Over my next few posts, I’m going to reveal some of my favorite things as of late. I wish I was Oprah and could give everybody all of my favorite things….but shocking as it may be, I’m not. What you can rely on is that I truly love these things. Even with my many sponsorships, I won’t tell you I like something if I really don’t. Some will be new things for 2012, and some will be my old favorites. Ask anything you want to know about these items.
I’ve used LOTS of different nutrition products over the years. Prior to the sponsorships via Rev3, I experimented a lot, trying to find what works for me. ME << read that? Me. Nutrition is SOOOOOOO personal. What works for Chrissy Wellington may or may not work for you. What works for me may not work for you. BUT, I firmly believe that some of us experience a lot of the same issues, and if you find someone with similar issues to yourself, you might get lucky and be able to use the same products. So, before I get to the Powerbar Kona Punch Gel, let me first tell you what I struggle with.
First, I don’t do well with solids. Some people want REAL food to eat while on the bike for 5+ hours, but I don’t. I do best when I keep digestion work to a minimum. Yes, you get tired of drinking your lunch, but that’s ok. I know it’s just for a few more hours.
The added benefit to no solid food is….well….no solid waste. I try to start my race with a clean gut, and I want to keep it clean for the day. No actual pit stops if at all possible.
Also, I’m a big sweater, so I need to get in as many electrolytes as possible.
After my IMTexas nutrition debacle, I started on a new plan. I tested it at Rev3 Cedar Point Full and it was beautiful. It was a homemade concoction, designed by a fellow (former) blogger, and it was so simple I was amazed. However, transport of this to a race was not easy. I had two options – prep it fully and try to transport full bottles in my luggage (doable but tricky), or, take it in powder form then cook it when I got to my destination. This requires a stove, and a stove isn’t always (ever) available in my hotel rooms. So, I needed something that was a bit more flexible, and I could pull together easily while traveling. This lead me to the Powerbar Products.
I hadn’t used real ‘gels’ in quite some time. So when we got Powerbar as a sponsor for Team Rev3, I was more excited about their Harvest Energy Bars than I was was for their mid-workout products. But after talking to some friends, I decided to give the Kona Punch flavored gel a try. AMAZING! So yummy. And I don’t usually like fruit punchy-type flavors. But even warm, they went down easy, and I liked that.
So I got to thinking….since I really like my calories to be liquid on the bike, could I just dilute the gels? Knowing what my calorie needs were for a full 112 mile bike, I started testing out the idea on my long rides. It was simple – Kona Punch gels and water – mixed in my bottle and off I went. I love their C2Max formula, and the gels sit well in my stomach. There is no sorbitol, and the 2:1 glucose to fructose blend works well for me.
When your calories are this clean, they get into you system pretty fast. But they also burn pretty fast as well. So, I have my bike computer set to alert me every 15 min, which is when I take a hit from my bottle. This consistent flow of calories keeps me going, but also keeps me occupied!!
Ok – so I was having good success with this mix. And even though Powerbar gels contain 4x the sodium of other brands, I was still needing MORE electrolytes (remember, heavy sweater). Through valuable trial and error, and at the recommendation of my coach, I’ve found that Zym Endurance is an easy way to add some extra electrolytes to any drink, so I threw a tab in. The lemon-lime flavor, combined with the punchy flavor of the Powerbar gels was actually a great combo. The next time, I added a second tab, and the flavor was still pretty good. So, 200mg per packet of Powerbar gel, plus 2 Zym tabs, I still needed more for those hot days. I bring Salt Stick capsules along in my bento box to supplement as needed.
What’s nice is that this is super EASY to transport and customize. Need more calories in your bottle, add more gel! You can find Powerbar gels at almost all race expos, or at the local grocery stores or sports stores. They are everywhere!
While Powerbar has many other great products (remember those Harvest Energy Bars I mentioned? Toffee Chocolate Chip – nomnomnom!), the Kona Punch gels are what I use the most. If you are looking to switch up your current gel, or are having muscle cramping, give these gels a try.