Cycling Supplements

by SimpleSimon   January 16, 2010  

Just wondered if I could use this space to get some expert opinions from the cycling world on the use of sports nutrition products.

I habitually use electrolyte drinks when I ride, and get carbs from more solid food, like bananas, bars, and so on. On really long rides I may add carbs to my drink too. I sweat a lot so drink a lot, so it is important that what I put in the drink is good stuff.

Am I alone in wondering whether the stuff that goes into some of these sports drinks and bars and gels uses possibly the cheapest ingredients and sometimes things that make me wonder (I have seen carnauba oil in stuff - isn't this a polish?) Confused .

I know that Mule Bars are organic and Fair Trade, which I approve of entirely, but have any of the drinks makers gone the same route? I can't think of any so wonder if the readership might enlighten me.

I do find that the electrolyte drinks help me with cramp, but I wonder if they and the energy drinks are really using the best ingredients, both from a "green" point of view and a nutritional point of view. I have heard, for example, that if you take your daily zinc when you have bread or cereal at breakfast time, the zinc is "grabbed" by something in the wheat and never actually gets where it needs to in your body, just straight down the pan!

Is there a desire in the cycling public for a clean drink that really is good for you? Shall I make one? What would I call it? Thinking

Food (and drink) for thought?

7 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

ive been making my own bars, which funnily enough are pretty much like the 'bikefood' ones..

drinks wise i like the 'nuun' tablets, they aren't really energy drinks as such, more mineral replenishment but certainly better than just water.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1083 posts]
16th January 2010 - 18:11


Gatorade 'If you don't need it its not in it' would be my favourite and contains no artificial flavours, sweetners, colours or preservatives.

Taut Sort drinks bill themselves as the first clean sports drinks with no artificial colours flavours additives or aspartame. Have used it in the past and found it do the job and taste nice.

demoff's picture

posted by demoff [344 posts]
16th January 2010 - 18:44


Matt Hart of Torq tries hard to use only natural ingredients in his energy products. For example, the flavoured Torq Energy contains: Maltodextrin, Fructose, Citric Acid, Electrolytes, natural fruit flavour. See

SiS have launched organic versions of PSP22 and Go, which by definition cannot contain nasties like Aspartame. 95% of the ingredients must be organic and the remaining 5% can only be from a restricted list of permitted products. Ingredients of PSP22 organic: Maltodextrin*, Agave Syrup*, Orange Juice*, Fructose, Mango Flavouring, Elderberry Extract*, Sea Salt. ( *=organic) have been using their 'no artificial additives' line for years though I'm not familiar with their products.

Most of the above sell samplers or single sachets so you could try them, but for leisure and light training I don't see any benefit in spending big money. Unless you train particularly hard and need dedicated energy/recovery products it seems a very expensive alternative to a juice, banana, fig rolls, dried fruit and so on. If you want a convenient mid-ride snack why not try a Geobar, Nutri-grain bar or supermarket own-brand cereal bar? They are about 30p each.

I have not seen any green credentials, energy audits or carbon footprint statements by these companies. You could always ask them.

You can make up your own drinks using bulk suppliers like with homemade recipes at Chocolate milk appears to be an effective recovery drink.

Regarding zinc and wheat, well try googling it but the 'net is awash with bogus health/dietary advice. Having said that, more and more people are finding they have problem digesting wheat. Using ancient varieties like spelt or cutting out wheat-based processed products can help. I know Garmin have worked on this a lot (an article here) and recommend a much greater proportion of carbs from rice instead. Riders like Dan Martin have said they benefited greatly from adjusting their diet based on the team nutritionist's advice (more, more). In the end, natural, unprocessed 'real' foods (i.e. fruit, nuts, seeds etc) will always be better for you than processed foods that have had all the goodness beaten, heated or mashed out of them plus all sorts of crud added in (more).

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2028 posts]
16th January 2010 - 23:52


if you want a cheap electrolyte drink you can make some squash and put a bit of lo-salt in it - lo-salt replaces about half of the sodium chloride with potassium chloride, so it's better than regular salt.

ride food? malt loaf. with butter on. unbeatable.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
17th January 2010 - 22:32


PS cheers for all the other info Simon E - you're a man in the know! Smile

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
17th January 2010 - 22:33


Wow - thanks for all this really helpful stuff. Big Grin

posted by SimpleSimon [113 posts]
18th January 2010 - 11:52


Interesting, I think I became addicted, "cant ride well no "Special" bar / drink....." and often got "bonk" early just thinking I only had a "cocopops" bar rather than a "sports" version. This year though am trying to avoid the "sports" stuff and its surprising that there is no difference in (MY) performance on my coummuting road rides or MTB riding.

I think for "events" I will splash out on a couple of energy bars, but am thinking (for us mere mortals) its all in the head.


2010 - Cheshire Cat / Dragon Ride

canyonsi's picture

posted by canyonsi [42 posts]
22nd January 2010 - 7:52