“Sports nutrition” or even “race nutrition” is a bit of a tricky subject for some. There are hundreds of products out there, each with varying degrees of weird-tastiness, sweetness and artificial-ness. I’m quite lucky in that I can pretty much chuck anything down my neck and my stomach will happily process it without a hint of rebellion. Obviously some products seem to work better than others once they’ve made the journey from my stomach into my muscles (how this happens I have no idea really) and as such I have my favourites, but in general my race pit helpers don’t have an intricate and complex feeding strategy on 3 sides of A4 to follow and can simply shovel tons of sweets, tinned ravioli, chocolate, coffee, protein bars and gels into my mud-splattered face, safe in the knowledge that they’re not going to be wearing it a couple of seconds later.
So for me really, it pretty much comes down to taste and nothing else. If there’s a brand of gel or carbohydrate drink that tastes horrible I just won’t use it and I’ll go for the ones that taste like a bag of sweeties or a can of Fanta.
Recently I received a small batch of MyProtein ENER:GEL gels and a large pouch of Tri Carb carb drink from ProBikeKit. I’ve used it all up now as I’m right in the middle of a few weeks of hard training for a 24 hour race so I think I’ve had plenty of time to form an opinion.
First of all, the Tri Carb drink states that you should use “3 scoops” per bottle. That’s fine, but it’s quite sweet so you might want to use two and a half scoops instead. You might like it with 3 scoops, but I preferred it a little bit less sweet (I don’t have sugar in tea either). It’s not weird or synthetic-tasting at all though. It just tastes like a regular soft drink (summer fruits, if you’re wondering). I’ve ridden for hours using only Tri Carb and I’ve felt adequately fuelled, even at my “2.5 scoops” lower dose. It mixes well too (especially with the MyProtein Shaker Bottle) – there was no powdery reside in the bottle and I didn’t detect any powder while I was drinking it.
The ENER:GEL gels are (dare I say it about an energy gel) lovely. Yep, they actually taste very nice indeed. Of oranges. And they’re a nice, easy-to-get-down consistency.
Gone are the days when we needed to put up with energy gels that tasted like plastic and had the consistency and texture of snot. There’s clearly a lot of effort by the boffins going into making your training and racing fuel nice to eat, sometimes even desirable, as well as very effective. The days of retching when they go in one end and then high drama when they come out of the other end are long gone, if you’re wise with your purchases.
ENER:GELs are 60g and contain 21g of carbs, so about right for the recommended 2 or 3 an hour (depending on what you’re doing and how big you are, obviously).
There’s electroytes in there too, which is handy if you’re a sweaty bugger and/or you suffer from cramp. I even gave one of these to Dave who unlike me, has to be very picky with his food in case his guts explode and he got on fine with it, so they’re benign as well as tasty.
The price isn’t too bad either. Yep, I’d recommend MyProtein products – in fact, I’m going to buy some with my own money.