I was going for a PR. The weather was unseasonably cool in Phoenix, even for January, but that didn’t bother me at all since I had been training in even colder weather back in Chicago for the previous three months and I knew that my body was well conditioned to run in 30-40 degree temperatures. Other runners who were local to Arizona and New Mexico talked about how hard it was to get their legs to turn over in weather like this, but I paid no attention – a few months earlier I had run a sub 2 hour half marathon for the first time ever, and in the 2007 Rock n Roll Arizona Half Marathon, the only thing I was focused on was bringing my time down even further. I wanted to shave off at least another 5 minutes.
Everything was going along perfectly during the race too. I cruised through the first nine miles so easily it felt like I had wheels on the bottoms of my feet, and just as I was starting to picture myself crossing the finish line at the end of the race and celebrating my new PR, I did quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in a race:
I ran past a water table and grabbed an energy gel packet from a race volunteer.
For some strange reason, I thought to myself that consuming a package of some unknown nasty processed gooey substance would somehow give me the extra boost that I needed to propel myself through the last three and a half miles even faster than I was already running. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I knew I had made a terrible mistake the moment that shit hit my tongue. I had to actually stop running for a minute and lean over because I thought I was going to throw up. Then I started running again but had to stop at every water table on the rest of the course to swish a cup of water around and try to wash away the unbearably sticky, nasty aftertaste that was left in my mouth. I still ended up finishing the race in under 2 hours, but there was no PR that day.
Now, I really made two mistakes here. The first one is obvious. I didn’t use any energy gels when I was training and taking anything like that for the first time during a race is a bad idea. OK, got it. Lesson learned. But I actually considered the second mistake to be a more important lesson: I don’t know why I thought I needed to take the energy gel in the first place. Because it was there and everyone else was taking them? So what? I hadn’t used any kind of energy drinks or gels during any of my training runs or the first three quarters of the race and was doing just fine, so if I would have just kept running, I have no doubt that I would have easily shattered my record without it.
So ever since that day I’ve always been skeptical of ANY kind of sports drink, gel, powder, bar, or other type of substance that claims to boost your electrolytes, improve your performance, turn you into a super running machine, or whatever else these things are supposed to be able to do. It’s not that I don’t think that athletes need to make sure to keep their electrolyte levels up in order to achieve optimal performance, it’s just that when I look at some of the ingredient lists on sport drink labels, I have a hard time seeing where the benefits really are.
Have you ever looked at the label on a bottle of Gatorade? The second ingredient listed after water is sucrose syrup (aka sugar) and the third ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (sugar again). In Powerade the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. In Vitamin Water it’s fructose (more sugar)…. and the list goes on. You might as well drink a can of soda during your workouts because the nutritional value is roughly the same. And yeah I know that there are some low calorie and sugar free versions of these too, but they taste even worse than the regular versions and are still loaded with a bunch of other weird ingredients that have little to no nutritional value.
So I almost never drink any kind of sports drinks when I run. And when I first exchanged emails with Sam Potter, the CEO of MESTRENGTH, he offered to send me some free samples, and I was a little bit skeptical about what I was actually going to be getting. I already knew that MESTRENGTH doesn’t contain any calories, carbohydrates, sugars, stimulants, artificial colors or artificial flavors because it says so right on their website….. but I wasn’t expecting it to taste as good as it did, I wasn’t expecting my stomach to feel perfectly fine after drinking it, but it did, and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to help me recover as easily as it did when I drank it after my workouts. I have to say that after trying MESTRENGTH a couple times, I think I’m actually sold on it.
MESTRENGTH is a powder that comes in packets that can be mixed into a bottle of water (I used 16oz bottles for mine but it can be mixed int 20oz bottles too). It adds a little bit of light fruit flavoring but is definitely not sweet or syrupy tasting – it’s actually quite pleasant and there are five different flavors to choose from (fruit punch, orange, grape, lemon lime, and kiwi strawberry). I’ve tried them all and didn’t have any complaints about any of them.
Taste aside though, what’s really the most important thing about MESTRENGTH (besides the lack of sugar, carbs, calories and caffiene that I already mentioned above) is the fact that it contains more electrolytes than almost any other sports drink on the market. It also has the added benefit of containing creatine, which is not an electrolyte, but rather an important amino acid that our bodies use as a fuel source during exercise.
And just to do one last bit of research, I took a look at the list of ingredients in MESTRENGTH and looked them all up to see if I could find any evidence of them being harmful or dangerous (like I said, I’m a skeptic when it comes to these things). Here’s what I found –
- Calcium Magnesium Lactate. This provides two of the electrolytes in MESTRENGTH (calcium and magnesium), and this study from the journal of biological chemistry concluded that the magnesium / calcium combination in this compound will actually help your body retain more calcium. (Admittedly this is an older study but it’s also never been refuted). Higher rate of calcium retention = stronger bones = better runner.
- Dipotassium Phosphate. This provides two more of the electrolytes in MESTRENGTH (Phosphorous and Potassium). Medically, this compound is used for flushing the liver, clearing it of harmful toxins and preventing microbial growth. With a healthy liver, the body is better able to fight infectious diseases by removing harmful blood pathogens. The sodium in DKP controls the body’s water levels and maintains the proper pH of the blood [source].
- Sodium Citrate (Common source of sodium).
- Sodium Chloride (Another common source of Sodium – aka table salt).
Some of the other ingredients in MESTRENGTH include citric acid (helpful in decreasing the levels of fatty acids in blood vessels, and thereby lowering blood pressure), vegetable and fruit juice (for color), and Stevia. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist but none of the ingredients that I listed above appear to be harmful and some of them even have added benefits that aren’t included in MESTRENGTH’s own promotional materials.
So to put it simply, this is a product that not only has no harmful ingredients and won’t make you gain any weight if you take it without working out, but it also tastes good and has more nutritional benefits than any of its competitors. If you’re reading this, regardless of what your favorite sports drink is (or even if you don’t have one at all), you should give MESTRENGTH a try for yourself. You can order it from mestrength.com and if you use the discount code “TL”, you’ll get 25% off!
Enjoy, and if you decide to try it and have any of your own feedback, feel free to leave a comment and let me know!
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