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2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Hopefully you’ve gotten the word by now that on long bike rides you need to consume protein in addition to carbohydrates if you want to avoid muscle and brain fatigue (better known to cyclists as bonking or hitting the wall). To paraphrase a familiar verse of the Bible, “Cyclists do not live by carbohydrates alone.” One of the easiest ways to get the needed protein is to buy a carbohydrate gel with protein already in it. Unfortunately, most energy gels that include protein taste rather dreadful. A couple of years ago PacificHealth Laboratories (the creators of Accelerade) introduced 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel and it not only tastes great, but has carbohydrates, electrolytes, proteins, caffeine and antioxidants.

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

I always carry a few packages of 2nd Surge with me on longer rides. The truth is that I was hooked with the first package I tried! The chocolate gel is very smooth and has a rich chocolate flavor. Most (but not all) of the other chocolate gels I’ve tried over the years tasted like artificial chocolate, but 2nd Surge is the real deal. Each package of 2nd Surge has 90 calories and includes 18g of carbohydrate, 3g of protein and 100mg of caffeine.

2nd Surge is an all-natural energy gel. I hate giving a long list of ingredients in a product review, but the ingredient list in 2nd Surge is rather impressive. The ingredients include: Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Glycerin, Pea Protein Isolate, Cocoa, Natural Flavors, Green Tea Extract, d-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Salt, Grape, Pomegranate, Mangosteen, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Chokeberry, Cranberry, Apple and Bilberry Extracts.

At the moment this product is only available in two flavors: Chocolate and Double Expresso. I love the chocolate gel and the local bike shop always keeps it in stock for me. For the record, I did not try the Double Expresso, mainly because I have never been a fan of any food product that has the word expresso (or espresso) in the title. I hope PacificHealth Laboratories adds a few new flavors before long.

A box of eight packages of 2nd Surge retails for $16 and is available on the PacificHealth Laboratories Website. On the other hand, you could just have your local bike shop order it for you—you will pay the same price but will save the cost of shipping. In addition, your local bike shop might be willing to keep this product in stock for you as well!

 

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Honey Stinger Energy Bars

Honey Stinger nutritional products have been a part of every single bike ride I’ve taken in the past few years. Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels are the only carbohydrate gels I ever buy, and the highly addictive Honey Stinger Waffles go with me on every ride. After a bike ride I always need some protein, and the Honey Stinger Protein Bar is the only protein bar I ever buy (the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond is simply awesome).

Honey Stinger Energy Bars

Honey Stinger Energy Bars

The folks at Honey Stinger recently sent me a box of one of their newest products to review, the Honey Stinger Energy Bars. While these bars are not strictly either carbohydrate or protein bars, if you enjoy natural food products I think you will find a place for them in your pantry. These bars are made with over 30% honey and offer 10g of protein, along with 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium, and antioxidants. These energy bars average about 180 calories per bar, and 30 to 50 of those calories are from fat. All Honey Stinger energy bars are Kosher certified (OU-D).

I sampled each of the four original Honey Stinger Energy Bar flavors (Peanut Butter’n Honey, Berry Banana Buzz, Apple Cinnamon and Rocket Chocolate). While I liked all of them, the Berry Banana Buzz was my favorite. Honey Stinger has recently introduced a new flavor, Blueberry Buzz, but I have not tried that flavor yet.

I mainly use these bars as a between-meal snack—they are also great to take to the movies with you! While you might also use them during exercise, I need to mention one thing that might impact cyclists in particular. Both the Peanut Butter’n Honey and the Rocket Chocolate have a chocolate coating on the bottom of them, while the Berry Banana and the Blueberry Buzz have a yogurt coated bottom. These coatings have a fairly low melting point and if your store the bars in one of your back jersey pockets (like most of us do) then this coating is going to melt. Therefore, it would be best to keep these bars in a seat bag or top tube bag while cycling.

Anytime I review food products I like to give the ingredients list. I am not going to give the list for each flavor, but I will give it for my favorite, the Berry Banana Buzz Energy Bar. Ingredients: Honeystinger (Honey, Sea Salt, Water); Honeystinger Fruitsmoothie Blend (Apple, Banana, Cranberry, Strawberry Bits & Honey); Almonds; Soy Nuggets (Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Malt, Salt); Coating (Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Yogurt Powder {Cultured Whey Protein In Concentrate, Cultured Skim Milk and Yogurt Culture} Non-fat Dry Milk Solids, Soya Lecithin {an emulsifier} and Natural Flavor); Soy Protein Isolate; Vitamins and Minerals.

Honey Stinger Energy Bars retail for $25 for a box of 15. Because retail shelf space is always limited, I doubt if you find this product at your local bike shop. However, it is available from Amazon.com and from the Honey Stinger Online Store.

 
 

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Honey Stinger Protein Bar

My kind and gracious wife allowed me to take over one of her kitchen cabinets so I can store my nutritional products. The cabinet is 42″ wide and has three shelves. The top shelf is used to store two CamelBak hydration packs and over a dozen water bottles (some are insulated and others have special lids for different types of cycling). The bottom two shelves are used to store 20 to 30 boxes of the different carbohydrate products I eat while cycling (I buy my favorite products in bulk). While I use several different brands of carbohydrate products during a ride, I only keep one brand of protein bar in the cabinet for after a ride—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar.

Honey Stinger Protein Bar 10g

Honey Stinger Protein Bar

Let’s make this easy—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar is absolutely the best tasting protein bar I’ve ever tried! These bars come in two sizes (10g or 20g of protein). These bars are made with over 30% USDA certified organic honey, either 10g or 20g of high quality whey protein isolate, 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium and antioxidants.

Cyclists usually eat protein bars immediately after a ride to aid in muscle recovery. The problem is that most protein bars are simply dreadful! However, the 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are so delicious you will find yourself craving them. When I am running late in the morning I eat these bars for breakfast, and they are my favorite snack at the movies (I can’t watch a movie without one). One warning: the chocolate layer on the outside of these bars has a low melting point, so don’t leave them in a hot car or the chocolate will melt (it will still taste good though).

In the past year I’ve bought over a dozen boxes of these bars—all in the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond flavor. I knew Honey Stinger made other flavors, but this one is so good I never even thought about buying any other flavor. A few weeks ago the good folks at Honey Stinger sent me samples of the other flavors for review purposes, and while I liked all of them, the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond is in a class all by itself—it is simply awesome! You can actually see (and taste) bits of dried sour cherries in the bar.

The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are available in four flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta. The 20g bars are only available in Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta.

The ingredients for each of these bars varies slightly, so I will just give the ingredients list for the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond: Semisweet Dark Chocolate [Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin, and Vanilla]; Organic Honey; Whey Protein Isolate; Almond Butter; Dried Sour Cherries (Cherries, Apple Juice, Sunflower Oil); Almonds; Vitamins & Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit C), Alpha-tocopherol Acetate (Vit E), Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Niacin, Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Molybdenum Glycinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper, Manganese, Beta Carotene (Vit A), Selenium, Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Chromium, Cyanocobolamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide]; and Natural Flavor.

Honey Stinger Protein Bars are made with 25% organic ingredients. The are also made with gluten-free ingredients and contain no soy products. These bars are available at many local bike shops, REI stores, Amazon.com and from the Honey Stinger Website. The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars retail for $2.20 each, or in a box of 15 for under $33.

 

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Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

A few weeks ago one of the readers of this blog suggested that I try the Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars, so I ordered a variety pack of the bars from the manufacturer, PROsnack Natural Foods, Inc. These bars were invented by a mother who was a “nutritional health food caterer for athletes and sports teams” when she wanted to “create the world’s simplest protein snack.” Well, she succeeded! Elevate Me! bars are easy on the stomach, taste great, and deserve a place in the cupboard of every cyclist.

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! bars are about the size of a candy bar, but that is about the only thing the two bars have in common. These bars weigh 66 grams each and are made with 24% protein and whole fruits. They are also gluten-free, wheat-free, low-fat, and contain no added sweeteners, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. In addition to 16 grams of protein, each bar has about 33 grams of carbohydrates.

The variety pack I bought contained twelve bars—a mix of the following flavors: Strawberry Apple Pie, Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie, Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost!, Matcha Green Tea with Cranberries, Espresso Cocoa Crunch, Banana Nut Bread, Cocoa Coconut Cluster, and All-Fruit Original. While I liked all the bars, the Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie was my favorite. The Espresso Cocoa Crunch was OK, but I am not a coffee drinker and don’t usually like anything made with coffee beans.

I won’t take the time to give the ingredients list for each flavor of Elevate Me! bar, but will list the ingredients for the Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost bar as an example: Whey protein isolate, dates, organic raisins, almonds, apples, cranberries (cranberries, apple juice, sunflower oil), blueberries, and goji berries. These bars may contain traces of peanuts and/or soy. All bars are certified organic.

As a distance cyclist I usually consume carbohydrate products during the first two hours of a ride, and then start adding a bit of protein every hour during the rest of the ride. While I will never be willing to confine myself to just one brand of energy bar, I am really glad to have these bars with me on my longer rides. These bars taste like real food—unlike some bars that taste more like a high school chemistry experiment that went horribly wrong.

Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars are a product of Canada and I bought the variety pack from the PROsnack Natural Foods Website for $25, plus postage. At the moment these bars are not available on Amazon.com, but it looks like they will be before long.

 

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NeoCell Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex

If you want to go from being a mediocre weekend rider to a distance cyclist one of the things you have to work on is your post-ride recovery. You probably already know that protein is essential for muscle recovery, but how can you help repair the connective tissues in your tendons and ligaments? The folks at NeoCell Corporation in Santa Ana, California recently sent me a container of their new Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex to try and I think any aspiring distance cyclist should give this product a try.

Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex for muscle recovery

Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex

Like most quality protein drinks the Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex contains whey protein isolate and is loaded with essential and branched chain amino acids (including glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine). I am not going to reprint their entire product label, but one serving has a wide range of vitamins (about the same as in a multi-vitamin) and 1,000 grams of L-glutamine, the main amino acid that drives nitrogen into muscle cells for muscle synthesis and repair. Each serving also has 50mg of pomegranate extract, a powerful antioxidant.

Most of the time we choose nutritional products because of what they contain. However, Collagen Sport stands out because of what it does not contain! Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex contains no gluten, wheat, sugar, lactose, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, fillers or synthetic ingredients.

The biggest problem with most protein drinks is the taste and/or texture. I don’t suppose anyone will ever confuse a protein drink with a milkshake from the local ice cream shop, but the  Belgian Chocolate Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex actually has a decent flavor. However, what is more important to me is the texture. Most of the protein drinks I’ve tried in the past have been rather gritty (and that is being kind). Surprisingly, Collagen Sport dissolved easily in water and did not clump like nearly every other protein drink I’ve tried.

I don’t usually share recipes, but here is my favorite way to prepare this protein drink: Pour one scoop of Collagen Sport Complex and eight ounces of cold water into your blender, then add one banana and two cups of frozen strawberries, then mix until smooth (about 30 seconds). You should end up with something like a smoothie, but this one not only has the 30 grams of protein, but also gives you three servings of fruit and weighs in at under 350 calories. It takes me about three minutes to prepare this smoothie and it is very refreshing after a long ride.

This product is available in two flavors: French Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate. I tried the chocolate flavor, but   vanilla flavored protein mixes offer more versatility if you want to mix it with fresh fruits or juices to make a smoothie. A three-pound container (30 servings) of Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex retails for $50, but you can buy it from Amazon.com for around $33.

 

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Low-Fat Chocolate Milk As A Sports Recovery Drink For Cyclists

Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk

Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk

This past summer it seemed like every sports magazine or nutrition blog carried an article about using low-fat chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink. The articles were based upon several recent studies, including one from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and two from the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas study was the most interesting since it dealt specifically with cyclists. The bottom line for cyclists is that if you drink a 16-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes after a strenuous ride your muscles will recover faster, you will build more muscle and shave off more fat during training.

For distance cyclists finding something that will speed up recovery time is like finding the Holy Grail. I am 52-years old and the last time I drank chocolate milk was in high school, however, after reading the aforementioned studies I decided to give chocolate milk another try. The only part of the studies that made me hesitate a bit was the emphasis on low-fat chocolate milk. When I hear the phrase “low-fat milk” I immediately think of something like “milk-flavored water.”

My first three attempts at finding a good brand of low-fat chocolate milk were not successful since all I could find were bottles of 2% or 1% low-fat. Even a bottle of 1% low-fat milk has far too many calories from fat for me to even consider drinking. I was finally able to find a fantastic product at a local dairy store that suited my needs perfectly: Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk. I believe this product is only available in Oberweis retail stores, but it is certainly worth the effort it might take to find one (sorry, but they seem to only have stores in the upper Midwest).

In addition to great tasting chocolate milk, here is what you get in a 16-ounce glass: 180 calories, 450mg of sodium, 16g of protein, 26g of carbohydrates, and a boatload of vitamin D and calcium. This product has no added sugar. To avoid selling milk that reminds you of water, Oberweis adds carrageenan to this product (carrageenan is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin). I don’t know if you will ever find a low-fat chocolate milk as good as Oberweis at your local dairy, but you owe it to yourself to try to find out! I also realize that my personal experience with using low-fat chocolate milk as a recovery drink is highly subjective, but it really does seem that I am able to recover after a long ride faster since I switched from protein bars to chocolate milk (though I still use the protein bars when I forget to stop at the dairy).

 

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2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Hopefully you’ve gotten the word by now that on long rides you need to consume protein in addition to carbohydrates if you want to avoid muscle and brain fatigue (better known to cyclists as bonking). To paraphrase a familiar verse of the Bible, “Cyclists do not live by carbohydrates alone.” One of the easiest ways to get the needed protein is to buy a carbohydrate gel with protein already in it (or make you own gel for use in a HomeGOO flask). Unfortunately, most energy gels that include protein taste rather dreadful. PacificHealth Laboratories (the creators of Accelerade) recently introduced 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel and it not only tastes great, but has carbohydrates, electrolytes, proteins, caffeine and antioxidants.

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Last month I purchased a box (an 8 pack) of 2nd Surge and have used the gel on some of my longer bike rides. I was hooked when I tried the first package! The chocolate gel is very smooth and has a rich chocolate flavor. Most of the other chocolate gels I’ve tried over the years tasted like artificial chocolate, but 2nd Surge is the real deal. Each package of 2nd Surge has 90 calories and includes 18g of carbohydrate, 3g of protein and 100mg of caffeine.

2nd Surge is an all-natural energy gel. I hate giving a long list of ingredients in a product review, but the ingredient list in 2nd Surge is rather impressive. The ingredients include: Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Glycerin, Pea Protein Isolate, Cocoa, Natural Flavors, Green Tea Extract, d-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Salt, Grape, Pomegranate, Mangosteen, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Chokeberry, Cranberry, Apple and Bilberry Extracts.

At the moment this product is only available in two flavors: Chocolate and Double Expresso. I loved the chocolate gel and have already ordered another box. For the record, I did not try the Double Expresso, mainly because I have never been a fan of any food product that has the word expresso (or espresso) in the title. I hope PacificHealth Laboratories adds a few new flavors before long.

A box of eight packages of 2nd Surge retails for $16 and is available on the PacificHealth Laboratories Website. The best price online I’ve been able to find is at Performance Bike—they have it listed at $13 a box.  However, if you “Like” the PacificHealth Laboratories Facebook page you can get a 20% discount on your next order (I don’t know how long this offer is going to last).

 

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Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

As an avid cyclist I am used to a bit of suffering. I suffer in the winter on rides when the wind chill factor hits 20 degrees below zero. I suffer through summer rides when the heat index passes 105 degrees. Some cyclists suffer by their food choices (you PowerBar users know who you are). Here is where I draw the line—I don’t mind a bit of suffering when I don’t have a choice, but when it comes to carbohydrate products cyclists do have a choice! If you want to stop your self-imposed suffering then pick up a package of great tasting Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews.

Honey Stinger Organic Carbohydrate Energy Chews

Honey Stinger Organic Carbohydrate Energy Chews

When I started cycling I bought PowerBar Energy Gels because that was the only brand of carbohydrate gels the bike shop I used carried. Eating PowerBar products reminded me a bit of high school. I thought PowerBar Protein Bars had the taste and texture of the sawdust from my shop class, and PowerBar Energy Gels tasted like chemicals from a high school chemistry project! Folks, there is a better way to replenish your energy stores and Honey Stinger has provided the way!

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews are fairly small (about the size of a stack of three nickles). These chews are 95% organic and each package has ten chews (two servings). Every 160 calorie serving contains 39 grams of carbohydrates, 100% of the RDA of vitamin C, and a dose of electrolytes. These chews are gluten-free, dairy free and contain no trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Honey Stinger sells these energy chews in several flavors, including Cherry Blossom (my favorite), Orange Blossom, Fruit Smoothie, and Pomegranate Passion Fruit. They have also recently introduced a caffeinated Lime-Ade flavor, but I’ve not been able to find them in the store yet.

I am not a tofu-eating vegetarian environmentalist. However, when I have a choice I will choose organic food every time. This is especially true when it comes to the food I eat while cycling. I’ve found that natural ingredients are easily digested and quickly absorbed into the body. Energy gels that contain a lot of chemicals just make me feel uncomfortable while cycling. If the two cycling computers I use can be trusted, I burn around 1050 calories an hour when I ride. I like to replace around a third of these calories every hour, so I consume one whole package of Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews an hour (three pieces every 20 minutes).

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews are available in many sporting good stores, such as R.E.I., Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority. I’ve also purchased them at several grocery stores, but they often do not carry all the flavors. Each two-serving package costs around $2. Bon appetit.

 

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