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accelerade canisters

I’ve always liked the idea behind Accelerade. It’s a sports drink, so it’s high in carbs for energy and packed with electrolytes we need, but it has something special – a little protein.

According to various research studies, consuming carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio promotes optimal muscle performance and recovery. (Read Optimal Muscle Performance and Recovery for more information on this concept.) So, Accelerade contains this proven 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

That’s great, but I really love that you can put about 360 calories into a single water bottle (via three scoops of Accelerade powder.) That is really awesome in situations where you can’t use energy bars, like during a mountain bike race on technical singletrack, when it’s extremely hard to hold an energy bar and eat it.

For years though, I always stuck it out with Gatorade and GU energy gels. Accelerade was just a bit too expensive for my liking… until now.

This summer I got a sweet deal on Accelerade – it was on sale for about 60% off at Nashbar.com, making it roughly 36 cents per serving. That’s even less than Gatorade! (It looks like Accelerade changed their labels and were severely discounting the old style bottles! Good news for me!)

So I grabbed canisters of Lemon-Lime and Blue Raspberry, and here is what I found…

Accelerade Taste Test

Arguably the most important factor in a sports drink is taste. If you don’t like it, you won’t drink it. And you need to drink it for it to be of any use!

So, let’s start with a taste test:

Lemon Lime

accelerade lemon lime

At first, I was none too pleased with the smell of this stuff. Actually, I’ve been using it for a while now and I still think it smells crappy. (So don’t take a whiff of this stuff.)

I mixed some up before a ride, and it didn’t seem to taste very good at first (before getting on my bike.) Once I started riding, my first sip wasn’t good, either. But after 30 minutes of riding, this lemon-lime drink started to taste pretty darn good!

As I rode longer, the flavor actually got better. The best part – it tasted just as good as it warmed up! (Considering most drinks taste terrible once they get warm, this was very pleasing.)*

On subsequent rides, I didn’t mind the taste at all, even the first sip. I definitely wouldn’t consider this a good tasting drink, but it’s not that bad. I have no problems drinking it while riding.

The lemon-lime flavor ended up a little stronger than Hammer Heed but much weaker than Gatorade, but more similar in taste and texture to Heed.

Blue Raspberry

accelerade blue raspberry

I always loved blue raspberry ‘slushies’ and ‘snow cones’ as a kid, and I was hoping for that great blue raspberry flavor in this… and I wasn’t disappointed! The blue raspberry Accelerade is very sweet and pretty close to the blue raspberry flavor I know and love.

It’s like a mix of the sweet blue raspberry flavor with a slightly tart taste (like Fiva has.) In any case, it’s good! Yes, it’s actually good enough that I drank it a few times while sitting around watching TV.

Overall, both flavors were palatable, but blue raspberry was way better than lemon-lime. I’ll certainly be looking for another canister of blue raspberry Accelerade when this canister runs out!

But with either one, you get the benefit of Accelerade remaining palatable after it warms up.

For example, Gatorade tastes great cold, but once it gets warm, it’s pretty bad. Accelerade tasted almost as good warm as it did cool. That right there is what will keep me buying this, because it’s just too hard to keep a drink cold when you’re out for three hour rides in 90 degree heat!

Accelerade In Action

Accelerade has passed the taste test, but let’s see how it actually works. First, we have to mix up the powder…

accelerade lemon lime powder

Accelerade is fairly easy to mix. My strategy was to dump three scoops into a water bottle, add about 4-6oz water, and shake. Then I’d add the rest of the water and ice. (While riding, sometimes I’d shake the bottle before sipping, just to be safe.)

A little more important though, does it keep me filled up with enough calories?

Yes! On my rides, I can eat much less if I drink Accelerade. The extra calories do a good job at keeping me full and providing the required nourishment.

Here’s how my first ride with Accelerade went down:

8:00 AM – Consumed a small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.
9:00 AM – Started riding, and kept riding for almost three hours. I consumed a 22oz bottle of Accelerade (1.5 scoops) and 16oz water, for about 180 calories. I also ate a 180 calorie granola bar at the end of the ride, although I could have easily finished without it.

I felt great! I didn’t even need the granola bar. Normally I’d get a little hungry if I only averaged 120 calories per hour on a long ride, but I think the protein in the Accelerade helped keep my feeling strong.

Did I feel better and recover faster from the protein?

I don’t have scientific evidence, but in general, yes. It could just be the extra calories, I can’t really tell for sure. But I don’t as feel wiped out after my rides when I use Accelerade. (While FRS will keep me from feeling worn out, Accelerade helps prevent my body from becoming so worn out.)

Health and Nutrition

Accelerade appears to be on par with most other sports drinks in this regard. The first ingredient is sucrose, otherwise known as table sugar. Normally I would limit my sucrose intake, but while riding, I don’t care, I just want the sugar. Fructose and maltodextrin (two other types of sugar) are also listed, although further down the ingredients list.

The second ingredient is whey protein concentrate, which is the source of protein. The rest of the ingredients are vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

Overall, it’s basically a typical sports drink mix but with some protein. It’s not super healthy or natural, but there’s nothing that worries me.

One thing I do like, and think is worth noting, is how it’s low in fat. Sometimes protein sources are also high in fat, but Accelerade keeps the focus on what we really need to ride fast: carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Complaints about Accelerade

accelerade residue

I mentioned Accelerade seems to mix fairly easily, at least when compared to similar drinks. But the problem is, it’s still pretty thick and chunky when it’s mixed well.

That means it leaves a nasty film inside my water bottle. It’s a royal pain to clean off, because you really have to wipe out the inside of the bottle. (I would never put this in a Camelbak!)

Even worse, it clumps and sticks up in the nozzle, requiring a toothpick to clean the gunk out before it turns to mold! Because of this I’d really recommend that you mix the stuff up in a separate container (like a big Rubbermaid container) and let it sit in the fridge for a day before using it during a ride.

Also, Accelerade does get a bit foamy when mixed (and when sloshing around on the bike.) That’s kind of annoying because drinking warm foam isn’t that refreshing.

My final verdict is…

I was a fan of the idea behind Accelerade, and now I’m a fan of using Accelerade. I have no problem drinking it while riding, and it keeps me full, so it’s great for mountain bike races where eating an energy bar is damn near impossible.

However, be warned that the taste is a tad weird. It doesn’t bother me much, but I’m willing to bet some people won’t like it. Best bet – see if you can try a serving of it from someone that already has some. Or at least opt for the blue raspberry flavor, which is pretty close to a blue raspberry slushie.

In the end I feel the positives outweigh the negatives though, and this will probably be my drink of choice for long mountain bike races where I’d rather not consume solid food.

Official website: www.accelerade.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com or www.REI.com

Product Review Details
Company: Accelerade
Product: Accelerade Sports Drink with Protein
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2008-08-26
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. accelerade is great. it helps quite a bit on long road rides. But i wouldn’t recomend completly relying on it to supply enough calories for a long ride. i didn’t plan very well for ride and got stuck with about 10 miles out of 50 left in the ride with nothing but a bottle of accelerade, a headwind and absolutly no energy left. it took about an hour and a half to finish the ride.
    And yes, the gunk left in the bottle really sucks to clean out.

  2. @Aaron

    Yeah, I always recommend carrying extra bars and gels on rides because you never know when you’ll get lost, take a detour, encounter a nasty headwind, or simply run out of energy sooner than expected.

  3. Hello

    Thanks for reviewing Accelerade … After a while using Endurox R4 I was concerned to have the same disappointment with Accelerade, and after that I can now see that will not vary much respect to the taste and consistency that was actually unwelcome .

    Really the question of the foam is very unpleasant. I try to go for the orange flavor.

    Thanks again

  4. @Johnny

    Yeah, there’s a good chance if you don’t like one, you won’t like the other!

    Consider GU Roctane instead, which has the calories, but sticks with BCAAs instead of whey protein concentrate, so it avoids that texture and consistency you mention here.

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