Best of Nutrition: Drink Mix, Recovery shakes and Pre-race

The best drink mixes to be fueled, stoked and recovered for the ride ahead

News Pro Reviews

 

Drinks for before the ride on the bike and off

Isotonic, electrolyte and recovery drinks are commonplace these days – most athletes understand that in order to perform at your best you need to have something in your bottle to replace what you lose during the effort. There are lots of companies and products out there and it gets hard to choose and figure out what you need. As a rider, you need to figure out what works best for your gut and the ride at hand. Let us guide you through the world of pre, during and post drink mixes and help you feel strong and ready to rock your next race.

Isotonic drinks:

An isotonic drink is taken up by the body about as quickly as water and is quickly absorbed. Intended to quench thirst and provide energy to the body, these drinks are a must have on the bike. Though water is great for you, it lacks the minerals and electrolytes that our bodies lose during bouts of racing and exercise. To get the most out of fueling, your water bottles should replace lost body water with an optimal ratio of sucrose, glucose, and electrolytes. This will improve circulation and muscle respiration and reduce the onset of cramps – the following are our favorite drinks that keep the blood flowing and the legs churning. 

Skratch Labs Sports hydration

Made famous by Dr. Allen Lim Skratch Labs is a staple in bike shops and endurance sports shops across the country. Lim and company set out to develop a sports drink with less sugar and a ratio of sugar (glucose + fructose) that is optimized for faster absorption, an electrolyte profile that matches what is lost in sweat, and only real fruit for flavor for a light and refreshing taste that you can drink all day. That’s it – less sugar, a solid electrolyte profile, and real fruit – good to go. 

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info skratchlabs.com

 

TORQ -energy drink mix:

TORQ Energy Pink Grapefruit is my go-to drink mix right now. It tastes great and I’ve (fingers crossed) never bonked with it on board. That being said fueling drink has been painstakingly formulated so that it delivers TORQ’s unique blend of multiple-transportable carbohydrates and electrolytes to the working muscles through a drink that is lightly flavored, refreshing and most importantly natural 500ml (~16oz) of TORQ Energy contains 30g of carbohydrate and represents 1 TORQ Unit, which provides you with the same carbohydrate dose as a TORQ Gel or TORQ Bar. This is the core concept behind the TORQ Fueling System, which makes fueling for endurance sport extremely easy to understand.

Price: $20.00
buy now
For more info torqusa.com

Clif – Hydration drink mix:

Clif is a stand by for many cyclists and outdoor patrons. That’s because Clif has seen the rise and fall of all manner of nutritional hype and come out the other end stronger. Its hydration drink mix is much the same – sturdy and dependable. It’s easy on the stomach and has a limited calorie profile so fueling can take place to replenish carbs with bars and gels. With 4% carbohydrates and sodium, the Clif Hydration Electrolyte Drink Mix helps the body absorb and retain fluid for effective hydration. If you’re looking for a solid mix that is dependable with no frills and a great reputation – look no further.

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info clif.com.

Ozmo-Active Hydration:

The Ozmo Active formula contains just the right amount of sucrose, glucose, and electrolytes to replace body water and power you through your workout without causing GI issues. Ozmo makes the list for its ease on the stomach and subtle taste that doesn’t get boring while on long rides in the heat. Active hydration is flavored with real fruit and natural ingredients – so it’s great for riders that like to keep their intake natural. Our favorite flavor is Blackberry but classic orange is great as well. 

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info osmonutrition.com

Heat beating and Long distance hydration:

Newer to the market – these hypertonic and extreme hydration mixes come from our need to push everything to the max. The long days in the saddle, in the heat, pushing put our bodies to the breaking point. Until products like these came along the “take an extra scoop” method was a close as we came to hyperhydration drinks. Now, we have mixes that are formulated specifically for all-day events, the long races in the sun and of course- cramp busting. So, if you’re someone who likes their 100-mile mountain bike epics or a weekend double metric – pay close attention to the next products.

TORQ – Hyperhydration:

A hypotonic solution represents the fastest possible way to hydrate and deliver electrolytes to the muscles. TORQ Hypotonic will deliver superior performance over any other stand fueling/hydration method. In situations where perspiration rates are extremely high over short periods of exercise (up to 60 minutes), including indoor turbo/gym interval sessions, spinning classes and short competitions in extreme heat.  The TORQ Hypotonic hydration & electrolyte mix delivers a clean, quenching, and delicious taste. Watermelon is our favorite flavor currently but they are all solid in their own right. 

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info torqusa.com

Hammer Nutrition- Liquid Endurance:

From the original endurance masters, Hammers Liquid Endurance is said to increase heat tolerance, improve hot weather performance and reduce exercise-related dehydration. The body cannot process fluids you consume at the same rate you sweat, some degree of dehydration has been accepted as inevitable when exercising in the heat. Glycerol, the active ingredient in Hammers Liquid Endurance maximizes intercellular water levels to be called upon as needed during activity. Decline in body-water levels is thus prevented or delayed. Hammer claims Liquid Endurance is the only way to safely and effectively prepare your body for heat exposure – minimizing dehydration and maximizing performance in hot weather.

Price: $25.00
buy now

For more info hammernutrition.com

Tailwind Nutrition -Endurance Fuel Drink:

Tailwind created its Endurance Fuel Drink to be easy on the stomach while on the run, bike or what have you. The Endurance Fuel Drink mix uses a simple formula to replenish your bodies fluids with a mild, clean taste – Mandarin Orange is our favorite so far.  Tailwind uses a combination of simple carbohydrates (dextrose and sucrose) that is rapidly converted into energy, giving the rider electrolytes and calories needed to push ahead and keep rolling. Another reason we love Tailwind is its mix is hydration-pack friendly, making it easy to clean without leaving any residue.

Price: $30.00
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For more info tailwindnutrition.com.

SIS BETA Fuel:

Science in Sport Beta Fuel has a new super-isotonic hydration drink that’s used by pro riders including Tour de France yellow jersey contender Chris Froome. Beta Fuel aims to provide the maximum amount of carbohydrate possible without upsetting the stomach. The 2:1 ratio sports drink is new to SiS, but is not to the sports drink world. Most carbohydrate drinks operate in a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose with added electrolytes delivered in hypertonic solutions that can add the risk of upsetting the stomach. This new technology delivers the serious dosage of carbohydrate while maintaining an isotonic solution, being good for the belly and the muscles. We are a big fan of BETA Fuel – check out our full review here.

Price: $40.00
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For more info scienceinsport.com

Recovery Mixes: Though beer and tacos are great food for after hard efforts – what your body really craves is protein, amino acids, and carbohydrates in an easy to process form – the recovery drink. For a recovery drink to be effective, it should contain protein, carbohydrates, and/or electrolytes, depending on your workout. Carbohydrates and protein are the big ones. Getting protein in right away can stimulate muscle recovery as well as keep you feeling full until you can get to the tacos and beer. So if you take your racing and riding serious – you should do the same for your recovery. The following are the best of the best that we’ve tasted.

Skratch Labs – Recovery drink (chocolate)

The formula in Skratch labs recovery mix is a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein, that’s designed to bring your blood sugar up fast. This causes the hormone insulin to spike, which is key to getting the sugar, electrolytes, fat, and protein into the muscle fast.  The taste is like sweet chocolate milk, but with a more optimized macronutrient profile for restoring muscle glycogen (aka, refueling). what is really great about the Skratch Labs mix is the gut-friendly probiotic mix, containing bacillus coagulans to help things process nicely and try and relieve some of the race belly that can accompany hard efforts and minimal fluid uptake. A must have if you have a sensitive stomach and are looking for a solid recovery mix. 

Price: $32.00
buy now

For more info skratchlabs.com

Infinite – Performance Coffee

If you like coffee and you are looking for ways to up your protein take during the day – look no further than Infinite – Performance Coffee. The drink mix contains coffee brewed low and slow, lightly sweetened, blended with a hint of cream and packed with 20 grams of premium grass-fed whey protein. A personal favorite for mid-day protein and meal replacement as well as a pick me up after a hard race or work out. 

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info infinitnutrition.us

Clif – Recovery mix (hot chocolate):

Clif Recovery Protein Drink Mix is made with 70% organic ingredients and is formulated with streamlined ingredients to help the body recover immediately after activity and prepare for tomorrow’s workout. Designed not only to be delicious and refreshing but also to provide just what tired muscles need to be ready to do it all over again. High-quality proteins, multiple sources of carbohydrates, and a key electrolyte: sodium. Clif Recovery Protein Drink Mix includes milk proteins, whey, and casein. Whey is a fast-absorbing protein that has been shown to help maximize the body’s muscle-building potential when consumed immediately after activity, while casein is digested more slowly and can help prevent muscle breakdown.

Price: $26.00
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For more info clifbar.com

TORQ – Cookies and Cream recovery mix:

TORQ Recovery is a highly advanced post-exercise nutritional drink formulation that has been designed to repair, recharge and refuel fatigued muscle tissue after heavy exercise. TORQ’s unique matrix of Glucose Polymers, Fructose, and Whey Protein Isolate stimulate the rapid absorption of carbohydrate to re-stock vital glycogen stores. TORQ’s active ingredients, D-Ribose, L-Glutamine and blend of carefully selected vitamins and minerals work together to repair and recharge over-stressed muscle fibers.  

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info torqusa.com

Pre-race – Send it! 

Pre-race and pre-workout drinks and mixes are pretty common nowadays but they aren’t just a bunch of caffeine-packed into a drink. These are highly formulated for the cyclist – for the ultra-marathoner and so on – they are filled with beetroot, superfoods and yes – caffeine to help to get to you max on race day. If you are looking to get that extra take your performance to the max on race day then jot down some of the following to get things rolling on the line!

Hammer- Fully Charged:

Hammers Fully Charged pre-exercise formula can get you ready mentally and physically for your main event. It can reduce warm-up time, increases cardiovascular capacity, prevents lactic acid build up, improves mental acuity, and raises energy levels. Fully Charged works with your body, not against it, and provides these wide-ranging performance benefits without resorting to harmful stimulants or excess amounts of caffeine – each serving contains a modest 15 mg.

Price: $25.00
buy now

For more info hammernutrition.com.

First Endurance – Pre Race:

First Endurance PreRacepre-exercise supplement developed to provide endurance athletes with a potent mental and physical jump in their work out and race day routine. The blend features beta-alanine to help with sprint efforts and cardiac output. The special blend of herbs and nutrients boast increased time to exhaustion and a bump in performance. If you prefer a capsule over a mix – this is your choice.   

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info firstendurance.com

La Prima Espresso – Light Espresso Blend

Coffee and espresso are truly the best recovery drinks – especially partnered with a great post ride atmosphere. La Prima Espressos Miscela Bar Reserve is a personal favorite and transports you to sunny days and long rides in the countryside. This espresso blend faithfully recreates the original handwritten recipe from La Prima’s early days. The blend features a few unique coffees, including a Brazilian coffee from the prestigious Daterra collection. The taste is a sweet and surprisingly full-bodied cup with a buttery body, bright tang, and pleasant lingering mouthfeel. La Prima fully supports cycling and has a full race team of their own and I can only guess their favorite pre-race drink. Worth checking out if you love new and different beans. 

Price: $20.00
buy now

For more info laprima.com

Carbo Rocket – Rocket Red:

Is an all natural, plant-based nitric oxide booster. Containing: 2 grams Carnosyn, 1000mg Tart Cherry Juice that contains powerful anti-inflammatory, reduces muscle damage during activity leading to a quicker recovery. 6 grams Beet Root Juice – 1 serving provides the same benefit as drinking 25oz of fresh beet juice. This mixture metabolizes into nitric oxide in the body, dilating blood vessels, improving blood blow and allowing the body to use less oxygen, increasing endurance and stamina. 1000mg Pomegranate juice (non-GMO) – Naturally rich in nitrates, pomegranate juice helps boost nitric oxide, increasing blood flow and time to exhaustion. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory delaying muscle soreness while shortening recovery times. Top it off with 3 grams L-Citrulline Malate 2:1 and delay the onset of fatigue during intense training and you’ve got a new training partner!

Price: $25.00
buy now

For more info carborocket.com


About the author: Jordan Villella

Jordan comes from the steep streets of Pittsburgh PA, where he learned to dodge cars and rip single track. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the cycling industry: from turning wrenches, store design, clothing production and bike park creation. Jordan spends his free time racing cross country and cyclocross around North America, though he has been know to enduro every now and then. His love of cycling is only second to his love of his family and punk rock.


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