20 years ago I was asked by the Magazine Café to do energy drink test. I forced myself to drink 8 different kinds of sports drinks during training. Some of them where really difficult to get down and even more challanging to KEEP down without an explosive ”return”.
It’s good for mankind that some of those energy drinks are gone….
After the test I stayed away from sports drinks for quite a few years. Just the thought of the sticky, acid fluid made me nauseous. I dont know how many races I have had stomach problems in, if its due to acid sports drinks or not, I dont know, but one thing is sure – when you are racing at 85-90% of your max, its more difficult to keep energy and electrolyte levels in balance and you need something more than water.
As I have committed to try new things to improve performance (at my senior age) I have decided to give energy drinks another chance. In races in Belgium and Germany they used Isostar when I was racing in the nineties and I remember that it worked ok, so I contacted them and got my hands on some samples to try out in training and racing.
For the past months I have been experimenting with the product range and have found what works and noticed following benefits:
- Increased ability to maintain high heart-rate at the end of long sessions (> 3-4hrs)
- Reduced recovery time – less fatigue and better ability to reload for afternoon/evening session.
- Ability to train and race without solid foods (bars).
The Isostar product range is very large but for my specific purpose and need, I have narrowed my consumption and this article down to what I find useful.
Bellow is a short overview of what and why:
Energy tabs that dissolves in water. A lot of electrolytes but not so much carbohydrates – good for up to 90min high intensity workouts or before a race to top up the electrolytes in your system.
Hydrate & Perform:
Powder that you mix with water. Provides electrolytes and carbohydrates – good for the 60-120 min sessions. They have a version for sensitive stomachs with neutral taste, I have been using the normal lemon or orange and even if I have a sensitive stomach I have had no problems with that.
Long Distance Energy:
Powder that you mix with water. Provides mainly carbohydrates – good for the over 90 min sessions. Can be mixed really strong without sticky taste, which is really strange as this contains the most carbohydrates it should be the one that is the most sticky – but its rather the other way around – this one tastes like water even when mixed strong! (up to 79g of carbohydrates per 500 ml water).
High Energy Actifood (energy gel):
90g of gel with essential vitamins. Tastes like baby food fruit, which is really quite all right compared to the traditional gels (read GLUE) that you get on most races.
Larger container that is easier to open and close than the GLUE version you bite off (and find that you either bit off too much – you get the content on your body rather than in your mouth or too little – end up trying again and end up with the content in your face, hand or on your chest…..
High Energy Fruit Boost:
Small sweets (like gummy bears) but with vitamins and caffeine – easy to eat on the bike leg as long as you have unwrapped them before the race.
Perfect to have in the transition area after the bike and take when you start the run. 6cl of vitamins carbohydrates, caffeine, ginseng and guarana.
Reload – After Sport:
Good recovery drink direct after hard sessions. Contains carbohydrates as well as protein (20%). I use this if I have done a hard morning session and also have an afternoon session that I need to get ready for.
High Protein 90:
Protein powder with slower absorption for the night after a long hard day….
Another positive aspect is that you can now get Isostar at Apotea at really good prices and dont have to run around looking for it.
I am sure that there are many other good products on the market that have also evolved since my 1996 horror experience but I am surprised that some of the brands still manufacture energy drinks that can strip paint off your bike, bars that cant be opened with one hand (or eaten with a heart-rate over 135bpm) and work like fast drying cement between your teeth.
Hope that this can article can help you to create your own training and racing nutrition plan so you can reach your best performance and have great racing experiance.