Natural Fuel That Packs A Punch

Looking for something to spice things up? Sick of brightly coloured chemicals staining your bottle and products containing not a single ingredient you recognise? Sound familiar?

That’s why I took a look at these guys: Active Root.

From the heart of Scotland, Active Root is a sports drink company selling natural sporting fuel to athletes and active types of all levels.

Instead of using Maltodextrin this and sweetener that, Active Root uses only natural, unbleached cane sugar as the vital carbohydrate energy source. It is quick to consume like an energy gel, without any of the nasty consequences of using them.

Studies show that 30-50% of endurance athletes endure ‘GI’ or gastrointestinal discomfort in training and racing. We have all been there – the emergency loo stops in transition or even worse – a quick fleet behind the bushes on our long run. But it’s hardly surprising if you think about the sheer impact of running or cycling or even swimming on your body. The jostling and repetitive motions put strain on your stomach and digestive tract, and this is a major factor in GI discomfort. It might be hard to control, but what we can do about it is change what goes into the stomach in the first place!

When we exercise we need a high carbohydrate intake to fuel performance. But this again has been linked to exacerbated GI. For ease and convention, many of us athletes will turn to the energy gel. This little plastic packet of chemicals will contain somewhere between 20-30g of carbohydrate and maybe some added caffeine or electrolytes too. We squeeze it into our mouths (grimacing if you are like me! Yuck!), have our fingers stuck together for a while and a delicious gooey packet to take home in our jerseys. This is where Active Root comes in handy. The natural sugar still has the energy and convenience of a gel, but it also has the added benefit of coming without any of the nasty consequences.

The science

So why ginger? Well ginger has long been used in China for sea sickness and nausea, but recent benefits for athletic performance have also been applied. Somebody at some point has probably suggested you take ginger flavoured something to help you feel less sick – but if it REALLY worked, why don’t all the major companies use it? Besides, ‘performance benefits’ sounds pretty similar to the claims of EVERY sports nutrition company! Time to be a bit skeptical.

Digging a little deeper, there are a fair few journals that PROVE ginger to reduce discomfort. Huw Stargling is a sports and nutrition scientist who studied a number of athletes running 5km races whilst analysing their GI. Using three variations of water, ginger based isotonic beverage and a carrot based isotonic beverage, he compared their GI before, during and after exercise. Stargling was able to show that ginger based beverages would decrease discomfort both before and during exercise. There are more articles coming out too, even linking ginger to reduced fatigue. Sounds like a winner!!

Now you believe me that there is some science behind it, here’s for the taste test!

Taste test

It has a bite – but for some one that would prefer Marmite to Nutella, and puts chilli sprinkles on pretty much everything, this is just my cup of tea! I like the fact that you don’t get that yucky artificial chemical taste in your mouth. I like not being covered in goo for the duration of my ride. It is a normal colour and doesn’t look like it’s been made in space – so that’s a bonus too! The recommend dose is drinking 250ml of Active Root for less than 30 minutes of exercise and 500ml for over 30 minutes. I really like the fact that I can not only make sure I am getting my energy in in terms of carbs, but I am also staying hydrated.

On average we sweat about 225ml during 40mins of sport so over a long ride – that’s litres! Even small amounts of dehydration can hugely implicate performance, so for me this is a great advantage of going for the energy drink strategy. With Active Root, the products contain electrolytes that create an osmotic gradient for faster fluid absorption (basically this means its good and you avoid dehydration or over hydration = bonus).

Where to buy

Sounding promising to you yet? Wondering about trying it out? The only little problem is that Active Root is mainly sold online. There are a handful of active stores in Scotland that sell the stock, else you are going to have to get it from the web. That said, a free delivery and a half price sports bottle with certain purchases, it can’t be too bad! You will also find some of the range on Amazon. Starting from £7.49 for an original flavour box of sachets (6x 35g) these guys are about in line with the larger gel companies like SIS or GU, so they are competitively positioned price-wise. They have a good website with lots of extra info and it feels really welcoming with lots of background about their history and product development. All nice stuff compared to the usual gel/drink/protein shake minefield on your screen.

So all in all I really like it!. In training, I can consume energy products in vast quantities. Yes, the gels are convenient, the chews handy, but I also wonder about how much my body actually appreciates all the chemicals I plough into it in the name of ‘training fuel’. When I tried Active Root, I could guarantee that there was no funny stuff going in. I didn’t have my usual stomach troubles either during or after my training, and above all, I actually loved the taste!

So a definite must-have for the training fuel cupboard. Check it out for yourself at https://www.activeroot.co.uk and maybe even grab a funky bottle to carry it in too?



Jemima Cooper

Written by Jemima Cooper

Jemima is an Age Group triathlete, Pilates instructor and psychology undergraduate student at the University of Bath. After 16 years of classical ballet training, Jemima took a completely new direction when she went off to university in 2017, where she began training and competing in triathlon. Jemima is a true lover of endurance sport and she is always in search of a new challenge. She has big dreams and aspirations to become a professional athlete and is ready to work hard to achieve this.