To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Review: LG1 Nutrition

Since inception Team Sixcycle-RK&O has been proud to partner with Louis Garneau. It's a relationship that began with custom cycling kit - we previously reviewed our array of LG cycling apparel and wrote about the LG Diamond Helmet.  This year our partnership expanded to include LG Course shoes and now nutritional products. After training and racing with an array of LG nutritional products - available under the LG1 brand - we are pleased to present our thoughts on this product line.

LG Nutrition Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Matt Richards

As a part of the team's continued relationship with Louis Garneau we recently received a massive delivery of LG1 Sports Drink and LG1 Energy Gel. Louis Garneau, known in the states primarily for it's retail cycling clothing, bills itself as "the complete cycling solution." They make retail cycling apparel available throughout the country, the best custom cycling apparel available, helmets, shoes, chamois cream, belt buckles and now nutrition. The team has been incredibly happy with custom apparel, helmets and shoes we've received from LG, so it didn't take long for us to ask for some nutrition to evaluate.

For the last few years I've used nutrition products from another major manufacturer almost exclusively. Beyond that, I've recommended these same products to my athletes many times over, mostly with good results. With such a track record I was both nervous and excited to try something new.

LG1 Sports Drink

Let's start with LG1 Sports Drink. Sold as a "Performance Drink with Concentrated Minerals" it's quite clear that LG's focus is primarily on hydration and cramping and not so much on energy delivery.

A single serving of LG1 Sports Drink provides:

  • 100 calories
  • 1200 mg of salts (For conversion to electrolytes)
  • 1000 mg of Citric Acid (Aids in the conversation of salts to electrolytes)
  • 200 mg of Vitamin C (Antioxidant)

As noted above, the mix is only delivering 100 calories. Not all that much when you're out for a three or four hour 3000 kJ ride or race. The thinking here falls in line with a current trend in drink formulas in which the fuel/energy source is separated from the hydration source. Drink mixes such as Osmo, Scratch Labs and now LG1 Sports Drink are removing the calories and focusing on hydration. The thinking (and science) is that if your drink mix contains an overwhelming amount of carbohydrate, it will slow "gastric emptying" - the process by which fluid is moved from the stomach to the intestines, and then into the blood plasma, where it can be used for various thermoregulatory processes. With the correct balance of different sugars and salts, this process can be optimized, ensuring that you're hydration is as effective as possible (and your fluids aren't trapped in your stomach making you uncomfortable).

While this approach may optimize your hydration, if you're accustomed to getting your calories from your bottles, you'll need to make an adjustment. You'll need gels, bars and other solid food to fuel your activity.

All told, I'd say there are two major takeaways from my last three weeks riding with the drink mix:
  1. I tested the "punch" flavor (also available in lime and orange), and I can tell you that it's light and refreshing. Unlike many other sports drinks, this is something you'll actually want to drink on a hot day when you've been pushing hard. Nothing's worse than having to slug down a thick, chalky drink just because you know you need the calories, and that is surely not the case here. LG1 Sports Drink tastes like water with a light fruit accent, which makes sense as it's made exclusively with 100% natural fruit flavors and colors. No artificial sweeteners or coloring agents are used. It's also gluten free.
  2. Unlike the drink mix I used previously, there simply aren't a lot of calories here. If this is all you have in your bottles, you're going to have to be diligent about eating regularly.

LG1 Energy Gel

Which brings me to the LG1 Energy Gel. Each gel brings:

  • 100 calories
  • 25 grams complex carbs
  • 4 grams simple carbs
  • 100% DV of vitamens C & E

With few calories coming from my bottles, I found myself reaching for my gels (and the occasional bar) far more regularly. As such, it's a damn good thing these gels are as good as they are. As with LG1 Sports Drink, the Energy Gels are made with no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, and it really shows. The gels taste like the fruit flavors from which they are made. Flavors include Citrus, Concord Grape Apple, Goji Blueberry, Strawberry Dragonfruit, Tropical Fruit and Wildberry Pomegranate, with Tropical Fruit having 25 mg of caffeine and Citrus having 50 mg. I've used all the flavors and enjoyed them all, with Concord Grape Apple being perhaps the best tasting gel I've ever had.

Their consistency is also a big plus, as they are generally much "thinner" then the gels I've had from other manufacturers (although the consistency does seem to vary slightly from flavor to flavor). I've not been a big gel guy, but I found that the light, refreshing consistency of the LG1 Energy Gel is far more enjoyable than the syrupy goo that comes out of most gel packets.

Speaking of the packet, also worth noting is the packaging. The "pull tab" top of the gel makes it easy to get from your jersey pocket, and a snap to get open quickly while riding, either with a second hand or your teeth.

While it's difficult to quantify how effective the gels are, empirically I can say that they worked quite well. They seem to provide energy quickly, although not jarringly so, and the affect is long lasting. As noted above, their great taste and consistency surely goes a long ways towards actually eating them, which is an important step.

Overall, I've been quite pleased with both the LG1 Sports Drink and the Energy Gel. The flavors are great, and when used together I "feel hydrated" and the balance of simple and complex sugar has done a surprisingly effective job at keeping me fueled, even despite the fact that I'm getting far fewer calories than I did previously. As a rider who was accustomed to getting far more calories from his bottles, I've gotten used to pulling the occasional gel and bar. Come to think, could LG be working on a bar...?

LG Nutrition Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Daniel Cleiman

Louis Garneau is Team Sixcycle RK&O’s sponsor for team kits. And in that area, they literally have us covered from head-to-toe. In late 2012, Louis Garneau launched their nutrition line, consisting of the LG1 Gels and the LG1 Sports Drink. I was initially somewhat skeptical about a clothing manufacturer venturing into the world of nutrition… But then again, who better to understand a cyclist’s needs than a company that has been in the business for over 30 years.

Team Sixcycle RK&O received a large shipment of the LG1 Gels and Sports Drinks from Louis Garneau with a simple request: try these, and let us know what you think. I’m a huge fan of pomegranate, so I immediately jumped on the 24 unit box of Wildberry – Pomegranate gels. For the next month, I decided to train and race on this product to test it out in the field.

When it comes to gels, I look for the following:

•         Does it satisfy my nutrition requirements and how quickly can my body absorb it? •         Is there caffeine to provide me with an immediate boost? •         How easily can I grab and open it during a race?

The first bullet point is a technical discussion which I’m not equipped to answer in vast detail. But at a quick glance, each of the gel packets delivers 100 calories with 25 grams of complex carbohydrates, 4 grams of simple sugars, and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). From a simplistic view, this translates to substantial caloric value for medium to long-term energy replacement while helping with hydration and still keeping me lean & mean. Moreover, unlike many other gels in the market, the LG1 also provides antioxidant vitamins (C & E) which allow my body to begin the process of recovering before I’m even done with my workout. This last piece might seem trivial, but given the famous 30 minute post-workout window of opportunity that an athlete has to replenish his / her storage of energy, I’m happy to be getting a head start!

Now, when I picked the Wildberry – Pomegranate box, I was focused solely on the flavor. I didn’t read the label. So it’s totally my fault for missing out on the fact that it doesn’t have any caffeine. In fact, out of the six flavors, only Citrus and Tropical Fruit have the added benefit equal to a shot of espresso. That said, my body absorbed these gels fast enough that I was able to reap the benefits of the nutrition within minutes, providing me the necessary “pick-me-up”. Yet, I’m curious to try the two flavors with the added milligrams of caffeine.

Next, and perhaps one of the most important factor that I take into consideration when selecting my nutrition, is the big question of whether or not I like the product. In other words:  will I make the effort to reach for the gel while suffering during a race? And the answer for the LG1 gel is a resounding “yes”. The flavor is excellent and very crucial to a gel, the flavor is MILD! The last thing that I need when racing is to be distracted by overwhelming flavors. Moreover, the gel is not viscous, which means that it flows nicely, doesn’t get stuck to my tongue, and doesn’t need to be chased immediately by a huge gulp from my bottle!

Finally, LG seems to have put quite a bit of thought into the packaging. The format is very cool: the hole in the tab makes it really easy for me to reach back and pull a gel from my jersey pocket. Plus, it’s simple to open with one swift bite + pull motion. And the combination of a smart spout and a less viscous gel means that you’re not leaving half of your valuable nutrition in the packet!

All in all, the new LG gel is one I highly recommend that others try. From a selfish perspective, I hope that LG will launch an espresso flavored gel sometime soon!

LG Nutrition Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Corey Morenz

True story - first time I ever took an LG gel I won my first race - the 2013 Orchard Beach Criterium. I'm not here to argue cause and effect, but being the superstitious cyclist that I am LGgels will certainly be part of my pre-race routine for the remainder of this season.

Most nutritional products aimed at cyclists are not particularly complex - they aim to delivery mostly simple carbohydrates to replenish glycogen while we are riding, racing and training. Throw in some electrolytes and you are good to go (I'd also make the case for protein, but I digress). What it really comes down to is how palatable the foods are. The better the food tastes and the easier it goes down the more often we'll eat it. Whether you're doing epic road races or just riding long and hard, forgetting to eat can absolutely ruin an otherwise quality training session. Or even worse - keep you off the podium when you otherwise would have had the legs to go the distance.

What makes LG gels different? They nailed the taste and consistency of their gel products. The taste is light and not too sweet or salty. You won't be grabbing for your bottle trying to wash the taste out of your mouth after. The flavor spectrum - wildberry pomegranate, concord grape apple, goji blueberry, etc - is also a welcome variation from your standard chocolate, vanilla, mocha and raspberry offerings from other companies. Honestly, I'm not too picky when it comes to flavor, but I do care about having the right consistency in a gel. Who hasn't experienced a thin, liquidy gel that drips all over your hands and bike when you try to eat it? If i want liquid nutrition I put it in my bottles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, certain gels take on the viscosity of used motor oil on winter training rides and are almost impossible to choke down. LG sits somewhere nicely in the middle. The gels are quick to squeeze out of the package, go down easy and don't drip all over you. This is a big win in my book.

What are you waiting for? Everyone has their tried and true products that work for them, their brand loyalty, or something else that has them buying case after case of the same product. Try some of the new lineup of nutritional products from LG, you just might surprise yourself. The podium awaits...

LG Nutrition Line Photo Gallery