The Story of Ndure

The story of the Ndure isotonic drink is the story of us. The story of enthusiastic athletes who use carbohydrate based isotonic drinks during exercise more than any other supplement. We do not consider an isotonic drink as a supplement, but rather a necessary product for survival - more than an expensive bike or any other miraculous supplement we need energy that is available when we need it and that its ingestion does not cause discomfort even in the most difficult conditions.

Finding a perfect drink was a mission impossible and we always ended up with some sorts of problems. We tried drinks from so many manufacturers and there really weren't any that we found suitable. First and foremost, their taste was not to our liking. They were either too sweet (leaving an aftertaste of glucose in our mouths, especially in the summer months) or too aggressive to the stomach. As we read the declarations, we wondered (given all the flavour enhancers, colourants, and artificial flavors) if we don’t do ourselves more harm than good.


Taste, of course, was not the main problem - we are somewhat used to suffering and we kind of started to enjoy the pain. During long races and competitions, however, we got the feeling that we have an undigested lump in our stomach while at the same time running out of strength in our legs. So we ended up eating homemade energy snacks, such as almonds and rice cakes and we even wrapped toast in foil. Obviously, all of this caused additional discomfort and mental restlessness in the competitive conditions. However, it was not uncommon to encounter what we least wanted to happen to us in the final stages of training or a match - muscle cramps began to appear.

So we first took a look at the existing ingredients. Not only were most of the time ingredients of poor quality, but we got an opinion that some of them found their way to isotonic drinks as a result of factory surpluses. For instance, the minerals in them were characteristically different from those present in our sweat, so they were solving the problem that didn't exist in the first place and didn't solve the problems that were actually there!?!



The first problem we solved is maintaining energy levels, high carbohydrate (glucose) availability to be exact. Carbohydrate (glycogen) stores are severely limited in the human body, but carbohydrates are key to endurance exercise. Regularly adding carbs is so crucial and something top athletes have been doing for decades. In addition, if we have enough fuel in the blood - this means that our body has taken in an isotonic, gel or any carbohydrate containing product - our motivation levels will be high and stress hormones will not cripple us with additionally increased heart rate, pressure and vascular contraction.

A secondary reason that speaks in favor of consuming carbohydrates during exercise, however, concerns the occurrence of muscle cramps. It is not widespread knowledge among athletes that the concentration of most electrolytes (magnesium among others) automatically increases with severe exertion or fatigue within the cell. And if the addition of electrolytes has no effect on the occurrence of cramps - this is due to insufficient glucose and disturbances in the signaling of the nerves, which leaves the muscle contracted - it is brainless to be adding minerals that can increase the possibility of digestive problems.

Due to homeostatic processes that keep the electrolyte concentration stable inside the cell even during exertion, a cyclist, triathlete, swimmer, motocross rider, footballer or fighter must primarily strive to keep his glycogen stores topped up. It is inevitable to end a hard race with low glycogen stores, but what he can do is to slow down the rate of glycogen depletion. The best way to do so is to ingest large amounts of carbohydrates (i.e., 90g per hour) without discomfort. 

The conceptual design of the prototype therefore went first in the direction of finding ingredients that will be available from the perspective of carbohydrate intake itself, as well as subsequent utilisation and "burning" with up-taken oxygen. If we can consume carbohydrates on a regular basis, this of course means that fatigue will kick in later, the functioning of the neuromuscular system will be more efficient and we will feel more motivated and focused. What more could an athlete want?



We opted for a combination of the less sweet maltodextrin, whose glycemic index reaches or even exceeds that of glucose and fructose. Why these two ingredients? The glucose transporter takes care of the intake of the former, and the fructose transporter takes care of the absorption of fructose - so that the body can absorb almost twice as much energy during exercise as it would with a mixture of carbohydrates targeting just one transporter (e.g., glucose or maltodextrin only). Some isotonic drinks already contained a mixture of glucose and fructose, but it was usually in a 2:1 ratio. Given that the transporters have almost equal energy absorption capacity, this ratio seemed artificial to us, so we preferred to consider the ratio that our body takes into account when we consume food. A professor from New Zealand, Dr. David S. Rowlands, discovered that the optimal ratio between the glucose and fructose is close to 1:1. So we went with a ratio of maltodextrin: glucose of 1 : 0.8, which allows the intake and utilization of 90-120g CH/h with minimal occurrence of digestive problems. 


And because digestive problems are a common reason for withdrawals or a poor performance, we didn't take any risks with the other ingredients either. The electrolytes are mimicking the composition of lost sweat - utilising the knowledge that only what is lacking can enter the cell, we have adjusted all electrolytes from potassium to sodium to the concentration found in sweat. Thus, there is no more magnesium in the Ndure than we lose during exercise - a higher amount would, on one hand, destroy the tonicity while, on the other hand, it would increase the possibility of digestive problems. For the same reason, there is no citric acid in the drink, which is a relatively harmless additive (except for teeth) - it creates a fresh taste but destroys the tonic action of electrolytes. The minerals are in ionically suitable forms and adapted to work in a neutral medium, so the pH of the isotonic is crucial if we want either a hypertonic or isotonic solution. Isotonic drinks on the market are rarely isotonic. Almost without exception, they contain citric acid, and the electrolytes in them are in completely wrong proportions - even the amount of added liquid recommended by the manufacturers is more adapted to the optimal taste than the isotonicity of the drink.



This is how we created a prototype that we were initially using only on our own. In the next phase, a lot of time had to be devoted to finding natural aromas that would develop a drinkable taste regardless of the amount of dissolved dry matter. Currently selected aromas of orange, watermelon and pineapple are mild and retain fresh flavors even in extremely hot conditions. The isotonic in its preliminary phase was tested by many cyclists, where it was also tested well beyond the usual framework - by drinking well over 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour from an exclusively liquid source for at least four hours in a row. Most of the testers, some of whom are also holders of national titles, from cyclists to enduro motocross riders, did not experience any problems, which gave us additional impetus to use the ratio in the development of a recovery drink. These are equally necessary for an endurance athlete, but they are also incorrectly designed. Namely, they are based on old doctrines that do not take into account new training methods (e.g. short interval training) or ingested substances during the training itself. 


The Ndure isotonic, however, introduced something new - the energy unit. The energy unit will be adapted to all energy hydration products that come under the Nduranz brand. The composition of carbohydrates will be the same for all products in the line and therefore we will be able to combine an isotonic, gel or juice bar (a form of energy bar that is juicy enough to be consumed without stopping and pausing). We need one energy unit for moderate training and two for an intense or long-lasting training. This can be combined with either an isotonic or upcoming gels. The combination is a matter of taste, the profile of the race and personal preferences - a climber will likely prefer to consume a more compact gel in cold weather, whereas a cyclist in the Canary Islands will get most of his energy with an isotonic. With two energy units, however we choose to consume them, we achieve the goal that is crucial for achieving the optimal result - oxidation of 90g CHO/h.

We want to get your feedback with the prototype. We are mainly interested in flavors, as we want to add quite a few new flavors, but we are limited by the “naturalness” of the additives. Natural additives mean either poorer solubility or perishability, so we want to choose only those that do not destroy the functional design of the isotonic. We will be very happy to receive any suggestions, praise or criticism, and we will take all the findings into account when launching the final versions of the drink. Isotonic drink is primarily a product of our passion for sports and therefore its ultimate goal is just that - to maintain and improve your health and results, but is nonetheless a testament to our passion for sports.