Nutrition & Supplements Archive

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Gooney Goo Gu

Known in cycling circles as the nectar of the gods; or at least, the nectar of vengeful gods that gain satisfaction in the torture of tastebuds, energy gels have rapidly become a mainstay of pre and during-ride nutrition. Ounce for ounce, these tiny packets of phlegm-like substance are the perfect source of energy that fits in your jersey and goes down easily without forcing you to stop and chew.

The following chart is a breakdown of the more popular gels, their nutritional values, and excellent online sources for you to buy in bulk:

Gel Serving Size (g) Cals. Carbs (g) Protein (g) Fat
Total (g) Sat. (g) Trans (g)
AccelGel 41 100 20 5 0 0 0
CARBBOOM Gel 49 110 27 0 0 0 0
Cytomax Gel 40 110 27 0 0 0 0
Hammer Gel 36 90 22 0 0 0 0
POWERBAR Gel 42 110 27 0 0 0 0
Clif Shot Gel 32 100 25 0 6 0 0
Gu Gel Roctane 32 100 25 0 0 0 0
GuGel 32 100 25 0 0 0 0
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Supplement Throwdown

Looking for that competitive edge this race season?

Ever feel like you’re barely surviving your weekend group rides?

Just looking for that extra boost to your overall health and energy levels?

Worried your urine isn’t worth as much as you think it is?

Three of our staffers volunteered to take the most popular over-the-counter endurance supplements during the course of an 8 week period in a classic Road Bike Mike throw-down to see which supplement was worth your hard earned money.  Our guinea pigs, errrr I mean staffers, were each given a 60 day supply of their respective supplement (probably the reason these cheap bastards volunteered) and an 8 week High Intensity Training (“HIT”) regime.  All of the participants consumed the supplements on a blind basis and all of the participants believed they were taking potent performance enhancers (coincidentally, they also believed that the experience and resume building potential of working at RBM was adequate compensation).  Ha!

To protect the innocent/guilty and limit ridicule outside of the RBM clubhouse, we’ve altered the names of our participants.  Meet the subjects and their supplements:

OptygenDanny D

According to 1st Endurance: Optygen “is a legal, safe and stimulant-free formula designed specifically to optimize performance for endurance athletes. This revolutionary formula is based on human clinical trials and the latest scientific research on increasing endurance.”

Active Ingredients:

Chromium, Cordyceps, Calcium Pyruvate, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Ribose, Adenosine, and Rhodiola Extract

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SportLegsNateDogg

According to SportLegs: “Muscle “burn” and next-day soreness are so last century.  Get your SportLegs on!”

Active Ingredients:

Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Lactate

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Sugar (Placebo) - Maximillion

According to the Wikipedia: “Sugar is a term for a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose and fructose characterized by a sweet flavor.”

Active Ingredients:

Sucrose

After 8 weeks of intense training and intense rivalry between the test subjects, the results were interesting.  As a proxy for performance gains, each tester was subjected to a one hour controlled spin to calculate the average watts/kg produced over a 60 minute period.  The before and after results for each tester are displayed below:

Subject Supplement Beginning Watts/kg Ending Watts/kg % Gain
Danny D Optygen 3.15 3.91 24%
NateDogg
SportLegs
2.73 3.26 19%
Maximillion Placebo 3.04 3.31 9%

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As you can see by the chart, all 3 testers posted significant improvements in power output over this short 8 week period.  Proof once again that high-intensity training (especially interval training) has a beneficial impact on power and performance.  Interestingly, the Optygen and Sport Legs produced significant gains!

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According to Danny D,

through week 4, I was convinced that I was the guinea pig taking the placebo.  I was pushing it during my workouts and still feeling the effects.  Something kicked in during weeks 5 through 8 and I really started to hit my training stride.  Intervals were less taxing, my recovery was accelerating and my legs would feel fresh the day after particularly grueling intervals.

When told that he was on Optygen, Danny D was quick to admit he was a believer.

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When asked to describe his response to the training and the Sport Legs, NateDogg explained,

I felt good the entire time.  From day 1 through the last day I felt like I was making good progess and I never felt like I hit a wall or plateau.

When asked if he noticed any difference in the lactic acid burn that cyclists grow accustomed to (and that SportLegs claims to minimize), NateDogg said,

you know, I actually had a few moments of doubt when I looked at the power readouts on the stationary and compared them to my perceived exertion levels.  I thought you guys were f#*%&% with me and hacking the bike to throw bogus power numbers out.  I never would have guessed it was the pills.

Maximillion had little to say regarding his training after learning that his compadres doubled their average power output while his modest gains were apparently handicapped by the placebo pills.  Scratch that….he had a lot to say, none of which was publishable or productive.  Thanks for being a good sport Max!

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Pre Ride Nutrition

You wouldn’t start a roadtrip in the family truckster on an empty tank of gas.  So why are you starting your rides on an empty stomach?

At Road Bike Mike, we spent weeks putting pre-ride nutritional supplements to the test so you wouldn’t have to. From home-baked to half-baked, outrageously-priced to stupid-cheap, we have scoured the cycling world and come up with the top 3 pre-ride meals based on performance, taste, digestibility, and price.

1.  Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Made with two slices of white bread, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and two tablespoons of grape jelly, you’re looking at 432 calories with macro-nutrient mix of 59 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein. Light on protein and price, this snack delivers enough carbs to get you through a 120 minute ride without the need to refill. Beyond 2 hours, consider some gels, sports drinks or other simple carb snacks to replenish glycogen levels.

2.  Energy Bar

Pioneered by the original PowerBar, the energy bar market is exceedingly popular; and for good reason. Packing an average punch of 200–300 calories, 3–9 grams of fat, 7–15 grams of protein, and 20–40 grams of carbohydrates these high energy food bars are bound to come in a flavor, nutritional profile and price-point that you’re comfortable with.

3.  Oatmeal

Figuratively (and probably literally, though we haven’t tried) a pre-ride meal of oatmeal will stick to your ribs. One cup of cooked oatmeal provides 166 calories, 28 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein and 3.6 grams of fat. Add in your favorite fruit or sweetener (i.e. bananas, blueberries, raisins, honey or brown sugar) to give the calories and carbs a bump and you’ll be pedaling for 2 hours before the need to refuel.

Your cycling pre-ride nutritional strategy should be designed to deliver an optimal amount of fuel and delay the onset of fuel depletion. Pegged correctly, the proper pre-ride snack will sustain your scheduled workout at the desired level of completion, particularly for tougher rides.

Obviously digestion and timing are two important considerations. At Road Bike Mike, we strongly encourage riders to consume the primary pre-ride fuel about one hour before getting in the bike saddle. Experiment to see what works best for your tolerances and schedule.

If you don’t have 60 minutes before your next ride, fear not…we have a few options for the time-crunched cyclist that can be consume 15 minutes prior to your next road bike ride.