Monday, 27 February 2012

Energy Versus Diet

Im going to start this blog by saying that I have always been a big believer in energy products.
I think that most of us feel if we dont have our powder in our drinks or our recovery drink we might just fade away into nothingness..
We need something to make up for that lack of natural talent :-(

If you are one of my followers on social media you will know that due to my busy schedule I have been struggling to get out on the bike and get the miles in.

About 2 months ago I was out with a very experienced racer who said its all a load of marketing hogwash.. "get yer diet right and you dont need to spend money on that crap" were pretty much his exact words.

When I got home I totted up how much I spend on energy & recovery products throughout a year and it was a bit of a shocker I have to say.

So as a little bit of an experiment for the last 2 months where my fitness has not been great I have rode with just water in my bottles and a pint of milk after a ride. One thing I did do though was have a high carb meal the night before usually containing pasta or rice.

On the few occasions I have got out on the bike I have been doing 50-60mile rides always pushing on.Thats not massive miles I know but considering my lack of time on the bike its enough.
 I have to say I have not felt any different. I have not bonked once and every time when I have finished a ride I can certainly feel it in my legs. However after my pint of milk and a solid nutritious meal I wake up the next day feeling right as rain with no soreness in my legs at all.  

Now im not suggesting that energy products have no merit, it looks like I may be doing London to Paris later this year which is 130miles a day for 3 days running and dont worry my bottles will be full of isotonic electrolytes and my pockets will be stuffed full of bars and gels..

All im saying is maybe we put to much emphasis on it and a good balanced diet is more than half the battle..

Your thoughts??


  1. Bonking and recovery are too different things, are they not ? One is due to not having enough carbs in you, the other more related to replenshing both carbs and protein afterwards.

    During a long ride I definitely need carbs that can be quickly processed to avoid "bonking", but you can (and many pro riders do) skip the commercial energy foods... banana, jam sandwich etc... all good.

    Nothing like a pint of milk for recovery though !

    Excuse me, off to hit the watt meter at spin class :)

  2. I agree that a good balanced diet is a good part of the battle, and that there is a huge amount of hype for "products" that are pretty much unnecessary for those of us who are not professional athletes.
    That said - on hard multiple days, it's good to have drinks that have the benefit of hydration and good bioavailibilty of protein and carbs for a rolling recovery while on the bike with bits of food to keep the mouth and stomach from getting bored.
    But the main benefits come from eating actual food!
    In my opinion, of course ;o)

  3. It's a really interesting point, and one that I struggle with sometimes as well - especially when another package of gels arrives from Wiggle and my wife asks how much this one costs? Do you really need those things? etc etc

    Like you, Craig, I don't get out as much as I'd like so I always want to ensure that I enjoy my riding as much as possible by making sure I'm not going to bonk, or get cramps, by ensuring I've got the bottles filled up and pockets bursting with various gels, bars and fruit.

    The theory I always adhere to is that if I'm thirsty or hungry then it's too late. So I make sure I eat and drink little and often - but the products I use vary on the season - basically if I'm not sweating then I don't worry too much what I'm taking in, but especially in the summer, I tend to go for the 'scientific' products to ensure I'm replacing all the right stuff that my body is sweating out.

    Oh, and I always make sure I've got some jaffacakes or fig rolls!