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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Friday, 24 January 2014

#Run With An Idea 10 "Sports nutrition products are a complete waste of money"

The subject of this week's Run With an Idea blog debate centres around sports nutrition products - are they a waste of money, or are they the be all and end all?

There is the train of thought that all we need is water for shorter distances, and that there is no need to fuel for a race under marathon distance, providing of course you're eating a healthy diet and have trained properly.   There is evidence that sports nutrition has no benefit to sports people other than maybe endurance athletes.   From a personal point of view whilst my diet is fairly healthy I have slipped up occasionally during preparation for an event after all I have a family who aren't in training and occasionally they like to eat pizza or fish & chips!   I've never been totally convinced that the sports nutrition products I've used actually work.   A lot of my performance  seems to hinge on whether I've slept or not, and of course actually run some miles beforehand!  Having said that, I never leave the house without some kind liquid in a sports bottle, mostly just water.  I always get a dry mouth at about a mile - it's like a child's security blanket, holding that bottle!

An advert from Lucozade was recently banned as it was claimed that Lucozade "hydrates better than water"   Another clever marketing ploy to sell a product which doesn't live up to its claims.

Personally, I've never used Lucozade - as a child of the 70's it brings back less than fond memories of being ill and Mum buying the sweet, fizzy stuff in the orange, cellophane covered bottle to "keep my strength up".   My daughter used similar products when she was competing at karate.   When I asked her a couple of days ago if she thought they actually helped she said all they did was wake her up a bit if she'd been waiting a while for her fights to start.  Drinking them during fights was apparently bad as they made her feel sick, as opposed to a bottle of plain water which refreshed her.  It now turns out that I was a bad mother as I shouldn't have been feeding an under 16 year old caffeine based sports drinks - although in my defence she only competed maybe once or twice a month for 3 or 4 months a year for about 4 years - she wasn't drinking them every day, and certainly not for breakfast!

Over the last couple of years there have been the deaths of runners linked to use of sports nutrition products the two which spring to mind are Claire Squires who died at the end of London Marathon 2012 having taken a preparation containing DMAA which caused a fatal heart attack and Sam Harper Brighouse who died during the Brighton Marina in 2013 having taken recognised sports nutrition and doses of ibuprofen.  These kinds of reports frighten the life out of me, although I'm never likely to run any further than a half marathon, and probably scare anyone related to a runner, especially if they're taking on a marathon.

My personal choice for hydration is High 5 sugar free hydration tabs 
- especially the Pink Grapefruit and Citrus flavours, hubby uses the caffeine loaded Xtreme for cycling, apparently they help him.   I'm not a great one for using caffeine laced products but I have been known to take Clif Shot Bloks and during half marathon training I ventured into the world of gels.  Not a great fan of those, and I'm not sure they had any benefit at mile 9.  I strongly believe that the mind was more powerful than any other fruit flavoured drink or gel on that day!   Why do I take them then?  As I said before I never leave the house without a bottle of something, water becomes boring after a few miles so it's nice to have a flavour. 

There are some great articles giving advice on what's on the market  and here's one that advises on protein supplements.

Having looked at the nutrition for use during exercise, the next thing to look at is post exercise - I went to the Running Show a couple of years ago where one of the talks was on preparing for a half or full marathon - how to follow a training plan and how to fuel.  The talk was taken by Sam Murphy  the health and fitness writer.  Her post run favourite was a glass of chocolate Nesquik rather than spending money on sports branded recovery chocolate shakes.  I think personally it tastes better.  The market for recovery drinks is almost as extensive as the hydration market.  Apparently chocolate milk is the next big thing.  

During this week alone I've been bombarded with emails from sports nutrition firms - SIS want to set me up with nutrition plan to aid my training and For Goodness Shakes want to give me a voucher to use for Pay As You Gym.

Orbana, another hydration manufacturer sent me the usual offer email, and whilst looking through their website I found a very interesting blog on how caffeine affects the body

So, what are your views on sports nutrition?  A load of hype?  The only way of getting through training and an event?  

Have you got any great advice you could give me on using nutrition products, I may not be running at the moment, but I am building mileage up on my road bike?    

Please head over to the Run With An Idea site to see what other contributors are saying.


  1. Great post! I'm always surprised at the people who take supplements bought from a dodgy website on the recommendation of a friend of a friend but they won't spend £40 going to a sports massage appointment!

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