The Secret Drink Mix Test

I read about Skratch Labs Secret Drink Mix in a magazine.  Everything about it made sense to me, and while it was expensive, it warranted an honest evaluation.  I needed to try this stuff.

Since 2005, when I began running and riding with any kind of regularity, my biggest enemy has been proper fueling.  I’ve rotated through many different products and have never really figured anything out.  What I know for certain is that there are few products I’m able to stick with for any length of time.  I get worn out on the taste, to the point where I don’t want to eat or drink.  Which begins a cycle of not eating and drinking enough, which leads to doing shitty and bonking.  I go through this for a season or so, then I migrate to some other product.  Rinse, repeat.
I bought the SDM single-serving assorted 20-pack.  This was a good way to try the different flavors without committing to a huge bag of pricey mix that I may not like.
I took SDM on a two hour technical single speed mountain bike ride, and was very confused…this kind of riding is pretty demanding fuel-wise, and halfway through I felt GOOD.  I could sip on SDM and supplement with gels, and there was no cloying flavor conflict at all.  I was working my butt off at times, but never had that feeling that the bottom was going to drop out and I would fall off a cliff into the bonky abyss.
I then took it on one of my 5am before-work rides; about 27 miles and just over an hour and a half of effort.  Fueling really early is challenging.  It’s tough to find what works for you when you’re rolling out of bed and getting right on the bike.  I drank SDM on that ride and felt pretty good, right up until I sabotaged myself by eating too much gel.  Stomach got kind of sloshy.  The thing is, SDM is so light tasting, you have to trust that it’s getting you what you need.  It works, and it doesn’t punch you in the face to make sure you know.
Then, another 5am ride; the same route as before.  Only this time, something different.  I fueled with Cytomax instead, which was something I started using last summer and seemed to do very well with.  After an hour, my stomach was in a knot and I felt like throwing up.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had NEVER had a problem with this stuff before; in fact, it had been very good to me.  But much like when your body switches over to healthy eating after a lifetime of ingesting crap, the engine room tends to protest when you try to go back.  Rolling into the driveway before 7am, I definitely wasn’t feeling that good, the way I did the time before with SDM.
It all seems so basic – textbook healthy eating.  Why should on-bike nutrition not work the same way, and why should we live our lives aspiring to some standard of clean eating when we jump on the bike and guzzle down highly processed sports nutrition.  I think Allen Lim has cracked the door on this huge contradiction. 
I have been a sponsored evangelist for nuun for several seasons, and I’m bowing out now.  By comparison, it is a nutritionally inferior product and I can no longer support it, knowing that SDM is the right path.

There’s no doubt – other products cost less, but like food in general, eating as cheap as possible is likely not your best play nutritionally.  Make the investment in clean fuel.  It’s one of the best upgrades you can make.

Updates:

May 20th – My first race with SDM; 2.5 hour singlespeed mountain bike race
October 20th – SDM and rice cakes for a 3 hour, 60-mile charity ride

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