Thursday, January 23, 2014

Energy Bits Review

A week or two ago I got a little present in the mail. A little can of Energy Bits to try. I had responded to a twitter call out for anybody who would like to try Energy Bits. I raised my virtual hand and said, "me... me... me."

I love trying new things and sharing with you what I learn.
The packaging is super cute.
What are Energy Bits?
Honestly the best way to learn about Energy Bits is to read about them on their very own website but I'll give you the basic info here to get you started. They are Spirulina Tablets.

What is Spirulina?
For entertainment go ahead and google Spirulina. There is a wealth of information online (and also most likely mis-information too). Spirulina is sometimes called a superfood but there is so much crazy hype about it that it does set off my snake oil sensors. In the end, I am thinking it's probably a good addition to any diet if you can tolerate it.

This is actually not my first go around with Spirulina. I had purchased a bottle of Spirulina powder months ago but was not really able to stomach it.
My first try at Spirulina.

To be specific - spirulina is a cyanobacterium that can be consumed by humans and other animals.

It is an amazing plant - one of the few that include a complete protein. Usually it's considered a supplement and like many supplements some of the concerns are related to how it might be harvested and processed.

Even fans of Spirulina will concede that the toughest thing about it is that it's not terribly appetizing. As a powder it turns anything you put it in green and it has a distinct "green" flavor.

I had my kids sniff the energy bits - they agreed it's stinky. They didn't want to eat them :-) But in my experience when swallowed with a sip of water there is no smell or taste.

My personal experience
I got my sample just before a 19 mile run. I didn't try it on that run because I don't like to try new things on long runs. Instead, I tried it on my recovery run on Monday morning. The instructions are to take 30 tablets 10-15 minutes before the exercise.

Confession: I'm not actually good at taking pills. I try not to take medicine or supplements so I don't get a lot of practice.  So, I didn't get all 30 tablets down before the first run. I made it through 20. I stopped because my stomach was pretty full of water. I had about a glass and a half with one sip per tablet.  I went for my run. I was pretty burpy and a little queasy. I didn't run out of energy during the run but it wasn't a long run.

When I got back from this run I asked my contact at Energy Bits how their endurance athletes used bits on longer training and racing activities. I couldn't imagine carrying and swallowing 30 tablets every hour. He told me that for over an hour they do recommend another source of fuel. This might be because each tablet is only about 1 calorie so 30 tablets - 30 calories.  He did refer me to Pinterest to see other athletes who use bits - they say Powered by Bits  - but I don't use Pinterest so I didn't check that out.
that's 30 tablets. They are approximately the size of a round ibuprofen or aspirin. Not too big.

I tried it again for my tempo run a few days later. I did actually get all 30 tablets down this time by taking them 2 at a time. My stomach was again uncomfortably full of water when I started and I had spirulina flavored burps again. About 15 minutes into the run I was a little queasy. It didn't make me stop but I didn't love the feeling. I would normally take a gu during my tempo runs and I'd love to say that the bits fueled me completely during the run but quite honestly 4 miles into a 6 mile run I was out of gas. To avoid confusion I hadn't taken any Gu with me so I just rested a bit and came home slow.

One of the things I wondered was could I even be digesting these bits in enough time to help me fuel for the run. But I dropped it into a little bit of water and in just three minutes it began to break apart so I do think it digests fast enough to work quickly during exercise. I just think my body doesn't take to it very well.
This is after just 3 minutes sitting in water. My super non-scientific experiment on whether it might digest.

I tried it one last time with a smaller dosage. Again I got the burbs and an upset stomach. Sadly as much as I would like to say that these worked for me they didn't.  But that doesn't mean that they won't work for you. Sports nutrition is a distinctly personal thing. If you're curious about Energy Bits as I was you should give them a try. There are several folks who swear by these Energy Bits. Just because it didn't work for me just means it didn't work for me.

About the company
Normally, this wouldn't really be a part of a product review but with Spirulina if you read online about it some of the concerns are related to how it's produced. While I don't know these guys at Energy Bits personally I want to say that they are professional, responsive and generally seem like good people. I personally have no concerns about the quality of the product. 

Want some bits of your own?
ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he'd be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits - you can email him at jlevitt@energybits.com




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