Sports nutrition can be a divisive subject. Some people swear by it while others think it unnecessary. While there’s no substitute for a healthy, well balanced diet to help keep you in top form and get the most from your cycling, sometimes you may need a little help.
A good example of such a time is on training camp where the body is put under a lot more stress than normal so any extra help is welcomed.
A few products which helped get me through a recent hilly training camp in hot southern Spain in good shape were the High5 ZERO electrolyte tabs, Energy Source 4:1 mix and Protein Recovery mix.
Zero electrolyte tabs
Zero electrolyte tabs are small tabs which when added to water make an electrolyte sports drink, in short they help replace salts lost through sweat.
These include essential electrolytes such as sodium; magnesium and potassium which are important for normal muscle function (and I found to help prevent cramp) and vitamin C for the immune system. Zero calories and no artificial colours or preservatives means they are light on the stomach and easy on taste.
In use I found the taste isn’t overpowering, great if you’re not a fan of energy drinks, and the range of natural flavours means there’s something to suit most people.
There’s even a neutral flavour which can be added to water or any other energy drink without affecting taste but still delivering additional key electrolytes in hot conditions. This is an excellent idea and one I tried with several different drinks and found no difference in taste.
I didn’t suffer any cramp all week and that was just with one tab in a 500ml bottle at the start of each day. I’ve also used them since on the turbo for 60-90 sessions and found them easy to drink and good for replacing salts.
Energy Source 4:1 carbohydrate whey protein mix
4:1 is a powder which added to water makes a mid ride protein/carbohydrate drink which provides energy for hard training and extends endurance performance.
The carbs and electrolytes help fuel and hydration in the short term while the protein helps in the long term. It’s free from artificial colours, preservatives and sweeteners with light natural flavours (available in Citrus and Summer Fruits).
Only the best whey protein is used in the drink which is why it is more expensive than other sports drinks on the market.
I’d heard a lot about 4:1 from friends who train hard and they swear by it. It’s one of those things that when you try it you can’t notice any difference immediately but after a while it really helps.
I took one 500ml bottle per day during the training camp and by the end of the week was still going strong while others were starting to dip. I feel it certainly helped as I’ve come out of the week feeling stronger than previous camps and legs not as sore.
The taste was actually ok on its own despite others saying it can be strong and I also tried mixing it with Zero tabs on a few days which can help taste if needed. I’ll certainly be using this on longer harder rides in future or any training blocks. It would be perfect for stage racing and multi day events like the Trans Alp or London to Paris rides.
Protein Recovery is an after exercise drink which as the name suggests helps aid recovery after hard exercise. The key ingredient is the whey protein that helps muscle growth while the carbohydrates give an energy boost, quite handy after tough training sessions.
Like the other High 5 products above, it is free from artificial colours, preservatives or sweeteners and available in several natural flavours.
I used this every day after riding mixed with water and found it quite light and easy to digest. The flavour is not as strong as some recovery drinks when mixed with water but doesn’t leave any aftertaste either.
It can also be mixed with milk for a more substantial shake but this can slow down absorption so is better to do later as an evening drink before bed for additional protein intake.
It’s another product that doesn’t show benefits instantly but over the week definitely aided recovery and ability to sustain long, hilly miles. It also seems to avoid the wind related side effects some protein recovery drinks can cause, handy if you’re sharing a room on training camp!