Triathlon nutrition is a tricky wicket. Too much and you’re gaining weight, too little and you could hurt yourself, eat this, don’t eat that, take that supplement, don’t take that supplement. The latest major study even states that multivitamins do nothing to improve health (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/multivitamin-researchers-say-case-is-closed-supplements-dont-boost-health/). What’s a triathlete to do?
There’s so many factors that go into deciding what’s right for you. Are you wanting to lose weight? Are you wanting to add muscle to your frame? Are you racing sprint triathlons? Are you out training and exercising for 20 hours a week for fun? Are you trying to win your age group at the 70.3 distance?
Triathletes are a little different than your average person on the street, in many ways. But, for this review, more specifically the diet requirements are very particular. Some use triathlon as a ticket to eat whatever they want. Some use triathlon as a lifestyle to usher in health and a permanent way of a life. Hopefully your spouse and family is on board with that, but back to the review.
You may not necessarily be looking for added nutrition to support training and racing, but you will at least need more fluids and electrolytes at minimum to replace what you sweat out during your workouts. Putting recovery and eating aside, the body needs essential fluids and minerals to function and those get depleted faster in those training at higher volumes.
That’s why when EnduroPacks (http://www.enduropacks.com/) approached me for a review of their nutrition system, I immediately took them up on it. Their nutrition supplements contain no powders or actual food items, just some concentrated vitamins, patches and some pills. No real addition of calories, but the focus on hydration, electrolytes and minerals with an eye on pre-workout, during workout and post-workout.
Read on for my take on their unique system.
Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing
You will not find EnduroPacks (EP for short) in your local supplement store. They are online only right now and that’s where you will need to check them out. No fancy store packaging or displays.
When you do get your EP, it comes in a simple box and may even leave you thinking, “is that it?” It’s unassuming and refreshing to see products that are minimalist, organized and sufficient without coming across cheap. Their graphics are of good quality and uniform from one bottle or container to another. There’s no cheapness in the packaging and instruction postcard.
If you want to get in touch with EP, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a couple of other social media sites. They are responsive and eagerly looking to grab up a following for their products.
From a packaging standpoint, the containers and packaging for shipping is superior. The multivitamin bottle is a sturdy glass bottle and the spray bottle for the concentrated electrolyte spray is durable enough to toss in a duffle bag and not worry about smashing it.
From the standpoint of the chemical makeup of the products, EP claims;
“We’ve done the research. We’ve cracked the essential product mix. And we’re bringing you everything you need for your endurance training in the most effective, convenient formats.
Each pack includes a 30-day supply of liquid multivitamin, glutamine tablets, amino acid patches, and concentrated electrolyte spray. All of our products are GLUTEN-FREE, U.S.-MADE, contain NO GMO, only use ORGANIC ingredients, and are 100% vegetarian.”
What hardened triathlete isn’t looking for natural and non-GMO products? Consider your bases covered with EP.
EP also holds the "GMP" designation on their product labels. GMP (Good Manufacturing Procedure) is a designation recognized by the Natural Products Association (an independent regulator) that assures the consumer that industry accepted Quality Assurance and Quality Control standards have been met. The NPA inspects their manufacturers' facilities, documents and procedures, and determines that they are up to the best quality standards in the industry. Check out EP’s site more more information on their quality standards.
But, do remember that generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA or get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements. Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading, if FDA approval is important to you.
Fashion / Appearance
As mentioned before, EP products are uniform in packing and appearance, so there’s no confusing that you have the right products to maximize their system. Nothing’s worse than realizing the brand you are using has 30 different products and because they have different graphics that don’t match, you didn’t realize you should have been drinking X with Y to get the best results.
Now, when you break into the products to use, you have 4 items. Multivitamin solution, spray, patches and pills. The pills are pretty standard looking. The patches, if you haven’t had experience with them, are semi-flesh toned for most caucasian types and around one inch by one inch. If, like me, you are not used to patches, this will be a little new. Where it gets interesting is the spray and multivitamin. The spray is whitest and when added to a sports drink, it turns the drink a little cloudy, but nothing more. The multivitamin is reminiscent of old-school cod liver oil in appearance. It just conjures up old school images of parents making their kids suck down the oil to stay healthy and strong. Luckily with EP you add the multivitamin do your morning drink and don’t need to just drink it by itself.
EP is a little off the beaten path than the normal supplements. With sprays, suspension liquids and patches, they offer a unique nutrition and supplement alternative.
Once you start, you can’t stop. It’s a daily routine system regardless if you are working out that day or not, and regardless of intensity or volume. The only difference will be the amount of electrolyte spray you use depending on how much hydration you take in while working out.
In all honesty, I misinterpreted the instructions and though the multivitamin was only an hour or so before workouts, where it’s meant to be taken every day. That and the recovery complex pills you can just stash in your kitchen and incorporate with your daily routine.
The spray and patches need to go with your for workouts. You need to remember to break out the spray and spirits it in your drink and then remember to slap a patch on after a workout after you clean up.
The spray bottle is small and portable, and the taste effect was actually favorable. It enhanced most flavors of sports drinks and wasn’t bitter or gross tasting. Bonus.
The patches come on a sheet and you just peel one off and stick it on your back, stomach or forearm and forget about it. That’s great except when you go to bed and your spouse might make fun of you for being on the patch when getting changed for bed. But, for someone grabbing a lunch workout, it’s great to slap on under your polo and go back to the office, recovering without having to worry about mixing a powder, choking it down and having to clean the bottle later. Just go back to work and hydrate.
The multivitamin does change the flavor of your drink a little, but it really wasn’t anything to make you turn away from your drink. It clumped a little, but after a few sips, you’re chugging your drink like you would any other morning since I know all of you throw down the proper amount of water per day anyway, right?
EP was very functional as far as applying the usage. After getting in the groove for our month supply, it was like second nature.
As far as the performance side, it’s more about personal perception than cold hard facts. I used the EP system for around a month. Our competitive events were done for the year, but I was still in maintenance mode with some decent volume and intensity. Lets just say I was not just sitting on the couch eating turkey and Christmas cookies.
I felt good before, during and after workouts. The only real addition besides EP for workouts and recovery was protein powder in our morning oatmeal and G2 sports drink. Our workouts were completed at desired intensity and duration without issues using EP. I wouldn’t necessarily say I felt any super-energy effects, but I had ample energy and strength during workouts and felt the burn during and after.
There were no lingering aches or pains from one workout to another and it was business as usual going from AM workout, get kids and self ready for the day, work, maybe a lunch workout, get the kids, dinner, family time and maybe a late night workout. The routine was in full effect without skipping a beat from our usual nutritional supplement setup.
It’s tough to compare EP to any other system on the market. It’s really a different animal all on its own with the unique multivitamin suspension, electrolyte spray and amino acid patch. You could probably find each individual item somewhere, but you will probably pay more buying it piecemeal than as a system.
EP sells their system in monthly increments and the longer term you sign up for, the less costly the system is. Ranging from 1 month at $75 with free shipping to $59 a month for 12 months with free shipping, it can easily be cheaper than buying mixes for pre-workout, during workout and post-workout products, hydration, supplements and powders. It just all depends on what you want from your supplements and if you’re willing to go with a more minimalist system like EP or you feel the need for the other tried and true products you have used in the past.
In general, EP approaches the ballpark with other products in the cost category. There’s a lot of factors that could affect how EP prices compared to what a triathlete is accustomed to paying.
EnduroPacks offers a unique solution to triathletes for supplementation and hydration. Their monthly system is based on 4 products, 2 of which are taken on a daily routine basis and 2 that are workout specific. You simply add their concentrated solution to your current beverage of choice and go about your business. There’s no mixing, no cleaning and a lot less hassle than your traditional powders, drinks and workout specific meals.
From what I can surmise, there’s no real drop-off in performance from using the EP system, but I couldn’t definitively say I experienced a significant improvement with the products. There were advantages for convenience of use and transport that may be an advantage over more traditional products offering the same benefits. Cost also may be a factor depending on the intricacies of your honed dietary and supplement regimen developed over years of training and racing. If you can cut back from 6 or 7 products to EP’s 4 staples and have the same results, you might just save a pretty penny over a year.
EP even offers a 30 day risk-free guarantee. Try it for a month and if you’re not feeling it, cancel and return the leftover and they will refund your order. There’s not much to lose in checking them out.
Writer’s Note - EnduroPacks sent us a month supply for this review for no charge and in no way influenced this review.
Writer’s Note - Marc Pro sent us a unit and a return shipping label for this review with no charge and in no way influenced this review.
Ryan Falkenrath is devoted family man balancing faith, family, Triathlon Coaching and racing. He is a certified USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach (www.SetThePaceTriathlon.com) and has formally raced endurance events since 2001 from 5k’s to Ironman distance races.
Ryan is racing Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 to raise funds for Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts. You can follow his adventure on Facebook at Tri for a Hand Up, give to his Fundrazr campaign (), read more of his writing at Endurance Sports Examiner follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan or email him at Ryan.Falkenrath@SetThePaceMedia.com.