Are you getting ready for a long cycling race and wondering what energy drinks and gels to buy? We have a buyer’s guide for you in this article. Let’s take a look at the basic types of race day nutrition products and see which ones to choose based on what kind of race you’re training for.
How to choose the right energy drink
A good energy drink should contain a mix of all necessary electrolytes: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride. Always check the label for these because you will sweat them out and they are necessary for optimal performance. When it comes to carbohydrate content, there are three main types of energy drinks and each has a different use.
Isotonic drinks have a medium concentration of carbs, allow for fast hydration and offer some additional fuel along with your food. These types of drinks are mostly used on flat stages in mild weather. Hypotonic drinks, on the other hand, have a low concentration of carbs and allow for very fast hydration. These drinks are often used on very hot days so that riders can drink a lot without risking overloading on carbs and experiencing digestive problems. Avoid hypertonic drinks like fruit juices because they have a high concentration of carbs and would cause cramps if consumed when riding. These are best for recovery.
How to choose the right energy gel
If you want to maximize the amount of carbs you can absorb per hour, you should look for gels with a mixture of simple sugars because your body can use multiple transport paths and get in up to 90 g of carbs instead of the usual 60 g. Both fructose and glucose should be mentioned on the label. Good gels will also provide some electrolytes and other active ingredients. Manufacturers will often recommend the ideal use scenario, but we recommend considering these two types of gels.
Isotonic gels – These gels usually deliver 20-25 g of carbs and are designed to be easy to digest. You won’t need to take in additional fluids to wash them down. You can make great use of these during more technical races where you don’t have the time or ability to eat solid food.
Caffeine gels – Gels with added caffeine will help you combat the onset of fatigue during long races. They can contain as much as 150 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of an espresso. These gels are best used towards the end of a race because of the mental boost they can provide.
Make your own energy bars and drinks at home
Getting all your energy only from gels can feel like a lot of work. Adding some solid food into the mix can do wonders for your taste buds and allow you to eat more on the bike. You don’t have to spend big bucks on expensive products. You can make your own energy bars. We will take a look at some recipes in the next article to get you started. But if you’re going shopping now, make sure you get some dried dates, nuts, and coconut flakes.