Recently, I stumped upon the CBC Marketplace series on Youtube. What has become evident in watching the series is how gullible the average consumer is to marketing tactics of big business. I recently watched a great piece on sports drinks and energy bars and whether they are required when you ride or train. I think you'd be surprised by the results.
First, a bit of background. I gave up on sports drinks a long time ago. I bought into the marketing hype from Dr. Phil Lim from scratch labs that one should eat our calories rather than drink it. Yea, I bought into the marketing but Lin seemed to make a good case scientifically for his notions. Lastly, I hated attempting clean the mold out of the bottles that eventually builds up when using sugary drinks in the bottles anyways. This last item actually is more why I stopped: just being lazy. So, I don't even bother with Skratch Labs drink mixes anymore. Realistically speaking, a can of coke as less calories than a bottle of sports drink so why not just buy a can a coke on a long ride if you think you need to be consume the candy in drink form anyways?
As for the energy bars, one need only read the label to see there isn't really much difference between these energy bars and the average chocolate bar. What about the protein you think you need? Take a small 3oz portion of chicken on the ride. Yep, that has the same amount of protein as the protein energy bar and none of the sugar. Nevermind, the cost of these bars can get a bit much. For me, I don't ride long enough between stops to need to use them. I tend to ride from coffee shop to coffee shop anyways, and a muffin at Tims Hortons, for example, as as much sugar in it as energy bar nevermind it generally tastes better, but I digress.
Still, one needs to replace the sugar lost during a ride or during a road race. So what do I do? I carry the old favourite, bananas, on a ride. It should interest readers to know that two bananas per hour is about the same as one of those energy bars. Bananas replace the electrolytes as well. Generally speaking is far better to eat real food over some marketed potion. How many have experimented with rice cakes?
Lately, when I need energy bars, I've taken to making them: why? I get to control the ingredients and the sugar. I have made rice cakes, but then to choke on then when riding. Rice cakes, I find, dry out too quickly to be useful to me. Also, most energy bar recipes require very ripe bananas...and how many cyclist don't have freeze full of very ripe banana's anyways? The basic recipe I use now is combining bananas, peanut butter, raisins and nuts. A good example of this recipe is from Hannah Grant, chef from the Pro Team, Team Tinkoff-Saxo. You can find her recipe video on the Global Cycling Network HERE. I find these energy bars useful on long ride and racing. Use Allan Lim's method of storing the energy bars in foil, and you save $2-4 per energy bar.
Now, back to CBC Marketplace. They recently did a piece questioning the marketing of sports drinks and energy bars. They interviewed former pro athlete Claira Hughes for what she used. Guess what? They found the claims of the marketing to be false (no surprise?) and Claira indicated she always resulted to using real food during her training and racing.
If you want to check out the CBC Marketplace video, you can view it HERE.
Oh, did I mention the last time I did the Hairshirt ride, that is a ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls and back, all 324km, I used water on the ride.....no cramps, no issues.