Chapter seven of Jeremy Jones and Teton Gravity Research's Further Unplugged Series digs into Jones' backpack and takes a look at the super food he carries with him on big days in the mountains. We're not talking about his mom's secret meatloaf recipe though. To fuel Jones' dawn to dark splitboarding missions he passes on the cold pizza and turkey sandwiches, choosing instead to eat like a competitive triathlete -- strictly energy gels and energy chews.
Watching Jones climb nearly every line he rides these days it makes perfect sense why finding the human equivalent of Jet-A heli gas was so important to him. The exhausting multi-hour approaches and gut wrenchingly steep descents were enough to deal with, feeling queasy from eating the wrong food only made matters worse.
"I used to eat a sandwich in the middle of the day but I would feel too full and then get a crash a couple hours later," said Jones about his pre-DEEPER diet. "So I talked to a bunch of trainers and other alpinists about the food that worked best for them and everybody agreed that energy gels were the most efficient and easiest to digest fuel you could eat."
The nutritional science behind why all snowboarders, and any athlete for that matter, should pay attention to Jones' performance tip is simple. Your body burns between 500-1000 calories an hour while exercising depending on your weight, metabolism, fitness level and the intensity of the workout. For maximum energy you need to replace half of those calories an hour with food -- about 200-400 calories. You don't have to replace all the calories you burn because you have some stored calories known as glycogen. When the glycogen is gone and you haven't eaten anything is when you bonk.
The honey-like energy gel packets and gummi bear-like energy chews are made of simple carbohydrates, sugars and electrolytes that melt in your mouth and deliver an instant punch of about 100 calories to your bloodstream. Feeling weak after a mega long pow run? Pop an energy gel when you get on the chairlift and you'll likely feel stronger by the time you unload says Jones.
"I can absolutely feel the effects after eating an energy gel," Jones said. "I set my clock by it. Five minutes after I eat a gel I get 25 minutes of power."
To sustain that power requires Jones' to consume about two energy gels or packets of energy chews an hour when he's on the move. On long backcountry tours Jones admits to eating the gels and chews "non-stop" and reaches for the gels that contain caffeine at the end of especially ruthless days.
"If I'm really hammered the turbo gels with the extra caffeine will pick you up off the ground and get you running," says Jones. "I always keep an extra one of those in my pack."
Jones is quick to clarify that this Further Unplugged episode is no infomercial though. It's just the reality of what it takes him to pound the peaks, day in, day out and feel strong.
"If you could have seen the amount of Clif products that have fueled my films than you would understand that we are just stating the facts," said Jones. "We don't believe in these products because they pay us. We eat this stuff because it works. These are the calories that have given us the energy to climb all these mountains."