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Wednesday, July 4 2012

Mini cheese bites: a subjective comparative test

Hungry readers will have noted the obvious similarity with this previous article title: Energy gels: a subjective comparative test. And indeed, this article is a somehow loose, non-scientific, comparison of a few mini cheese bites available. Not quite as comprehensive as its gel counterpart, though.

I came to use these mini cheese bites as a compromise between gel-based nutrition and real-food. As mentioned here a few times now, an all-gel nutrition plan is out of question for events longer than 5 or 6 hours. Cheese and dry sausages have been proven to be a much more appropriate option a number of times. The problem with those in their conventional form is that although they might taste great, they are not ideal when it comes to carry them for more than a day in warm conditions...

Hence the "cheese bites" I started to use during the TSQ 2010. New varieties seem to appear on a regular basis these days, and, just like with the energy gels, I have also started to taste the ones I could find - aside from the so-called "light" varieties obviously :) .

Here is a quick summary:
babybel originalMini Babybel
The original stuff. Used regularly since TSQ 2010. 20g, 61KCal (305Kcal/100g).
babybel cheddarMini Babybel Cheddar
Tastes a bit more cheesy, and nearly 25% more calories. Used regularly since TSQ 2010. 20g, 75KCal (375Kcal/100g).
babybel goatMini Babybel Goat
Seems new, but with only 10% goat cheese, it's more of a subtle goat's cheese flavour unfortunately. 20g, 65KCal (325Kcal/100g).
babybel goudaMini Babybel Gouda
I haven't seen this one in shops yet. 20g, 68KCal (340Kcal/100g).
marmite miniMarmite Cheddar Bite
A "chunky" texture, with a Marmite aftertaste. 20g, 81KCal (405Kcal/100g).
Cathedral City Cheddar MiniCathedral City Cheddar Mini Mature
The only bite to be an actual unmodified piece of cheese. Harder dough and tastier than all others. Also the most calorific, but might not survive as long, since there is no added preservatives. 20g, 83KCal (415Kcal/100g).


I had written that my choice would go for the Cathedral City Cheddar Mini given its taste and calorific density, combined with the Mini Babybel goat for a bit of variety. But by the time I finished polishing this article, both of them appear to be unavailable at my usual supermarket...

Ultra cheesy

Sunday, April 29 2012

Beetroot juice: the new sport drink?

A recent article on the Telegraph website reports that researchers at St Louis University in America found out that runners are about 3% faster on a 5 km treadmill run after having beetroot rather than cranberries. In fact, this has already been demonstrated in 2009 by researchers from Exeter, who compared beetroot to blackcurrent.

Nitrates in beetroot apparently dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and making oxygen usage more efficient. This leads to being able to run longer (by 16% according the 2009 study) or faster, but both studies were limited to short runs/rides. What about marathons and beyond?

My main concern with eating a large amounts of beetroot before or during an ultramarathon is that beetroot colours the urine into red. What looks like a funny side effect might actually be problematic in diagnosing long distance running related injuries such as rhabdomyolysis (muscle destruction) and/or kidney failure, which are typically characterised by darker urine colour.

How long before a gel/bar/sport drink is marketed "with beetroot extract"?

Ultra root

Monday, December 13 2010

Energy gels vs saucisson

When talking about sport nutrition, I sometimes get the feeling that I'm seen by some as an energy gel aficionado. I can't deny that I've tried and compared 21+ energy gels (and counting), nevertheless that doesn't mean I'm eating exclusively gels during ultramarathons (neither, to make things crystal clear, do I eat exclusively energy gels when not running). In fact, I'm currently slowly taking my distances with the all-gel diet during ultramarathons.

A lot of runners on their first UTMB, including myself, have been be a bit surprised to find saucisson, ham and cheese amongst more typical biscuits, fruits and chocolate at the food stations. This is actually not as irrational as it could look at first.

In races up to marathon-type distance, most runners tend to privilege relatively fast acting energy sources, ie. carbohydrates, that must be ingested frequently. The idea is to reduce the load on the stomach and to absorb only ready-to-use energy. A constant supply of relatively high glycemic index (GI) food tends to reduce the usage of alternative sources of energy, such as fat, by the body. As a consequence, the blood sugar level is tightly linked to the food intake and any deviation in the eating pattern might lead to hypoglycaemia, from which recovery might not be quick nor easy. Nevertheless, given the relatively short length of a marathon, it is usually possible to keep to a decent eating pattern.

However, things are significantly different during ultramarathons for a number of reasons. First of all, it's much more difficult to keep to a regular eating schedule for a variety of reasons, and in particular:
  • lazy stomach due to poor blood flow, constant motion, and circadian cycle alteration
  • loss of focus due to the duration of the event and lack of sleep
Secondly, runners might have to carry a large amount of food if not fully supported, and most gels have a poor energetic density (energy-to-weight ratio). For example, I started with 4kg of food during my attempt on the TSQ. This was composed of only 700g of gels, against 1,400g of chocolate/cereal bars and a significant 1,800g of cheese, bread, nuts, etc... The gels accounted for 17.7% of the total weight, but only for 6.9% of the energy! Conversely, the hazelnuts accounted for only 7.6% of the weight, but for 15.3% of the energy. And thirdly, in longer races, energy is usually burned at a slower pace.

I have decided to compare 3 top-ranking gels (SiS Go, Torq, Honey Stinger) against 3 more traditional types of food selected by Leo for the PTL (Parmiggiano, saucisson, and peanuts), ordered in this table by decreasing energy-to-weight ratio:

NameEnergyProteinCarbohydateSugarFat SaturatesSalt
UnitKCal/100g%%%%%%
KP salted peanuts59027.59.95.349.08.81.3
Parmigiano Reggiano39033.00.00.028.420.81.8
Mini Peperami (salami)37925.01.50.030.012.33.6
Honey Stinger3240.078.478.40.00.00.3
Torq2530.063.921.30.00.02.8
SiS Go1300.032.81.50.00.00.0


1. Digestion speed

I think their is an advantage at privileging food that takes longer to digest, as this will ensure a more constant energy supply. A repetitive supply of fast assimilation food (sugar) is more risky, as a crash is likely to happen if you are not be able to eat properly at some point of the race. Proteins have a similar energy density than carbs but take longer to digest, because they must be broken down by enzymes. Fat also takes longer then carbs, as they need to be dissolved and broken down. Both can be used to balance the energy intake over time. On this front, parmiggiano, peanuts, and salami are clear winners.

2. Ease of digestion

The SiS Go are definitely the easiest food to digest, with Torq and Honey Stinger not far behind, although a bit too sweet to take more than two or three at once. Fatty food are a bit harder to digest.

3. Energy-to-weight ratio

There is a wide range of energy-to-weight ratios amongst the energy gels, ranging from a poor 1.3KCal/g with the water-packed SiS Go to a decent 3.24KCal/g on the sugary Honey Stinger. The bottom line using pure carbohydrates is 4KCal/g. Proteins also provide 4KCal/g. The only way to increase this ratio is to rely on fat, providing a great 9Kcal/g. And that is why nuts rank so high: with half of fat, they reach nearly 6KCal/g. Cheese and salami only do marginally better than the gels because the fatty energy boost is compensated by a higher water content. Obviously, as previously mentioned, olive oil and lard being composed of 100% fat, they reach the highest edible ratio, with 9KCal/g.

4. Other nutrients

Nutrients might not be fundamental during a marathon, but the salt losses by perspiration can be great during an ultramarathon. It is necessary to replace them to avoid cramps and other body dysfunctions. Actually, I have a very common craving when running ultra, that is of a bacon sandwich. I assume this is the way for my body to tell me "I need salt, mate". Salt and other minerals are naturally present in traditional foods. Energy food users will find salt and other minerals in some gels, and in specific products such as SUCCEED and Perp.

5. Pleasure!

Eating gels for 30+ hours is not an option. At least not for me! I know some people managed to run the UTMB on gels and energy drinks only, but I don't think I could do it. A bit of solid feels good in the stomach and maybe even more importantly in the head. Unless my stomach is grumpy and the SiS Go gels would be the only option, there is no doubt that the parmiggiano and the sauccisson would be more attractive. This is worth considering in a context where eating might not be obvious and where anything bringing the mood up is welcome. Also, it is clear that food variety is equally important. I was a bit fed up with the peanuts-saucisson-parmiggiano trio diet towards the end of the PTL.

Now, all that is a bit of science, a bit of experience, and a bit of gut feelings (literally). Don't trust my conclusions. Try new running food, make your own decisions, and report them here!

Ultra food contest.

Friday, July 16 2010

TSQ equipment and food list

This is the exhaustive equipment and food list I have carried with me on my Thames Source Quest attempt.

Clothing
  • shorts (Raidlight/Ufo)
  • T-shirt (Hardmoors 55)
  • socks, underwear
  • shoes (Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra)
  • Buff (Hardmoors 110)
  • spare long sleeve T-shirt (Millet)
Equipment
  • backpack (OMM Classic Marathon 25L)
  • purification bottle (Aquapure Traveller)
  • 45 route cards
  • time table + small pen
  • first aid:
    • Compeed
    • Ibuprofen
    • Paracetamol
    • 2 disinfectant wipes
    • 2 rehydration sachets
    • 2 Coalgant
    • Vaseline
  • head torch
  • hand disinfectant
  • survival bag
  • whistle (on the bag)
  • tissues
  • mobile phone
  • Muvi Atom camcorder
  • ID
I'm pretty happy with this equipment list.

Food

Item Q.KCal/ug/uKCalg
SiS GO gel 10 90 70 900 700
Creme de marrons 4 200 85 800 340
Elevenses 4 204 50 816 200
Snikers 10 296 58 2,960 580
Bounty 5 268 57 1,340 285
Tuc 2 783150 1,566 300
mini Babybel 12 61 20 732 240
hazelnuts 2,000 300
rye bread 2 985500 1,9701,000
Total 13,0843,945

Plus 4x750ml water bottles for the non-tidal Thames section.

In the event of a further attempt, I might take a bit less food. Indeed, the bag was rather heavy and I don't think I would have eaten it all. For example if I just remove 5 gels, one creme de marrons and one rye bread, I would end up with about 3kg and still 11,500Kcal, increasing the overall energetic density from 3.32 to 3.8KCal/g.

Ultra food.

Monday, June 14 2010

Borderline

As they've now arrived in the UK, I've just ordered some GU energy gels for inclusion in my comparative test. Whilst I was browsing their website I came across a comparison of their own. It reads:
Lining up every imaginable energy gel and scrutinising the nutritional fine print isn't unheard of for serious endurance athletes. The table below provides a quick comparison of the critical components of the energy gels most readily available.
The table is obviously designed to favour their gels. For example, it seems to show that only GU has caffeine and anti-oxydant. Whilst they are not lying strictly speaking, they are really borderline. For example, the SiS Go, High5 and PowerBar have variations that include caffeine. They might not be sold under the exact same name (SiS Smart1, High5 Plus, PowerGel), but they do exist. They've simply not been considered as "most readily available". And I won't even mention the large number of gels on the market that are not even listed here. Furthermore, the choice of "critical components" is totally arbitrary.

What is really missing now is a proper scientific study that would compare most gels in a real race scenario. I guess that would mean involving a cohort of runners/cyclists in a number of races and draw statistical conclusions. I guess that there isn't a single gel that would be perfect for all in all occasions. For example, the sodium intake should be related to body fluid loss which itself is linked to temperature.

Test results in a few days hopefully. Given that a lot of runners (such as Mike M) only swear by them, I'm impatient to taste them.

Ultra biased

Tuesday, April 13 2010

Thames water purification on the run

As previously mentioned, one of the only source of water during the Thames Source Quest (TSQ) might be to drink from the Thames itself.

Ebullition would be the most radical method, but is not practical whilst running. Most commercially available portable water purification systems are based on microfiltration, which performs well against "big bugs" (protozoa and bacteria), but fails against viruses. I would need to use ultraviolet or chemical treatment to get rid of these nasty guys, most likely iodine. Remains the chemical pollution that might be solved partly with an activated carbon filter. I've contacted Thames Water to get more information on the exact nature and distribution of the pollution, but they tend to be very vague, only providing qualitative appreciations such as "bad", "good", "very good". If you have access to more accurate data, please let me know.

Here is my current plan for filtering:

PollutantExampleSize (microns)Solution
protozoaGiardia>5microfiltering(1)
bacteriaE. Coli, Salmonella0.2-0.5microfiltering
virusesHepatitis A0.01 to 0.3iodine (or UV)
chemicalDDT, heavy metals-activated carbon
bad tastesilt
iodine
-activated carbon
vitamin C

As for the microfilter, I'm considering either the Katadyn Mini (18x8cm, 210g) or the Katadyn MyBottle (26x8cm, 260g). The latter is more practical and includes an activated carbon filter and iodine resin. But this all-in-one design is not suitable for turbid water, which might be the case of the Thames.
I've discovered much more recently the Lifesaver Bottle (30x9cm, 635g), which is claimed to filter at 15 nanometres (0.015 microns)! It would therefore remove all the viruses as well as the bacteria. Plus it's meant to work with muddy water. During one of his talks, the inventor actually filters Thames water (or so he says), with a few much more disgusting add-ons and drinks it. Convincing enough! The main drawback: it's three times as heavy as the Katadyn products.

One funny thing with most websites advertising portable filtering, is that all the "action" pictures seem to involve crystal-clear mountain lakes or springs from which I would drink straight away anyway...

Any comments?

Ultra purification.

(1) Strictly speaking a simple water filter is sufficient.

Friday, March 5 2010

Peanut butter?

I've noticed a few peanut butter cravings after long runs recently.

In terms of energy-to-weight ratio, it would make a lot of sense. Indeed, all commercial gels are based on carbohydrates, which provide 4 KCal/gram. This ratio is fairly constant across the main carbohydrate sources: glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, or potato starch. The only difference is the speed at which the energy is assimilated by the body. So the final energy-to-weight ratio of a gel depends mostly on the amount of other ingredients (mainly water) added to the carbohydrate base. The highest ratio I've found during my tests was 3.75 KCal/gram in the Honey Stinger, thanks to the little bees drying out their product with their wings. Conversely, this means that a SiS Go Gel with a poor ratio of 1.3 KCal/gram is probably composed by 2/3 of water and 1/3 of maltodextrin.

Peanut butter packs 6 KCal/gram, because of its high fat content. Typical composition includes 50% fat (9 KCal/gram), 25% proteins (4 KCal/gram like carbohydrates) and 20% carbohydrates. Peanut butter also contains salt, which might be beneficial during long/hot runs. Because protein and fat are slower to digest than carbs, that might be a suitable option for multi-days runs.

We're still far from the 9 KCal/gram you would get by stuffing your bag with lard or olive oil, but that's a step forward :) .

Ultra energy content

Monday, December 14 2009

A few more energy gels compared

When in Nice for the marathon, I bought a few energy gels to complete my comparison: mX3 extreme, Scientec Nutrition Over Blast and Overstim.s (Energix, Antioxydant, Coup de fouet, Red Tonic).

The main difference as compared to the typical British ones is that they all sell in similar, smaller pouches. Their weights vary between 25 and 27 grams only, when the ubiquitous PowerGel and SiS Go Gel weigh 41 and 67 grams respectively. Not only these gels are lighter than any other I've tested before, but all of them are also much more expensive per calorie. The mX3 Extreme gel sets a new minimum with a ratio of only 37.56 KCal/£, way under the already overpriced SiS Smart Gel at 55 KCal/£.
over blast
During the long runs when the sweet food becomes unbearable, the Overstim.s Energix range features a savoury peanut flavour, which is a great idea. Unfortunately, the gel texture is so thick that it took me a lot of effort to down it (think about "drinking" peanut butter through a 2mm-large hole). I'm not sure how people do normally deal with that, but I found them absolutely unusable in practice.

Overstim.s also produces the "Red Tonic Sprint Air" gel with mint and eucalyptus. The fresh and intense taste is supposed to boost you when you're out of breath. It's definitely strong, now whether that would actually make any difference...

On the content side, it looks like French runners like funky add-ons. Aside the typical vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, PP and caffeine, some of them include the following ingredients: royal jelly, propolis, chloropyll, gingseng, kola, crataegus, cinchona, meadowsweet, angelica, ginger and fenugreek. Not sure what all of those are good for, but they must justify the price...

Ultra not impressed by French gels

Monday, September 1 2008

Energy gels: a subjective comparative test

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a scientific comparison between energy gels. It is compilation of nutrition facts about most of the energy gels commonly available in the UK and France, complemented by a subjective comment on their taste and texture. Please feel free to comment on it.
  • Update 18/10/2008: corrected Honey Stinger weight, added Hammer.
  • Update 14/12/2009: added Over Blast, Overstim.s and mX3.
  • Update 12/01/2010: added Carboshotz.
  • Update 12/04/2010: added Isostar Gel Energy and Multi Carbo Gel.
  • Update 23/06/2010: added GU Energy Gel.
I've tried to buy most of the gels I could find in shops or online. The most common in UK shops are PowerGel, High5 and SiS GO, but when you look carefully around, there are quite a few of them: I've ended up with nearly 3kg of running treats! The idea was to taste them for real and not only to report their composition in a table.
However, there are a couple of other gels I haven't tested: EAS energy gel (looks more designed for body builders), Cyto gel (sold only by 24 pack), Clif Shot Energy Gel (can't find a UK retailer), Fireball, Cytomax Gulp'n Gel. Also, I didn't try the full range from High 5, assuming they must be fairly similar. High 5 IsoGel Plus has extra caffeine (35mg) and High 5 IsoGel X'treme is designed to "boost energy, focus and agression", although the official website is very evasive on the actual content.

I am continuously updating this page when I can get hold of more products.

gels

Weight

Most gels provide about 100KCal in 40g. Some are provided in bigger resealable pouches intended for several usages to pack up to 300KCal. The gels with the most important level of sugar will contain less water and therefore have a higher energy-to-weight (E/W) ratio. Pure sugar Honey Stinger reach an amazing 3.24 KCal/g, whether largely water-diluted maltodextrin-based SiS GO gels only pack 1.3 KCal/g!

Table 1: energy and weight

Gel Weight Energy E / W

(g) (Kcal) (Kcal/g)




SiS GO Gel 67 87 1.3
SiS Smart1 Gel 67 88 1.31




High5 IsoGel 38 92 2.42
High5 EnergyGel (Plus) 38 92 2.42
Torq 45 114 2.53
Carboshotz 45 117 2.6
Squeezy Gel 25 65 2.6
PowerGel 41 109 2.66
Carb BOOM Gel 41 110 2.68
Multipower – Multi Carbo Gel 40 107 2.68
GU 32 100 3.13




Isostar Actifood 90 187 2.08
Lucozade Carbo Gel 45 123 2.73
mX3 extreme 25 74 2.96
Scientec Nutrition Over Blast 25 74 2.96
Overstim.s (Energix / Antioxidant) 27 80 2.96
Aptonia Energy Gel 70 208 2.97
Maxim Gel 100 300 3
Overstim.s (Coup de fouet / Red Tonic) 25 81 3.24
Isostar Gel Energy 35 114 3.26
Honey Stinger Gel 32 120 3.75


Carboyhdrate type

They are basically 3 kinds of gels available, hence the 3 groups in the comparison tables. The ones mostly based on maltodextrin (a carbohydrate that isn't sweet, derived from partial hydrolyse of starch), the ones based on glucose syrup (which are extremely sweet) and the ones combining maltodextrin and glucose/fructose. Some researchers suggest that a ratio 2:1 maltodextrin:fructose/glucose (ie. 33% sugar) is optimal. However, most of those are linked somehow to a brand, so it's tricky to get a fair opinion.

Isotonic

Isotonic gels can be consumed without extra water. This can be an advantage, but for most people water is usually needed anyway during a race anyway! I think it's becoming increasingly trendy to say that sport food is isotonic, and I expect most gels to be isotonic in a couple of years.

Caffeine

Some gels include 25 to 90mg of caffeine. As for comparison, the caffeine amount in coffee varies between 40mg (regular espresso) and 300mg (Star***** biggest brew). It's always been controversial whether caffeine is beneficial to long distance running. On one hand it's a psychological and metabolism booster, on the other hand it's a diuretic, it increases the blood pressure and might lead to digestive problems.

Table 2: composition

Gel Carbohydrates Sugar Isotonic Caffeine


(% carb.)






SiS GO Gel maltodextrin 0 YES
SiS Smart1 Gel maltodextrin 0 YES 50





High5 IsoGel maltodextrin, glucose 30 YES
High5 EnergyGel (Plus) maltodextrin, glucose, (fructose) 30 or 46
(30)
Torq maltodextrin, fructose 33
(89)
Carboshotz Corn syrup solids 19
(80)
Squeezy Gel maltodextrin, fructose ?

PowerGel maltodextrin, fructose 38
(25, 50)
Carb BOOM Gel maltodextrin, fructose 11
(50)
Multipower – Multi Carbo Gel maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose 36
5
GU maltodextrin, fructose 20






Isostar Actifood glucose syrup ?

Lucozade Carbo Gel glucose syrup 15

mX3 extreme glucose syrup, fructose 68

Scientec Nutrition Over Blast glucose, (maltodextrin) ?
30
Overstim.s (Energix / Antioxidant) glucose syrup, (maltodextrin) 35 or 45

Aptonia Energy Gel glucose syrup, (maltodextrin 5%) 58

Maxim Gel glucose syrup 69

Overstim.s (Coup de fouet / Red Tonic) glucose syrup 76

Isostar Gel Energy glucose syrup 62

Honey Stinger Gel honey (pure sugar) 100
(32)
* caffeine weight in brackets means that only some of the flavours do contain caffeine.

Cost

Price are hard to compare. If buy bulk you'll obviously pay less. I originally wanted to buy them all by the unit to compare their prices that way. As some gels are only sold in bulk, I eventually had to mix things up a bit. There is a wide range of prices, but on the whole, they are generally fairly expensive for a mix of water, sugar and minerals. Many websites propose recipes to make your own gels for a fraction of the price.

Table 3: cost

Gel Price By E / P

(£)
(Kcal/£)




SiS GO Gel 0.9 10 96.67
SiS Smart1 Gel 1.6 1 55




High5 IsoGel 1 2 92
High5 EnergyGel (Plus) 0.79 1 116.46
Torq 1.25 8 91.2
Carboshotz 1 1 117
Squeezy Gel 0.92 12 70.65
PowerGel 1.2 5 90.83
Carb BOOM Gel 1 5 110
Multipower – Multi Carbo Gel 1 30 107
GU 1.5 1 66.67




Isostar Actifood 1.95 1 63.08
Lucozade Carbo Gel 1.1 1 67.27
mX3 extreme 1.97 1 37.56
Scientec Nutrition Over Blast 1.6 25 50
Overstim.s (Energix / Antioxidant) 1.73 10 120.23
Aptonia Energy Gel 1.45 1 206.9
Maxim Gel 1.39 1 58.27
Overstim.s (Coup de fouet / Red Tonic) 1.87 10 60.96
Isostar Gel Energy 1 4 114
Honey Stinger Gel 1.17 6 102.56


Sweetness and stickiness

These aspects may not seem of the highest importance, but they do matter. After running for a while, especially if the weather is warm, the stomach can easily get upset. And at that point the last thing you might want is a sweet and sticky gel. On the other hand, a strong sweet taste sometimes feels good when flirting with hypoglycemia. In any case, please remember that taste is personal. This is only to give you an overall idea and you must try them by yourself to make your choice.
Note that the percentage of sugar, although strongly related, is not necessarily proportional to the apparent sweetness. This is due to the use of various kinds of sugar (glucose, fructose), as well as other flavourings and acidity regulators. For example, I found the Carb BOOM gels very similar to the PowerGel, although they have only 11% sugar against 38% for the latter. Also, the Honey Stinger, despite being composed of 100% sugar, surprisingly doesn't taste too badly sweet.

Table 4: personal appreciation

Gel Flavour Sweetness Stickiness Personal mark










SiS GO Gel Subtle not sweet fluid *****
SiS Smart1 Gel Subtle not sweet fluid ****





High5 IsoGel Too strong sweet fluid *
High5 EnergyGel (Plus) Good (choc.) / too strong (citrus) sweet fluid ** / ****
Torq Very good (cherry) very sweet sticky ****
Carboshotz Good a bit sweet a bit sticky ****
Squeezy Gel Good sweet sticky ***
PowerGel OK sweet sticky ***
Carb BOOM Gel OK very sweet sticky ***
Multipower – Multi Carbo Gel Disgusting very sweet sticky *
GU Excellent (chocolate) sweet sticky ****





Isostar Actifood Good (fruit bits) sweet sticky ****
Lucozade Carbo Gel OK very sweet very sticky **
mX3 extreme OK sweet sticky **
Scientec Nutrition Over Blast OK sweet sticky ***
Overstim.s (Energix / Antioxidant) Good sweet very thick *
Aptonia Energy Gel OK painfully sweet very sticky *
Maxim Gel OK very sweet sticky **
Overstim.s (Coup de fouet / Red Tonic) Good (CF) / Too strong (RT) sweet thick **
Isostar Gel Energy OK very sweet sticky ***
Honey Stinger Gel Good very sweet very sticky *****


Conclusion

My final choice is a combo of SiS GO gel and Honey Stinger; the former to be used continuously, as they're easy to swallow and digest even in absence of water; the latter as punctual boosters or hypoglycemia killers. And obviously a couple of spare Crème de marrons for the mental.

Notes:
  • Surprisingly, High 5 EnergyGel composition varies quite a lot depending on the flavour.
  • No official weight is provided for SiS gels, they're measured by volume (ie. 60ml). I've weighted them myself for homogeneous comparison. I suppose the reason for that may either be that they consider them as liquid or that they want to hide their low energy-to-weight ratio.
  • Update 22/12/2008: Trail Goat at iRunFar posted today a similar test of his own, but more oriented towards the US market. You might want to have a look.
You can also browse the whole comparison table at a glance online or download the OpenDocument spreadsheet. These include a bit more information and links to official websites.

Ultra energy.

Friday, May 25 2007

Abel & Cole

Nutrition is obviously very important in ultrarunning... Reading here and there about what you need to eat and what to avoid while training is quite a mission though: you can find everything and its opposite, except maybe about carbohydrates loading ... That's why I decided to eat a lot of everything, rather than focussing on pasta and cheese as in the past... I've already increased my red meat and fish intake, as well as fruits and vegetables (having a vegetarian girlfrieng might have helped). In order to be more consistent about fruits and vegetables, I then decided to subscribe to Abels & Cole. They deliver a weekly basket of fresh fruits and vegetables on your doorstep. Of course, it's all organic, mostly from UK and Europe and not air-freighted. I've got the first one yesterday, we'll see if it improves my diet.

Ultraveg.

Tuesday, April 10 2007

Where can I find some Crème de Marrons ?

As detailed in an earlier post, I found out that the Crème de Marrons (chestnut spread) is one of my favourite running fuel. Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore in small pouches. They now sell them online (*), but apparently they don't ship abroad. That's annoying... Does anyone know where to find these in London or online?

Ultra embarrassing.

(*) for 0.73€ each = £0.50 - half price compared to Partridges...

Update (14/04/2007):
They're available again at Partridges ! I mean they were available, as I bought all 12 of them :) At £1.10 each now, that's more than twice as much as in France ...

Update (18/04/2007):
They're definitively not available anymore at Partridges. I must have bought their whole stock at once :)

Wednesday, August 2 2006

Crème de marrons

Today I was glad to find the excellent old fashion Clément Faugier's crème de marrons (chestnut spread) at Partridges. They don't have the new soft packaging version, only the tins and the tubes, but the latter are perfect for me. They're slightly sticky and rather sweet (although less than the PowerGels) but I feel like I'm going to take some with me at the UTMB, because I hope that pleasure will help to eat and digest properly :) .

Following last post, hereafter a short comparison table:

Price (£)Energy (KCal)Weight (g)Energy/Weight (KCal/g)
Crême de marrons 1200802.5
SiS Go gel 190671.3
PowerGel 1.25110402.75


Edit (06/08/2008): updated weight and ratio for SiS GO gel: 25g was the weight of carbs, not the overall weight (67g).

Ultra yummy.
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