Friday, January 25, 2013

Evolution Solution hydration and recovery drink mix review

It's just a simple fact, in a long course triathlon you will not make it in one piece to the finish line without some form of caloric intake. Ok. Maybe that's a little dramatic, but any triathlete with a good head on their shoulders knows enough about the game to at least bring some sort of sports drink on the bike and take some aid station kool aid on the run.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to hydration. There's the standard fare that can be found in your local grocery store that's a viable option, but may not get you to the next level. You could tempt fate and just go with H2O or use sports gels for your calories, but what if the ole gut doesn't appreciate gels? Then what?

Now that it's been established that you NEED more calories and nutrients from your race fluid intake than your average store bought sports drink (or training fluid intake for that matter), lets consider some options. Even if you're not convinced, just go along and assume a valid point has been made.

Evolution Solution (ES) has reached out to have their Infinitize and Refinitize recovery mix tested out and reviewed.

Since late October of 2012, ES has been the primary mix for any training and race wise from the Kansas City North Face 50k to the Operation Jack Half Marathon on December 29, 2012.

If the activity required fluids, ES was on hand for during and after. After extensive and maybe obsessive use, check out the results below.

The first thing any triathlete should do before ingesting anything is to read the ingredients. That's key for Infinitize as they advertise increased mental focus which is due in part to caffeine. While caffeine isn't a bad word and some studies have shown that it could even contribute to performance improvements, the timing of consumption could cause problems. True, caffeine is a diuretic and might prompt an untimely port-a-potty stop, but it could also cause problems for evening training. Say someone rides the trainer after the kids go down at 8pm. How's that going to affect that person after their ride is done at 9pm and they want to shower and get to bed to get up at 6am for work the next day? If there is any level of caffeine sensitivity, most likely there's going to be a lot of staring at the ceiling until the effects wear off. That extra energy is great for AM workouts, but be careful of usage with the PM work.

When Infinitize (IF) and Refinitize (RF) arrives on the doorstep, it will fall in line with other products as far as packaging goes. The RF cannister is substantially larger which is related to needed higher amounts of mix for recovery drink compared to dosing for IF. That shouldn't bother anyone, because who doesn't like bigger and better? The actual packaging is appealing and carries an air of professionalism of large vendors even though ES is a small supplier. The design might even summon images of cutting edge training sessions and podium finishes. Lets be honest, no one wants to get their hydration from a boring cannister that doesn't make people go, "wow, I bet that's the closest thing to rocket fuel you can put into your body".

After ingredients, the next most important issue is taste. Some may interject that cost is king, but if it's cheap and tastes like it costs, triathletes will pay extra. Like most mixes, the colder the better. It will pay dividends to be prepared with ice on hand and not just rush out of the door only using tap water. In the past, it's been a trade secret to mix in a little sports drink to make drinks that cut out sugar more palatable. Yes, it puts more sugar in there, but the body will thank you when you're hot on the ass of a trainer PR and go for swig. By itself, IF can be somewhat tart, but with a little modification that's not a problem. RF comes in chocolate as most recovery mixes do, so just add some skim milk if you like some meat in your drink and chug like any other.

The big question is, does ES deliver? After extensive adaptation of IF and RF as the primary source of hydration and recovery drink for training and races for over 3 months, it would be safe to label the ES lines a success. Using IF for training of upwards of 2 hours of continuous physical exertion has resulted in bonkless sessions and energy to spare. Efforts in each workout ranged from Z2 aerobic work to high intensity BRIK efforts. Sprints, hills, pickups, suicide drills, it didn't matter. Each workout was completed with planned effort and composition with IF as the fuel. The energy component did not result in heart rate spikes, jitters or sugar highs and lows. It was I subtle rise in alertness that carried on after they workout that took the place of sleepiness or grogginess that might be experienced with prolonged or early morning sessions. The only issues that arose were when the drinks were mixed in haste with lukewarm water which results in a less appealing taste, but regardless of the temperature, the drink mix was still effective.

A bonus feature of IF is the ability of the powder to mix well without need the need of specialized shake mixing bottles or some sort of superhuman effort required to shake up the mix. Just toss in the scoops of IF, add water, screw cap on and shake. No clumps, no mess and no wearing out the arms before a workout trying to mix it up.

The recovery side, RF, requires a little more effort as it is similar to most protein and recovery powders that usually require a specialized shake bottle or risk big clumps of chocolate powder floating and sticking in the bottle. As far as the effectiveness, while using RF, post-long runs and high intensity work rarely resulted in any soreness or stiffness in the hours and days after when using RF. Something to realize for the age grouper working a day job with a family and usually burning the candle at both ends, sleep is a luxury that is unfortunately sacrificed. The quality of life is somewhat diminished when one considers the loss of sleep and the effects it has on the mind and body. Stress and illness are right around every corner with age grouper endurance athletes. If sleep is going to be sacrificed, then something needs to be done to boost the immune system to keep it infection free. RF fits that bill if used per dosing instructions. While using RF, colds, flu, and general fatigue were all minimized while on an erratic sleeping pattern. Lifestyle patterns were kept the same during this trial experience, so it stands to reason that RF had at least a part in keeping subjects healthy and muscles revitalized after tough workouts.

Money talks. It speaks to every triathlete. It’s the limiting factor why most triathletes don’t race every weekend and fly to Kona every year for the IM championship. If money didn’t matter, we’d all be “rich”. But, since it does matter, consider the prices for ES. IF goes for $33 for 16 servings on Amazon, $2.06 a serving. GU Brew Roctane (which is more comparable in potency than normal GU Brew) runs around $28 for 12 servings, $2.33 a serving. RF runs $45 for 16 servings, $2.81 a serving, and GU Recovery can be found for $24 for 14 servings, $1.71 per serving. To compare apples to apples (more like chocolate to chocolate since GU Recovery is tropical flavors only), Fluid Recovery chocolate goes for $29 for 16 servings, $1.81. As you can see, RF isn’t as economical as competitors, but it just as serviceable. As for IF, on a limited sampling, it edges competitors in economy and delivers the same punch with sufficient nutritional supplementation and mental focus.

ES offers a solid option for the hydration and recovery game. For those that scour the internet for good deals, ES will be right there with the best. Don’t fear a good deal worrying about quality of the product. ES has been on the MVT table (and in bottles) for more than 3 months and without fail, they products have produced great results.

* Writer’s note - ES supplied IF and RF for this review and in no way influenced the review.
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