Run with An Idea is back for 2014 with a new set of topics aimed at sparking debate among the fitness community. This fortnight the subject is sports nutrition products. Are they a waste of money?
For me, the answer is no – they’re not a waste of money, provided you find the right ones to support your training objectives. Over the course of my fitness journey I’ve learned a lot about the importance of correct nutrition and how much it can help or hinder progress.
There are two areas in particular where I’ve found sports nutrition products to be particularly effective. The first has been in my quest to build muscle and shed fat. Most people know that in order to build muscle you need to feed your body with protein in the half hour after your workout. Ideally I’d do this with real food, but that’s not always practical. Protein shakes have become an important supplement for me as an easy and convenient way to make sure that I’m giving my body what it needs post workout.
My current favourite is Impact Whey from My Protein. At £12.79 for a 1kg bag I think it’s great value for money. Mixed with either water, milk or milk substitute it’s a quick and tasty way to get some protein on board. It comes in a range of flavours – my personal favourites are toffee and latte – but plain old vanilla is also very good.
I also now use protein shakes as recovery drinks after a long run. While they’re a bit more expensive I like the convenience of these ready to drink bottles of Maximuscle Promax Protein Milk. The people at GNC recently sent me some of these to try and I’m a fan. Some might argue that a chocolate milkshake would do the same job but for me there’s not enough protein and too much sugar in those for my training goals. At around £2.50 – £3 per bottle these aren’t something I’d use everyday but they’re a great option for when you just need something to grab – like after a long run when you just want to collapse!
The other area where I think sports nutrition is effective is in fuelling on long runs. Now that I’m training for my second marathon gels will become an important part of my fuelling strategy.
I’ve tried many of them over the years and my current favourites are Power Bar which come in a nice range of flavours and really give me an energy boost mid run. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about Torq gels and am planning on trying those out as my training progresses.
Could I get the same energy boost from a packet of jelly babies that cost half the price? Quite possibly. But I’m not a big fan of eating on the run so gels are a convenient option for me and I’m happy to spend the money on them.
The one thing I do have a bit of an issue with is the way that gels are sometimes marketed. The advice on most packs is to take one every half an hour or so during a run. For me, that’s far too much and would probably leave me feeling pretty sick. It’s a personal thing of course but I find one an hour to be adequate most of the time and can’t help but think that the ‘advice’ to take them more often might be partly a sales technique. Or am I being cynical?
Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands of other sports nutrition products on the market. It can be a bit of a minefield if you’re not sure which ones are right for you. But in my experience once you’ve found ones that support your training goals then they’re definitely good value for money and something that I see as an essential part of my nutrition and fuelling strategies.
But that’s just my view and the point of Run With An Idea is to spark some debate about the topic. So, over to you. Do you use sports nutrition products or do you think they’re a waste of money? Let me know in the comments…