Thursday, September 13, 2007

Accelerade: If you can't say something nice...

I guess the Accelerade people are trying to generate some internet buzz. They wrote me (and gosh knows how many other bloggers) saying basically "hey we've got a beverage, we'd like to to try it and maybe write about it." They said "we'll send you a one-month supply, 30 bottles. No charge." I thought, "I can drink a hell of a lot more than 30 bottles in a month" but that "no charge" line caught my attention and I said "sure."

So here's Accelerade's gimmick, it's got protein. Go to their website at:

http://www.accelerade.com/

and you can read all about how their drink is much better than a carb-only drink. How it's better for endurance, better for recovery, etc. You can read about how people who are faster than you or folks who run or ride farther love this stuff. And you may think, "Wow, that's some cool stuff."

So I got my case of the stuff, 30 bottles total in four different flavors: Fruit Punch, Mountain Berry, Peach Mango and Citrus Grapefruit. They even sent me an Accelerade t-shirt. Their marketing campaign was perfect. They just forgot one thing. One important thing.

Taste.

I try to practice the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" principle but these folks sort of forced my hand. They sent me the stuff, they wanted me to talk about it.

If I stick to the "if you can't say something nice..." principle, this is going to be a short review. Now in theory you could make a carb+protein drink by taking something like a trout and running it through a blender with some orange juice. This would probably taste better than Accelerade.

I think the protein is the problem, it gives the drink a very nasty under & after taste. At first I thought it was just one flavor, so I tried them all. I'm tempted to say the Citrus Grapefruit is best, but that's not right. The Citrus Grapefruit is the least repulsive, but it's still bad.

I thought maybe it was just me, so I drafted my sons into the experiment. Their comments aren't printable here. My buddy Dave was willing to give the beverage a try. Dave is diplomatic. He took it home to try it.

I asked him about it the next day. "Did you try it?"

"Yep."

"You want any more bottles?"

"Nope."

I tried getting really, really thirsty and coming home to very cold Accelerade right out of the fridge. If I tried very hard, I could slam down about half a bottle before the taste kicked in.

On the plus side, the protein plus carbs thing seems to work. But there are many, many things I prefer to Accelerade when it comes to getting that protein. For example chocolate milk is just great. But what if somebody is lactose intolerant and can't drink chocolate milk? Wouldn't Accelerade be just the ticket for them? Sadly, no. Unless their lactose intolerance also killed their taste buds there still is that taste problem. And the protein in Accelerade comes from milk and the label on the bottle warns:

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains milk.

Now maybe someone, somewhere likes this stuff. If that's you and you want to swing by Issaquah, I have 11 bottles of Accelerade for you. And please leave a comment telling me how wrong I am about Accelerade.

I was wrong in thinking that 30 bottles of Accelerade wouldn't last me a month. I gave the experiment 6 weeks, I tried giving it away to my kids and my friend Dave and I still have 11 bottles. For me, 30 bottles is a lifetime supply.

I did try to come up with a scenario where I'd voluntarily choose to drink Accelerade and I think I've come up with it. I imagine a super hot day. I've just ridden the Issaquah Alps 100K loop four times without taking a drink. I stagger home, open the fridge and see two bottles. One contains Accelerade and one contains goat urine. In that instance, I would slam down the Accelerade.

I'd save the goat urine to wash the taste of Accelerade out of my mouth.

-------------------

For another view of the various Accelerade flavors, see:

http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/accelerade/

(BTW, I have a feeling that if the Accelerade people read this review, they won't be sending me anymore free Accelerade. I'm OK with that.)

36 comments:

Perry said...

Yikes! Also:

But what if somebody is lactose intolerant and can't drink chocolate milk?

The obvious answer to that is Silk. Delicious! (But I still take cream in my coffee). Soy beans are wonderful things.

beth h said...

Brings to mind an episode from my big ride earlier this summer: one of the sponsors was a company that sells electrolyte tablets that you put in your water bottle. Flavorless, etc, all good. Interestingly, though they provided some kind of sponsorship for the event this sponsorshyip did not extend to providing samples for the riders to try during the event. However, you can buy a neat little "starter kit" for, oh, 50 BUCKS. Too rich for my blood.

Moral? Anyone who's giving the stuff away for free is in need of some good press and is obviously not getting much. If the hand that feeds you is feeding you dreck, it's at least understandable -- even if not totally okay -- to bite it.

UltraRob said...

You gave me a good laugh! I once ate instant oatmeal raw so a lot can be tolerated if you're hungry enough. It's a long story but I was out mountain climbing and planned to be back to camp my 6 PM. Instead I didn't get back until midnight. I had eaten my emergency food around 7 PM. The instant oatmeal seemed a better choice than dry rice-a-roni.

Tommy Williams said...

After I discovered this summer that I can no longer ride for hours with nothing but water, I bought some Accelerade powder (it's the orange flavor) and I mix it up before I head out and sometimes carry an extra serving of powder that I mix up on the ride.

I think it tastes fine. Maybe the pre-mixed drinks aren't as good but I don't mind the orange powder at all. And it does help me a lot. And it's a lot more palatable to me when it's warm than chocolate milk. But I love chocolate milk when it's cold....

I'm not asking you to give what's left to me but I did want to let you know that I do not find it offensive.

Gordon said...

I agree with you completely. I was foolishly drawn in by marketing claims of “Extends Endurance, Speeds Muscle Recovery, and Enhances Rehydration” I mean what cyclist would not want that? So I purchased the 60-serving Lemon-Lime flavor, because I really like lemon-lime flavor, or so I thought. I tried it several times, once on the rocks, and once when it was really hot and I was really thirsty and could not choke it down--the stuff tastes terrible. I am sure if you are tough enough to withstand the taste, that indeed it would “extend your endurance” because the bad taste would take your mind off of how bad you were suffering. I gave the rest to my triathelete friend because they do all kinds of weird things, but he did not like it either.

I am really having a hard time believing the marketing folks actually thought it would be a good idea to send this product to bloggers who would be brutally honest about their responses!

Mark said...

I tried this stuff a few years ago and hated it. They've changed the labeling, but clearly haven't done anything for the taste.

More Wilcox Farms chocolate milk for me, please. Not skim, not 1%, not 2%, but the full fat content to go with the carbs and protein! Helps maintain my ample figure too.

p. squiddy said...

Perhaps Kent's being bought by the National Dairy Council and Accelerade tastes great?

I have a physiology doctoral candidate friend who said the best thing for endurance events was milk. He said that the protein helps in the recovery better than electrolyte only drinks.

Cytomax isn't bad, but the flavor still has too much in common with the plastic bottle it's being drunk from.

John Climaldi said...

Kent, I love you honest review of Accelerade. I had a good laugh, and can agree with you that the pre- mixed stuff is nasty. I have mixed the lemony flavor with Absolut Citron and somehow it goes down well. Of course I am not advocating riding after such a mixture, but it makes a nice cocktail that way. Maybe they are marketing to the wrong people and should market the fit Michelob Ultra crowd. I also agree with the other post that the powder taste better. Almost as good as Hammer Perpetuem (yuck).

Galvin Chow said...

I guess we should feel relieved that you and Narayan didn't bring the 11 remaining bottles of Accelerade to the finish of the Mountain 100K!
Jokes aside, I had used Accelerade 4 years ago when I started riding, and I didn't think it was bad...except that I thought it was way too sweet. I had switched to Cytomax powder mix, which I found wasn't as sweet (maybe because I diluted it more than the directions called for), but still much sweeter than I cared for. After I used up the Cytomax mix, I switched to using Hammer Gel...mixed according to their directions, and found that works best for me.

Ainsley Wiles said...

ctvtwI tend to agree with Tommy on the powder though it mixes up rather thick, but doesn't taste too bad. My mom swears by the stuff(the powder) but hates the bottled stuff. I like to make my own, store brand orange drink with a pinch or two of lite salt, tastes good and keeps the cramps away.

John Calnan said...

I've been using Accelerade powder mix for a couple of years for my century riding. I haven't found the taste to be all that bad. Washing the bottles is a bit of a chore because of the "protein scum" that is left on the sides. I also have a distinct gastro-intestinal reaction to the protein, such that no one should draft me after about mile 70, as I am jet-propelled.

James Bigler said...

That was freaking funny. Thanks for the good laugh.

Wayne said...

Thanks, Kent, for a good morning laugh.

Anonymous said...

I've tried several of the "real" sports drink (non gatorade variety), and frankly I can't stomach any of them for more than 100K or so.

For longer rides, I always end up starting out with gatorade, then switching to water. I just get my calories by drinking a Welch's grape soda at control stops.

The one supplement that I *have* had good luck with is nuun. It's an electrolyte tablet you drop in your water bottle, and provides a very faint lemon-lime flavor. To be honest I don't know if it helps performance or not, but it does make plain water more palatable, and staying hydrated can't be a bad thing.

Herding Bats=>Her dingbats. said...

This got the laugh usually reserve for bikesnobnyc!

Jim G said...

Kent, you rock. Thanks for keepin' it real!

Jeff Loomis said...

This really made me laugh, especially coming from you when most of your blog entries are very level headed. Thanks!

Oh yeah, I agree accelerade is foul, and once I saw the film it leaves in water bottles I decided it wasn't fit for human consumption. I try to stick to the normal food plan on brevets.

Cellarrat said...

Coke and pbr go down so much ezer...


this stuff was one of my first experiences in aaahhhhhh i cant drink this and I have how many more miles to go?!?!?!?!

Bob H said...

I'm interested in the goat issue. What breed and diet do you go for? Can't seem to find a good mouthwash. Nice one Kent. Bob H

ken said...

two different thoughts...

I recently finished a very tough metric century and found myself at a REI. First thing I saw was this Accelerade, and I slammed it down. "Does it taste good?" asked the checkout lady. "Terrible," I replied, "but I was really thirsty."

Second, Accelerade may be disingenuous in their claims of being superior because their drinks have protein. In the one trial they did that I know of, they gave some athletes pure carbs of "x" calories; and others carbs plus protein of "x plus y" calories. In other words, the Accelerade drink had protein but also had the additional calories those proteins contained. So, naturally those athletes performed better. It is my understanding that they never had a test where both groups drank the same number of calories. But their powdered drinks are okay (to my taste) for shorter rides...I just don't think I go faster.

Tim K. said...

Lovely post, Kent. I'm guessing you are not going to see any more freebies from Accelerade, Motts, and (this may be the only bummer) parent company Cadbury.

If it's any consolation, my kids loved the part about the goat urine!

Thank heavens our xtracycle rides are civilized enough to not required sports drinks!

superfreak said...

foods that are advertized the most are consumed the most. so if Accelerade spends enuf on advertising (kents informercial notwithstanding), the drink will do well. taste is secondary to advertising. seriously. thx superfreak

yankeerunner said...

While the taste isn't going to win any taste-test contests I don't think it's quite as bad as you make it out to be. Maybe the pre-mixed stuff is different from the powdered stuff that I mix up, but I drink it everyday without vomitting. :-)

When taste is the issue I still prefer soda or coffee, but neither of those seem to do my training any good, and the hope is that Accelerade will. It's costly compared to tap water, but probably no more expensive than anything else that would get the same useable calories into me.

Put me down as 'undecided' whether it will remain in my future regimen.

Peg Winczewski said...

Hey Kent if you still have the remaining 11 bottles I will take it off of your hands. I like the taste. I can't quite state that I Love it but I wouldn't say that about any drink that does not contain alcohol. In fact I would be willing to give you the Sustained Energy powder that I have left over from last year for your Accelerade supply.

Kent Peterson said...

Hey Peg,

The Accelerade is yours. Let me know when you can swing on by and pick it up. No need to trade me anything.

tarheeltri said...

What do I have to do to get Accelerade to send me some freakin' stuff. Damn. Everyone I know has gotten free stuff from them, but me! Your post makes me feel better, though. Protein during an event is totally not necessary, it's just a marketing ploy to sell more bottles. While I'm at it, I will add that I used Accelerade once about a year ago, couldn't digest it, and took a big flourescent blue dump after the race.

Anonymous said...

Hammer HEED sponsors lots of long distance events in these parts and that stuff tastes like aspirin to me, I tried Accelerade powder and was not impressed. Those Starbucks DoubleShots seem to do the trick and good old fashioned Gatorade, too. Thanks for the laugh, Kent!

gpickle

The Adventurist said...

Hey man, ran across your blog from The Adventure Blog. Kraig mentioned the Outdoorzy Top 10, so thought I would check it out.

I have to say this is the funniest product review I have ever read! This is great. Any of us who blog know about the offers that come along from time to time--sometimes honesty is the best medicine.

By the way, no I don't want your damn Accelerade..

Accelerate with Accelerade said...

The thought of even ingesting milk during a run is even more disgusting then the lack of intelligence your bring to your blog…A) Milk is based on 3:4 ratio of carbs to protein which is not the ideal ratio you body can maximize during exercise to get a functional and efficacious benefit from. B) I would love to see you run Boston and drink milk during your run... that experience would give you a whole new meaning to the word disgusting!!!

Being a National-level road racer, I first tried Accelerade on a training ride. My initial impression - tastes pretty good! I currently use a competitor's hydration formula, and can honestly say; I like Accelerade better, and, without any empirical evidence think I can ride at a higher level over a greater period of time.

Here is what I have reviewed on Accelerade.
Recently, researchers at McMaster University released a study highlighting the benefits of milk post exercise over a regular sports drink. Using protein post exercise isn’t new – athletes have been doing this for years. What is news and, however, are the benefits of protein during exercise.
Carbohydrates and fats are the primary fuels metabolized during endurance exercise, that’s why most athletes consume carbohydrates in some liquid format. But protein can also contribute 5-10% of total energy demands and this contribution can increase under conditions of low carbohydrate stores.
The type of fuel that is used by the muscles for energy during endurance exercise is dependent on exercise intensity, duration, training status and diet. The use of protein by exercising muscle also increases as exercise intensity increases.
Research has shown that consuming a carbohydrate-protein sports drink during exercise can minimize muscle protein breakdown, may aid in supporting muscle protein synthesis, and improve protein net balance. Protein consumed during exercise may help start the rebuilding process of muscles damaged during exercise.
exercise.

So, it’s the right amount of protein that is key to extending endurance because it begins to recovery your muscles while you exercise so you can last longer and fade out less.

Taste is subjective.. I think we all can agree...To me it just makes sense.

Anonymous said...

That's a funny review, but really, it's all just a matter of taste. Some people will like the taste of Accelerade and some won't.

Personally, I like the taste of Gatorade better, but don't mind the taste of Accelerade, and the orange flavor actually tastes pretty good to me, and I have never had any problem tolerating it. I also get the feeling (which is admittedly hard for me to prove or quantify) that my recovery is faster with Accelerade.

My only problem is with the grapefruit flavor, which is too tart or grapefruity or something, and tickles the back of my throat and makes me cough, so I avoid it.

Anonymous said...

Has any one tried the accelerade gels?

Anonymous said...

Boy--you scared me here! I had the misfortune of reading your review of Accelerade after I had already ordered a 56-portion jug of the mix from Nashbar, but before I ever actually tried it.

Cautiously, I cut the plastic security wrap of around the screw-top. Judiciously, I popped out the foamy glued-on barrier under the lid. Gigerly I hunted for the scoop with a utensil, afraid to stir up much fruit punch dust that might contaminate my nasal passages even worse than the drink did your mouth.

Mixed up the prescribed dose with cold water from the fridge, poured it into a water bottle (bianchi), gave it a good shake, closed my eyes, and down the hatch....

Hey! This stuff actually tastes pretty good! Whew! No need to test Nashbar's vaunted return policy this time.

One other note: as a larege (6'4") vegetarian, I struggle to get enough protein in my diet. In addition to whatever in-ride or post-ride benefit this may give me, I think its a better option than pure-carb sports drinks for overall health and fitness for me. If you eat lots of burgers, this is probably not an issue for you.

I intend to head out this spring/summer on my 70+ mile training and group rides with a 24-oz (=two "servings") bottle of Accelerade, and a second bottle of just water. I've heard its a good idea to swish your mouth with water after drinking sports drinks to cut down on dental decay. Thankfully, it won't be to wash out the taste (for me). Peace!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I recently dropped some cash on 60 servings of orange... not a bad taste, but its too bad it leaves the drink with the consistency of brick mortar. About the Accel Gel- The reason I bought the powder in the first place was because I had noticed that Accel Gel helped me more when I played soccer than the PowerBar gel. I am disappointed in the amount of hype and lack of performance this drink has... I think I may go back to my cheap, high fructose Gatorade and creatine combo =D

Anonymous said...

The ready to drink stuff tastes great. If you try to mix it yourself - forget it, it stinks.

Jerrod said...

Best combo:
* 20 oz bottle
* crystal light lemonade
* crushed ice
* one scoop of lemonade accelerade

Shake and drink...VERY delicious. My wife LOVES it and she can't stand it with plain water...

Connor said...

Interesting article, I kind of personally like the drink.

http://www.accelerade.org has more info than there official site.. with less bias reviews