30 January 2017 0 Comments

A Year Powered by Etixx

Note: all the products reviewed below were won in a competition except where noted. No-one from Etixx has asked me to write this post or has requested editorial input. Product links provided are to the Etixx website and there are no affiliate marketing codes included if you follow them.

Last year a couple of very clever members of COLT (City of Lancaster Triathlon – my club) won a competition to power our entire membership with sports nutrition for a year! The brand running the promotion was Etixx, not a hugely well known name over here in the UK, but cyclists know them well as a sponsor of Tom Boonen and friends at the Quick Step pro cycling team. Luckily, George, one of the members in question, had a garage large enough to cope with the pallet loads of gels, shakes and bars that duly arrived. However, it was all fine and dandy to win all this free stuff but it wouldn’t be much use if it was no good. All my races and training last year were powered by Etixx and here’s what I thought of their products.

Energy Gels

Love ’em or hate ’em, energy gels are the fastest and most efficient way to get vital carbs into your system when training or racing. I’ve used a number of brands over the years with varying degrees of success and enjoyment. I tried 2 of the Etixx gels range, a standard carboydrate gel and the guarana and caffeine infused stimulant gel. The normal gels came in two flavours, lime and peach. Both contained 24g of carbohydrate so about right for 1 an hour of moderate exercise and doubling up for more intense sessions. I found them to be very easy on the stomach when consumed with water which is not always the case with some other brands I’ve tried. The formulation of 3 different sugars with differing rates of absorption seems to avoid the sugar rush of gels with just fast sugars. The flavours are quite strong and I had a marked preference for the peach flavour (which seems to be no longer available on their website, replaced by cola) and some club members disliked them for that reason. However, I found them fairly palatable, and the lack of stomach stress was a big bonus for me. They got me through Ironman UK last summer so they definitely work!

The stimulant gel was a real opinion divider as the red berries flavour had a marked cough medicine taste to it. Some people hated them. I stuck with them and got used to the taste. These gels really work. Normally stimulant gels leave me feeling a bit shaky and nauseous after taking them. Again, like the standard gels I experienced no stomach stress with these gels and they gave me a definite boost during flat periods in long races. They do a second flavour, maracuya, which I haven’t tried so I might give them a whirl next season as an alternative to the cough mixture taste.

Energy Bars

Although I prefer gels for their ease and convenience, on longer events and for less intense longer training efforts I like to munch on a cereal bar. Unfortunately we didn’t receive any in our prize, but in the name of research I actually invested some of my own cold hard cash in some energy bars to train with prior to using them at Ironman UK. I tried chocolate and lemon flavour (orange and raspberry are also available) and I found them to be very nice indeed (lemon was my favourite). They are quite sweet, so there is plenty of carbs in their formulation (29g per bar) and not too “bitty”. With some cereal bars I find I’m chewing on bits of oat for ages after I’ve finished them.

On Ironman UK I took an energy bar followed by 3 carbohydrate gels spread out at 30 minute intervals during the entire bike leg with the occasional stimulant gel thrown in and it was a combination that worked out really well, setting me up for my best ever Ironman run.

Recovery Bars

These seem to have been a real hit with the COLTs and stocks depleted rapidly. I did manage to get hold of a box of them and used them after tough training sessions. They have a nougat like texture, a nice enough caramel taste and a thin layer of chocolate to sweeten the deal. They’re quite chewy and the why protein does give them a bit of a powdery texture, but with 17g of carbs and 13g of whey protein they do an excellent job of replenishing lost stores after a race or a tough training session. My own preference is for a recovery shake drink, but for sheer convenience these are hard to beat.

Recovery Shakes

Reading around, it seems that Etixx recovery shakes have a great reputation, and I have to say that they are an essential part of my training routine. I’ve had both chocolate and raspberry and kiwi flavour, with the latter being the favourite among COLTs.  I always make them up with skimmed milk as opposed to water and find them extremely palatable and easy on the stomach even after a really tough training session when I often don’t really feel like eating for a little while. I even loved squishing some fresh raspberries into them for added tang. They come in either individual sachets if you just want to try them, or in large 1500g tubs. I note that Etixx recommend doubling up the amount of powder you use after really tough sessions which is something I haven’t tried as yet – making them up with skimmed milk adds more protein to the mix anyway. Recommended.

Isotonic Energy Drink

My usual means of getting carbs into the system as noted already is gels, and in the past I’ve not been a huge fan of energy drinks. However, I’ve found that this product comes into its own when I’m doing shorter, more intense training sessions or doing a shorter event such as an Olympic distance triathlon. Rather than taking a whole energy gel I find that regular sipping of an isotonic drink keeps up energy levels very effectively. The drink comes in powdered form, either in sachets or 1000g tubs and in four flavours: lemon, orange and mango, watermelon, orange. I have only tried the orange flavour. Again, I heard a few comments that at the recommended dilution it is quite strongly flavoured, but I quite like it. In use it seems to be really effective. A single 500ml bottle gets me through a tough 2 hour training ride without ever feeling I’m running low of energy. In fact, it has been so effective that it has become my go to energy product for shorter to medium length training sessions in preference to gels.

Conclusion

Babylon Lane, Ironman UK

The Etixx range covers a much wider spectrum of sports nutrition products than tested here and you need to check out their website for the full range. The ones I’ve tested have proved to be highly effective. The flavours seem to be quite strong compared to other brands I’ve tried but the formulation appears to be top notch. They certainly worked for me and I used them on every event I competed in last year including 3 trail half marathons, 2 sportives, an olympic distance, 2 half distance and a full ironman (see here). I suppose it’s one thing to use a product because you’ve got it for free, but it’s entirely another if you have to shell out cash. I’ve still got some chocolate recovery shake left but I’ll definitely be stocking up on Etixx gels and energy bars for the 2017 season and that is as good a recommendation as I can give.

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