I have been testing the full range of energy products from TORQ Fitness for Cycling Shorts. I first came across TORQ products last year, so I was interested to see what their other products were like. Here are my findings…
TORQ are well-known for their varied choice of flavours so it was with some apprehension that I tried the vanilla flavoured energy drink, as I wasn’t convinced that I would like it. How wrong was I? It tastes more like marshmallow, but I was hooked from the first drink. Not too sweet, and it didn’t make me thirsty (there have been many that have over the years), so I take that as a positive. Having said that, would I think the same if I had tested it in the heat of summer? Possibly not, as I am not sure it would go down as well in a warm climate however I think an ice cube in your bottle would keep it cool and solve that problem.
If vanilla is not for you, then don’t despair! They have pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, both of which are really tasty and thirst-quenching, as well as orange and lemon. I have to admit that the orange flavour isn’t for me (it seemed to have a bit of a weird aftertaste that I couldn’t get used to) but others would probably disagree!
For a breakdown of their flavoured energy drink go to: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy
The other amazing energy drink that TORQ do is their natural organic flavour. This has proved to be a lifesaver over the winter, as I have had it in my tea (yes, that’s right, in tea) as a top up of energy for those longer back to back training rides. It also means that if you’re not keen on flavoured energy drinks and would prefer to use cordial, then TORQ energy is the answer there too.
More information can be found about the Energy Organic here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy-organic
In a word, I guess you can say that they cater for everyone!
I have had TORQ gels before, and the first thing that occurred to me was that TORQ have changed the design of the wrapper to make them easier to open on the move. The texture is also great – some gels can be too thin and watery whereas others can be too thick and similar to wallpaper paste – so TORQ have obviously been doing their homework as to what works best. In addition, like the energy drinks, they have combined maltodextrin with fructose so that they work super fast, which means that you can keep going longer!
The first gel that we tried was the banoffee flavoured version. Having overdosed on bananas as a child, I’m not overly keen on anything vaguely banana-related, so I was fully expecting not to like this flavour. Good news for people who aren’t too keen on bananas – the after taste was one of caramel not bananas!
Rhubarb and Custard flavour is one that seems to have a Marmite opinion when you talk to people about them – some love it others loathe it. I am in the “love it” camp – it’s really sweet, which won’t appeal to some people, and you do need a drink after it, but there’s no vile after-taste!
Another hot favourite was raspberry ripple – again very sweet, which won’t appeal to some, but TORQ have obviously worked hard on the flavouring of these gels so at least you know that it actually tastes like it says on the wrapper, and not something random. Top job all round, I’d say!
By the way, did I mention that all of their gels are dairy and wheat free and are suitable for vegans too?
The technology and science behind the gels can be found in more detail here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-gel
The beauty of the TORQ energy bars is the high moisture content – some energy bars need a pint cup of tea with them, but these energy bars are really easy to eat on the bike – you don’t feel as if you’re expending more energy chewing the bar than riding the bike, which is always a bonus!
These bars come in a variety of flavours, from mango to apple and raspberry to pineapple and ginger. I particularly liked the latter, as it sounded a bit weird but in actual fact you could even taste the ginger!
The only downside of these bars (sort of) is that they are foil-wrapped to preserve their moisture and keep them fresh (which is a good thing) but it means that they can be difficult to unwrap with gloves on. In a race situation though, the ideal would be to have them unwrapped in your back pocket, in bite-sized chunks, so that you don’t need to worry about it. Problem solved!
More information on the bars can be found here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-bar
All TORQ Energy, including the natural flavour, comes in three different pack sizes – 500g costs £13.99, 1.5kg costs £27.99 and 3kg costs £47.99. The flavoured energy also comes in a box of 20 sachets, which costs £27.40. Don’t worry if you want to try before you buy too, there is also a sample box of five flavours which costs £17.40.
Gels without the added guarana (i.e. all flavours except Forest Fruits and Banoffee) retail at £1.45 per gel, with the guarana gels retailing at £1.75 per gel. However, if you buy a box of 20, then they cost £1.37 and £1.66 each instead, so a box would cost £27.40 for those without guarana and £33.20 for those with guarana. Not cheap, but bearing in mind all TORQ products are made with Fair Trade ingredients, they are punching above their weight, given that they are very competitive with other brands. If you want to try before you buy a box, you can also purchase a sample pack of 12 gels for £18 and you can also buy a box of mixed flavours. At the moment, TORQ are also doing a deal whereby you can buy two boxes of gels without guarana for £52, so you can swap flavours!
With the exception of the Organic Mango which retails at £1.65 each and £37.40 for a box of 24, the other bars retail at £1.45 each and £32.88 for a box of 24. Again there is the option of multiple boxes and mix and match for those of you wanting to try before you invest in a box of 24 which you may not like.
Free postage and packaging
Now this may seem like a foregone conclusion nowadays, but some of TORQ’s competitors do charge postage and packaging, so I think this is a bonus!
So, what do I give the products as marks out of 100?
Taste – 92% (it would have been higher but I wasn’t convinced with the Orange flavour)
Price – 90% (competitively priced, with different quantities to suit different budgets)
Value for money – 95% (the larger quantities work out to be really cost-effective, if you can afford it)
Overall – 92 out of 100 – it gets our Star Buy Award!
- TORQ Gels
Taste – 95% (all really tasty and can’t really fault them)
Price – 85% (competitively priced, but may prove to be an expensive luxury for some)
Value for money – 90% (the science and thinking behind the energy gels increases their value in my opinion)
Overall – 90 out of 100 – another Star Buy Award!
Taste – 80% (tasty but some can seem similar to others, the texture is great though)
Price – 85% (again, competitive but could be seen as expensive for some)
Value for money – 85% (a lot of thought has gone into the products, which is what you are paying for)
Overall – 83 out of 100
Every time I think of this product I just want to burst into song! I am pretty sure that Michael Jackson, if he had still been alive, would not have appreciated my rendition! But seriously Beet It is perhaps the most impressive sports nutrition product I have tested EVER.
For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am going on about let me rewind and shed the moonwalker, white glove, crotch grabbing image of the 1980’s pop icon.
Beet IT Sport is a beetroot juice sports shot produced by James White Drinks Ltd in Suffolk. They have been making fruit juices at White’s Fruit farm for over 22 years, meaning they have masses of experience when it comes to knowing exactly what to do to make a high quality juice.
Since 1991 White’s has been based on a small farm in Ashbocking, just north of Ipswich. Originally a cider factory, Lawrence Mallinson bought the assets to James White and began to explore a love of freshly pressed apple juices. Originally one of the founders of New Convent Garden Soup, Lawrence has a knack for dreaming-up and creating new and exciting flavours. As a result, they now not only offer the best quality range of classic English apple juices, but also an extensive portfolio of very different brands. This includes a Soil Association-certified range of organic fruit and vegetable juices; their world-famous spiced tomato juice (Big Tom); the grandfather – or Great Uncle – of the brands (Great Uncle Cornelius juices); an exciting and fun range of freshly pressed juices (Manic Organics); a fabulous and rather extensive selection of (Thorncroft) cordials; and last, but by no means least,their brand of beetroot juice: Beet IT!
They have amassed a large number of awards and accolades, but their Royal Warrant is by far the most widely-known. In 2002 Big Tom was singled out and awarded the Royal Warrant by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
They believe that fresh and natural juices taste so good, which is why they don’t mess around with them! You won’t find anything un-natural in any of their products, and that’s a promise!
So why should you drink beetroot juice?
It has been shown that dietary supplementation with beetroot juice, containing approximately 5-8 mmol inorganic nitrate, increases plasma nitrite concentration, reduces blood pressure, and may positively influence the physiological responses to exercise. According to research at Exeter University the addition of Beetroot juice to your dietary supplementation can increase endurance performance by 14%, higher then the 10% that can be gained by using rhEPO2 and significantly higher than the Live High Train Low method.
Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrate. Some of the nitrate ends up in your saliva, when friendly bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, the nitrite is converted to nitric oxide, which does… well… a whole bunch of things related to blood flow, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, and so on. Exactly which mechanisms contribute to the performance boost they see in studies remains unclear (and in fact, there are likely multiple mechanisms). One caveat: mess with the friendly bacteria in your mouth by swishing mouthwash or chewing gum, and the nitrate never gets converted to nitrite.
So here’s how levels of nitrite in your blood change after either water or progressively bigger doses of beet juice:
Key points: More is better. Peak levels arrive about 2-3 hours after ingestion, and are approaching baseline again by 12 hours later.
So what results does this boost in nitrate produce? From a health perspective, an interesting one is that systolic blood pressure dropped by 5, 10 and 9 mmHg for the three doses (from smallest to biggest); the decrease in diastolic blood pressure was a bit smaller (no change, 3, and 4 mmHg).
They also did a cycle test to exhaustion:-
The dark bar is how long they lasted with a placebo drink (nitrate removed), and the light bar is how long they lasted with proper beet juice. In this case the middle dosage produced the best result, for reasons that aren’t entirely obvious. Given that beet juice is anecdotally reported to be associated with port-a-potty stops, there’s a pretty high incentive to use the lowest dose that produces good results — so the apparent saturation of benefits is worth bearing in mind here. It’s also worth noting that you tend to see much bigger changes in time-to-exhaustion tests that you would in races or time-trials; the authors estimate that the 12-14% boosts seen here would likely translate to 1-2% reduction in race time.
So what are these doses? The researchers used a product called Beet IT Sport. Using the concentrated form may help get the beet juice down without subsequent digestive woes. Beet-It is sold in 70 mL shots, each of which is roughly equivalent to 300 mL of regular- strength beet juice in terms of nitrate content. The three doses used in the study were 1 shot, 2 shots, or 4 shots — corresponding to 300 mL, 600 mL, or 1200 mL of regular juice (which would be pretty ridiculous!). In the past, the author has talked to athletes who’ve used 500 mL of regular juice a few hours before races; based on this study, he’d say that’s pretty close to the sweet spot. Many athletes now use the shots, which are easier to get down. In that case, he’d say this study suggests that there may be potential benefits to experimenting with up to two shots, since the individual responses in the study varied quite a bit.
The amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beet juice; in other words, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace. The best results came from the highest dose, which decreased oxygen consumption by about 3%. They did the tests 2.5 hours after ingesting the beet juice, since that seems to be the peak nitrite level. (summary of research from www.runnersworld.com written by Alex Hutchinson)
What does this mean for me and you?
Well to be honest when I read up all the research information I was still very skeptical about the benefits of swigging a shot of Beet It Sport before a ride, especially in view of some of the poor experiences I have had with the benefit claims made by other sports nutrition companies.
Let me me lay my cards on the table, I am no Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas or even a competitive cat 4 rider. I am, like so many of us out there, a rider who wants to enjoy his/her ride and push myself to my limit and a little bit more. I have been cycling for years and I have to confess that I would now be viewed as a MAMIL but I always abide by Rule No 81 ‘Don’t talk it up.’ Never bigging up my speed or ability but always working as hard as I can. BUT I want to be able to work harder for longer. I do train, but not enough, and look for whatever legal help there might be to help me improve.
So there I was just having set a challenge to ride 1400km between the end of May and the 6th October to raise funds for The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund. My schedule meant that I needed to cover at least 1100km in four weeks, while on a family holiday, in France. This would mean riding at least twice a day most of the time we were away. Quite a challenge for this MAMIL! I needed a little help and following some internet research up popped Beet IT Sport, so I thought I will give that a go.
I tried my first shot on a 78km ride out with friends on a section of the The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund Man Up ride (Preston to Scorton return). I was very surprised, I was able to ride smoothly and hold the pace of my friends, who I sometimes find hard to keep up with (shh don’t tell them I never let it show!). Now I had put a significant amount of training in so it could be that, but I was not totally convinced it was the only thing to change. I was sure Beet IT had made an impact, although I was not totally sure.
The second time I tried Beet IT was taking part in the Manchester to Liverpool Bike Events ride, although I had upped the anti and three of use where going to ride there and back on a mix of roads and sustran routes. My two companions where for giving up in Liverpool and getting the coach home. I on the other hand was tired, but buzzing to ride back, I was even prepared to ditch them and get on with it. Now for those that don’t know this ride is supposed to be a 64km (40 miles) ride by the end of the ride we had covered 138km (86 miles). My two companions were absolutely dead on their bikes coming back into Manchester, I was also very tired but was in way better shape then them!
Still not convinced I was due to take part in the Manchester to Blackpool ride in July, giving me another opportunity to test Beet It, once again it did not let me down. I was full of go all morning and ended up dropping the two guys I was riding with and having to frequently wait for them to catch up. I was also beginning to notice an reduced level of fatigue and muscle tiredness.
The final phase of my challenge began later in July with my 1100km French ride. I was now convinced about the benefits of using Beet It but was it really that good? In France I chose to test another aspect of the product that had not been mentioned. I wanted to find out if it provided a support for tired and weary legs. The last few rides I used it on I knew I was approaching the need for a break, my thighs were often burning before I got on the bike and I knew the guys I was riding with would be going hard. Beet It was amazing an hour after consuming the 70ml shot and 15 minutes into the ride my thighs had no burn at all and could ride the distance. However I must state this with a slight caveat, I did not not have the same level of perceived power output I had at the beginning of the four week block, but I was riding burn free.
While my testing was in no way to research standard, after years or riding, I do know how to listen to my body and have a good understanding of what does and does not work for me. Beet It works and works very well, so much so that I will be keeping a stock out it in the house for all my rides. I now just need to test out if two shots are really better then one.
So if you are looking to give yourself a boost in endurance then I would certainly recommend you go out and try Beet IT Sport for yourself, it really does make a difference. If I was Victor Kiam I would go out and buy the company!
I would give it 110% personally as the effect was so good, but being tight I suppose I’d realistically give it 90%. The product is amazing and it gets our star buy rating!
For between £22 and £28 you can get a box of 15 Beet It Shots if you shop around.
I can confirm the warning on the packaging that Beet It does turn your pee pink! And I still can not get that Michael Jackson song out of my head so go on
Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It, Beet It No One Wants To Be Defeated Showin’ How Funky Strong Is Your Fight It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Aug 1;115(3):325-36. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013. Epub 2013 May 2. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships.
Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Source
Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter, United Kingdom.
(based on research Effect of rhEPO administration on serum levels of sTfR and cycling performance. KÅRE I. BIRKELAND, JIM STRAY-GUNDERSEN, PETER HEMMERSBACH, JOSTEIN HALLE ́N, EGIL HAUG, and ROALD BAHR. Hormone Laboratory, Aker University Hospital and Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, NORWAY).