Hey Dan. I did some research on this a little while ago. I’m super cheap and I don’t love eating solids on the bike so I was going for maximum fuel at minimum cost.
I found a decent mix was 5 parts maltodexterin to 2 parts white sugar and a bit of salt. I put 70g in a bottle and try to drink a bottle an hour. It’s not too sweet and you can add in different flavours. It’s hydrating and serves 60g of glucose + 10g fructose per hour.
Only problem is the 25kg bag of maltodexterin sitting in the pantry …
I tried maltodextrin a few times, it’s nice because it’s very bland but the stuff I bought clumps a bit unless I use a stick blender or hot water to dissolve it. It’s pretty hard to beat the cost of plain sugar and a pinch of salt.
One thing I’ve thought of trying is using fruit syrups, I’ve seen some different kinds in the eastern European section of Food Basic’s international aisle. I know I’ve bought them in the past at Glowgoski Eurofoods on highland too, probably any grocery store with Eastern European stuff should have some brands. They’re kind of like Ribena, but they come in a litre bottle and are only 4-5$, IIRC. They’re easy to dilute to whatever strength you want and they don’t have any fruit pulp or fibre in them. Next time I’m at the grocery store I’ll buy some… flavours like black currant and sour cherry are what I remember and they taste pretty good.
I haven’t but there are quite a few that use Maple syrup. I drove with Gaelen to NC a few years ago he had as much maple syrup as clothes. For fluids I generally use products like Charlie suggested, they certainly don’t provide as much energy but they work for me. If I’m in a hard training block like the mountains then I will use some horrible sports drink mix, just because the days take a toll.
I know you asked about drink but on the food side I try to avoid all stomach rotting energy gels. Racing aside I will avoid them at all costs. My go to was always banana bread, bananas, and motts fruit, similar calories with few side effects, you just need to start eating a little earlier
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I bought bulk Maltodextrin from Toronto Brewing (incredibly cheap - on other Sean’s advice) and bulk Fructose from Full Circle Foods in DT Kitchener (they special ordered it - I think it was $30 for the bag). I do 60 grams Malto & 30 grams Fructose per bottle / hour. 1/3 of a bottle of boiling water prevents clumping.
Hard rides it’s spot on for me, and on Z2 stuff I’ll just drink 2/3 bottle or 60 grams / hour. I also add 1/8 teaspoon of salt or more per bottle, but I sweat a lot.
At first I flavoured the mix but now I just drink it plain.
I had good results just doing plain sugar over the winter. I didn’t have any problems from doing up to 100g an hour for hard rides… I do plan on trying higher amounts in the future. I also had good experiences using 300g dissolved into a bottle for longer rides, I’d just chase each squirt with some plain water. Best thing I did before using was to brush my teeth before the ride, kept that “fuzzy tooth” feeling at bay. I’m a big fan of having a few cans of pepsi on outdoor rides so I dunno why it took me so long to try sugar indoors.
I bought a bag of sodium citrate and use that instead of salt, it’s supposed to be easier on the gut than table salt. I didn’t really have any issues with using table salt though. It’s also handy in the kitchen for making cheese sauces, like mac & cheese, or homemade nacho cheese sauce.
I third, or fourth, the idea of using maple syrup and sea salt. It’s my go to most of the year.
I have experimented with something to add carbs to my bottles during the winter as it’s tricky to eat wearing mitts. I ended up using either mango or peach concentrate to fill 1/3 of a bottle, then maybe 1/3 oat milk, water and a pinch of sea salt. It worked okay, but I only did that a bit as an experiment one winter.
As Rob said, avoid all the gels and energy bars and go for more normal food. I like bananas, fig newtons and banana loaf; really any kind of loaf is great.
I like putting the extra nutrition in bottles too especially for really cold races. It’s hard trying to reach in your pocket and eat anything when you have gloves on and your hands are frozen doing 40-50kmh in a pack. Much easier to grab a bottle and get nutrition that way. Our races tend to be so short (under 120km) that two bottles with nutrition and some emergency back up food is often plenty.
I haven’t personally tried this option, but “Posca” was the ‘sports drink’ consumed by the Romans back in ye olden times:
Apparently the use of vinegar in your drink has some serious benefits to it (akin to the mythical use of pickle juice to prevent cramping?).
Alternatively, I know some long distance riders who swear by kombucha (homemade or otherwise) for similar reasons.
I think both of these options are VERY dependent upon your taste for such things.
Naturopathy treatment doctors will suggest you some extra ordinary food items for healthy life. These drinks sometimes without calculated amount can some times cause risk too.
Mixing of incredients are also important in a sports drink. So in my opinion try some of them after research.