Showing posts with label water bottle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water bottle. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Now Foods BCAA Big 6 Sports Supplement

Disclaimer: I received Now Foods BCAA Big 6 - Grape and Watermelon flavor sports supplement and a NOW Sports shaker bottle to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

If you read the disclaimer above, you’ll know that I received Now Foods BCAA Big 6 grape and watermelon flavored sports supplements at no cost to try out and review. As a newer BibRave Pro, I’m still feeling out what opportunities and responsibilities come along with it. Although I’m not a regular user of almost any sports supplements, when this opportunity presented itself it seemed like a perfect time to incorporate the use of a sports supplement into my workout routine with no financial risk. Prior to this trial, the only sports supplement I’ve ever used regularly is a whey protein powder which I typically use in a recovery shake after running maybe 2-3 times a week. So that may beg the question of why should anyone listen to what someone who doesn’t use sports supplements have to say about their first time trial using a sports supplement. And I would answer that because I am not a sports supplement user I can report on how using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement during training compared to my training and racing without the use of any sports supplements. Because I am a sample size of one, whatever I report will not prove or disprove anything. This is simply a report of my experience using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement.

So what are BCAAs? Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are essential amino acids that serve as the building blocks of protein, which helps to fuel your muscles during a workout and can also help support muscle recovery post-workout. They’re called essential because the body doesn’t make them on its own, so you need to supplement or get them from your diet. Since I have never supplemented with BCAAs in the past, I can only assume that I’ve been getting all the BCAAs required to fuel my training runs from my diet.

I began incorporating Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement in hopes that my training runs would improve or that I would at a minimum feel like recovery time was reduced. Up until writing this post I had not done any extensive research, but the information I had seen about the benefits of using BCAA supplements for endurance sports was not extremely convincing. Mittleman et al. (1998) reported prolonged exercise performance in test subjects receiving a BCAA supplement when subjected to heat compared to subjects receiving a placebo treatment. The cycle time to exhaustion increased for both men and women test subjects that received the BCAA treatment. Bloomstrand et al. (1991) reported improved mental acuity after a 30 km race of test subjects receiving a BCAA treatment during the run compared to test subjects receiving a placebo treatment during the race. The same study also examined the effect of BCAA treatment on marathon times. Sub 3:05 marathon runners showed no significant effect with BCAA treatments. However, marathon performance was improved with the use of BCAA supplement for 3:05-3:30 marathon runners. Since I fall outside of the range of marathon runners included in the study, I hope the trend of improved performance continues for 3:30-4:00 marathon runners like myself.

With the few studies I looked at reporting improved running performance and/or endurance with the use of BCAA supplements, it raised my hopes for improved results with my own trials. I began using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement in mid September and continued its use for a little over a month until the last week of October. During this period I trained for and ran two races: The Squatchung Surprise 6 Hour and The Mines of Spain 100 miler. For those two races I finished first overall and second overall respectively. I’m not crediting the use of Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement for my performance at those two events, but it certainly didn’t hinder my performance either given the results. Having less than two months of experience using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement, it is hard to come to any substantial conclusions. I performed well and felt good while using the supplements, but it’s impossible to say that I wouldn’t have felt and done just as well without the use of the supplements. Even without any definitive results to show, I plan to use Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement early next year when I’m training for and hoping to achieve a PR at the Novo Nordisk NJ Marathon.

What I can say definitively about Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement is that it was easy for me to digest and I never had a problem with it upsetting my stomach when consumed while running. I drank two servings during the course of The Squatchung Surprise 6 Hour event and five servings over the course of about 22.5 hours during the Mines of Spain 100 miler. During the six hour event I had no stomach issues. I was using this event as a test before drinking the supplement for the course of the 100 mile event. Since it sat well in my stomach for the six hour event I decided to drink it mixed with Tailwind for the entirety of the 100 mile event. My stomach felt good for about 80 miles of that race and just felt slightly upset for about a 20 mile stretch of the race. The upset stomach I did experience was most likely due to the fuels I was taking in during the race and not because of the Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement. You can only eat so many gels washed down with Mountain Dew before your stomach starts to protest.

A photo from the six hour event.
On a subjective note, I found the taste of both flavors of Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplements to be agreeable. Before trying them I feared that they would be overly sweet or very strongly flavored. It turned out they were neither of those. I wouldn’t call either of the flavors sweet and the flavors for both were mild which I appreciated. I have found strongly flavored hydration products to become almost unbearable to consume after a certain amount of time. I would even call both flavors refreshing if mixed with cold water and consumed right after a run in the heat. In addition to this, Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement was super easy and fast to mix using their shaker bottle.

Why NOW® Sports? Well, I felt safe using their products. It’s a clean, highly-tested brand. They conduct more than 16,000 tests each month for identity, purity, strength and composition to ensure that what’s on the label is in the bottle. AND, now they’re third-party certified via Informed-Sport for added product purity assurance. The Informed-Sport program certifies that their products have been tested for more than 200 banned substances by their world-class sports anti-doping lab.

From October 1-November 15, use code 20NOWBCAA on (or visit this link for 20% off both varieties of BCAA Big 6. Code is limited to one-time use only.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Bloomstrand, E., P. Hassmén, B. Ekblom, and E.A. Newsholme. 1991. Administration of branched chain amino acids during sustained exercise — effects on performance and on plasma concentration of some amino acids. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 63(2): 83–88.

Mittleman, K.D., M.R. Ricci, and S.P. Bailey. 1998. Branched-chain amino acids prolong exercise during heat stress in men and women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 30(1): 83-91.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Aonijie Triwonder Withwind 5L Hydration Vest Review

Aonijie Triwonder Withwind 5L Hydration Vest Review

I purchased the Aonijie Triwonder Withwind hydration pack and two soft flasks (17 oz. each) a few months ago off of Amazon ( for $52.99. Since then I have run with it for over 250 miles with the shortest run being around 11 miles and the longest being 102.9 miles at Eastern States 100. Overall, I have been very pleased with it. However, I do have one complaint about it that I will get out of the way to start.

Soft flask (17 oz) and bite valve cap.

My only real complaint isn't with the vest itself, but the soft flasks that I purchased with it (optional). The soft flasks have narrow mouth openings (less than an inch diameter) which is a minor complaint, but make refilling without spilling a bit more difficult than it should be especially if you are rushing. The other downside of the bottles in my opinion is the fact that the caps use a bite valve. I personally have never been a fan of bite valves because it feels like to me that they throw off my breathing. Maybe this is partially due to the fact that I was trying to drink from them without removing them from the vest. The positioning of the vest and my neck to achieve this never felt comfortable. The reason I did this was because the soft flasks were a pain at times to get back into their snug vest pockets if not completely full. My last complaint about the soft flasks is their durability. Both of the soft flasks I purchased with the vest have split at seams and leaked. The first after about 120 miles and the second after about 150 miles. Unfortunately, the only other product option offered by Aonijie is a 1.5 L water bladder for the back pocket. Thankfully, I was able to find a couple hard water bottles (kids' bottles from Party City, 18 oz. each) with pull valves which fit nicely in the vest pockets.

Replacement hard bottles (18 oz) I purchased from Party City ($2 each).

Now that my griping over the bottles is done, on to the vest itself which has been nothing but a positive experience. The fit of the vest is great. I ordered the small/medium which fits me well (5'8" and about 165 lbs). It fits snuggly, but comfortable and does not slide around or bounce while running. I may have also been able to go with the medium/large and get a good fit by adjusting the straps. Also, the mesh back of the vest provides great breathability. The vest has not caused any chafing other than at the base of my rib cage on each side where the base of the water bottles sit. This chafing occurred when I ran with both the soft flasks at Worlds End 100k and the hard water bottles at Eastern States.

The Aonijie provides plenty of storage space as well. Above each water bottle pocket is a small pocket (zippered on the right side and fold over closure on the left side) which could fit a gel, a key, or spare batteries. Next to the water bottle pockets are a set of three pockets that wrap around the sides to the back. The left and right sides are symmetric. Nearest the front is a small unclosed pocket which could probably fit three gels (the most I've carried in this pocket is two). Next is a small zippered pocket. Finally towards the back is a medium unclosed pocket. The large back pocket is zippered and also has a smaller hanging net pocket inside of it.

The strap system of the vest provides many options for adjustments of the fit of the vest to make it perfect for a wide variety body types. The plastic hooks and straps basically create a system of four straps, the tightness and placement of which can all be adjusted independently of one another. The vest also provides straps for poles, however I did not test these out as I have not attempted to use poles.

Hook and strap system.
Lastly, the vest came with a few bonus items:  an insulated pouch for the a water bladder (sold separately), an emergency blanket, and a safety whistle. The only one of these items I tested out was the safety whistle, and it is mighty loud.

Bonus items.
Overall, the Aonijie has served me well for several long training runs and two long races. If you are looking to buy a new or your first (this was my first) hydration vest, I would highly recommend looking into this vest. It is available for purchase at Amazon:
If you'd like to see more of the vest check out my YouTube video review below.