Tag Archives: nutrition

ReplaceSR Electrolyte Tablets Winner


The winner is “lectrichead”

We recently held a contest to give away six bottles of Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets to some lucky reader. The rules for the contest were simple: just pick a number between 500 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section for the review. The contest ended at midnight on Friday, October 30, 2015. The winning number for this contest was 876 and the entry closest to that number was given by “lectrichead”, or, as he is known to his family, Marc, who guessed 874.

Marc describes himself as a “middle-aged web site designer, who has always had an interest in biking but through years of sitting at my job I gained some weight and got pretty out of shape, and my biking decreased over time. Until one day my wife and I decided to lose weight and get healthy, and now I bike like crazy, as much as as far as I can possibly go and my interest in biking increases exponentially as time goes by, it seems. I also cross-train also. I live in northern New York, nearly as far north as you can go without falling into the St. Lawrence and reaching Canada.” You can follow his articles at the Random Bits & Bytes Blog.

Random Number GeneratorFor your information, we used a random number generator to select a number between 500 and 1,000 and that is how 876 was selected as the winning number. Apparently a few folks did not read the directions since they entered numbers that were outside the range of the contest. In addition, I normally word the rules to state that the winning number has to be the number closest to, but not over, the number selected by the random number generator.


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Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets (Product Review and Giveaway)

Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets

Replace Sustained Release Electrolyte Tablets

For the past couple of months I have been using ReplaceSR (Sustained Release) Electrolyte Tablets on my bike rides. I haven’t taken a bike ride in over twelve years without consuming some form of added electrolytes—usually in the carbohydrate drink mix I use (I make my own). However, having the electrolytes in a sustained release tablet opens up a whole new world! The folks at Endurance Products sent me a rather large supply of their new product, ReplaceSR, for me to sample and I still have six unopened bottles of the tablets I am going to give away to some lucky reader (see the details at the end of this article).

ReplaceSR is a 4 to 6 hour sustained release electrolyte tablet designed for cyclists, triathletes and other endurance athletes. If your normal bike ride is under 90 minutes you don’t need this product. Each tablet contains five active ingredients: Sodium (175mg), Potassium (65 mg), Chloride (211 mg), Phosphorus (103 mg), and Magnesium (10 mg). The ReplaceSR tablets are about the size of a regular Tylenol tablet.

The manufacturer suggests that you take one to three ReplaceSR tablets with a full glass of water thirty minutes before beginning to exercise. I realize those directions are not too precise, so I just took one tablet for a short ride (two to three hours), two tablets for a medium ride (three to four hours), and three tablets for a longer rides (four to six hours). If you are interested is a detailed study of the science behind ReplaceSR, I would strongly suggest you read this article on boosting performance in endurance athletes.

Separating my electrolytes from my liquid intake was rather liberating. For years I’ve timed my liquid intake to match my presumed electrolyte losses during a bike ride. In my case that meant 20-ounces of a carb drink for every hour on the bike. Unfortunately, that meant that sometimes I was drinking when I wasn’t thirsty and on really hot days I was so thirsty that I was consuming far more electrolytes than needed. With ReplaceSR I was able to drink plain water when I wanted and get my carbohydrates from my gels. For distance cyclists like myself, you know it is a lot easier to find a bottle of water on the road than a decent carb drink!

While most people associate electrolyte loss with sweating on hot and humid day days, winter sports have the same effect. I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and normally ride all winter long. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit I switch from my normal carb drinks to hot tea and honey. I pour boiling hot tea into a Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle and then add a generous amount of honey for my carbohydrates. While this process keeps my drinks from freezing, hot tea and honey offer no electrolytes! Now with ReplaceSR I will be able ride all winter without worrying about electrolyte loss! By the way, I only ride in temperatures down to -20 Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius). I am not like those crazy folks up in Minnesota who will ride in temps down to -50 Fahrenheit (-45 Celsius).

ReplaceSR tablets come in three package sizes. The cheapest way to buy them is in a bottle of 90 tablets for only $20. However, they also come in a 20 tablet bottle for $10. They also have a new 3-tablet convenience packet—it is 72 tablets but they are packaged in sets of 3, and this package retails for for $24. You can order this product directly from the Endurance Products Company website.

To enter the contest for six free bottles of ReplaceSR (20 tablets per bottle) all you have to do is pick a number between 500 and 1,000 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, October 30, 2015. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one guesses the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get the six bottles of ReplaceSR. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail.


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The Performance Zone: Sports Nutrition And Recovery

The Performance Zone

The Performance Zone: Sports Nutrition And Recovery

I took up cycling a little over thirteen years ago and am still embarrassed by how little I knew about sports nutrition at the time. I’m talking about the “cover your face and hide” type of embarrassment. I started cycling to lose weight and ignorantly thought the best way to do it would be to starve myself on a ride and drink only water. It was not just a bad idea—it was just plain stupid. After an hour ride I was worn out and it took me two days to recover. However, I used to take solace in the fact I had given myself a “good workout” (what a fool).

As I grew more accustomed to cycling my friends tell me I was “bonking” or “hitting the wall.” I didn’t know what either of these phrases meant at the time—but my well-meaning friends told me I just needed to eat a lot of carbs during a bike ride and everything would be fine. Without any guidance I began ingesting too many carbs and started gaining weight again—in spite of increasing my workout time! It was a really discouraging time in my life!

Somehow I eventually found and read The Performance Zone: Your Nutrition Action Plan for Greater Endurance & Sports Performance, by John Ivy and Robert Portman, and my cycling life changed forever! This book is a primer on how your muscles grow, work, get fuel and recover. The book explains how to calculate your hydration, carbohydrate and protein needs for numerous sports. I would call The Performance Zone a “must read” for anyone participating in endurance sports, such as cycling, hockey, swimming, football, etc. Over the past ten years I’ve bought at least a dozen copies of this book—some of the copies were given  to fellow athletes, other times I bought copies to replace ones I “loaned” to friends (some of my friends can’t add or subtract, but they are great “book keepers”).

In my situation, based upon cycling speed, weight and a few other factors, I was able to plot out a suitable course of action. I followed the instructions and started consuming 30 grams of carbohydrates every 30 minutes and my performance vastly improved (I am close to being a Clydesdale, so your nutritional needs will vary). Not only did my speed and distance improve, but so did my recovery time. I quickly went from getting exhausted after an hour ride to riding for three or four hours before work and then doing it again the next morning. Eventually I worked my way up to doing Century rides before going to the office!

This paperback book is available from for under $10.00 (Basic Health Publications, Inc., 146 pages). While this book is a great introduction to sports nutrition, there are a few other books I would also recommend to serious cyclists, such as The Paleo Diet for Athletes, The Athletes Guide to Recovery, and Distance Cycling.


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Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Ingredients For Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Ingredients For Making Your Own Carbohydrate Gels

Last a fall I was out on a long bike ride with a friend of mine when he asked me how much money I spent a month on the carbohydrate gels I use. It was a question I really hadn’t thought much about before, but after doing a few quick calculations in my head I was shocked. Most of the carbohydrate gels I use are organic (a word usually synonymous with expensive), and during most of the year I go through 30 packs a week which comes out to $180 a month (I am so glad my wife never looks at the American Express statements). After I got home I decided to see if I could find a way to cut my expenses by creating my own carb gels, and at the end of this article you will find a few recipes that I have used. However, before we get to the recipes I need to explain how to choose your ingredients (if you want to experiment on your own).

I am a distance cyclist and except for my winter rides in the snow I seldom take a ride of under two hours. On long rides I normally burn between 900 and 1,000 calories an hour (based on my weight and speed). As a result, I try to consume 300 calories an hour (including 60 grams of carbohydrates). I get 100 calories an hour from my sports hydration mix and the other 200 calories from carb gels (and bananas when available). Most commercial carb gels offer a mixture of both simple and complex carbs and have 100 calories, along with 20 to 30 grams of carbs, and cost anywhere from $1.20 to $3.00 per package. Store-bought energy gels also have about 45mg sodium and 35mg potassium per serving. Simple carbs give a quick shot of energy, while complex carbs provide a slower release of energy. If your gel is composed entirely of simple carbs you will feel a quick rush of energy, followed by a sinking feeling a few minutes later.

You can make your own carbohydrate gels with just a few inexpensive ingredients—and it will only cost you around .30¢ per serving! As a bonus, your gels will always be fresh and free from unwanted chemicals. Here is a quick breakdown of the main ingredients that I use in my gels…

Brown Rice Syrup has 65 calories per tablespoon (21g) and 16 grams of carbohydrates. Brown rice syrup has a Glycemic Index of 25 and is composed of about 50% complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. I buy Now Foods Organic Brown Rice Syrup from a local grocery store (it’s in their health food department) and it sells for under $5 for a 16-ounce container.

Raw Honey is a 100% simple sugar and has a Glycemic Index of 58. Honey has 64 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 17 grams of carbohydrates. Simple sugars can elevate your blood sugar very quickly, so you don’t want to take too much at one time. By the way, make sure you buy raw honey and not the processed garbage that comes in the cute bear containers.

Light Agave Nectar has 60 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 16 grams of carbohydrates, with a Glycemic Index of 11. Maple Syrup has 53 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 13 grams of carbohydrates, with a Glycemic Index of 54. Blackstrap Molasses has 45 calories per tablespoon (21g) and has 11g of carbohydrates, along with 15mg of sodium and 500mg of potassium. Blackstrap molasses has a Glycemic Index of 55. Since blackstrap molasses has a strong flavor you should probably start with just a bit of it and work your way up!

Now for the recipes—I wish I could take credit for all of these, but most of them are recipes that I’ve cobbled together from other cyclists. However, the first recipe is mostly mine and it is my favorite!

Blue Ribbon Butterscotch Candy

Mix 8 tablespoons brown rice syrup, 2 tablespoons light agave nectar, 1 tablespoon warm water, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 tablespoon Morton Lite Salt Mixture, and about 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt. This mixture provides about 100 calories per 1.5 tablespoon. A ¼ teaspoon of Morton Lite Salt Mixture has 290mg sodium and 350mg potassium (I use this as an easy way to get potassium into my gels). This is my favorite homemade gel—and as the name implies, it tastes like butterscotch candy (and is highly addictive).

Honey GOO Recipe

This recipe comes from HomeGOO, a company that sells incredibly low-priced flasks for carb gels. Mix 4 ounces of raw honey, one tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses, 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. This recipe will approximately fill a 6-ounce flask.

Down And Dirty

I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but it is very easy to make and has a mild taste. Mix 3/4 cup of brown rice syrup, 1/2 cup of agave nectar, 1/2 cup of raw honey, and 1/2 tsp of sea salt.

Finding A Flask

HomeGOO sells two different reusable flasks. The five-ounce Goo Flask is a 5.5 inch tall BPA free plastic container with a leak proof, push-pull valve. The flexible six-ounce Goo Flask is made from ultra-lightweight BPA free plastic and collapses as you consume the gel. It also has a push/pull drink spout with removable cap, though the cap really isn’t necessary. These bottles are easy to wash by hand and are dishwasher safe.

HomeGOO Flexible Reusable GOO Flask

HomeGOO Flexible, Reusable GOO Flask

HomeGOO sells the five ounce flask for only .99¢, which means that if you only used in one time you still saved money over the cost of buying prepackaged gels. The six-ounce flask sells for $3 and should last a very long time. If you are into endurance sports you owe it to yourself to try these flasks!


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Picky Bars: All Natural Training Snacks (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Picky Bars All Natural Training Snacks

Picky Bars: All Natural Training Snacks

I am always on the lookout for new nutritional products that I can take with me on long bike rides. As a distance cyclist I often burn over 5,000 calories on a ride and I try to consume around 300 calories per hour while riding. There are a lot of great carb gels on the market, but after a couple of hours on the bike I crave real food—but I need food that is all-natural and easy to digest. A few months ago I reviewed BikeLoot, a subscription service that sends a box of five to seven cycling related products to your home every month. In a recent shipment of loot they included a sample of Picky Bars and just one bite was all it took for me to want more!

Picky Bars are made from all-natural ingredients, such as: organic dates, hazelnut butter, organic almonds, cranberries, organic sunflower butter, sunflower seeds, honey, organic apricots, organic cashews, organic walnuts, organic peanut butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and rice protein powder. These bars are fairly small (2″ x 3″ x 1/2″), but are packed with flavor! Each bar has 200 calories or less and has a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio (28g carbohydrate and 7g protein). These bars are also gluten and dairy free, and contain less than 1% soy content.

Picky Bars are available in five flavors and come in boxes of ten. I ordered 20 bars so I could try several of each flavor (they only had four flavors available when I placed my order). The four flavors I tried were: Lauren’s Mega Nuts, Need For Seed, All-In Almond, and Smooth Caffeinator. The first three flavors were absolutely fantastic, and Lauren’s Mega Nuts was my favorite. As the name implies, Smooth Caffeinator has caffeine—25mg to be exact (about as much as 1/3 of a cup of coffee). I am not a coffee drinker, so I would not order the Smooth Caffeinator again because it does have a mild coffee flavor. However, I gave a stack of the Smooth Caffeinator bars to a friend of mine who does like coffee and he said they were great! The folks at Picky Bars have recently introduced a new flavor, temporarily known as Runner’s High, but I have not had a chance to try these out yet.

While these bars are not 100% Paleo approved (due to the use of peanut butter), I have no trouble recommending them to any athlete. I do need to point out that when the temperature is in the 90’s (32 Celsius) these bars are a bit messy (mainly because of the fat from the nut butters).

Picky Bars retail for $23 for a box of ten and are available from the Picky Bars website or The average cost for carbohydrate gel is over $1.50 a package, but they usually only offer 100 calories per package. Since Picky Bars provide 200 calories per package they actually are a better buy! I’ve only done this for three products over the past few years, but I have to put Picky Bars on the Highly Recommended List—if you are an athlete you really need to buy a box of these bars!


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Winter Cycling: Food and Drink

Note: This is the tenth installment in a series of articles on winter cycling. I hope to have the entire series finished by late November and then publish it as a free PDF book that you can download from this website (the working title is, A Guide To Winter Cycling”).

You probably won’t be cycling as fast or as far in the heart of winter as you would during the summer, but riding through snow and ice can burn a lot of calories. My heart rate monitor and Cyclemeter iPhone app do a decent job of calculating how many calories I burn during normal rides, but I don’t think it is possible for even the best power meter to accurately reflect the calories you burn during the winter—there are just too many variables. Even if you don’t get very thirsty during winter rides you still need to drink a lot or you will get dehydrated; and if you are going to ride for more than 90 minutes you need to take in an appropriate amount of carbohydrates (based on your speed and weight). In this article I am not going to focus on what tho eat or drink as much as I am on how to keep those items from becoming solid blocks of ice during your ride.

Klean Kanteen Bottles With A Composite Cage

Klean Kanteen Bottles With A Composite Cage

The colder it gets outside the faster your water bottle is going to freeze. The problem is not confined to your water freezing—before that happens the valve on your water bottle is probably going to freeze shut, so even if you have 18 ounces of liquid in your bottle you still won’t be able to get a drink. One solution is to use a Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle instead of the water bottle you use during the warmer months. The Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle is a 100% food-grade stainless steel bottle with high performance vacuum insulation. The folks at Klean Kanteen claim this bottle with insulate hot beverages for up to six hours, and iced drinks up to twenty-four hours. The six-hour time frame for hot beverages is accurate if the bottle is stored at room temperature, but outside in near zero degree weather it is not going to last that long. However, if will keep you liquids drinkable for at least four hours. Since this is a wide mouth bottle you never have to worry about a small valve freezing shut in the winter. However, you will need to stop your bike in order take off the cap and get a drink (that’s not uncommon in winter cycling).

The Klean Kanteen bottle will fit in most bicycle water bottle cages. However, these bottles are a bit wider than normal bicycle water bottles, and if your water bottle cage is made of aluminum it will scratch the Klean Kanteen bottle to pieces in no time at all. To keep from scratching my bottles I replaced the aluminum bottle cages on my winter bikes with a flexible composite cage. Since most composite cages have a small “lip” to keep the water bottle in place, I took a Dremel rotary tool and removed the “lip” so the bottle would slide in easier. The 20-ounce Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle retails for $28 and is available in several colors, including Black, White, Wild Raspberry, Blue, Gray and Brushed Stainless. This product comes with a lifetime warranty (see the Klean Kanteen Website for complete details).

Skratch Labs Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Hydration Mix

Now that you know how to keep your drinks from freezing during a ride, what drink is the best to use? I enjoy hydration mixes from both Skratch Labs and Osmo Hydration—most of the their drink mixes taste great either cold or at room temperature, but very few drink mixes taste good warm. Fortunately, Skratch Labs has recently introduced a new flavor that is designed for both winter and summer use, Apples and Cinnamon, and this mix tastes great when served cold and even better hot! When mixed with hot water the flavor reminds you of a cup of warm apple cider.

Another one of my favorite winter drinks on the bike is hot tea with honey. I always use decaffeinated tea because tea has a diuretic effect and that effect is compounded with caffeine (and when the temperature is well below zero you don’t want to stop to answer the call of nature any more than is absolutely necessary). This is one time when you don’t have to be shy about how much honey you add to the tea—you need the carbs!

Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle, Certified Kosher and Organic

Honey Stinger Organic Chocolate Waffle

For several years I’ve taken Honey Stinger Waffles with me on nearly every bike ride and can’t imagine cycling without them. If you have not tasted a Stinger Waffle your life is sad and lacking. Without the slightest bit of exaggeration, these are the best tasting items you will ever consume on a bike! Each waffle has 160 calories, offers 21 grams of carbohydrates, are all organic and certified Kosher. Two packages of waffles take up about the same amount of room in your jersey pocket as a single Clif Bar. As the outside temperature drops these waffles become brittle. The best way to keep the waffles soft is to put them in a jersey pocket under your cycling jacket. When the temperature drops to below 20 degrees (which is most of the time in the winter) I put these waffles in my jacket pocket along with a chemical hand warmer. These waffles taste great at room temperature, but when you are riding on a snowy day and pull one out of your jacket that has been warmed up, well, you have a treat fit for a king!

Hammer Gel 26-Serving Jug and Flask

Hammer Gel 26-Serving Jug and 5-Ounce Flask

I don’t normally like using carb gels in the winter because they are too hard to open with gloves or mitts on—and I hate taking off my gloves before I get home from the ride. However, Hammer Gel not only sells their product in individual packages, but also a 26-serving jug of gel for $20 (this comes out to just .77¢ per serving). You can use the gel from the jug to fill your own flask—but the Hammer Gel 5-Ounce Flask is your best bet—it is made of high-density polyethylene and has molded finger tip groves. This flask is incredibly easy to use while on the bike—I can get the gel out faster from the flask than I ever could with a single-serving package. In addition, small packages usually spill a few drops of sticky gel into my jerseys, but the flask seals lock-tight and you won’t spill a drop! I have been carrying this flask in the vest pocket on my jacket—when it gets colder I’ll add a chemical hand warmer to the pocket.


Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Sports Nutrition, Winter Cycling


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First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement

If you are an endurance athlete you are probably already aware of the thirty-minute glycogen window that occurs immediately after strenuous exercise. This window of opportunity is when your insulin sensitivity is highest and your well-worked muscles will soak up nutrients like a sponge. If you consume a quality recovery drink within 30 minutes after a strenuous exercise your muscles will recover faster, you will build more muscle and shave off more fat during training. For several years I used chocolate milk as my recovery drink. However, after some medical problems earlier this year I decided to give up most dairy products which meant I had to find a new recovery drink. A few weeks ago I ordered six different name-brand recovery drinks and will be reviewing each of them over the next few months. The first recovery drink I tried was Ultragen Recovery Supplement by First Endurance.

First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement

First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement

First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement has 320 calories per 12-ounce serving. Each serving provides 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbohydrates. In addition to essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, Ultragen also contains Branch Chain Amino Acid (BCAAs), the building blocks of the human body, and L-Glutamine for muscle tissue repair. See the Supplement Facts on the label below for complete details.

First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement

Nutritional Information For First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement

As you can see from the label, Ultragen uses whey protein isolate instead of soy protein isolate. For the life of me can’t figure out why any man would want to consume soy protein isolate since the isoflavones found in it promote estrogenic activity.

I was highly impressed by how well the Ultragen powder dissolved in water! Some recovery drinks just clump together at the bottom of the glass, but this powder completely dissolved into the water in just a few moments. in addition, this product has a mild taste and is easy to drink (I bought the Tropical Punch flavor). Better yet, it does not have an aftertaste like most other recovery drinks.

Ultragen Recovery Supplement retails for $45 for a 3-pound container (15 servings). I bought mine from for $37, so this works out to just under $2.50 per serving. OK, so this is not the cheapest recovery drink on the market—but it tastes great and works well!

Important note for serious athletes: According to the First Endurance website, all of their “supplements are legal to use in any sporting event governed by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), the US anti-doping association (USADA) and by the UCI (Union Cycliste International). One or more of the aforementioned governing bodies govern all US Cycling, International Cycling, US Triathlon and International Triathlon.”


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