The story of the Nrgy Unit Drink is the story of us - enthusiastic athletes who use carbohydrate-based sports drinks during workouts more than any other supplement.
We do not view a sports drink as a supplement but rather a necessity for survival. More than an expensive bike or any other miraculous supplement, we need energy that is available when we need it and the intake of which 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 problems. We tried drinks from so many manufacturers and there really weren't any that were working for us.
The first thing we disliked was their taste. 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 flavor enhancers, colorants, and artificial flavors) if we weren't doing ourselves more harm than good.
The first version of our sports drink - Ndure.
THE PROBLEMS OF ENDURANCE ATHLETES - BOTH OURS AND YOURS
Taste, of course, was not the main problem. We are somewhat used to suffering and we kind of started enjoying the pain. During long races and competitions, however, we got the feeling that we had an undigested lump in our stomach, and at the same time we were running out of strength in our legs.
We ended up eating homemade energy snacks, such as almonds and rice cakes, and we even carried around toasts wrapped in foil. Obviously, all of this caused additional discomfort and mental restlessness in competitive conditions. It was not uncommon to encounter what we least wanted to happen to us in the final stages of a long workout or a race - muscle cramps.
We first took a look at the existing ingredients. Most of the time they were of poor quality, and we started to wonder whether some of them found their way into our sports 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 a problem that didn't exist in the first place and didn't solve the problems that were actually there.
WHY A SPORTS DRINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BESIDES TRAINING?
The first problem we wanted to solve with Nrgy Unit Drink was maintaining energy levels or, to be exact, high carbohydrate (glucose) availability.
Carbohydrate (glycogen) stores are severely limited in the human body, but carbohydrates are key to endurance exercise. Regular intake of carbohydrates is crucial, and top-level athletes have been doing it for decades. If we have enough fuel in our blood, our motivation levels will be high and stress hormones will not cripple us with increased heart rate, pressure, and vascular contraction.
The second reason that speaks in favor of consuming carbohydrates during exercise 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 - muscle cramps occur because of insufficient glucose and disturbances in the signaling of the nerves, which leaves the muscle contracted - it is foolish to be adding minerals and increase the possibility of digestive problems.
Due to homeostatic processes that keep the electrolyte concentration stable inside the cell even during exertion, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, motocross riders, footballers, fighters, and all other high-intensity athletes must primarily strive to keep their glycogen stores topped up.
It is inevitable to end a hard race with low glycogen stores, but what we can do is slow down the rate of glycogen depletion. The best way to do that is by ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates (90 grams per hour) without causing discomfort to our gastrointestinal system.
The main focus of the conceptual design of the first version of Nrgy Unit Drink (Ndure - Prototype 1) was to find ingredients that support sufficient carbohydrate intake.
If we consume carbohydrates on a regular basis, fatigue will kick in later, the functioning of the neuromuscular system will be more efficient, and we will feel more motivated and focused.
INGREDIENTS THAT SIMPLY CANNOT ENTER THE BODY
We opted for a combination of fructose and the less sweet maltodextrin, the glycemic index of which reaches or even exceeds that of glucose.
Why these two ingredients?
The glucose transporter takes care of the intake of maltodextrin, and the fructose transporter takes care of the absorption of fructose - so 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, we didn't find this ratio efficient enough.
A professor from New Zealand, Dr. David S. Rowlands, discovered that the optimal ratio between glucose and fructose is close to 1:1. We went with a 1:0.8 ratio of maltodextrin and glucose, which allows the intake and utilization of 90 grams or more of carbohydrates per hour with minimal occurrence of digestive problems.
ELECTROLYTES IDENTICAL TO THOSE IN SWEAT - ANY EXCESS WILL SIMPLY STAY OUTSIDE OF THE CELL
Digestive problems are a common reason for withdrawals or poor performance, so we didn't take any risks with the other ingredients either.
The electrolytes are mimicking the composition of lost sweat - utilizing 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 human sweat.
The amount of magnesium in Nrgy Unit Drink matches the amount lost during exercise - a higher amount would destroy the tonicity and increase the possibility of digestive problems. *For the same reason, there was initially no citric acid in the drink, which is a relatively harmless additive (except for the teeth), because it creates a fresh taste but destroys the tonic action of electrolytes.
*Due to user feedback, we added citric acids flavors to our second generation sports drink, Nrgy Unit Drink.
The minerals are in ionically suitable forms and adapted to work in a neutral medium, so the pH of the isotonic drink is crucial if we want either a hypertonic or isotonic solution.
Sports 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.
THE PROTOTYPE IN PRACTICE
Initially we used the prototype ourselves.
We devoted a lot of time to find natural aromas that would provide a drinkable taste. The natural aromas we chose in the end (orange, watermelon, and pineapple) are mild and retain fresh flavors even in extremely hot conditions.
In the next phase, our sports drink was tested by many cyclists, and it was tested well beyond the usual framework - the athletes consumed 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 them are also holders of national titles, from cyclists to enduro motocross riders, did not experience any problems, which gave us additional motivation to proceed with the development of our own sports drink (Ndure --> Nrgy Unit Drink).
ENERGY UNITS - SIMPLIFYING THE CALORIES
Nrgy Unit Drink introduced another very important novelty - the Nrgy Unit ().
The Nrgy Unit is a unified energy unit represented in all fueling products released under the Nduranz brand. The composition of carbohydrates will be the same for all our fueling products, and we will be able to freely mix and match sports drinks, energy gels, and juice bars (a form of energy bar that is juicy enough to be consumed without stopping and pausing).
We need one Nrgy Unit for moderate workouts and two Nrgy Units for intense or long workouts.
The combination of isotonic drink, energy gel, or juice bar 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 might get most of his energy with a sports drink.
With two Nrgy Units, no matter how we choose to consume them, we achieve the goal that is crucial for optimal results - oxidation of 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
The main goal of the prototype is to get your feedback.
We are very interested in what you think about the flavors. We want to add quite a few new ones, 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 sports drink.
We will be very happy to receive any suggestions, praise, or criticism, and we will take all your feedback into account when launching the next version of the drink. The sports drink Nrgy Unit 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.