Nuun Active Hydration
So what’s it actually like to use?
We were slightly concerned about venturing out with just Nuun in our bottles. Their literature seems to suggest that you separate energy replacement from hydration, which is very similar to Osmo Nutrition that we featured previously. Obviously you need some carbs when you go on a long ride, so we took some gels, which is not something that we always do; usually we just take a couple of large bottles of energy drink…
Interestingly, on that first ride, there was no point when we needed to have the energy gels. We did notice that we drank more than we would usually and we felt good throughout the ride. It did appear to lend some credence to the thinking that its hydration that causes diminished athletic performance and not necessarily glycogen depletion – up to a point, which fortunately we did not reach. It did get us thinking.
Subsequent rides have backed this assertion. By eating carefully pre-ride, though not having to break our nothing within 3 hours of riding rule, and with the precautionary use of gels and bars whilst riding, at no point have we experienced the carbohydrate low that you might expect whilst training. However, we have had a strange happening that takes some getting used to; this nutrition strategy can leave you feeling hungry!
On one notable occasion one tester rode out to their weekly crit, a commute which takes an hour, with two 500ml bottles of Nuun. He then raced for an hour and a half, before riding the hour back. His report of the evening was like some sort of new cyclist’s tale. On the way there he drank most of one 500ml bottle and reached the track fully hydrated (i.e. busting for the toilet) but ‘starving of hunger’, necessitating the consumption of gel number one.
During the crit he was forced to have another gel, something he had never done in a crit before. After the crit he used another tab to refill his bottle with Nuun but when halfway home, he desperately needed an energy bar. Usually he assures us that, on such an evening, two 750ml bottles of his energy drink suffice with no food needed.
You might think then that it was a bit of a nightmare evening for him, but he reports that he ‘felt good throughout both of the commutes and during the race, and placed in the top half dozen’ in the crit. The learning from this is that to adopt this method of race nutrition you have to be prepared and very organised. Gels and energy bars are going to become constant companions, but at least you’ll not have to worry about dehydration.
The great thing about energy bars, if not gels, is that they taste great and make you feel good. Taste is all important and is where many carbo drinks fall down. One of the aspects that the Nuun guys were keen to demonstrate to us at the show, was the huge range of 14 different flavours that the Active Hydration tabs come in. In the interest of producing a well rounded article, we felt compelled to sample every flavour. All were good but the caffeinated cola and the orange flavours were favourites. Nuun make a lot in their marketing about the light refreshing taste and we’d have to agree; on the taste front it blows everything else we’ve tried out of the water (pun intended).
We’ll report back with an update after even more testing…