Ketones, Anti Cramps, Super-Carb Solutions: Professional Cycling Performance Enhancers You Can Buy Now

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Remco Evenepoels red recovery bottle. Tadej Pogaars Il Lombardia’s saving shot. And carefully labeled bids are distributed from every team car in the professional racing fleet.

What the heck is all these drinks being binged on by the cycling elite?

Ketones, anti-cramps and super high carb blends, that’s what they are. And they are all available “over the counter,” in one format or another.

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Here’s an explanation of some of professional cycling’s not-so-secret drinks and where you can get them for yourself:

Evenepoels ketone recovery drink

Evenepoel drinks one of its ketone recovery drinks at the 2022 Vuelta a Espaa.

Eagle-eyed fans will have seen Evenepoel drinking a bottle of red juice immediately after a cycling race.

Usually, Evenepoel joins “The Red Stuff” before the media begins to stir and Soudal Quick-Step teammates arrive to congratulate or commiserate with their young leader.

Remco’s must-have recovery drink is more than just his favorite thirst-quenching breakfast juice.

It’s a ketone blend created by Quick-Step’s US-based nutritional partner KetoneAid.

“Ketones are important for providing energy but can also play an important role in recovery. They play a huge role in accelerating the recovery process,” said Vasilis Anastopoulos, Quick-Step’s outgoing head of performance. Velo.

“Our doctors are working to optimize the daily regimen of ketones and part of the new approach we have is to use them immediately after the race. That’s what you see Remco drinking.”

The use of ketones has become a frequent point of debate over the past decade.

The UCI recommends against their use due to a relative lack of knowledge about nutritional supplements, and groups have signed with the MPCC pledging not to use them. They are not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and KetoneAid makes sure to highlight that fact on the front of its flagship “Ke4” product.

What exactly are these divisive drinks?

Simply put, ketones are a substance that is naturally produced by the liver and can also be digested synthetically, usually through liquid. Ketones help conserve the body’s glycogen fuel stores, a big benefit for riders who want to save on sugar for when they really count.

Many teams are reluctant to ‘agree to use ketone supplements due to their current controversial status and some teams have been asked by Velo don’t want to confirm either way. Jumbo-Visma and Quick-Step are among the few that are open about their use.

The jury is out on the effectiveness of ketones, even after years of use in the WorldTour and through the sporting community.

Some say they don’t help or have only a minimal effect on performance, others question how safe it is to use them.

I think a lot of people think ketones are some magic drug and they make you go 20% faster. And I think that’s complete bullshit, said Grischa Niermann, director of Jumbo-Visma Velo in a previous interview.

“I am 100% convinced that it is not a magic supplement that will make you go a lot faster.”

In the meantime, brands like KetoneAid and DeltaG will continue to manufacture and produce hay with these extremely expensive and controversial supplements.

“I can understand people being skeptical about them. We don’t have as much information about ketone esters as we do about some of the other supplements or nutrients,” Anastopoulos said on a recent call. “On the other hand, there are a lot of tests being done all the time and from what our doctors say, they are absolutely safe. Our people think they work.”

Super high carbohydrate blend of the entire peloton

Jumbo-Visma – and the rest of the pro team – are using increasingly strong carb blends.

Carbohydrate drinks are nothing new, niche or “fringe.” Brands like Gatorade have been packing sugar into drinks since the turn of the century, and professional peloton has been using carb-rich rocket fuel ever since.

But the amount of carbohydrates contained in each bidon has increased many times.

“There has been a big change in energy intake over the past five or six years,” says Ineos Grenadiers nutritionist Aitor Viribay Morales. Velo. “New products mean more and more riders are hitting 120-140 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

“In the past, you might have had to take five or six gels to get to that level and there was more risk of digestive upset. A few years ago, the limit was considered 60 or 90 grams.”

Just 5 years ago, a bottle of racing might contain 20-30 grams of carbohydrates. New formulations mean they can now deliver anywhere up to three times that amount.

Brands supporting WorldTour such as Science in Sport [Ineos Grenadiers]Mauriten [Jumbo-Visma]and Never Second [EF Education-EasyPost] has developed a drink and gel mix that allows riders to take in more sugar than previously thought without the risk of sickness, bloating or an untimely bout of “The Dumoulins.”

“The ability to tolerate carbs is becoming one of the biggest factors in winning or losing,” said Anastopoulos, the fast-moving Astana employee.

“It is not possible for a racer to maintain the same power over the course of a long race, but a racer who is not optimally fueled will see their power drop much faster. Carbohydrates are essential to mitigate that drop and that’s why we need them so much for energy these days.”

But not all racers can handle 90 grams of sugar, which is more than double the amount of sugar in a can of “original” Coca-Cola in an 18oz bottle. Every rider has his or her own tolerance limit and must be careful not to exceed it or risk unfortunate consequences.

Team employees meticulously mix and label dozens of bids before the race begins to ensure each racer receives the right solution.

“There is a lot of focus on mental preparation during exercise so that they can absorb these carbs effectively,” says Anastopoulos. “Many people will attend a session with specific training and fueling procedures. They are becoming equal in importance.”

The world of elite endurance has become an escalating carb-consumption arms race. The world of nutrition is accelerating to keep the wheels rolling.

Pogaars anti-cramp medicine

Pro Cycling: Pogaar enjoys a drink at Il Lombardia
Pogaar performed an anti-cramp shot against Il Lombardia. (Photo: Getty)

The only thing that could stop Tadej Pogacar from scoring a hat-trick against Il Lombardia last weekend?


The Slovenian monument-breaker could be seen grabbing his thighs as they convulsed rebelliously last weekend during the final 12km of the “Race of the Falling Leaves”.

After around 240km of non-stop hilly racing, those race cars had endured enough pain and looked set to spoil Pogaar’s third victory at the Italian monument.

A small bottle from the squad car saved the day. Pogaar dropped his belongings in the invisible vessel and raced home for his third win.

It is an anti-cramp drink. Pogaar said after the race: It helped a little but I still had to go a little slower, otherwise it would have been difficult to get through the climbs. If I finish flat I won’t be worried but I still need to climb Bergamo.

Rapid advances in knowledge about nutrition, hydration and fueling during racing have not yet prevented the risk of cramps. Electrical pain from muscle fatigue or electrolyte imbalance can ruin almost any over-tired rider.

However, “cramp cure” drinks may limit the suffering to some extent.

Brands like Hot Shot and Cramp Fix promise to eliminate spam quickly by blocking or “short-circuiting” the hyperactive nerves that cause the condition.


Spicy, sour shots are not always delicious.

It’s a mix of very concentrated electrolytes and salts. It has a rather unpleasant taste and is not something that is used regularly but is sometimes available in case of ’emergencies’, a spokesperson for the United Arab Emirates said. Velo Pogaar’s elixir. It is only really effective for cramps and should not be used as a gel.”

Velo contacted several groups in the WorldTour and it seems the use of anti-cramp solutions is not very common.

Cramping is increasingly rare now because riders can monitor sugar, salt and effort levels better than ever. But like “Pogi” realized when you get cramps, you have to get rid of them fast.

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