Information for Patients: Sports Nutrition for Athletes- Less sugary alternative

Dr. Ehrlich was quoted on the Pocketfuel’s Blog
Pocektfuel Blog-Comments from a Dentist

Comments from a Dentist:

We have been so fortunate to count among our customers doctors, EMTs, firefighters, ski patrol, coast guard, SAR, military etc… They all need high quality, portable nutrition. A while back I was pretty stoked to learn that we have a few dentists that also use and love PocketFuel. We all know that 100% natural whole food is best for our body but when I got this from one of our PocketFuelLovers I knew I had to share. Dr. Richard Ehrlich is a dentist, adventure racer and ultra-runner from Canada and he sent this to me.  Thanks so much!  -Heidi

As a dentist/athlete who treats a lot of endurance athletes I see many dental problems from sugar-based fuel. Tooth decay is a factor of frequent sugar exposure, not quantity.  Frequent small amounts of concentrated sugar are the worst for your teeth, yet that’s how most distance athletes fuel. Sticky sweet items are especially bad as they tend to stay around for hours, giving near-constant exposure. When you combine them with dehydration, you can have a dental disaster. I have had to perform several emergency root canals due to sugary items jammed between teeth in athletes, causing deep decay that is very hard to repair. These can be endurance blocks, granola bars or simply dried fruit- it’s all junk for your teeth.

I have been using and suggesting less sweet endurance fuels as much as possible. I love Pocketfuel as they provide tons of energy without the high sugar content that leads to decay. Link to Pocketfuel Website

Having something tooth-friendly that tastes great as well is a pure bonus when your stomach is queasy after many hours of running. There are small bits of dried fruit in some, but the formulation doesn’t lead to them jamming in between teeth. Even when not racing, I recommend something like this for longer training too- your teeth will thank you.

As an aside, sports drinks are also hard on your teeth. Some pre-formulated ones are very acidic too, which makes them even worse. I encourage my athletes to sip sports drinks straight down with a drink tube, and follow with water if possible.
Most people don’t need sports drinks or electrolytes for shorter events. The first litre can be water. If you are going through multiple litres, you need to add electrolytes, especially sodium. I prefer to take the electrolytes in capsule form and drink water. Liquid fuel can then be taken as needed.

You can get sweat-testing done, to see just how much water you need, and how much sodium you are losing per litre. From this you can get your hydration customized.
Standard bottled sports drinks are never right for everyone. Many are too acidic, have weird artificial colours and flavours, and may have types of sugars you don’t need. 
Serious athletes should look into testing, and can make up a mix from powder and electrolyte capsules or tablets, or you can get customized hydration from companies like Infinit or Precision Hydration.

Dr. Richard Ehrlich

Palgrave ON.

Adventure racer/ ultra-marathon runner.