What Is Your Bliss Point In The Open Water?

What Is Your Bliss Point In The Open Water?

The bliss point in the food industry refers to the optimal amount of salt, sugar, and fat in the foods we eat. Food industry scientists create new foods and modify existing packaged foods by adjusting the amount of salt, sugar, fat, and other ingredients. Additionally, they modify texture (crunchiness) to produce a satisfying mouthfeel.

The mouthfeel, or the way the food feels inside your mouth, and the flavor burst, or the way the food tastes upon eating, can entice you to eat more – or less – of a particular food.

But swimmers and triathletes know from personal experience that their own bliss point, mouthfeel, and flavor burst dramatically changes during and after an open water swim. These changes are different depending on the water salinity, water conditions (e.g., lumpiness), as well as the air and water temperatures and their fatigue levels.

That is, what tastes good on land when dry is often different than what is satisfying in cold water, warm water, calm water, and rough water as well as when you are exhausted during the latter part of your swim. Not only are your taste buds affected by the salt water, but your stomach can also become upset by swallowing water due to waves and surface chop. The bliss point, mouthfeel, and flavor burst of your favorite type of gel pack that typically provides a boost of energy and shot of satisfaction while cycling or after a run are much different than when you are racing in a flat lake or struggling against oncoming tidal flows in a rough sea.

That is why practicing feeding over and over again under all kinds of circumstances and conditions is critical for an open water swimmer. As much as you practice in a pool or lido, sea or lake, experienced open water swimmers practice the types and formulations of their feedings.

After months of practice, experienced open water swimmers know precisely what foods and hydration, and in what concentrations and order, are optimal for them in all kinds of conditions, situations, and circumstances.

Even beyond the nutritional value of the feeds, there is another level of psychological satisfaction that foods and drinks provide to the open water swimmer. For example, some may appreciate grandma’s favorite chocolate chip cookies at a critical point in their swim for the good feelings that the chocolate chip cookies generate.

Or some may enjoy a bit more caffeine before their final push towards shore. Conversely, some may simply prefer the blandness of the same food and drink time and time again. These swimmers do best while swimming in their own zone without a change.

Everyone is different and practice makes your decisions on your foods and drinks perfect.

Photos of Yuto Kobayashi of Japan feeding at the 15 km FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix race in Isla Cozumel, Mexico.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming
Steven Munatones