On-Bike Nutrition Part 2: Liquid Consumption + Energy Drink & Water Bottle Reviews

This is the second part of our On-Bike Nutrition Blog, the first part can be read here.  Having covered bars and gels in the first Blog we now turn to fluid requirements during strenuous rides.  There are three aspects to consider when thinking about fluid intake during a tough ride.

  • It is well known that even a relatively small degree of dehydration can significantly reduce your performance.
    • The amount of fluid lost when riding will vary significantly with rider, intensity and temperature but as a rule of thumb you should aim to drink around 750ml (a large water bottle) per hour. This may need to be substantially higher in very hot conditions to avoid dehydration.  You should start drinking before you are thirsty, rather than waiting until that stage.  Try and get into the habit of taking small regular sips from your bottle to smooth out your intake.  
  • Your drinks can be a very significant source of energy during your ride.
    • As discussed in the first part of this Blog liquids can also provide a significant source of energy toward the total requirement during a hard ride. It is often much easier to take a drink from a bottle than unwrap and eat a bar or gel.    
  • It is also the case that for long and particularly sweaty rides, electrolyte deficiency can also be a serious performance issue.
    • Your bars and gels may contribute but your drinks supplements are likely to be an important way to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating. Drinks powders contain varying amounts of electrolytes, so depending on the powder, your ride and the conditions consider adding electrolyte powder or tablets.    

 

Tips 

  • Whether you are going on a long ride or a multi-day trip, it can be useful to carry additional energy powder. We find that reusing Berocca style tablet tubes are ideal for this. 
  • To mix your powder and water its best to half fill the bottle, add the powder and give that a good shake, before topping up with additional water.
  • In very hot conditions consider starting the ride with one of your bottles frozen straight from the freezer (underfill it a little) so it will be refreshingly cold later in your ride.
  • Use a baby bottle cleaning brush to help keep your water bottles clean and hygienic and if the mouthpiece can be detached clean inside that.

 

Review of popular Energy Powders & Water Bottles

Energy Powders

RawVelo Hydration Drink

The only organic offering tested, the Hydration mix offers 5 electrolytes and is available in Neutral, Lemon or Raspberry flavours, we enjoyed the Raspberry the most of the three.  The powder is largely comprised of cane sugar and glucose.  This was the most expensive powder tested on a like-for-like basis.    

Price per gram of Carbohydrate: 100% of most expensive reviewed

 

TORQ Performance Energy Drink

Available in a range of flavours including Lemon, Orange, Vanilla, Blackcurrant.  Our favourite was the very refreshing Pink Grapefruit.  If you prefer a variety of flavours you can select a range of flavours of your choice in a 15 sachet bundle.  The powder is primarily Maltodextrin and Fructose, incorporates 5 different electrolytes and was the cheapest on test.    

Price per gram of Carbohydrate: 46% of most expensive reviewed

** BEST ON TEST**   Value for money, pleasant and varied flavours and the inclusion of 5 electrolytes all contribute to the Torq powder scoring highest.

 

SIS Beta Fuel

Available in the standard citrus flavours of Lemon and Lime or Orange this is again comprised of Maltodextrin and Fructose and includes only salt without additional electrolytes.  Alongside the Torq powder this was at the cheaper end of the powders tested.

Price per gram of Carbohydrate: 47% of most expensive reviewed

 

Maurten Drink Mix

Available in just one “neutral” flavour this powder provides the highest proportion of carbohydrate of those on test.  It is again comprised of Maltodextrin and Fructose but Maurten claims it’s composition allows for a higher degree of absorption compared with other products.  The powder contains only salt without other electrolytes.  Curiously Maurten states that the powders “functionality” requires water with less than 40MG/L of Calcium, I suspect not many people will know this is the case from their tap water and it appears bottled water may be right on the threshold.   

Price per gram of Carbohydrate: 80% of most expensive reviewed

 

Water Bottles 

A personal choice and one that you may well get used to but on closer inspection we were surprised at the difference in how different models performed.

Elite Fly

As used by many of the professional teams this bottle has a number of advantages. Although it may sound trivial each 750ml bottle saves 40 grams compared with the Corsa model from Elite.  Considering two bottles saves 80 grams it would be expensive to achieve that weight saving via frame or component upgrades.

To aid cleaning it has a wide mouth and the mouthpiece can be removed.  The mouthpiece also makes it relatively easy to hold the bottle between your teeth for a few seconds while for example switching bottles.  On the negative side the thin walls of the bottle tended to stay deformed for longer than others on test, sometimes making it a little harder to return to the bottle cage.

Available in 550ml, 750ml (£8 and 60 grams) and 950ml

**Best on test**  The weight saving, well designed mouthpiece and ease of cleaning set this design apart.

 

Elite Corsa

This model is actually being phased out but remains available for purchase and is a very solid and good value performer. The simple mouthpiece is well constructed and does what it should and the bottle feels a little more sturdy than the “Fly” model.

Available in 550ml, 750ml (£5 and 100 grams) and 950ml

 

Camelbak Podium

Noting that it may be matter of personal choice we were not huge fans of this design. The main issue we experienced was with the mouthpiece.  Firstly it was harder grip between teeth when switching bottles but more importantly given its shape it was much more prone to giving you a mouthful of air at the same time as your drink than the other bottles tested.  The bottles are also materially more expensive than others tested.

Available in 620ml (£11 and 84 grams) and 710ml

 

TACX Shiva

Another bottle used by tour teams (perhaps due to its Garmin ownership) this was another bottle we found harder to get on with. The issue we found was that the mouthpiece floats open and shut, meaning it often shut when you are trying to drink.

Available in 500ml (£6 and 72 grams) and 750ml

 

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