Back in Issue #24 of Enduro Magazine, we published a big feature on sports nutrition, where we reached out to a number of different companies to learn more about it and to discover why it’s important for the everyday mountain biker. We had great feedback from Ascend, Endura and Sukkie, all of whom were able to chime in with their perspectives on how to effectively hydrate out on the trail as well as manage your energy intake during a marathon or enduro race. As a quick run-down for those who haven’t had a chance to read the article, sports nutrition, in a nutshell, is simply specialised food and drink that’s targeted towards individuals undertaking strenuous activity, such as a 2 hour mountain bike ride, or a 100km XCM. These are often characterised by gels, energy bars, electrolyte drinks and recovery proteins that you’ll often see at your local bike store or health food shop. Rather than thinking of sports nutrition as just a quick and dirty energy hit, it is really just pre-packaged convenience food that comes with all the essential nutrients you need whilst riding, is easy to digest and is effectively absorbed into your body. Done properly, it can have a big effect on your riding, with improved stamina and reduced fatigue both during and after a ride.
At the end of the day though, it all has to be backed up by a healthy and balanced diet, and you’ve gotta find what works for you and your body. It’s also worth trying out a few different products to ensure your stomach doesn’t react poorly to a newly introduced concoction on the eve of a 6 hour enduro. While we have certainly developed our favourites over the years, we decided to take a look at some new products and flavours to see what else is out there.
High 5 is a British sports nutrition company that has recently become available in Australia through Sydney-based distributor, Cassons. Their products are manufactured in the UK, but have gone through all the necessary testing and food-packaging laws that we have Down Under. They have a comprehensive range of products from gels, to energy bars and electrolyte drinks, though if you’re looking to try out a few different things, it is well worth getting yourself a $15 ‘Sample Bottle’.
High 5 Sample Bottle
– Includes 1 x Energy Source sachet, 1 x Energy Bar, 1 x IsoGel, 1 x Energy Gel & 1 x Zero
– RRP: $14.95
The High 5 ‘Energy Source’ is a formulated sports drink that begins life as a powder. You can get in 2.2kg jars, or these nifty little packets like we’ve got. It’s essentially an energy drink, though relies on High 5’s 2:1 Maltodextrin/Fructose ratio that they claim provides a higher absorption of carbohydrates into the body. Not shown is the ‘Energy Source Plus’ drink, which adds in Magnesium and Caffeine for a further boost to muscle function and stamina.
High 5 Energy Source Sachet
– Flavours: Citrus & Summer Fruits
– RRP: $1.95
The IsoGel is an intriguing product that takes the same formula as the a regular Energy Gel, though adds in natural fruit juice to create a much thinner liquid that is more akin to an energy drink. The theory behind the IsoGel is simply that you don’t need to consume water at the same time (as you do with regular gels).
High 5 IsoGel
– Flavours: Berry, Citrus & Orange
– RRP: $2.50
The High 5 Energy Bar is exactly what it says on the tin; an edible bar made from fruit and cereal that features a high carbohydrate content. It’s got both simple and complex carbohydrates, so it releases that energy more consistently over a longer period of time. It’s also a great option for a mid-ride snack when you want something solid, and not just a liquid gel.
High 5 Energy Bar
– Flavours: Wildberry, Coconut, Banana & Peanut
But for those times when you need energy, and you need it fast, nothing really beats a proper gel. Compared to the IsoGel, the High 5 Energy Gel is a much thicker consistency, so you’ll need to swig some water with it. With 23 grams of liquid carbohydrate per gel, your body rapidly absorbs the incoming energy into the bloodstream.
High 5 Energy Gel
– Flavours: Apple, Banana Blast, Citrus, Juicy Orange & Summer Fruits
– RRP: $2.50
Slotting into the ‘Hydrate’ range from High 5, the Zero tabs contain electrolytes to provide your muscles with active hydration and replenishment of minerals such as Magnesium. The beauty about Zero over a regular powdered drink, is that it contains no calories (hence the name) and is packaged conveniently into small tablets that you simply drop into your bottle of water. That makes it a very good choice if you’re heading away on a ride and don’t want to lug around a big tub of powder and a measuring cup.
High 5 Zero Tablet Tube
– Flavours: Berry, Cherry/Orange, Citrus, Grapefruit & Neutral
– 20 tablets per tube
– RRP: $14.95
Torq will be a well-known name to most mountain bikers, thanks to their sponsorship of many up-and-coming mountain bike racers around the country. Funnily enough, Torq also comes from the UK, where they employ a similar sponsorship program that sees the black and orange team kit at vast numbers of cyclocross, road and MTB races. Torq run a pretty streamlined range of sports nutrition products, with just the one gel type, one energy bar, an energy drink and two recovery drinks. They also offer a ‘RAW’ range of supplements, for those who are chasing pure Ribose, Carnitine, Glutamine or HMB to add in to their standard diet. Their big push is with all-natural ingredients, and only using supplements that are naturally occurring in the body. If only Lance had stuck to using Torq nutrition!
There are actually two different recovery products in the Torq range, the standard stuff that we’ve got here, and the ‘Recovery Plus’ drink. Torq have been careful to point out that they are indeed two completely separate concoctions, with the Plus drink being a product that you consume twice a day, every day during long training blocks, and the standard Recovery drink being suited to consumption immediately after exercise to help with muscle repair.
– Flavours: Banana/Mango, Strawberries & Cream, Choc/Mint and Mandarin Yoghurt
– RRP: $49.95
Torq Energy is a powdered carbohydrate formula for you to drink before and during a ride to remain hydrated and to maintain energy levels. It also features a 2:1 Maltodextrin/Fructose ratio, though compared to the High 5 Energy Source drink, it packs in electrolytes including Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium to help reduce the effect of cramping, especially in hot conditions when you’re sweating buckets.
– Flavours: Organic, Vanilla Pod, Lemon, Pink Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon/Lime
– RRP: $32.50
For a more immediate burst of energy, the Torq gels provide concentrated carbohydrates in a thick syrup-like liquid that is designed to be consumed along with water. For a 45gm gel, there’s 29 grams of carbs on offer, and you also get electrolytes too like the Energy drink. Two of the Torq gel flavours also come with an additional caffeine hit, with the Banoffee and Forrest Fruits containing guarana, which is a natural caffeine.
– Flavours: Banoffee, Rhubarb Custard, Strawberry Yoghurt, Black Cherry, Forrest Fruits, Raspberry Ripple
– RRP: $3.95
A few of our gels came with brand new packaging that sees a little integrated tear-off string, which keeps the top of the packet attached after you’ve ripped it open and consumed the contents. Simple, but holy moley is that a good idea, and anyone who has battled with the tiny bits of packaging that you end up with after dumping a gel will know what we mean!
Quite likely the most well-known product in the Torq range, the energy bars are as distinctive as they are popular. They’re packed full of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release, are low in fat and come with an ingredients list that is refreshingly simple. Essentially a solid form of an energy gel, the Torq bars are ideal for keeping away the hunger on long rides.
– Flavours: Organic Mango, Pineapple & Ginger, Raspberry & Apple, Sundried Banana & Tangy Apricot
– RRP: $2.95