In this blog, I consider the High5 caffeine energy range; that is the EnergySource Plus drink, EnergyGel Plus gels and EnergySource Xtreme high caffeine boost drink.
There are benefits of caffeine for endurance sports that have been well known for years; it is a stimulant, so keeps you more alert, improves reaction times and reduces fatigue; all significant benefits for endurance athletes.
Interestingly, new research (Link) has also shown that caffeine can increase carbohydrate absorption level; providing an additional benefit. High5 were ahead of the game on absorption with the 2:1 Maltodextrin-Fructose mix; this enables the body to absorb up to 90 grams of carbohydrate an hour, rather than 60 grams on Maltodextrin alone. Caffeine stands to produce an incredible further boost though, raising absorption in a number of test athletes to levels as high as 130 grams per hour! That is an incredible boost to your energy levels, and to how far and fast you can ride!
With these benefits in mind, let's take a look at the High5 caffeine products...
EnergySource Plus 2:1 Sports Drink
EnergySource has long been a favourite of mine; its natural flavours, gentle sweetness and light "texture", make it easy to drink hour after hour. It has a great effect on performance too; providing a noticeable boost to energy levels, and warding off cramps.
The EnergySource Plus version of the drink contains 28.2 milligrams of caffeine per 500ml mix; that's not a ultra high amount, but it is enough to make a difference. 28 milligrams is around the same as half a cup of fresh coffee, so if you're drinking a 500ml bottle of this every hour, then that is a gentle boost that your body can process hour after hour.
What does that mean in terms of performance? It is a subtle boost to alertness, it helps you to keep going a bit longer, and does seem to give you a bit more energy than the traditional EnergySource (although I can't scientifically test this). So, the stimulant and the fact that it could increase carbohydrate uptake, have a noticeable effect on performance.
The taste is good too; the Citrus version tastes almost identical to the normal EnergySource of this flavour, and that's a good thing! Too often caffeine drinks have that rather chemical tinge to the flavour, which I'm not a fan of; the natural flavouring and sugars in the EnergySource make it very pleasant though, and far easier to drink.
EnergyGel Plus / IsoGel Plus
Note: The High5 EnergyGels and IsoGels are identical in composition except the IsoGels have added water to make them easier to take on board without needing to drink at the same time. It comes down to personal preference. Here I refer to them just as EnergyGels.
The EnergyGel Plus gels follow a very similar theme to the EnergySource Plus; a lightly caffeinated alternative, with all the merits and benefits of their "non-Plus" counterpart.
I've talked about the EnergyGel in this post on the Wiggle Blog (Link); they are a great little energy shot that packs a surprising punch given their compact size. The EnergyGel Plus tastes and performs almost identically, but with the added boost of caffeine. Again this means more alertness, energy and endurance. As an indication that they work, these are one of the most popular options with High5's Ironman athletes; that's a good sign that they are ideal for endurance sports.
The EnergySource Xtreme takes things up a level, and is designed to be a one-time caffeine hit, rather than a primary energy drink. Packing a big 140 milligrams of caffeine per serving, this is more than a cup of coffee, and you'll know about it after you've drunk a bottle... the word buzzing comes to mind!
As expected, there is more of a caffeine taste, but it's still very pleasant to drink and far better than many other caffeine energy drinks I've used. The Citrus flavour is nice and light, and it isn't too sweet, much like the other EnergySource drinks. There are of course all the benefits of the cramp-preventing electrolytes and the 2:1 energy mix as well. This is a drink to get you pumped up, and back on course for some fast paced riding.
All the High5 Stimulant products have some key attributes therefore; they taste great, they're easy to drink, they're a big benefit in terms of performance and they far more natural and gentle on the stomach than many energy drinks. Great stuff from this UK based brand.