Why 3Fuel? - The Science
To perform your best in training or competition, and to recover afterwards, you need to be properly fueled. That means taking care of the ways and means in which your body produces the energy you need to compete at the highest level. As both athletes and coaches – and formulators of this product – we know this, and we created it for exactly this purpose.
Because we compete in all kinds of sports (remember, everyone who formulated 3Fuel isn't just a coach, but a competitive athlete), we wanted a product that would fuel all kinds of events, over the most extensive range of duration and intensity. This is more difficult than it seems, because over different times and intensities, the body constantly shifts from the use of one fuel source to another.
For short bursts of power, your body depletes its phosphocreatine supply to generate Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), and contract your muscles as rapidly as possible. Your body can't move without ATP being used – it's the “product” your body purchases with metabolic “currency”. Four minutes after a maximal contraction, your body finally replenishes your phosphocreatine, and you're ready for another maximal contraction.
But if you do multiple efforts at maximal intensity, and you're not waiting four minutes, your body begins to migrate from the phosphagenic pathway towards the glycolytic pathway. At this point, glucose (blood sugar) is used to generate ATP. Soon afterwards, at about the 3-4 minute mark, your body begins to rely on protein, fat, and carbohydrates to continue paying for ATP. And while your muscles are busy converting your fuel into energy, they're also producing waste products, like lactic acid, and causing you to sweat, losing methyl donors like Betaine, that are used to help create more ATP. It begins a vicious cycle, causing you to hit the dreaded “wall” – where your body goes into shutdown mode.
Carbohydrates are the most easily use macronutrient, in terms of generating enough ATP. But they only go so far. Even carb-loaded marathoners will hit the wall at about the 20 mile mark – which is less than two hours into their run. At that point, ATP depletion is so severe, that performance suffers dramatically. But consider a Strongman who competes all day, or a MMA fighter at a tournament, or a Crossfit Games athlete who has an entire weekend to get through…they're getting themselves into a similar situation without even knowing it.
Running a Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or Warrior's Dash? You better have the right fuel in your body, because you can't double fist energy drinks while you're climbing a wall or jumping in a mud pit.
The Solution...What's the solution? After half an hour, triglycerides (fats) begin to contribute almost as much (~50%) as carbohydrates to the body's energy production, and after another hour, protein begins to make a substantial contribution as well (up to 15%). So if you're relying on the wrong ratios of macronutrients, or not using the right micronutrients, you're not going to be producing enough energy to maintain optimal performance. Think about it - if your body is relying on nearly 50% fat to sustain its efforts, why are you only drinking carbs during your training or competition? And if you're going to burn protein, why isn't your preworkout (or intraworkout) drink supplying you with any?
Most dietary supplements that rely on all three macronutrients will try to use a blend of fast acting carbs for a quick boost in blood sugar (*which is why you crash) and a fat to slow it down (*adding fats to a food reduces the glycemic index). We took the opposite approach – our fat is from coconut milk, mainly composed of medium chain fatty acids – which unlike regular fat, is a readily available source of energy. Our protein is high-quality, grass-fed, whey protein hydrolysate – an insulogenic protein that elevates blood sugar as well as carbohydrates. Our carb on the other hand, is waxy maize hydroxypropyl distarch-phosphate, which provides literally hours and hours of energy; not only that, but helps the body use more triglycerides for energy, and helps reduce lactic acid. In other words, you're getting three fuel sources with 3 Fuel...because you need all three to sustain your performance.
If we'd stopped there (and we did, for awhile, during our formulation process), we'd still have a great fuel that would get us through any training. We ultimately decided to add Betaine. If you've been paying attention, you'll remember that you lose Betaine when you sweat, and it ultimately causes your body to produce less ATP, and therefore less energy. Supplementing with Betaine (*technically called Trimethylglycine) has been shown in numerous clinical studies to increase power, increase work capacity, enhance recovery, and allow test subjects to come back the next day and do it again.
Trust us, we've been there: we've taken 3Fuel on the road, with us on the bike, on the mat and on the field. It works or we wouldn't be using it.
For further reading, take a look at the ingredients we use in our product: 3Fuel Ingredients (PDF).