Before I begin my actual EnduroPacks review, it is important to state that I am always wary of supplements. Whenever I can avoid them, I do because, in my opinion, a person’s natural diet should provide enough nutrients without having to rely on a powder or pill. With that said, however, triathlons and training 15-20 hours a week is not natural. When you put your body under so much stress, it does need a bit more help to recover even if it is from “unnatural” sources.
I am skeptical of over the counter vitamin and recovery supplements—you know the ones with a picture of a shirtless male or a lean cyclist on the front. Many studies show that multivitamins do little but give you expensive urine. The body does not absorb many of the nutrients and thus have little effect on health and well being. Moreover, some studies actually show that cheaper vitamins can be laced with harmful chemicals and toxins. Even with higher quality products, it is a gamble as to whether the pill/powder is doing any good or is just a sugar pill that acts as a nice placebo because you are spending so much money.
I have experimented with various supplements and vitamins with some success but nothing that was worth the price. I also could not find one, all-encompassing source. Instead I had to use several sources to get all my needs met. I felt like a senior citizen with all the pills that I was popping.
When EnduroPacks sent Tri Swim coach a sample to preview, I was dubious to say the least. Included in each EnduroPacks is a month’s supply of a liquid multivitamin, electrolyte spray, post workout recovery patch, and a pre bed glutamine pill. To make this trial accurate, I treated as a self experiment and took every precaution that I could to control and isolate the variables. Over the course of the month that I was using the Enduro Pack my life pretty much remained the same. I trained the same total number of hours a week (15-20—although the ratio of zone 4 to zone 2 increased), ate the same diet consisting of vegetables, greens, fats, and lean protein, and kept the same work/sleep/train schedule. I tried to eliminate any potential confounding variable that would influence my recovery time and nutrient absorption.
Before beginning the regimen, I took my baseline heart rate variability (HRV) as well as tested my blood for vitamin levels. My HRV was consistently low at 75 (using the sweatbeat app) and my initial blood work showed that my omega 6 to omega 3 ratios were slightly out of balance, I was slightly deficient in my B vitamins, and was magnesium deficient. None of my levels were life threatening but they were low. Over the course of the 30 days I checked my HRV every morning and then got my blood work retested at the end of the experiment.
Since the pack consists of four different products I will review each one in order that I used it through the typical day:
Multivitamin: As I mentioned above, many multivitamins are either urine enhancers or sugar pills. If taking a multivitamin, it is import to look at what exactly is included in each dose, the added fillers, and the sources. EnduroPacks uses all organic sources, is gluten free, and is vegan. Unlike my many vitamins on the market, it does not have any sugar but uses Xyiltol, a natural sugar substitute that does not raise glucose levels, nor does it have any artificial fillers. As recommended I took 1 tbsp per morning before my workout.
For the first few days, I did not notice a difference in performance, energy, or health but towards the end of the first week I noticed an increase in my endurance and I fatigued less on my longer rides and runs. Interestingly, my mind remained clear and focused during my workouts without any “brain fog” that sometimes descends as your muscles fatigues. My energy throughout the day also seemed to normalize and I no longer felt that I needed an afternoon nap to get through my evening workout.
At the end of this trial, my blood work had improved significantly. My omega fatty acid ratio had flipped and now favored omega 3s; my vitamin b levels were at the top end of the normal range, and my vitamin D and magnesium had doubled. My body was obviously absorbing the nutrients quite well. I cannot rule out that this drastic change could have been due to some unexamined element, but even my doctor, who is a bit of a homeopathic nut case, admitted that it was most likely due to multivitamin since I did not change my diet at all.
My only complaint about the multivitamin was the taste. While better than many that I have used in the past and the berry flavor did help, the taste still had a subtle hints of medicine. Given the changes in my blood work, I would give the multivitamin an “A-“ overall.
The Electrolyte spray: Phoenix in the summer is hot (my friend calls it “The Devils Butt-Hole”) and the temperature of my summer runs and rides usually were in the high nineties and the low hundreds. As a heavy sweater, I need to take in a lot of water and a lot of electrolytes to avoid dehydration and cramping which I have struggled with in the past. However, I do not like and vehemently oppose sugary drinks like Powerade and Gatorade. I typically use NUUN but it is hard to bring it with me on rides because the tabs can cake in the heat. I have used salt pills too with great success but once again they are not that convenient to bring and then consume on a ride or run. I would much rather drink my minerals rather instead of having to fumble for a pill in my bento box or fuel belt.
The spray bottle worked great and I was able to bring it with me on rides, runs, or at work and easily squirt into my water bottles to my desired concentration. If it was hotter or if I was sweating more, I would simply add in more. The taste too was much better than any of the “-ades” without any sugar. It had subtle hints of lemon lime but nothing syrupy or too sweet. More importantly, I never cramped nor faded because of the heat.
Overall I would give the spray a solid A for its convenience, taste, and efficacy.
Recovery patch and pre-bed pill: I am grouping these together because of their use. After each workout and after I had stretched and showered, I would apply the discrete pink patch to my abdomen or arm and leave it there for the rest of the day. The adhesive was strong enough that it did not peel off in the middle of the day. The patch I think is the best part of the pack. I found that my recovery time was cut in half when on it. I was able to recover from my morning session and be relatively fresh for my afternoon workout. Then, in the morning, I would wake up without sore muscles. I will say though that this does not mean I never felt tired. I did feel tired quite a bit which is typical, but while my brain might have been sluggish, my muscles and body were not. Unfortunately, no supplement can refresh your mind; only sleep and managing stress can do that.
My HRV throughout the month went from 75 to a consistent 85 or above with only a few days where it fell below 80. Given my training load this surprised me. I can not say for certain that this improvement in recovery was directly due to the patch/pill combo and not a placebo, but I will take it regardless.
My sole complaint about the patch was that it made me look either like I was on birth control (one of my coworkers gave me a very weird look when she saw it on my arm) or I was taking steroids, which one of my students accused me of doing.
Given my improvement of HRV and perceived recovery I would grade the pill and patch as another solid “A.”
The price is also appealing. When added up, monthly, high quality supplement expenses can exceed $100. To get a month supply for $60 (for the 12 month subscription package) and not have to worry about getting and taking several pills throughout the day is a steal. The price is still a little high but worth it for those who put themselves in unnatural training and racing situations. I would NOT recommend this for recreational athletes who train only once or twice a week at a low intensity, but if you are an intense athlete, who is looking for an extra edge to help speed recovery and stay healthy throughout heavy training blocks, then it is definitely a good investment
I would like to remind you that I am a case study of n=1. For me, the EnduroPacks obviously worked whether actively or as a placebo; however, I will take any of the gains that I can get. As I begin training for my races next year I am definitely going to continue to use the pack.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly. chris at triswimcoach.com