Over the last few months, Ultra168 has been bombarded with gear for review and one that we’re always keen to explore is nutrition. The first cab off the rank is 32gi a newcomer onto the ultra-racing scene. Here at Ultra168, we have long been proponents of Hammer nutrition, and we still are, but in a bid to drive further impartiality through the website we decided to step-down from the Hammer athletes initiative so that we could test and trial other brands to make comparisons in the Aussie market.
32gi was introduced to us, by Victorian old-timer, Dave Eadie who used it on his Badwater run last year. In for a penny, in for a pound we thought, and a few weeks later a batch of the goodies arrived at Ultra168 towers for testing.
When we embark on races and in our training too, nutrition can be very hit and miss as it’s often an after-thought for most newbies to the sport. I’m sure there are many North Face entrants, who with a week to go are only starting to think about what they’ll eat and drink during the race, when really it should have been tried and tested for months beforehand. As runners, we’re great at focusing on the running part and the physical fitness side of things, but perhaps forget that to actually keep our bodies going, the fuel we put in it is just as important, if not more so.
Sometimes we have races where we get it right and everything goes brilliantly to plan. More often than not though, we’ll experience bad stomachs, have sugar highs (and lows), and sometimes even vomit by not understanding just how many calories or types of food we need to consume when we run.
But in recent years, it’s fair to say that ultra runners have gotten a little smarter about what it is they’re putting in their mouths for the long haul races we participate in. When I first started out, my delicacy du jour tended to be sausage rolls. But then I decided to get a little more serious and give my belly a break and look at what was best for it.
Instead of going for the sugar hi’s and low’s, many of us now look at the longer sustained energy food sources, and it appears that the brands have cottoned onto this. 32gi sits firmly in this space as well. I was lucky enough to try a number of brands across the range and used them extensively in my build up to six-foot track, back in March and then during the actual race too. These included:
Three different types of endurance products in the form of a powdered drink to use during runs, endure tabs and the energy chews. Although limited to just four, I have to admit to being quite impressed with the range of flavours you can choose from and didn’t get bored while training for Six Foot Track. For runs of between 1-4 hours, this stuff is smack on. I can see that for anything longer like 4-10 hours training, those who tire of the sweet stuff might want a different taste in the mouth. But these are good – and here’s why.
Of the three products, I got most of out the tabs. They come in tubes of 10, each containing 50 calories per tab, but whats great about these is the ability to carry essentially 2 hours of food in a compact tube that’s very easy to move about with you. For 6ft track, I stuffed two tubes into a back pocket of my shorts and hey presto I had 1,000 calories to hand, with little to no weight impact.
These tabs would also be very good for longer races where you have around 1-2 hours between checkpoints as again, you barely have to carry anything and you know exactly how many calories you’re stuffing into your mouth. The only downside I found was that when you’re running pretty hard (as you do in 6ft), the tabs were a little hard to chew and get down your belly due to the fact that your were trying to catch your breath. I can see how they’d be excellent in a race such as Glasshouse 100kms for example where the pace is slightly slower and you only need 250-500 calories on you at any one time. For those that love the detail, here’s some more info:
- Suitable for Diabetics
- In Orange, Lime, Peach & Raspberry
- Vegan Suitable no animal derivative
The energy chews and powdered drink were again a good alternatives to the tabs. The chews ere very easy to swallow, not hard given that they are softer than the tabs. The only slight downside was that they contain fewer calories per pack and are slightly larger than the compact tube. But still nonetheless a pretty good alternative. The drink can be tailored to your taste buds depending upon how string you like it, and again tasted pretty good on the move and was used extensively on my hill sessions out at Kedumba pass early on a Saturday morning. For those interested in the data on the chews:
- 1 pack is equivalent to 2 small bananas or potatoes in calories.
- Equivalent energy of 3-4 gels sustainability.
- They don’t melt or go soft in the sun (90 Degree melting point)
- Available in Orange, Lime, Raspberry and Peach
- Suitable for diabetics
- Kosher/ Halaal Certified
I also had the opportunity to try out the Recover product in the form of a powdered drink which is blend of 100% vegetable protein isolate combined with carbohydrates. This stuff is designed with a 1:2 protein to carbohydrate ratio to ensure that you get the required amount of protein after a hard session and not an excessive amount of carbohydrates.
Now I have to admit, I was sent the vanilla flavour (only available at the time, although Chocolate and Strawberry are now available too) and I found it hard to get down. It’s not awful, but it does leave that powdery feel in the mouth after you’ve drunk it – I much prefer the Hammer Recoverite still. But to put all of this into context, I don’t think I’ve ever had a recovery drink in powder form that doesn’t exactly fill me with glee. Other than the taste, this product does what it says on the tin and helps you to get what you need into your body after a hard or big run. For those that like the details:
- Recover is available in Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla flavours
- Wheat, Gluten and Lactose Free, suitable for Vegans
- No Animal Derivatives
- Kosher / Halaal Certified
Overall, this is a welcome addition to the nutrition market and the flavours and tastes of the tabs and chews sit well with me, but I understand it’s also very much a personal preference when it comes down to what you like – personally I’m a big fan of Peach and Raspberry. I think if you’re looking for nutrition for anything up to 5 hours, these guys do a very good job. Over and above that, you might want to consider adding other flavours to your backpack, but if you’re into your fruity flavours, these would be a good start.