At Trismarter we like to review training and nutrition products to provide unbiased feedback for our clients. Unless specified, we do not endorse any of the products or partner with any of the manufacturers of products that we review.
Contamination & Safety: Mandatory certification does not exist for supplements which puts all athletes at risk for consuming a tainted product. Companies that voluntarily participate in Good Manufacturing Practices and / or use third party vendors to test and verify their practices are looked upon more highly than those that do not.
Science of the Product: What are the ingredients and are they applicable to endurance athletes?
Claims: Does a product claim to do more than it does or make unsubstantiated claims against other products?
Product Name: Ignite Naturals Reload Gel | http://www.ignitenaturals.com/endurance.php
Purpose (from website): Reload™ Energy Gels are made from real figs and fruits to give overworked muscles and tired cells the nutrition they need to produce a natural boost of energy. It’s a wholefood energy gel for a holistic approach to producing energy. And because Reload is made from real food, it has the naturally delicious taste of real food—no artificial preservatives, colorings or flavorings, excess sodium or cheap carbohydrate fillers.
Contamination & Safety: Their website states that Ignite Naturals is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) rated for manufacturing but does not specify which products have actually been tested nor how recent. GMP certification costs money and is voluntary so any company that participates in this program on a consistent basis does leverage their credibility.Science of the Product: The longer the duration of your workouts or training, the more important it is to maximize the amount of sugar your body can transport and absorb. The best way to do this is to utilize different forms of sugar in a product. It is a nice idea to provide an energy gel that is made of ‘real food’ but the body doesn’t recognize fig paste any different than other forms of fructose. It is more important to eat a diet low in processed sugars outside of your training racing, and during training and racing consume a variety of short and long chain glucose polymers and fructose to minimize gastrointestinal distress.
The amount of maltodextrin in a sports gel is quite small and is usually processed to such a degree that it should not irritate anyone with Celiac or a corn allergy, but it is good to provide a maltodextrin-free energy gel for those people who have to be extra careful with corn, wheat, or barley.
“Without the unnecessary chance of dehydration or an inevitable crash that can be caused by caffeine.”
This product uses their lack of caffeine as a marketing tool to separate their product from others, however, for as many research articles they reference that notes caffeine does not contribute to performance, there are just as many that state that it does. Methodologies in all of these research studies are different and overall the scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced diuresis during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance that would negatively affect performance. Caffeine can be an effective ergogenic aid for some people if used correctly, so it should be left up to the user to decide if it is a positive or negative. The amount of caffeine in other gels is not going to cause dehydration. Sweat loss during training will lead to dehydration before an energy gel.
“Reload Energy gel contains a 100% natural direct source of ATP energy for muscles.”
Most all energy gels contain fructose and all simple sugars are a direct energy source for muscles.
“Reload helps protect cells from oxidative stress, helps clear out wastes, and support heart and respiratory function.”
The goal of fueling during exercise is not to prevent oxidative stress to your body. Without oxidative stress, you have no physiological adaptation to your training. Recovering from oxidative stress is what matters.
“They’re prone to the symptoms of potassium depletion like muscle cramping, fatigue, stomach upset and irregular heartbeat. “
Potassium has not been linked to cramping in most endurance sports and even though it is a very important electrolyte, you do not sweat it out at the rate of sodium, chloride, or calcium and levels can be easily replenished through diet. If you have an irregular heartbeat you due to potassium deficiency you should have clearance from your doctor before participating in endurance exercise. Taking this gel will not make you less prone to potassium deficiency.
Bottom Line: I think the product will work for people who prefer a less textured or ‘thin’ gel since it slides right down your throat; no ‘swallowing’ involved. I wasn’t able to test out how these taste over several hours worth of training, so I can’t speak to how ‘sticky’ or ‘sweet’ they may feel during an ultra endurance event. The fig flavor definitely comes through in the raspberry pomegranate, which some people might enjoy compared to chocolate or vanilla. For comparison, if you like blueberry pomegranate GU Chomps, you may very well enjoy the blackberry blueberry Reload Gel.
Schwellnus, M.P., Drew, N., Collins, M. Increases running speed and previous crams rather than dehydration or serum sodium changes predict exercise-associated muscle cramping: a prospective cohort study in 210 Ironman triathletes.Br J Sports Med., 2011;45:650-656.
Goldstein et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010 Jan 27;7(1):5.
Astorino et al. Increases in cycling performance in response to caffeine ingestion are repeatable. Nutrition Research. 2012;32(2):78-84.