Endurox R4 Recovery Drink
To train, you must recover. You need to refill as much as you dig. One of the proven recovery strategies is jamming calories immediately after exercise. Some people have trouble eating immediately post-ride. That's why there's a big market in recovery drinks. One of the many good things about liquid calories is they're usually easier to digest, fueling your body faster and more efficiently than eating.
Endurox R4, Accelerade's brother drink, is a recovery drink that's been around for several years. We used it in the past, were quite happy with it, but moved on all the same, intent on trying other solutions. Endurox relies on the same 4:1 ratio for its goodness. Once again, their promotional materials rely on four points as well. For Endurox, those are: "replenishes muscle glycogen levels 128% more than a carbohydrate drink," "reduces post-exercise muscle damage up to 36%," "extends endurance up to 55% in a subsequent workout," and "optimal carbohydrate profile with less sugar."
As with Accelerade, there's a page on the website with names of studies and the conclusions thereof. Once again, we believe but we're skeptical. Seems like it's universally believed that there's a glycogen window that opens up immediately post-exercise. Some say it's as short as 30 minutes, some as long as four hours, when your body is particularly receptive to maximizing caloric intake. The body processes food better because the metabolic engine is still running hot? It's aching for nutrients that have been depleted? Both? In that time, taking in many calories, particularly carbohydrates, is a great way to speed recovery from the workout just completed.
The drink formulation of Endurox is slightly different than Accelerade, but the biggest difference is caloric density. Recommended dosage is two scoops in 12 ounces of water, for 14 servings in the smaller tub. Two scoops are a serving and yield 270 calories, whereas Accelerade is 120 calories for the same volume. You could drink this on the bike, but you'd probably need a strong stomach or a low intensity, or both.
Of the 270 calories, Endurox comprises 1g (10 calories) of fat, 30mg cholesterol, 52g of carbohydrate (40g sugars dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, sucrose), 13g protein (whey protein concentrate), 470mcg of vitamin C, 100mg calcium, 240mg magnesium, 190mg sodium, and 100mg potassium. Differing from Accelerade, Endurox has 420mg of L-Glutamine and 400IU of vitamin E.
Glutamine is a big deal to recovery, according to the lit we found on the web. All the same it's easy to find in food, as eggs, dairy products, chicken, fish, and even wheat have it. It's used for recovery from serious injury as well as recovery from physical exertion.
For many years, we've always had at least one tub of recovery drink mix in the house. For some of the time, we relied on the stuff, always having a big, calorie-rich drink immediately after a hard ride or a long ride and especially after a long, hard ride. Usually, we mixed it before we left the house, so it was nice and cold when we got home. Sometimes, we tended toward mixes marketed toward body builders, as the tubs were huge and prices cheap relative to what was marketed to cyclists. We always went back to the endurance athlete-focused stuff. In recent years, we've tended toward making our own dairy-based drinks, often using yogurt as a base. Look at Joe Friel's Training Bible, poke around the web, and you'll find that chocolate milk is a popular, cheap recovery drink. We like the idea of eating food rather than "engineered nutrition," even if the latter has more things in it that are good for us. But there's always one tub around so the powder can be brought to a ride or race.
We typically put the powder in a small Nalgene bottle, fill it immediately post-exercise, and guzzle it down. It could just as easily go in a Ziploc bag, though we have concerns about the bag getting ripped open. Since many of the mixes, including Endurox, have dairy in them, we're concerned about the liquid form going bad from being in a hot car. Endurox usually tastes better a few minutes after mixing, as it often foams up when you shake it in a bottle, but a depleted body rarely has the patience to wait.
Endurox is in the middle of the caloric density scale vis a vis the drinks we've used. Lighter than First Endurance Ultragen, heavier than Enervit R2. In terms of how drinks go down post-ride, the longer and harder the ride, the more we find ourselves guzzling the more calorie-rich drinks. By that, we mean that if we go out and ride easy for an hour or two, we'd start drinking the Endurox, but didn't usually feel like finishing the serving. But if it was after a cyclocross race or after a three-hour plus ride, we were downing a serving of Endurox in one gulp.
The taste of the Endurox seems to matter little to whether or not we finish the serving. We've been using the Tangy Orange flavor, which seems to have a stronger taste than our memory of the Vanilla-flavored Endurox. The taste itself isn't that tangy, more of a thinned, unsweetened orange creamsicle flavor. The flavor either is easy to formulate or is an expected flavor of recovery drinks, as several companies have similarly orange-flavored drinks, including Enervit and First Endurance.
On a few longer, harder days, we experimented with adding a serving of Endurox to a cup of milk and blending with frozen fruit. Richer, far more satisfying, though we have no idea of how many calories or what the caloric breakdown was.
We believe in the glycogen window. We're for maximizing carbohydrates when it is open. We're of the mind that protein helps with recovery. The 4:1 ratio, we're not so sure of. That written, we'll keep a tub of Endurox around for the days we need to have a recovery drink on the road.