I’ve used a bunch of energy drinks trying to find just the right one that works for me to sustain energy and maintain hydration. Some of the drinks have worked, some have not and a few just did not agree with me. One of the best hydration drinks or supplements I have found is Nuun. I have used probably 100+ containers of these over the years. They work for me. One of the best drink mixes I have used is Hammer Nutrition Heed and Sustained Energy. I like these because they have protein in them which is great for the longer rides. I tend to need to dilute them a bit from what the suggested amount is because they fill me up, they work great.
One of the downsides to all the drinks is 1) making sure you have a regular supply, which I always seem to run out, and 2) the cost, 3) sometimes taking in all the supplements makes me feel sick. To point #3 I just feel sick taking in things that are processed, do not get me wrong they work, just taking them in five times a week can make anyone sick of them.
For my diet I tend to always eat natural things, I just feel better. If it has a label I try and stay away. It does not mean I am religious about it, just try and make sure it is 85% on track. I love a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and cookies like anyone else from time to time. The natural thing got me experimenting making my own sports drinks for rides where I have run out of supplements or just to take a break. You can make your own sports drinks pretty easily. My ingredients:
- Home brewed iced tea – I fill the bottle up about half way.
- Water – I top it off once I have the other ingredients
- Lemon – I estimate with generally half a lemon or a few squirts of lemon juice
- Fine grain sugar – 1/4 cup of sugar = 200 calories, I usually give myself 1/4 cup or less per bottle.
- Salt – I just give it a few shakes.
The results is an iced tea lemonade sports drink with a little caffeine, plenty of sugar and some salt. Realize that this drink has mainly simple sugars, so it is not going to give you the complex carbohydrates you need, but you can get that in other ways, I usually eat a bag of pretzels.
This sports drink is also for my longer rides, after a few hours in saddle your body starts to absorb any food you take in differently and it’s a point where you have generally depleted your body’s store of carbohydrates. The sugar in the drink goes right into your blood stream and can be used for fuel. You’ll often see the pro riders drink a Coke or drink along those lines after they are about half into a race. It’s gives them a boost, this sports drink has about the exact same composition.
This is not for everyone and everyone’s body responds differently to different supplements while cycling. This drink has it’s place in training, give it a try and see what you think.