Enduro Mag’s Jim Buchanan hooked up with local buddy, Ben Price (fully recovered after his excellent 6th place in the Trans Savoie race) Ben is from TORQ Fitness and Jim met up with him to talk, or should I say Torq, about their latest products and how they came to be one of the market leaders in all things sports’ nutrition….
So Ben, tell the readers exactly how the brand Torq came about.
TORQ originally started in 1999 as a fitness consultancy. Matt Hart, who founded TORQ, worked for 10 years in fitness clubs in central London whilst racing XC at an elite level in the UK. His initial coaching clients were elite riders who he used to race against and, as TORQ developed, he moved naturally into performance nutrition through a need to offer clients with products that would assist them to reach their training and performance goals. Since then, TORQ has developed its range carefully and wisely, leaving no stone unturned with regards to functionality. TORQ also has a very strong ethos and only uses natural ingredients that are fair-trade, and organic where possible.
How would you say your products differ from other brands in the market?
Our products differ through our unwavering approach to peer reviewed research and through not allowing our judgement to be clouded by marketing gimmickry. Also, our use of entirely natural, fair-trade and organic ingredients, where possible, combined with our insistence on only including essential ingredients and the exclusion of all unnecessary ingredients, such as sweeteners and colours.
We include some very potent, natural ingredients in our TORQ recovery range, at the levels recommended by thorough research, irrespective of cost. We work tirelessly to ensure the palatability and ease of consumption of all of our products.
TORQ is not a bottom line driven company; our sole mission is to provide the highest quality products to athletes, at any cost.
How would you recommend your average Enduro rider should fuel during a two day event?
This will be largely dependent on how physical the event is. For example, the Les Deux Alpes and Whistler rounds of the World Enduro Series; Whistler saw riders in the saddle for nearly 8 hours on race day and, as well as some long and pretty tough transitions stages, riders were racing on the limit for nearly 50 minutes. Compare this to round 3 in Les Deuz Alpes, where all the transitions were on ski lifts with very little pedalling in between, other than the 30 minutes+ over the 4 stages. There are pretty significant differences in fuelling requirements between the two!
For your average two day event (practice Saturday/race Sunday) where you are having to ride between stages and be on the bike the whole time, it will be important to fuel from the start. We have a saying here at TORQ, ‘eat today for tomorrow’, which essentially translates into…..the better you are able to fuel during the first day, the less you are going to eat into your body’s precious carbohydrate stores, and the fresher you will be, come the second day. This is particularly the case with enduro as often the first day is the hardest. As riders try to cram in as much practice on stages as possible, getting ready to race on the Sunday; the last thing a rider wants to do is not fuel properly on the first day, blow up, and be on the back foot for racing on the next day. When I am talking about fuelling here I am referring to ‘carbohydrate intake’; this is the body’s major fuel source for exercise of a moderate to high intensity and is something the body has in limited supply (only around 90 minutes worth). Once depleted, this results in a significant drop in endurance performance, often called “hitting the wall” or “bonking”, and it takes up to 24 hours to recover from.
Whilst out riding, it is really important to stay on top of both fuelling and hydration; we make this pretty easy to understand here at TORQ with our fuelling system. Essentially your body can absorb, at most, 90 grams of carbohydrate (providing you are using a formulation like TORQ which uses maltodextrin and fructose) and, as long as you are exercising at least at moderate intensity for more than 90 minutes, you should aim to consume between 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, as your body has a limited store of carbohydrate. At moderate to high intensity you can burn far more than you are able to take in. A TORQ gel, TORQ bar and 500ml bottle of TORQ energy all contain 30 grams of carbohydrate. If it is a hot day, and perspiration rates are high, you want to get as much of that as possible from an energy drink as this will cover both fuelling and hydration needs. If it isn’t quite as hot, drinking just the energy drink will leave you needing the toilet all the time, so replacing a 500ml bottle of drink with a gel or bar, will set you right. If it’s really cold, you can almost get away with using just the gels. The gels and drinks are great as, being liquid, they are very easy to consume, even when exercising hard, but the bars are a great way of gaining some sustenance, as well as providing some decent fuel. Compared to a flapjack, these will be a lot lower in fat, which is the enemy whilst riding as it takes the stomach a long time to break down and slows carbohydrate absorption, and will also deliver some quality carbohydrate.
Recovery is also a really important part of a 2 day event; as well as ensuring a good intake of fuel on the first day, it is important to follow the day’s practice with a decent high carbohydrate meal. A recovery drink will also come in it to its own when doing back to back riding like this too.
Having used your products for a while now, I’d say they are definitely the best tasting stuff out there, what’s the reason for this?
Palatability is a huge thing to take into consideration with performance sports nutrition products; a gel/drink/bar could have the most amazing ingredients and performance but, if an athlete is unable to consume it to the required amount, it is going to be of little use. Palatability is something we work hard on when developing a product. As riders ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t – we genuinely use the products on a regular basis and always take on board any feedback that we receive. The use of natural flavours, and the fact that we don’t include artificial sweeteners or flavours, goes a long way to ensuring the products taste natural and not like some sort of chemical potion. We’re not afraid to do things differently either; take the Rhubarb & Custard gel, for example, which is very different to the normal orange flavour that most nutrition companies produce.
We have a few new products and flavours which are currently in development but nothing due for launch in the immediate future…….you’ll just have to wait and see! We have, however, just launched a new Raspberry Ripple gel which tastes just like the ice cream flavour and is going down a storm. This was in combination with a new gel tab which stops the top of the gel sachet coming away from the main part, in a bid to try and reduce litter. We have also just launched new single serve sachets in each of our 5 different energy drink flavours, which is a great way to carry the energy drink powder.