Science In Sport's Beta Fuel is a carb-dense drink that has changed my race-day nutrition. The taste is good and for most races the 80g of carbs in a 500ml bottle mean that gels aren't needed. It's kind on the stomach too, with no 'tolerance build-up' needed. While the price is on the high side, this is a genuinely brilliant product.
- Pros: Tastes okay; thin consistency; 80g of carbs per 500ml bottle
- Cons: Price means that I save it for race day
I've been using SIS Beta Fuel for the past 10 or so months for road and cyclo-cross racing. It has been fabulous, giving me a noticeable boost in energy during the second half of a race. I've had no stomach issues and it's much easier to use, in my experience, than energy gels. For me, Beta Fuel has been a game changer and one that I'm happy to pay for.
I'll start with the nutrition issues that I was having. Put simply, I was struggling to get nutrition onboard in enough volume to sustain the rate that I burn it during a race. Take, for example, one early-season E12 race. The 125km race lasted 3 hours and in that time I burned 2,243 calories. My usual nutrition strategy of two 500ml bottles (189kCal each) of SIS Go Energy and around five High5 Energy Gels (91kCal each) left a deficit not just in calories but also in carbohydrate. This intake gave me 209g of carbs.
Given the 'full-gas' nature of the racing, I sit firmly in the carb-dependent Zone 5 heart rate for much of the race. As a result, the biggest influencer on my performance is feeding my body carbs. That 'full-gas' racing style means that the opportunities to do so are limited. There are no hours of rolling easily through the French countryside that you see in the Tour. The more carb-packed a product is, the better it is for me.
The SIS Beta Fuel manages to squeeze 80g of stomach-friendly carbs into a 500ml bottle. The 2:1 ratio maltodextrin:fructose solution allows you to process a bottle per hour, allowing an intake of 240g of carbs within a three-hour race. Quite simply, I find this a lot easier to get on board during high-intensity races.
No matter how good a nutrition profile a product has, your willingness to neck it back depends largely on the taste and consistency. For me, one of the rivals to Beta Fuel, the Maurten Drink Mix 320, has the consistency of wallpaper paste and doesn't taste much better. The Beta Fuel, while still slightly thicker than a regular drink, is so much better, and both the orange and lemon/lime flavours are subtle and easy to get on with. As a result, I'm happy to drink Beta Fuel before and during a race.
My race-day strategy has changed because of Beta Fuel. Gone are the gels; I might take a caffeine one before a cyclo-cross race, but generally my nutrition needs are more than met with Beta Fuel alone. Not only does that save me carrying gels in my pockets, I'm also spared the faff of opening them in the peloton and there's no rubbish to stuff back in a pocket. I also feel much more capable of contesting the final parts of races.
While I'm a big fan of Beta Fuel for race day, the cost at £2.50 per serving (£37.50 for 15 pouches) makes it a bit dear for me to use in training. Add that to the fact that I rarely ride at such a consistently high tempo for such a duration in training, and I also don't see the need. I'd much rather stick to SIS's Go Energy drink at 81p per serving for tough training sessions, or, most often, Ribena will do for general riding. A box of 15 sachets lasts me a couple of months and I generally buy it where it's discounted. Wiggle and others currently have it at £25, bringing the cost down to £1.67 per serving. A much more palatable price.
By comparison, Maurten's 320 mix is £40 for a box of 14. That's £2.86 per serving.
Beta Fuel has worked perfectly for me all year. The drink is tasty enough and presents no stomach issues. Saving it for race day, where the carb concentration is needed, makes the cost acceptable for me. There is no funny consistency and as a result, this has become an essential for me.
Tastes okay, good consistency, no stomach issues and performance is fantastic
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Science In Sport Beta Fuel
Size tested: 15 x 84g
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From SIS: "Science in Sport Beta Fuel has been developed to deliver the maximum amount of carbohydrate in a 2:1 ratio of Maltodextrin to Fructose whilst limiting gastrointestinal distress.
"The product mixed to concentration is 80 grams carbohydrate (2:1 maltodextrin:fructose), 20 mmol/L sodium and 500 ml of fluid per serving."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SiS lists these 'Key Features':
* 2:1 ratio maltodextrin:fructose
* 80g total carbohydrate
* pH neutral
* Natural flavours and sweetener
* Added Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium
No stomach issues, which is impressive given the density of carbs.
At the top-end of the price range, but the performance makes it well worth it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. The mix is tasty enough, has a nice consistency, and delivers an excellent amount of fuel that is easily digestible. It is easy to consume and provides more carbohydrate than I was previously able to consume. It does this with no adverse effect on the stomach.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It has improved my fuelling and allowed me to perform better in the latter stages of races.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yep, have and will continue to.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Genuinely revolutionised my race-day nutrition. I find that it has improved my energy levels in the latter part of races and that makes the cost worth it for me.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.