Whether you’re a triathlete, a runner or a cyclist, there are no shortage of nutritional and supplemental products on the market claiming to make you faster; whether it’s the tried and tested supplements like caffeine energy gels, beta-alanine and creatine or some of the new-fangled concoctions.
One such new entrant to the “make me faster” market is EI8HT Energy by Avrox, which claims to be able to deliver between a 4% and 10% increase on FTP (Functional Threshold Power, for those of you that don’t speak cycling lingo). In media reports, they claimed a 37 second improvement in a 10-mile time trial (source: https://road.cc/content/tech-news/avrox-ei8ht-energy-drink-boosts-peak-power-66-276559).
It’s a pretty bold claim and it’s backed up through further statements that the product has been developed in cooperation with Oxford University. Indeed, Professor Eleanor Stride from the University of Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering features prominently in their marketing.
The idea is simple, you add the contents of an EI8HT to around 200ml of water, shake it for 30 seconds and then consume (within 15 minutes of ‘activating’), and hey presto you are going to be able to perform at a higher level for longer.
I’m paraphrasing slightly, but you get the point. The point being, drink this stuff before a race or heavy training session and you’ll perform better.
Sounds pretty compelling. For me, even a 4% increase in FTP could be worth over 11 watts, which in turn could easily mean 10 or more seconds in a 10-mile time trial. Not the 37 seconds claimed, but probably worth a place or two in an open 10.
So, I decided I’d give it a go and ordered my 16 sachets at a total of £25.99.
A few days later and the sachets arrived. One immediate worry was that there was little in the way of ‘instructions’ with the delivery. No information on timing of intake or any indication of a pre-load requirement for the supplement to become fully effective.
Wanting to make sure that I did things right, I used the contact form on Avrox’s website and asked them those very questions – when should I take it (i.e. how long before training/racing) and how many doses would I need before it would be fully effective, and should I only use it when racing or should I use every day regardless?
Three working days later, still no reply. So, I contacted them through Instagram. Finally, another day and eventually I got the response that it didn’t really matter how long before a race I took and that there was no need for pre-loading. OK, great.
You can find out more about the science on Avrox’s website, but if I understand it correctly, they are claiming to use ‘natural ingredients’ that are proven to capture oxygen when added to water (hence why you shake to activate it) and consumed within 15 minutes. Then that oxygen is available to the body more readily during strenuous exercise.
Taste-wise, it’s pleasant enough, but that’s the least of your concerns with a product like this.
Given the sachets arrived around August 20th, let’s look at my TT performances before and after:
H10/3a – 6th July 2020 (no EI8HT) – 22:12 (new course PB) H10/3a – 3rd August 2020 (no EI8HT) – 22:39 H10/3a – 26th August 2020 (with EI8HT) – 22:16
Updated 28/9/20 - 13th Sept 2020 (with EI8HT) - 21:55 (NEW COURSE PB)
Close to a course PB, but shy by four seconds when using EI8HT. Let’s look at another regular 10-mile TT course:
H10/3R – 12 July (no EI8HT) – 21:43 (new course PB) H10/3R – 17th August (no EI8HT) – 21:46 H10/3R – 30th August (with EI8HT) – 21:45
So far, so unimpressive. No outright course PBs while using EI8HT and certainly no 37 seconds advantage (note: this was written prior to 13 Sept, see below for update).
Let’s look at some other results. Maybe 10-miles is too short and the results will be easier to see in 25-mile time trials:
H25/1 – 16th August (no EI8HT) – 54:49 – new course PB H25/1 – 31st August (with EI8HT) – 55:36 (ok, so fair enough this was the day after the National 10 champs, and I did set a new course power PB)
Let’s call that ‘inconclusive’. A course power PB on Aug 31st even though my overall time was nearly a minute slower than two weeks prior. Maybe it just wasn’t a ‘fast day’. Maybe EI8HT did contribute to the power PB over the longer distance.
One final race to note: P881 on September 5th, with EI8HT and I did score an outright 10-mile PB of 20:16 (just over a minute faster than my 2019 time on that same course). No idea what power was, as my Garmin Vectors packed up during warm up. So again, inconclusive.
At best, I’d have to say that the jury is out on Avrox EI8HT Energy. I’ve certainly not managed to replicate the claimed 37 seconds improvement over a 10-mile time trial on any of the local courses. In fact, on the three courses I’ve done this year both with and without EI8HT, I’ve failed to improve my time each and every time. So a zero percent success rate.
That seems pretty damning.
Looking more closely at Avrox’s claims, they say that in their test conditions:
“In our time trial test at Surrey University, participants drank 200ml before they started and then sipped 75ml every 4 km, over a 16.1 km TT”
If my maths is correct, that's 500ml before and during a 10-mile TT.
That’s wildly different to what the dosage instructions on the packaging state, where you are warned NOT to take more than the prescribed single-sachet dose in a 24-hour period.
As for “sipping” 75ml every 4km over a 16km (10 mile) TT? That’s hardly “sipping” in my book. And honestly, who takes a drink in a 10-mile TT? (and let’s not forget you have to drink the concoction with 15 minutes of ‘activating’ it, which means doing that right on the start line if you want it to still be effective by your 12km scheduled intake).
I’m lucky enough that I ride a triathlon bike with a drinks reservoir between the tribars – very non-UCI legal, but thankfully we don’t tend to worry too much about the UCI at club level in TTs – so for the VTTA 10-mile champs this coming weekend I’m going to try doing as they say – 200ml before the start and then a gulp or two every 4km during the race.
Given the race is on H10/3a and I’ve already set three times on that particular course this year (see above), if I can break 22 minutes then perhaps I’ll believe that Avrox delivers on its claims. If I don’t, then I think the jury remains out or at least we’re heading for a hung verdict.
I’ll do a further update after a few more runs, but I have to admit that so far I’m pretty skeptical. I have a handful of sachets left to use, so will update this post when I've exhausted the current stock.
UPDATE - 28 SEPT 2020
I said I'd do an update, and so here it is. On 13th September 2020 I raced the VTTA 10-mile champs (story here) on H10/3a and did use EI8HT Energy. I almost forgot to take it, so ended up consuming it only about 15 minutes before the start of the race. Long story short, I did manage a course PB this time, going under 22 minutes for the first time on that particular course. So score one for Avrox EI8HT Energy.
It really does mean the jury is out for me. An overall 10-mile TT PB and a course PB using EI8HT, but not a consistent enough run of results for me to say unequivocally that it works. Maybe you'll have to make your own mind up!