I only rely on glycogen stores for the ups. The other boundary is how much I can pour into the hill and that is limited by oxygen availability.

That said, I noticed a striking increase in breathing efficiency after taking the iron that has persisted the last few days. I powered up a couple hills that in the past have put a sparkle in my eyes. The last few times, I crested the hill only pulling long deep breaths and instantly settled into my fastest walking speed.

I wonder if the body is satisfied with hemoglobin levels that only just meet the challenge and doesn't make a deep store of heme. It seems to me that the usual three-day acclimatization period might be shortened or even eliminated by iron supplementation in the week prior to hitting the hills.

That's why I asked whether others have any experience with iron use.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Instaboost on 02/22/2013 16:46:32 MST Print View

"I'm up against the zones where glycogen droops and I have to slow down so I don't cramp on the next hill. I'm trying to bump my fat and glucose rates so I only rely on glycogen stores for the ups."

This is something that can be addressed by intake of glucose, best in the form of a glucose polymer to slightly slow the absorption rate. Depending on when you start taking it, it can either delay the onset of glycogen depletion or take over when your glycogen supplies are exhausted. If this approach interests you, get in touch with Greg Gressel. He has done a lot of research and field testing to develop his own formula and intake protocols, which he put to good use on a very fast PCT thru hike last year. He regularly does the type of high mileage days you mention, so I'm guessing your requirements are similar.

Nathan Hays
(oroambulant)

Locale: San Francisco
Re: glucose on 02/22/2013 19:43:45 MST Print View

@Tom, I'm all over malto and Greg and love it. I think it was you gave me the same advice last year and I followed it!

I do a MyoMalt similar to Hammer Perpetuem. There's a topside to how fast the body can take in malto and burn fat with the balance made up by depleting glycogen. For very long exertions, you shouldn't burn faster than the glucose + fat rates, or at least pace it so you rest just in time for avoiding the bonk.

I've played with electrolyte balance as well and found that limit - suddenly thirsting much more and getting stomach upset - too much salt.

The telling indicator is that I only have to slow down a little and all cramping goes away. Also, the cramping is only in my quads and glutes - the workhorses of the uphill. When I've cramped because of electrolytes, I'll get it in my feet, forearms - odd places.

Mind you, this is after 30 miles of 3.5 mph without pause up and down the Marin Headlands/Mt. Tam. That seems to be when things change. A long way from a marathoner's output, but then I'm going for real endurance, 20 hour days.

Very, very fascinating observing, tuning the body's performance on the long haul. Taking the adage, "slow and steady wins the race" into subtler territory.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: glucose on 02/22/2013 20:11:28 MST Print View

"I do a MyoMalt similar to Hammer Perpetuem. There's a topside to how fast the body can take in malto and burn fat with the balance made up by depleting glycogen. For very long exertions, you shouldn't burn faster than the glucose + fat rates, or at least pace it so you rest just in time for avoiding the bonk."

There is definitely a limit, and the quick way to keep your burn rate in sync with your intake of malto sufficient to support the metabolism of body fat is to adjust your pace. Of course, the way to be able to sustain a faster pace is to increase your VO2 max, which you have clearly figured out. Fascinating project, isn't it? Each body is an experiment of one. I'd say you're on the right track and will get it figured out fairly soon.

"I've played with electrolyte balance as well and found that limit - suddenly thirsting much more and getting stomach upset - too much salt."

Have you ever experimented with Morton's Lite Salt? It has ~280 mg of Na and 350 mg of K per 1/4 tsp. I've had very good results with it while training here in the Cascades and also at altitude down in the Sierra. I use 1/4 tsp/liter, but that is just me. I take my Ca and Mg at either end of the day, but that is just me. According to what I have read, they are not depleted nearly as fast as Na and K during exercise. YMMV, of course.

"Mind you, this is after 30 miles of 3.5 mph without pause up and down the Marin Headlands/Mt. Tam."

Now that is impressive! I did a lot of running in that area back in the early 80's,
most of it in the 13-16 mile range at a pretty good pace, but also a fair number of 20 mile plus runs. It is very demanding terrain and, based on my personal experience, I can say you are functioning at a very high level of performance. Tinkering around with your pace and working on your VO2 max should eventually get you where you want to be, IMO, but for the distances you are doing, you will be forced to rely on a combo of glycogen and dietary carbs. No avoiding that, but you should be able to rely on stored body fat for the fat component, at least for a few days in a row. Extended hikes are another story.