By Jared Eborn
Bounce into any bike shop and the nutrition shelf is a bit crowded.
Energy gels and drink mixes from a variety of companies present pretty much endless brand and flavor options. The old standards are likely there and you’ve likely developed a favorite – for better or worse.
But a relative newcomer in the energy gel market wants you to expand your tastes a bit.
Louis Garneau – the Canadian makers of some of the best helmets, shoes and cycling gear on the scene – launched a line of gels and drink mixes a couple of years ago that just might challenge your brand loyalty.
Dubbed LG1, the gels come in six flavors and break free from some of the negative stereotypes many of the more established gels struggle with – particularly the often gag-inducing texture and frequently uninspiring flavors.
The Louis Garneau product description touts the natural flavors and key nutritional benefits.
“LG Energy Gel is made with natural ingredients and an optimum blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes and antioxidants needed to meet the nutritional demands of athletes during racing and training,” Louis Garneau states. “In addition, the packaging is designed for a quick, no-struggle opening on the bike or during the run with a hole-punched tab for fingers to grip.”
Rather than simply take Louis Garneau at its word, we put the product to the test over a few weeks of training rides. The first positive impression, not surprisingly, was with the taste.
No standard-issue vanilla, chocolate or coffee flavors. Instead, the fruity tastes of Wildberry-Pomegranate, Strawberry-Dragonfruit, Concord Grape-Apple and Goji-Blueberry compliment the more familiar Citrus and Tropical Fruit offerings. The initial take is the LG1 gels are not too sweet and provide plenty of variety to give athletes options during long blocks of training.
Perhaps most important? The LG1 gels taste good.
More important? At least for this rider? They go down easy. Unlike some products I’ve used throughout the years, the LG1 gels have a smooth and easy-to-swallow consistency. Nothing sticking to the top of the mouth, no need for a huge draw from the water bottle to wash down a gel that is trying to come out of your mouth as well as down your esophagus.
Of course, the truly most important quality of any energy gel is its effectiveness at warding off impending bonks.
Each LG1 gel pack contains 100 calories of fuel with 25 grams of complex carbohydrates and a scant four grams of simple sugars which provide easily digestible and quickly delivered energy replenishment. With no artificial flavors, real fruit juice and a nice dose of vitamins C & E, LG1 offers two flavors with caffeine – Citrus packs in 50 milligrams while Tropical Fruit gives you 25 MG per serving.
During our test rides, the LG1 gels did the trick. No bonking, no energy drain and an easy shot of fuel that didn’t come with any amount of dread knowing I’d have to choke down a shot of thick, pasty gel.
LG1 Sports Drink delivered similar results while on the road. Coming in Orange, Lime and Punch flavors, the naturally sweetened drink mix provides 100 calories per serving along with 700 MG of electrolyte replenishing sodiums and 25 grams of carbohydrates to keep you energized, hydrated and ready to tackle the next hill.
Looking for something even more natural? LG1 also offers a lemonade drink mix which uses 35 percent natural maple sugars while delivering 112 calories, 500 MG of sodium and 28 grams of carbohydrates.
Not to be forgotten, the maple and chocolate recovery drink flavors pack in an important 12 grams of protein with each 275 calorie serving.
While not available in every bike shop, looking around to find and try out the LG1 gels and drink mixes may very well be worth the effort.