One of the toughest things about an Ironman race is making sure your nutrition plan is going to get you through the day. One essential component of a good nutrition plan is an endurance fuel. Many triathletes swear by real food, PB&J sandwiches and the like, but for some people this is a bit too involved.
Hammer Nutrition produces many familiar fuels and supplements for triathletes and Perpetuem is one of their most popular endurance fuels. Perpetuem has classically been a powder that you mix with water before consuming. It’s pretty thick and can be a bit gritty, but it works. We’ve used Perpetuem in our training and on our half-IM distance races before and were pleased with the performance. However, there are some logistical challenges to using Perpetuem powder, the main issue being that it cannot be mixed more than about three hours before use, depending on the weather. There are no preservatives in the powder so the fuel breaks down quickly in the heat.
Hammer has recently released a new product, Perpetuem Solids, to make taking Perpetuem easier. Thanks to Hammer for providing a few samples that we used at Beach2Battleship.
About Perpetuem Solids:
The solids are made from the same product as regular Perpetuem, only in a convenient tablet form. You can purchase the solids in bulk or in a 6 tablet sleeve. Perpetuem Solids are designed to stay fresh and usable even in the heat. The formula used in Perpetuem is designed to mitigate muscle cannibalization. The tabs are available in Strawberry-Vanilla, Orange-Vanilla, and Caffe Latte which also contains caffeine. The solids retail for $29.95 for a 90 tab container or $3.15 for a 6 tablet tube.
The serving size, 3 tablets, contain 100 calories and a little less than a gram of fat. There are 20g of carbs and 3g of protein in each serving.
Testing the Perpetuem Solids:
After receiving the samples, we also purchased a few additional packs to test before the race. We didn’t want to make any sudden changes to our nutrition plan without testing them first.
We used Hammer Perpetuem Solids on our last few 6+hour rides before Beach2Battleship. We included one serving of Solids in our special needs bike bag, one in our Bike to Run transition bag, and a third serving in our Special Needs Run bag. Generally, it’s a bad idea to go more than three hours without consuming protein during a race. Adding protein at these points helps reduce muscle tissue cannibalization.
Final Thoughts on Perpetuem Solids:
It’s impossible to discuss Perpetuem without discussing the taste. Remember, you’re not eating a Frosty here, you’re trying to keep your body from shutting down during the longest race of your life. When we used regular Perpetuem, we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t horrible. The flavor was great, especially the Caffe Latte version, and it wasn’t the most grainy supplement that we’ve tested. That being said, it was still not something you want to drink for breakfast every day.
The Perpetuem Solids were a completely different experience. First, they’re huge. About the size of a stack of 8 quarters. The smell is a bit chalky and the solids are normally a bit powdery after storage and movement. Popping the first one into your mouth, you better have some water ready. They will absolutely dry your mouth out. The second one was easier because we expected the drying sensation. Once you take a drink of water, the tabs dissolve pretty quickly, but they do leave a bit of an aftertaste. The tabs aren’t very grainy when you chew them, but they are a bit chalky, so they dissolve, but they need quite a bit of water to wash them down.
Performance wise, we noticed no difference between the regular Perpetuem and the Soilds. Both products provided a boost of energy and helped keep us full, but not stuffed. Both products helped us avoid muscle cannibalization. The balance of carbs and protein also assists with recovery, which is important since your body will start to recover from each sport before you finish the next discipline.
At the end of the day, an Ironman is a balance of less bad choices. Perpetuem Solids aren’t the most fun thing in the world to eat, I’d rather have a bacon cheeseburger, but that’s not practical. We don’t buy much of the hype surrounding supplements, but we found that Perpetuem is a great addition to your training plan. If you are comfortable using the powder, then you can include a bag of powder and add water as needed. If you want a less complicated plan, there has to be a tradeoff. In this case, the tradeoff is the consistency of the Solids. They’re not horrible, but they are a very different experience. Don’t wait until the day of the race to test these and you’ll be fine. On balance, we prefer the Solids to the powdered Perpetuem because of the ease of use and the limited planning required to use this product.