Once an athlete reaches a certain peak level or plateau, their natural tendency is to search for an "edge" or supplements that can improve performance and reduce fatigue. While many professional athletes may choose the unethical route of using performance enhancing drugs, I will assume most people reading this article are interested in legal, over-the-counter products.
While legal performance supplements have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry, the athlete has been left with a cluttered and confusing landscape, loaded with outrageous claims and benefits. The average corner health food store can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned athletes and health-conscious shoppers.
And, if sorting through the maze of products and manufacturers isn't enough, athletes have to factor in their unique genetic differences, fitness levels, stress, diet, sick days and hours of sleep. And not only do we all have different situations, our training regimen, diet, stress and sleep patterns are not always consistent.
So even if you do find a supplement or combination of things that seem to improve overall well-being, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Think of how many times you've had that great training day or race and wondered what you did leading up to that day in order to replicate the feeling. It's never easy.
It's with these factors in mind that I've been experimenting for the last five months with some high-quality performance supplements made by Advantig Health of West Linn, Ore. I actually had a great ride the first time I took the Advantig ProSport High Performance drink but I figured there were other factors at play and didn't give it too much thought.
But I was curious and intrigued nonetheless.
So, for the next month, I religiously took the product and felt very good to great on every very hard training ride of 45 to 60 miles. I was having no problem sticking with some of the fastest guys in San Diego. What I found most surprising was this sudden ability to explode on some uphill sprints. I found myself accelerating and sprinting better than I ever had. But I still didn't believe it.
So in order to be scientific, I decided to stop taking the Advantig and tried some other sports drinks over the next month.
Just to keep all things equal, I continued drinking lots of plain water as I feel there's nothing that can hinder my performance more than to be slightly dehydrated. Since I had no races to train for at the time, I had the luxury of keeping everything very equal.
After cold turkey
What happened after going cold turkey off the Advantig? Basically, I noticed a slight drop-off in how I felt and that explosive sprinting was not quite up to par.
Again, I found it hard to believe that a sports drink could be this potent. I called the company and learned this drink had originally been developed as a "recovery" drink but that many athletes were finding surprising benefits "during" training. I got names of a few athletes to call and, to my surprise, they too were noticing a lull when not taking the Advantig sports drink.
As an aside, for those exercising two hours or less, the 91 calories in a serving of ProSport are plenty to get you through. However, for further experimentation, I did a few 80 mile rides and mixed the ProSport with Sustained Energy powder from Hammer Nutrition. This combination seemed really potent as I got the quality ingredients from the ProSport and complex carbs in the Sustained Energy.
After a 4-week respite, I started taking Advantig again and -- no kidding -- noticed another performance spike. I had not changed my training, mileage or training habits at all. In fact, my 150 to 200 weekly miles total had been the same for the last several years. I am all about consistency and consider myself a perfect guinea pig.
Daily Supplement Package
I was so intrigued that I called the company again and was told they were working on an athlete's daily supplement package of Pro Sport, Power Thru, Insight and Antarcti-Krill. I spoke to Jerry Schlesser, company president and research scientist, who really impressed me with his knowledge and integrity. Jerry sent me some samples of the other supplements and I started taking them for a few weeks.
Again, I was feeling great and wanted to see if this was just a healthy phase in my year or if, in fact, these products really did enhance my overall well-being and performance.
So I stopped taking everything again for another few weeks and, lo and behold, I just didn't quite feel like I had the same snap. Now I was really intrigued and found the most interesting aspect of all this on a recent trip to Colorado.
I was on vacation in Aspen and decided to do a bike ride from Aspen, which sits at around 8,000 feet elevation, to Independence Pass, which is just over 12,000 feet. For perspective, while I am very fit for my 45 years, I have historically had lots of trouble at altitude. Many times, in my late 20s and early 30s, I found myself fighting headaches, nausea and exhaustion while trying to mountain bike, climb or hike at anything over 9,000 feet.
20-mile climb to 12,000 feet
Now, at 45, faced with a 20-mile climb to 12,000 feet, I was scared of how bad I might feel after 10,000 feet. Before the ride, I took the three Advantig supplements (Power Thru, Insight and Antarcti-Krill) but did not have the Pro Sport drink even though I'd had some within the same week.
Anyway, not to bore you with details, I kept waiting for the altitude (it was only my second day in Aspen coming from San Diego) to hit me like a sledge hammer but it never did. In fact, I was accompanied by a pretty strong cyclist who was "boring" me with the slow pace. At 11,000 feet I asked if he would mind if I took off and waited for him at the top. I think he was happy to see me go so he could settle back and not feel "pushed" up the mountain.
Whether it was the Advantig supplements, or maybe just one of those amazing days, I felt like I was floating up the mountain over those last thousand feet. I hit the top of the pass as comfortable as can be and my biggest concern was getting too cold in the high-altitude wind while waiting for my buddy who was more than five minutes back.
When I returned and told Jerry Schlesser my story and asked if he thought the products actually helped me with the altitude, he recounted another story where another customer took some supplements while mountain climbing and felt like he had tons of energy at altitude. According to Schlesser, this guy's climbing buddies all thought he was either nuts or super human when he wanted to keep going at the end of each day while everybody else was laid out in exhaustion.
Introduced quietly last year
Advantig was only introduced very quietly in the last year and I feel it's one of those secret formulas that's going to develop a cult-like following. You'll never see this stuff mass-produced because the ingredients used are too expensive and high-quality. In order to keep prices within reason, Advantig will never launch large advertising campaigns.
Their best advertisement is word of mouth and getting people to try the products for a few days. I noticed a difference right away and am curious to hear what others have to say.
And for anybody that thinks I may be shilling these products, please understand I can pick up the phone and call just about any company to send me supplements to review. And most companies will continue sending me stuff at no charge. I have chosen to purchase these products because I truly believe they're the "real deal."
Since Web sites are so good at filling in detail, I urge anybody who may be interested in these supplements to check out www.advantig.net to get an idea of the kinds of ingredients used.
The other nice thing I noticed is they have a 5-day trial pack so you can test this for yourself. Nobody wants to invest money into an unproven product and the only way to notice the "Advantig" is to put this stuff to the test.
Either visit their Web site or call toll free (877) 877-4566 for more information.