Perhaps I'm a traditionalist - but I've always considered food in gel form to be a necessary evil for use only when riding intensity makes chewing impossible, or when pocket space is sparse. So I was a bit confused when the MyProtein Gels for recovery landed on my doorstep.
The idea of allowing the gel feeding rituals adopted mid-ride to seep into life off the bike seems a bit alien. However, refusing to be put off by the unconventional presentation of anything edible, I packed these up into my kit bag for a recent road trip/cycling holiday around France to give them a thorough test.
MyProtein Gels: Energy Elite
As their title might suggest - MyProtein are best known for their fantastic value Whey Protein products. Their informed sport range includes more carbohydrate focused products for athletes wanting to perform in the endurance ring. Each item has been tested for banned substances, too.
There are plenty of sports scientists arguing that endurance athletes need carbohydrates AND protein during exercise, to maximize recovery afterwards. However, the jury is still out on this one. What we all KNOW is that your body burns through carbohydrates during intense exercise, and not topping up your glycogen levels can lead to a sudden loss of energy called a 'bonk'.
The 50g Energy Elite gel contains 100 calories, 0g protein, 25g of carbs - of which 6.3g are sugars as well as a blend of four electrolytes to help cut down on the dreaded cramp.
The carbohydrates come in the form of a 3:1 Maltodextrin to Fructose ratio. This is a common but ideal mix in sports energy products as your body can only absorb a small ratio of Fructose to Maltodextrin.
You'll also find 66g of potasium, plus almost a third of your daily B6 and B12 requirements per gel. These are designed to help reduce fatigue, contribute to management of the nervous and immune systems and help facilitate red blood cell formation.
The gel in practice...
Like any gel, the packets are easy to carry and store. The mix isn't watery as some 'isotonic' versions, but it's not one of those thick and gloopy ones that seem like dessert either. In terms of consistency this gel seems to be right in the middle of the spectrum. I tested the Tropical Flavour (the other option is Orange) and though it's a little bit sour, the gel always went down well and gave me the energy boost I'd expect. Nothing revolutionary here, but functional - yes.
If you want an extra little kick, MyProtein do offer versions with an added 75mg of caffeine, too.
MyProtein Gels: Recovery Plus Elite
This is where it all gets a bit 'different'.
The Recovery Plus gel contains 15g of protein, 20g of carbs and just 0.1g of fat, in a 143 calorie 70g pack. An ideal post-workout snack contains a similar mix of carbs and protein, to give muscles the best chance of re-building themselves.
To help your body out further, the gel contains BCAAs (branched chain amino acids that make up 35 percent of all muscle tissue), alongside the addition of glutamine and an electrolyte blend to replace lost salts. They also boast added B Vitamins to fight fatigue and Tart Cherry juice which has a number of claimed benefits to athletes.
The gel in practice...
I thought this was going to be a really weird experience. I'm off the bike so why am I squeezing space food into my mouth?
However - the foundation of the mix (26 per cent) is actually Greek yogurt. In cherry flavour (the other alternative is strawberry), it was a bit like eating a yummy tubey-yogurt-with-benefits.
When jumping off the bike, and into the car on a bike/drive road trip, these actually proved to be handy little snacks to tide me over until the next feeding time.
On an action packed, active holiday these gels were handy. However, they're no match for a bowl of greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola, honey and fruit. Ideally, I'd probably rather a slightly higher calorie content if I was going to consider these as a full recovery option, too. As they are, they're a great stop-gap - but it's always good to kick recovery off early, and these make that easy.
MyProtein Gels: Protein
Finally - the pièce de résistance: the Protein Gel. I'm not aware of any other brands making protein gels. Shakes, bars, brownies, cookies - yes. All of the fore mentioned treats generally put the emphasis on rewarding the senses after a heavy workout as opposed to convenience, as per the gel.
MyProtein have instead gone all for the convenience. They've squeezed 20g of protein into 102 calories with just 0.1g of fat and 6g or carbohydrates (all sugars).
The gel in practice...
Protein is essential to protein synthesis - the process by which your muscles rebuild and become stronger. It is essential that athletes get enough protein and a handy gel certainly makes that process easy. Available in tropical and raspberry favours and comprising 50 per cent Greek yougurt - these didn't taste bad at all.
Again, I'd just probably enjoy a banana whizzed up in a blender with milk and whey protein more. If I was at home with a kitchen at my disposal, that would be my preference. However, that's not always possible - and these gels make it easy to ensure you're getting enough protein.
All three gels in the range taste ok, and provide the ideal mixture of nutrients for their given purpose. In every case, I'd say real food would be a preference for the taste buds - but that's not always possible. When you're on the move these make great alternatives.
Interested? See the range here.