I’ve being using High5’s Energy Source 4:1 drink mix for some time now, with positive results. Like most drink mixes, it comes in power form, which you combine with water, but unlike some other types of energy food (be it drink, bar or gel), which are solely carbohydrate based, Energy Source 4:1 drink mix is, as the name implies, four parts carbo to one part protein.
Why the protein? Do you need it on a bike ride? It depends. Basically, in events of around two hours or less, you need only carbohydrate to keep going. Once you get nearer three hours, and definitely over four hours, you need a bit of protein because it helps the carbo work better. The sports scientists generally agree that the protein won’t necessarily make you go any faster, but it will help you go for longer - which is exactly what you need in a 100-mile sportive, or any other long-distance endurance event.
What’s it like in your mouth? The taste is OK, though hard to define. The texture, as you might expect, is ‘thicker’ than most carb-only drinks, more like milk than juice... presumably due to the whey (which gives the protein) as well as the maltodextrin and fructose (which give the carbohydrate).
As well as the carbo and protein, Energy Source 4:1 also contains what High5 calls ‘unique high electrolyte anti-cramping formula’. The list of ingredients includes sodium and potassium, which are certainly among the key minerals you need to replace during extended exercise.
Does it work? It works for me. From a personal point of view, having used a lot of different energy products over the years, I definitely find a bit of protein helps. There’s no doubt I feel stronger towards the end of a long sportive if I’m taking on protein as well as carbo in the final few hours. So I usually carry a sachet or two of 4:1 in my back pocket, fill up with water at the final feed station, bung the powder in, get back on the bike, give it a few minutes to mix and fully dissolve, then take a sip every 10 minuets or so until I reach the finish.
And it’s not just me. A lot of top-level riders use carbo-protein combinations towards the end of a day’s racing, especially in the major tours. And that’s because the scientists and nutritionists know that protein is essential after a race or long ride to help muscle repair and recovery. 4:1 is not just for single day events; but even better for multi-day events and for post-ride recovery.
So even if you didn’t drink the 4:1 on the bike, you might mix up a bottle when you get home - although a recent sports-science study pointed out that a bowl of muesli with milk will do the same job as any protein recovery product. But then it depends what you feel like throwing down your neck immediately after six or seven hours non-stop in the saddle.
Like all energy products, you should try out 4:1 on training rides first, to make sure it agrees with you, before embarking on a race or big sportive.
Energy Source 4:1 comes in individual sachets with 47g of drink mix (ideal if you want to start taking it on board halfway through your ride) or in big 1.6kg tubs (if you mix your bottle before you go). In the shops, an individual sachet costs about £1.20. A box of 12 sachets costs £12.99 from the High5 website, a big tub is £27.99.
A very handy and reasonably priced all-in-one energy product with carbo, protein and some vital minerals; ideal for longer races, sportives, and other endurance events
road.cc test report
Make and model: High 5 4:1 Energy Source drink
Size tested: 12x50g sachets
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,