This review is in some ways a retraction. I’d never given Hammer Nutrition much consideration, for several reasons:
- The issues that Rebekah Keat had (claimed that contaminated Hammer supplements had led to a positive drug test)
- On arrival in NZ it was promptly adopted by some training groups that I felt were too eager to look for a magic pill
- The thought of a multi hour bottle of Perpetuem powder was a bit nauseating
As part of my association with the Rotorua Half Ironman I’ve been taking Training sessions on the course and it seemed appropriate that I should have a working knowledge of the nutrition sponsors product – Hammer. They were kind enough to send me some samples which have eliminated my reservations.
I had been getting more curious about Hammer in recent years – the wealth of information on their website that agrees with much of the nutrition research I’ve read had me thinking that maybe I should be revising my (admittedly not all that well founded) opinions.
For this season I’d also been looking for a nutrition solution that would allow using a single bottle to carry all/most of the energy I need for a long event. While I can fuel adequately on Jelly Dinosaurs and Vegemite Scrolls those are not necessarily the optimum energy sources for a race – cheap and convenient (and fun – counting the proportion of dino colours helps an IM ride pass more quickly) but higher bulk than necessary and composed primarily of simple sugars.
So the collaboration with Rotorua Half and Hammer came at the right time.
I started cautiously with some Heed (a fairly standard energy/electrolyte powder) drink and Hammergels. I found Heed to have a fairly pleasant mild taste without being sugary. As with any powder based on complex carbs it takes a while to dissolve but Waikato roads generally provide enough shaking that it’s no problem after a short time riding.
The first couple of weeks were a cautious foray into the world of Hammer – dipping my toe in the water. Through this period the tubs of Perpetuem were sitting in my office – actually rather innocuously but feeling like a sword of Damocles poised above me. Eventually I was brave enough (I should mention that I’m not the worlds most adventurous foodie, much to my wifes disgust) to make up a 1-hour bottle of Perpetuem and try it.
I was slightly horrified to discover that I liked it.
From there I immersed myself in this ‘brave new world’ of Perpetuem use. Trying all the flavours and mixing multi-hour bottles (3-hours is the longest I’ve used to date). Happily this brave step coincided with starting to do some serious bike training and being able to fit all the nutrition for a solid ride into one bottle greatly simplifies preparation and reduces the amount of pocket loading.
I don’t have objective measurements for the effect of these products (as you can imagine – this pains me) so I’ll offer my perceptions:
- I haven’t felt hungry on 4+ hour rides despite only liquid nutrition
- I have had energy for starting intervals after 3hrs of riding
- I’ve been recovering better post-training thanks to better fuelling during
- I’ve had no digestive issues* with heavily concentrated drinks
It doesn’t have quite the satisfaction level of stopping 3 times in a ride to eat Gelato, though I haven’t had much luck with that strategy in NZ anyway (it works brilliantly in Italy) and occasionally some poorly mixed powder caused a bit of a cough. And my caffeine sensitivity means that using the Cafe Latte flavour for an evening race results in not sleeping till early morning – which is proof that the caffeine works rather than being a fault of the product.
The Hammer experiment coincided with putting a lot more effort into post training recovery eating, so I’m not going to lay full credit with Hammer for being able to get more quality sessions in, but I certainly feel it has helped.
The specific recovery product, Recoverite, sounds like it does good things, though I couldn’t really tell. I did find it to be awesome after 4 hours in the rain – the conundrum of ‘eat or shower?’ is easily solved by taking a bottle of Recoverite into the shower to start on the process of refuelling 8000KJ (before coming out and devouring anything that looks vaguely food like).
I don’t really use electrolyte only drinks for training purposes but I did find the Hammer Fizz (similar to NUUN) to be easy to drink. I do find the tablet electrolyte drinks useful for rehydrating just because the flavour makes it easier to drink than plain water.
In conclusion – I found Heed, Fizz, Hammergel and Recoverite to be good examples of their respective categories, easy to use, no nasty aftertaste, no energy slumps. And I found Perpetuem to be the most useful sports nutrition product I’ve ever tried.
The advice I always give regarding nutrition is to find what works for you. For myself I’ll be choosing to use Hammer Nutrition products this summer as it turns out they work really well for me.