First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot Six Pack
Even if First Endurance Liquid Shot EFS was all but indigestible, we'd still like it. We'd have a yen for it because First Endurance does not sell their "gel" product in single-serving sizes. It's technically not a gel, but we'll get to that in a moment. Empty single-serving gel containers are a model of waste, doubly so when ignorant or self-important cyclists carelessly toss them to the ground after using.
Pack out what you pack in. That container was in a pocket or under a leg or sleeve when you started your race or ride. When you're done with it, put it back from whence it came. Do not litter. After seeing these things on the ground for 17 years, we've lost our sense of humor about them. They despoil nature, they make all cyclists look bad, they can be the cause of race permits being revoked. And littering is against the rules of organized racing. It doesn't matter if you're a hotshot Cat 1 bridging to a breakaway or a overweight Cat 4 desperately hanging on to the back of a group, you have no business throwing litter on the ground while riding. If you see others doing it, tell them it's wrong.
Littering might be permissible if you're riding the Tour, where there are people standing by the side of the road who will pick up that empty packet as a souvenir, and maybe this might happen at the Olympics or a World Championship as well, but the overwhelming odds are that you'll never be in any one of those three circumstances. And if you're not, you're just another bum throwing trash on the ground. It's not like the packets look like a Big Gulp cup or any other trash -- if it's the middle of nowhere and there's an empty gel packet on the ground, a cyclist put it there.
Since GU pioneered gels, it is appropriate that they're making an effort to minimize this litter by running a Stash Your Trash campaign. It isn't enough, and they, along with PowerBar and CarBoom should follow Hammer Gel and FE by offering their syrup in jugs.
But we digress. FE sells their Liquid Shot EFS both in gel flask six-packs or in a 32-ounce bulk container. We tested the six-pack rather than the bulk container because the large bottle wasn't available at the time. We already possessed four gel flasks, so we had little need for another six. And now that we have ten flasks, we'll go for the jug next time.
We like gel flasks; been using them for several years. We were tired of sticky fingers and found that gels went down better with a little bit of water mixed in -- typically one part water to three- to four-servings of a gel, so we first bought the single-serving packets and then moved on to the Hammer Gel jug for emptying into our flasks. Less waste, better control of the substance, happier camper. And our fingers rarely get sticky.
We mentioned earlier that Liquid Shot isn't a gel. There are no gelling agents in the liquid, thus not a "gel." But we couldn't find xanthan gum or guar gum, two popular gelling agents, on the ingredient list of any exercise nutrition-oriented "gel." That could be because the FDA deems them "manufacturing aids" and thus do not need to be listed. The gums are known to slow down absorption, gastric emptying, and lower the glycemic index. Which is why FE made a point of making their Liquid Shot without any gel.
We've been pretty happy with all the FE products we've tried out. Even though FE doesn't boast a wealth of flavors, their products taste between decent and good, and all go down smoothly for us. What makes the going down smoothly more impressive is that their foodstuffs are generally fairly calorie-dense and are packed with a variety of complex carbohydrates, electrolytes, and nutrients. The Liquid Shot is very much of a piece; 400 calories in a flask, sodium-rich, at 400mg per bottle, calcium-rich at 150mg per bottle, also big on magnesium (120mg), chloride (600mg), and their own amino acid blend (1000mg).
FE claims they designed the Liquid Shot to work either on its own or in conjunction with their other products. It has a similar nutrient breakdown as the EFS bar and drink. As with both of those products, they jammed the electrolytes into the food so you wouldn't have to take an extra electrolyte pill. It doesn't have caffeine because they figure you'll use their Pre-Race if you want that kind of boost.
FE also suggests trying the Liquid Shot as a drink mix. Their people suggested we try emptying one or two flasks worth into a water bottle and filling the rest with water. Can you imagine an 800-calorie bottle? We're having trouble with that, but we've certainly had 700-calorie milkshakes after a race. Sipping from a mix so potent during a long ride or race, doesn't exactly seem appealing, but maybe we'd feel different at RAAM or an Ironman.
We first tried the Liquid Shot in the place of carrying two bars on three- to four-hour rides. The taste was agreeable, soft and smooth. It is tasty without being strong, and goes down easy. While they only have the liquid in vanilla flavor at the moment, it is a light taste, less bite than PowerBar Gel, thinner than GU, possibly a bit sweeter than Hammer Gel. We did, however, have trouble squeezing out the last little bit of liquid both when it was below freezing and as high as the 60s Fahrenheit. The liquid was a bit too viscous in the cold in general. We asked the people at FE about this. They recommended cutting a bottle's worth with about one ounce of water. They say it makes a big difference. While we never tried this mix with Liquid Shot, we've generally had good results doing this.
Another thing we found is that the flask packaging makes it impossible to know how much you've had and how much is left. We found it better to slice off the entire labeling wrap when first opening the flask, rather than just cutting off the plastic at the top and then leaving the wrapping. Once we're on the road, the nutritional information isn't terribly helpful, but knowing how much we've had is.
We were also intrigued by their suggestion of diluting an entire flask into a water bottle. The day we chose was a cold one, 20° Fahrenheit, so we were going to use an insulated bottle. Since the bottle walls are opaque, we squeezed the liquid into a glass measuring cup, added the requisite water and checked how the liquid dissolves. It seems that the stuff dissolved without any shaking or stirring. It also maintained its milky-white color.
The Liquid Shot bottle was mighty tasty and didn't freeze. It has a milky taste to it, one that isn't nearly as sweet as the typical sports drinks, but it still felt like we were getting good calories as we sucked down the fluid. As a nutrition strategy, we're liking the idea of mixing 400-calories worth of Liquid Shot with water and filling a standard-sized bottle. Seems like a great way to get down calories in a fast race that's just long enough to necessitate eating. Going this route is a great way to eliminate gel packets for the skinsuit and clean fingers crowds, and get rid of flasks for those who don't like taking their hands off their bars.