Dr. Stacy Sims realizes that she probably thinks more about your gut than you do. No, not what you see in the mirror each morning, but the actual inner workings of a part of the body she believes doesn’t get enough attention.
“The gut is one of the most absolutely vital conductors of our overall health,” Sims said. “And yet we often regard it as an afterthought.”
Sims, a world-renowned researcher, innovator and health performance entrepreneur, understands that even the most fitness-focused members of the general public are unlikely to become avowed experts on intestinal health.
So while she can happily talk all day about gut microbiomes and hypoxic tendencies and the properties of adaptogens, she accepts those aren’t the kind of things that are your standard chatter around the dinner table.
What Sims, a former professional cyclist, college rower (crew) and IRONMAN competitor does crave, however, are a series of crucial shifts in the way hydration, especially in the sports drinks sphere, is perceived.
“I want people to understand that the typical sports drink is not appropriate for their bodies,” Sims added. “It's not only too high in carbohydrate to replenish you, but the stuff in it is bad for you, too.
“If we can generate a higher level of understanding and really shake up that line of thinking, that’s what I would consider a success.”
Sims is one of the founding partners of ERW Active, a health and hydration range that seeks to give people “tools for the race of life.” She has partnered with world-famous chef Hannah Grant, her co-author on the health-based high-performance cookbook “Eat. Race. Win.,” for a launch with a truly international flavor.
Grant is based in Denmark, while Sims – originally from San Francisco, lives with her young family in New Zealand.
Sims had a remarkable depth of pioneering research to draw from as the group formulated the ERW product line. She has authored 65 studies and papers on topics such as the effects of gender differences, heat and altitude on the ability of the body to produce maximal output.
Her research even looked at NASA astronauts and how hydration methods for the unique environment of space travel could be used to improve quality intake for athletes.
Sims operates in a world of complex science but has found a way of explaining her findings that has earned the trust of the numerous elite and Olympic athletes she advises.
Sims and Grant met while working on the Tour de France in 2013; Sims was occupying twin roles with USA Cycling and Stanford University while Grant’s revolutionary meal plans shook up cycling.
One of Sims’ early successes in cycling came with Peter Sagan, seven-time winner of the Tour’s points classification. Sagan also impressed the cycling community with his performance during two extra hot stages of the Tour of California, helping to bring more awareness to Sims and her methods.
She and Grant quickly agreed to study ways to develop a product that prioritized maximum effectiveness above all else, with no compromise on the quality of the ingredients.
A point of passion for Sims is in promoting ongoing health of the whole immune system, leading to greater overall wellbeing, rather than focusing simply on the immediate goal of completing a workout or an endurance challenge.
She explains that because the gut is hot (hypoxic) it is affected by everything that happens during strenuous activity. Appropriate fueling can reduce those stresses with ingredients that adapt to the internal changes that take place during exercise.
“The body is under a significant amount of stress already,” she said. “So adding extra stresses by refueling incorrectly is going to cause problems.”
Sims is no fan of simple carbohydrates being added to recovery products and believes that hydration must be a way to support the body’s functions, not complicate the delicate balance of physiology further.
She remains frustrated and bewildered at how commercial interests have overtaken the sports drink market, with cheap additives and overloaded sugar content destroying, she says, the ability to allow the body to perform to its maximum potential.
ERW Active seeks to remedy that gap in the market, having been honed and tested by thousands of hours of scientific research and findings.