Early this year, I was at the shop to buy a hydration and energy drink. The usual choice has 8 ingredients, no colourants or non-nutritive sweeteners - but it was out of stock. It's not a case of my body is my temple, I just don't like the idea of chugging down junk on a ride and feeling like death.
I prefer to steer toward products with the least number of ingredients for several reasons including gastro-intestinal stress, nausea and intolerance to sickly sweet taste when suffering.
Colourant time. Found a second option from a leading sports nutrition brand. One of the ingredients was listed simply as 'Colourant', but no actual colourant names listed. In fact, there were several brands of powdered hydration/energy drinks with this issue of NOT informing the consumer.
After phoning them to ask for the colourant names, they mailed the list and all flavor variants in their range contain one or a combination of the following:
1. Carmoisine (banned in USA, Canada, Norway and Sweden).
2. Sunset Yellow.
3. Brilliant Blue.
Just some of the potential side effects include negatively altered kidney and liver function, reduced red blood cell count, hives (urticaria), breathing difficulties, hyperactivity in children... Really, breathing difficulties and reduced red blood cell count from products 'designed' for sports performance?!
Not sure there is even any point from here in arguing the value of consuming this type of 'sports nutrition' product to support energy needs and hydration. You may also want to question ANY other brand on the shelf that places the word 'colourant' on their product without listing the actual name - there's several and they are easy to spot.
Your goal with your training and racing is to hydrate and fuel your body so you perform at your optimum and recover as fast as possible. Despite some colourful marketing, real food in most cases will do a better job. Electrolytes are also very important, especially in our warm climate, so look for this in a drink. The following ingredient list pretty much covers needs:
- Carbohydrate, but not from fructose
- Sodium Citrate (as opposed to Sodium Chloride. Citrate is easy on the gut and you still get the important sodium)
- Natural flavour (as in a real fruit, like we used exclusively to flavour RaceDay)
Avoid non-nutritive sweeteners and especially avoid any product that just states 'colourant' without telling you what it is.