Hammer Nutrition is aimed at serious endurance athletes. As a company they are super nerdy, rather than marketing driven. You won’t find their drinks in the cooler at a variety store. They make their products for cyclists, triathletes and runner who are driven to perform at their maximum. There website has a lot of good information about the science of fueling for endurance events.
They make two energy drink mixes. HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink) is designed for training and racing of two hours or less, while Perpeteum is aimed at longer events. How do they taste and do they do the job?
Hammer Nutrition HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink)
Hammer Nutrition HEED has a light flavor that leave me with the chalky after taste that high sugar drinks do. In the heat it’s thirst quenching so I tend to drink more, helping stave off dehydration. I find if you don’t like the drink then you don’t drink enough. The energy source in HEED is maltodextrin which I find to be the easiest on the stomach out of the different carb sources available. I don’t get the gut rot feeling that often accompanies the more popular commercial energy drinks. As you get some calories with every drink, the energy is very even without spikes that can come from high sugar energy drinks. In addition to the carbs, HEED has a full spectrum electrolyte mix that will help the body absorb fluid and help reduce the chances of muscle cramps. For really hot weather or if you sweat a lot you will still need extra electrolytes on longer rides. I add Hammer Nutrition Enduralyte powder to my bottles to customize the electrolyte load as I sweat a lot and it’s very salty so I’m losing a larger percentage of electrolytes. At around 100 calories per serving (suggested to be mixed with 500-750 ml of water), you won’t get enough energy in an hour by itself if you are going hard. For training rides of 3 hours or less, I will supplement a bottle of HEED per hour with a couple of gels. For shorter ride, HEED is enough on it’s own. The price is good for the quality at around $30 for a 32 serving container. HEED is available in lemon, melon, strawberry and orange flavors.
Hammer Nutrition Perpeteum Extreme Endurance Fuel
For those long races or century rides, Perpeteum may be the answer. It contains a mix of carbs, fats and protein in a ratio that studies have shown to extend endurance and reduce muscle breakdown. Like HEED they have a electrolytes added as well, but if you are a heavy sweater or it’s hot you may need more added to reduce muscle cramps. Additionally they have added supplementary ingredients that there is some evidence to show helps improve performance such as sodium phosphate, L-Carnosine and L-Carnitine.
I treat Perpeteum like food rather than a drink as it has a grainy consistency so I don’t find it thirst quenching like HEED. I mix multiple servings in a smaller bottle and use it to get a little bit every 15 minutes.
You can mix it three different ways depending on what works for you.
- Single bottle per hour which has around 260 calories. You would get a lot of your fluid from the single bottle as well.
- Multi-hour bottle. Mix as many servings in a single bottle as hours racing or training. For ultra endurance events this may mean more than one bottle. The mix will be little thick so you need 600-1000 ml of water per hour from another source.
- Paste. Mix it thick like a pancake batter. Put it in little tubes or flasks you can get from the camping store. Use the paste for calories and get your fluid from another source.
If you can figure out a system that works for you, Perpeteum works very well. The energy is released steadily and it’s easy on the stomach. Whether the additional ingredients increase performance, I can’t say but having a steady stream of easily digested calories certainly does. I like the fact that with this and electrolytes I don’t have to think about feeding during long events. At a certain point you have a hard time keeping things straight in your head and I don’t want to have to remember if I ate or drank enough. I don’t mind the flavor or batter like consistency but some people can’t choke it down. Try it out in training before you attempt using it during an important cycling event.
I can recommend Hammer Nutrition HEED to everyone but you’ll have to experiment to see if Perpeteum is the right fuel for your long distance cycling events.