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Pro4 Body Fuel has made quite a name for itself over the last 15 years in the world of sports nutrition. It is the official sponsor for Ironman New Zealand ? up till 2006. As a product of Leppin Sport International, this remarkable brand, in concert with the entire Leppin range, already has solid athletic backing in the land of the Kiwis. Leppin users include world class triathlete Ben Pulham, 2004 Olympic Champion kayaker Ben Fouhy, as well as several notable national athletes in the realms of rugby, mountain biking, road cycling, BMX racing, body-building, and even rally car racing! This tester?s obvious ?Leppin? heroes are: That multisport & adventure racing innovator, and 9-time Speights? Coast To Coast winner Steve Gurney, as well as the members of New Zealand?s premier adventure racing squad, Team Seagate.

First Impressions

Pro4 Gel and Pro4 Gel Lite are the actual products being reviewed here. Let it be known that the Leppin Sport Squeezy range and the abovementioned Gel Lite range are essentially the same product, just marketed under different names.

Each sachet of Pro4 Energy Gel and Leppin Sport Squeezies measures a slim 4.5 cm x 15 cm, a departure from the more squat-profiled packaging of rival gel brands. Pro4 sachets are manufactured from foil (blue in the front and white in the rear) while the Squeezy sachets consist of yellow translucent plastic material. One can only tell what flavour of gel a sachet contains by the ink print on the rear. The date of expiry and contents, manufacturing & nutritional information are also situated on the rear.

There is no ?neck? for the gel to bypass, en-route to the user?s mouth. One end just rips off conveniently, creating a substantial hole for the stuff to go through. This design makes it much easier for athletes to quickly put away the contents during the heat of competition, without having to resort to wringing or rolling of the sachet.

One possible shortcoming would be the slight difficulty athletes may encounter differentiating which end of the sachet to tear or bite off, when in darkness (sometimes); when the eyes and hands may be occupied (more often); when fatigued (very often!); or when any two or all three of the above conditions are prevalent! This problem can be overcome by carefully making three additional tiny cuts to the remaining corner edges of the sachet with a sharp pair of scissors, such that it can now be ripped open from any of the four corners.

During testing, the Pro4 and Leppin Sport range of gels were consumed under various conditions. Before, during and immediately after a mountain bike race; during all-night ?makan marathon? rides; at rest stops during an endurance trail run; during kayaking interval sessions; as substitutes for lunch at work; and even at 3 am, cuddled on the living room sofa and staving off the sleep monsters to digest a Stephen King novel!

Pro4 Energy Gel

Each 45 gram sachet of Pro4 Energy Gel packs 25 grams of carbohydrates, with zero fat and protein ? 100 calories in total. The amount of sodium and potassium per sachet are 120 milligrams and 40 milligrams respectively. It comes in the following flavours: Orange, Chocolate and Banana.

The Orange flavoured Pro4 Energy Gel contains an amount of kola nut extract equivalent to 25mg of caffeine. The ?pick-me-up? effect of this additive is most significant in two instances: After muscle glycogen stores are somewhat depleted following 1? to 2 hours of continuous aerobic activity and; when feeling the onset of fatigue and sleepiness creeping into an all-day/all-night varied-intensity outing.

Upon taking energy products with added stimulants, improved alertness and increased heart rate may not be immediately apparent if the intensity of activity is high. Still, when this tester took the Orange flavoured Pro4 during a recent mountain bike race, it was noted that overall perceived effort did not spike, at least until the last 15% of the course.

Depending on the user?s tolerance, such additives may also lead to feelings of anxiety, a peculiar ?buzzing? sensation, mild headaches, tightness in the chest, and other related side effects if too much is consumed in a short time span ? in one shot, direct from the sachet in one instance for this tester. Being not very tolerant to stimulants, the subsequent method of regulating intake ? as practiced by this tester for all competitions – was to squeeze the contents of one sachet of Pro4 into 600ml of plain water in a sports water bottle, and take sips accordingly.

Leppin Sport Squeezy

Each 45-gram Leppin Sport Squeezy sachet packs 25 grams of complex carbohydrates, with zero fat and protein ? 100 calories in total. The amount of sodium and potassium per sachet are 120 milligrams and 40 milligrams respectively. It comes in the following flavours: Lemon Lime, Banana, Grape, Peach, Vanilla, or Unflavoured. Where marketed as Gel Lite, the offering of flavours is limited to Lemon Lime, Grape, and Unflavoured at time of writing.

The great thing about the Squeezy range is that simple sugars like sucrose, glucose, dextrose are absent, making it suitable for diabetic atheletes, according to the marketing blurb on the website. The Squeezy is much less viscous than the Pro4 gel, or any other gel this tester has slurped up so far for that matter. It mixes much more easily when diluted in water, and does not coagulate on the bottom of the bottle as other, thicker gels are apt to do.

This tester took a Squeezy during cooling-down after the aforementioned mountain bike race, in an apparent attempt to curb mid-day food cravings and keep the glycogen levels up. Not only were the inevitable exhaustion and hunger kept on hold till lunchtime proper, there was also sufficient energy yet to fit in a 1? hour kayaking interval session that afternoon.

The Squeezies were purpose-made for long trainings, whereby appetite often tends to go out the window once the body has been on the move for around 3 hours. Being relatively easy to digest even straight from the sachet ? and therefore being able to take more conservative, smaller sips of water – there was no ?sloshing-in-the-gut? feeling normally associated with gel consumption. The days of big swigs just to get rid of the ?dry? feeling of sticky gel sliding down one?s throat may well be over. Nevertheless, the manufacturer?s recommendations are to stick to a hydration plan of 100-150ml of water per sachet, and to keep up regular intake at a sachet every 30-50 minutes for peak performance.

Conclusions

Having exhausted the sample supply of Pro4 and Squeezies, this tester came away impressed with their largely positive effect on performance in endurance sports, as well as the ease of use, owing to the unique yet simple packaging. Of particular note were the palatability of the Squeezies, and their long-lasting energy release properties. Regular caffeine fiends will find the kola nut extract in the Orange flavoured Pro4 to be just the right pick-up for long nights on the move, or flagging energy levels in high-intensity competition and training.

Do note however that caffeine and caffeine-like stimulants, when coupled with simple sugars (this could be the fructose inherent in Pro4, or from additional sports drink concentrates), may produce a crash and burn effect, particularly where intake is (inevitably) irregular during long bouts of high-intensity sports. Taking a last sachet when there is still more than half an hour to go during a training evolution or race may lead to a bonk effect if intake is not replenished timely. The packaging information recommends that Pro4 be ?consumed with water every 20-30 minutes during intense activity?. That being said, the closing stage of competition is not the time anyone would want to be feeling ?bonked? ? so sticking to the consumption guidelines right up till the final effort in the last 15-30 minutes or so would be best.

For more info on their full range of nutrition products, promotional offerings, news, athletes, and more – visit the Pro4 and Leppin Sport websites as listed below:

www.pro4bodyfuel.com
www.leppinsport.com