High 5 Energy Source Super Carbs, to give it its full name, is a carbohydrate drink mix from High 5. What makes it different? The mix of glucose and fructose at a 2:1 ratio - branded as ‘Super Carbs’ - a higher proportion of fructose (fruit sugar) compared to most other products.
What’s the thinking? Most energy products deliver the carbohydrate you need in the form of glucose alone (or with a dash of fructose), but your body can absorb only a limited amount of carbo this way - usually around 50g to 60g per hour, depending on your weight, age and other similar factors. High 5 say that fructose can deliver more carbohydrate to the muscles, in addition to that provided by the glucose. Put in the simplest layman’s terms, the fructose goes in another way, bypassing the mechanism that usually limits carbo intake to 50/60g per hour. The end result: you can increase your carbo intake by up to 50%, meaning up to 75g or even 90g per hour, according to High 5. And that means you can go faster, or further, or both.
That’s the claim. Does it work in practice? Yes. Numerous studies by sports nutritionists have shown definite benefits. These vary according to the study and the individual, but generally speaking cyclists using fructose as part of their carbohydrate intake have gone faster over the same distance than if they used glucose alone.
From a personal point of view, I’ve used Energy Source on a few sportives and endurance rides recently, and certainly noticed the benefit. Specifically, I carried a couple of sachets in my back pocket on the Verenti Dragon Ride in June; after topping up my bottles at the Cimla feed station (the recommendation is 50g of powder to make up a 500ml bottle), I took regular swigs and thoroughly enjoyed the final 25 miles, feeling strong, and powering up the hills to finish well under my 7-hour target.
Of course, it could have been another factor that helped me go well that day, but on that basis I would still recommend trying Energy Source, to see if helps improve your own performance. The fruit flavour is pretty refreshing too, and the ingredients also include sodium and potassium - two of the key minerals required to replace those you lose via sweat. But remember that different drink mixes affect people in different ways, so sample Energy Source on a training ride first rather than an important race or sportive, just in case it doesn’t agree with you. Flavours include Citrus, Orange and Tropical, or you can buy the tub in a neutral version.
A word of warning. Fructose is not a wonder food. You can’t throw tons of it down your neck and expect to improve overnight. There are limits to the amount your body can absorb - usually 20-30g per hour. In addition, high fructose diets can cause an increase in blood fats, so some nutritionists recommend that fructose should be no more than 10% of your total daily carbo intake.
And don’t forget, while you’re taking on that extra carbo, you still need to do all the other sensible things like hydrate properly and replace electrolytes, and consider protein intake if you’re doing longer events. A bit of training on the bike is pretty essential too.
Energy Source drink mix is available in a 2.2kg tub for £24.99 from the High 5 website, and in a box of 12 sachets (each 50g) for £10.99, though you can find cheaper deals at other on-line stores.
A good-value and effective energy drink that could definitely help improve performance if used correctly as part of a broader training and nutrition programme.
road.cc test report
Make and model: High 5 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
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
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,