33Shake-ing it up: Running fuel for sensitive stomachs

Marathon des Sables

Visit any marathon expo and, in addition to the multitude of smartphone armbands, compression wear and leafleteers trying to get you to sign up to the Bognor Log Carry, you’ll also notice dozens of stalls pimping new solutions for running nutrition. From hi-energy flapjacks bars to Shot Bloks, via sticky toffee tiramisu caffeine gels, the range of sugary choices is enough to send you into a diabetic coma. The world of sports nutrition has exploded. 

Competition is fierce with all the big hitters like Gu, PowerGel, Cliff and even Lucozade trying to tempt us with new flavours and ever easier ways to get the carbs in on the move. Lucky for these guys pretty much all of the advice given to runners about to embark on the 26.2 is that without these extra carb injections, they’re destined to hit the wall.

While it’s certainly the case, that for most people, topping up your readily available carbs is essential to sustain performance over longer mileage, you don’t necessarily need a gooey substance, specially formulated in a lab somewhere, to deliver that fuel injection. There is another way.

You don’t necessarily need a gooey substance, specially formulated in a lab somewhere to deliver that fuel injection. There is another way.

Step up 33Shake. 33Shake offers an all natural alternative to race fuelling with a range of products made entirely from all natural ingredients. There’s not a bit of maltodextrin in sight. According to the company’s site everything that appears in a 33Shake “has been selected for its specific properties to boost endurance, recovery and performance.”

Being natural is one thing but do how do they taste and do they actually work?


Marathon des Sables preparing the 33Shake

33Shake tasted and tested at the Marathon des Sables

Disclaimer: Anyone familiar with manvmiles will know we’re big fans of natural, unprocessed, organic food. So we’re predisposed to this kind of approach but at the same time we’re also all about performing well and reaching goals so the products we choose have to work.

Let’s start with the easy bit. How they taste. The 33Shakes come in three flavours, original, cacao and coffee. We’ve tried the original and the cacao, mixing them with water rather than milk, in line with the Paleo approach. Even without the added creaminess you get from milk, the 33Shakes taste good.

They’re not overly sweet and there’s something reassuring about having small pieces of walnuts and berries in the mix. It’s a good balance of something to chew on without the stomach-troubling density of a flapjack bar. Another bonus is that, provided you’re happy to carry a bottle while you run, you can sip your energy for a far more even ride rather than sinking a gel in one and suffering the inevitable big rush followed by an equally big crash.

Running fuel for sensitive stomachs

The one great thing we found with the 33Shakes was that they played nice with our stomach. Unlike gels which can start to wreak havoc after a while, particularly on longer endurance runs, the 33Shake went down easy and stayed down without so much as a flutter.

The problem of portability

There is one big problem for marathon runners though – portability. There’s just no way you’re going to be able to mix these up on the move and you’re unlikely to want to carry pre-mixed bottles, particularly if you’re chasing a top-end time. However, 33Shake does have an answer, recently launching an all-natural chia seed gel for the 26.2ers.

For ultra runners who have the luxury of aid station stops, these are a good option although we did encounter one problem during our test out in the Sahara. Lovely as those natural seeds and nutty bits are, they will clog up the bite valves of Raidlight drinks bottles.

A good alternative for recovery

With around 6g of protein and per shake, they’re also a great option for an all-natural recovery drink too and they work particularly well when mixed with something like Herbalife Free From Protein as a top up to get you that 20g hit within the first 20 minutes after a run or a workout.