Sportlegs Dietary Supplement

5:24 p.m. on December 8, 2012 (EST)
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I was reading the December issue of Ski Magazine and noticed an ad for Sportlegs Dietary Supplement. It said that they are pre-sports vitamins that let you "push yourself harder, longer, remarkably free of pain" by managing your body's lactic acid energy transfer system.

Here is a link to the website:

Has anyone heard anything about these or actually tried them? I am considering purchasing them, but I would love to have some feedback before I buy them.

Thanks, Ashleigh

7:00 p.m. on December 9, 2012 (EST)
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There are lots of these supplements out on the market, all promising miraculous results. When I go to the OR Show each winter and summer, there are lots of vendors pushing all sorts of these things. One I saw last summer promised to accelerate acclimatization to high altitude. When I check things like that out with the real experts in the field (Peter Hackett in the case of high altitude stuff, Paul Auerbach over at Stanford not far from me for most other outdoor things), their publications of refereed results show that basic good nutrition and exercise programs tailored to the sport work, but the supplements don't. Yes, there are the steroids that some of the professional athletes use (and get banned when caught, plus have some very undesirable side effects, including some serious mental problems) and things like blood doping (also has some bad side effects, including serious clotting problems when going to altitude, like clots that migrate through the blood stream and lodge in locations that sometimes have fatal effects). But, as my sports medicine guy says (he is one of the principal MDs for a couple of the pro teams here in the SFBay Area during the season, but works on wannabes like me off-season) "Two questions - to what age do you still want to be doing the activity, and how much are you getting paid for each appearance?" Since my personal answer is that I want to still be climbing and skiing into my 80s and 90s, plus I am the one paying, not getting paid to do the activities, his answer is, then you do not want to mess with any of that stuff.

I suggest you talk to an MD who specializes in sports medicine and disregard pretty much everything you read on the web. Including what I just wrote - I am not an MD, and only go by what my sports medic and our expedition doctors have to say. Especially forget about anything the makers of the "super performance enhancing" supplements have to say.

1:59 p.m. on December 10, 2012 (EST)
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I'd echo Bill here, with some caveats. Generally speaking, getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet is enough to allow adequate athletic performance.  For some individuals truly pushing boundaries or working hard in extreme conditions, modifications might be needed.  For instance, sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium requirements increase with ambient temperature and aerobic output. Vitamin C has been show to enhance immune response in endurance athletes who would otherwise suffer reduced immune response due to intense training.  Some athletes at high altitudes require a variety of prescribed goodies to stay healthy.

So - one could make that case that if someone is working hard enough in certain conditions, the constituents of this supplement (calcium, magnesium, vitamin D) might move performance from "ordinary" to "better than ordinary."  Even if this were true, there are a lot of generic, inexpensive supplements on the market that have all of these things, and likely for less $.

Personally, I regularly use a proven performance-enhancing supplement: Coffee!

7:43 p.m. on December 10, 2012 (EST)
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When I was training as an elite cyclist the two changes that most improved performance was eating less meat, and minimizing consumption of sugars and other simple carbohydrates.

The average Joe eats way more meat than the body requires.  Digesting meat requires more resources, and adversely affects blood ph.  Consuming excess sugar and simple carbohydrates shocks the system, and also alters ph.  Four to six ounces of meat protein per meal is more than enough, provided you eat a balanced diet.

While on topic, another over touted product is sports drinks.  Studies indicate they have little if any impact on the ability of your body to absorb fluids.  Likewise the electrolytes these products contain are of little benefit in the near term; a proper diet will replace electrolytes on a day to day basis.  Lastly the affect of the sugars in these drinks; well we went over that.  If one understands why we "bonk" it is because we exhaust the energy source stored locally in muscle tissue and in our blood.  It is called glycogen.  This energy resource cannot be quickly, significantly, replenished by something like a sports drink.  Instead the body switches over to alternate energy reserves, cholesterol and its body fat.  The reason teams still use sports drinks is to assuage athlete’s impressions the team is doing all it can for its members.  Their main benefit is the placebo effect.  Some trail mix and plain water does anything those "magical" - and may I add pricey - sports drinks claim.


9:40 p.m. on December 10, 2012 (EST)
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eating healthy and drinking lots of water is how I stay energized on the trail. those pre workout suppliments are crap. sports drinks are pure sugar. eating right and staying properly hydrated are the two best things anyone can do to pre condition. there is no magic pill or drink.

11:01 a.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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Caffeine.  As long as you aren't chugging it all year long and building up a tolerance, still works best

6:24 a.m. on December 12, 2012 (EST)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

Caffeine.  As long as you aren't chugging it all year long and building up a tolerance, still works best


Preping for a summit day...



4:24 p.m. on December 12, 2012 (EST)
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Ladies and Gentlemen-

I’m Carl Holmes, President at Sport Specifics, makers of SportLegs.

To clarify, the words Ashleigh quoted from our SKI magazine ad, that SportLegs lets you “push yourself harder, longer, remarkably free of pain” are a direct excerpt from SKI magazine’s testers’ review of the product (December 2007, page 42).

SKI magazine’s positive review of SportLegs was echoed by unanimously positive reviews published by Skiing, Powder, Bicycling and Bike magazines, and USA Today and The Denver Post newspapers.

SportLegs’ effect is more noticeable in sports where you go hard enough, long enough to experience muscle “burn” and next-day soreness. Or if you’re over thirty.  Or both.  Lactate Threshold naturally declines with age, as anyone over thirty can attest.  Taken as directed, SportLegs’ natural-source lactate compounds noticeably raise your Lactate Threshold “burn” point, in effect giving you back the less-complaining muscles you took for granted a decade or more ago. SportLegs is appreciated by competitive runners, and adored by cyclists.  But its biggest benefit, I believe, is for high-altitude alpine skiing.  When you know how excruciating the “burn” can be, the joy of surpassing your best performance on your favorite run with next to no “burn” at all is mind-blowing.  It’s fun, yeah, but it’s also safer.  With stronger legs, you ski in better control, way less likely to fall and have a “yard sale,” requiring floundering back up the slope to retrieve your gear- not to mention the embarrassment of having your buddies have to wait for you.

I personally discovered SportLegs’ effect more than twenty years ago.  It still amazes me with how well it works, especially compared to so many other products out there.  So I understand the naysayers’ comments here.  I’m sorry you’ve been disappointed by other products.  You won’t be disappointed by this one:  We back it with a money-back satisfaction guarantee.

SportLegs has been on the market for twelve years, because it works.  It’s available at independent running, cycling and skiing stores including REI and Performance Bicycle, and online from first-rate vendors like Competitive Cyclist, Colorado Cyclist, TriSports and Excel.  Ashleigh, it’s available at stores at nearly every ski area in the West.  At $1.79 for a single-dose packet, it’s worth a try.  See for yourself.

3:10 a.m. on December 14, 2012 (EST)
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SportLegs said:

SKI magazine’s positive review.. ..echoed by.. ..magazines, and.. ..newspapers.

...its biggest benefit, I believe, is for high-altitude alpine skiing...  ...surpassing your best performance.. ..with next to no “burn” at all...


I am no doctor, nor a scientist or biologist, but I do read JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Scientific American, and other esteemed albeit nerdy periodicals.  I was also was a one time Olympic cycling hopeful back in the 1970s, a high altitude mountaineer through the 1980s and 1990s, a near expert skier since the 1970s, and remain an active athlete in the meantime.  But I have yet to hear from any of the associations affiliated with these sports of a sports drink capable of proving scientifically the claims you stake. 

While you cite all these glowing reviews and endorsements I must note these same magazines have also spoke glowingly other times of the “other” sports drinks products; that not to mention athletes will endorse all manner of products, so I am not sure what point a list of such endorsements makes.  Even individuals associated with the US Olympic team have endorsed various beverage products alleging performance enhancement over the years, yet none of these products I am aware of have stood up to objective, scientific, scrutiny.  The fact most are not on the banned substances list should be a clue of their ineffectiveness, while most on the banned list are there for using caffine.  In actuality most of these product endorsements are subjective opinions, or reference tests lacking empirical disciple. Likewise many sports drink companies also offer a money back guarantee.  But you know as well as I, even a dissatisfied customer is disinclined to request a refund, even if it takes only a minimal effort, especially if only two bucks are on the line.  Thus the premise for such warrantees is principally a marketing gimmick.

Specifically addressing your claim: ”..its biggest benefit, I believe, is for high-altitude alpine skiing…”  Such a claim is silly; there is nothing special about lactic acid build up due to skiing hard at high altitude.  There are plenty of weekend warriors that will attest pushing hard results in lactic acid burn at any altitude and equally in all cardio-aerobic sports.  In fact you don’t even need to push to the point of being winded; any physical activity performed over long enough duration will produce a build up of lactic acid in your system.  Even simple walking performed over a long enough period will result in the accumulation of lactic acid sufficient to cause burn and discomfort.  As for claims of giving stronger legs – well that is just nonsense!  The only compounds known to substantially enhance strength are controlled substances.

One reason for the stiff feeling and discomfort from lactic acid is tissue swelling.  The pharmaceutical industry addresses this issue with a host of steroidal and non-steroidal (NSAD) compounds, all of which have potentially significant side affects.  Do you not think that if an OTC product was available that successfully addressed muscle burn and aches resulting from physical activity that the whole sports world would have flocked to it by now, especially if it has been out on the market for years?  I am sure your product has its proponents, but some also think shaving their legs makes them more streamline and faster, while others insist wearing a copper bracelet or carrying a rabbit’s foot and shamrocks assure victory.  Hey, if it gets you in the victory mindset, I guess whatever works is all good, but that is psychology, not science.


7:14 a.m. on December 14, 2012 (EST)
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Never heard of Sportlegs but I believe they look sexy on me.

As for general sports drinks, the BMJ recently assessed the 'evidence'. Guess what they found? There is also an interesting piece this week on the relationship between athletes and longevity, with some suggestions for the rest of us.

The Truth About Sports Drinks - BMJ

8:12 p.m. on December 14, 2012 (EST)
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Jonathan, since you have to subscribe (at a cost) to BMJ, I didn't read the general article, though I did read the summary article.

Ed, when I was bike racing (Cat 2), the general view was that it wasn't cutting air resistance you benefited from the shaven legs so much as when you crash with hairy legs, road rash is worse since the hair tends to get ripped out. Plus you heal faster. I only had a few crashes (due to riders in front of me swerving and not holding their lines). I found that the healing did seem to go faster than the times I had let the hair grow naturally.

I took a look at the Sportlegs website to see what the "miracle" ingredients are - Vitamin D (in the form of one of the many D sources, cholecalcipherol), calcium lactate monohydrate, magnesium lactate dihydrate, some sort of vegetable-based encapsulation, then cornstarch, sucrose (plain old sugar!), sodium ascorbate, di-alpha-tocopherol, vegetable oil triglycerides (saturated fats), and silicon dioxide (aka sand/glass/quartz - yeah, I know, it's in many pills to help them to dissolve, but no nutritional value). The supposedly key ingredients, namely the first 3 (vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium) are nutrients that are part of a normal, healthy diet that you can get readily from normal foods. Sodium ascorbate will supply some vitamin C. Cornstarch is just cornstarch, and sucrose is plain old regular table sugar.

So, ok, Sportlegs looks harmless enough, but there is nothing there that you don't get in a good, well-rounded diet. You can get too much vitamin D (as with all oil-soluble vitamins, though at the 19% of the Daily Value, that's not likely to happen. 

I might note that it has been found that a shortage of calcium, magnesium, and potassium (no K in Sportlegs) can result in leg cramps following vigorous exercise. But there really is not enough there to help that.

3:58 a.m. on December 15, 2012 (EST)
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Bill, the major article is free, just click on the first link and then go to "full text". Here.

I hate pay walls too.

A good diet is easy to discover but takes probably as much discipline as any training. I too fall victim to the sugary breakfast and lack of quality, fresh food for the remainder of the day.

Edit: "Recommended by Glen Plake" I wasn't expecting that. Reminds me, I haven't watched Blizzard of Aaahhs this year.

5:08 p.m. on December 15, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Ed, when I was bike racing (Cat 2), the general view was that it wasn't cutting air resistance you benefited from the shaven legs so much as when you crash with hairy legs, road rash is worse since the hair tends to get ripped out. Plus you heal faster. I only had a few crashes (due to riders in front of me swerving and not holding their lines). I found that the healing did seem to go faster than the times I had let the hair grow naturally.

 Yes, this is what the trainers explained.  Folks involved in race teams and dedicated clubs know this and that makes sense.  Nevertheless I have heard a lot of wannabies claim they shave hair to shave time.  That's total hooey!  BTW what is with all the recreational riders nowadays with zero-cross spoke lacing patterns on road bikes?   What a rough ride!


2:21 p.m. on December 18, 2012 (EST)
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Well, I decided to make the purchase. I am going to try them out on some intense hikes and on a snowboarding trip in January. I will give a review on them or open a new forum once I have tried them out and can give them a fair assessment. I by no means expect them to perform any miracles, but if they can harmlessly make my hiking and snowboarding more comfortable (and enjoyable), I am willing to give them a try.

Mr. Holmes, I look forward to trying your product. I hope that it performs like you say that it does. If it doesn't, I will hold you to your money-back satisfaction guarantee.

6:40 p.m. on December 18, 2012 (EST)
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The only way you will really find out if it is the snake-oil that is affecting any changes you observe or just the psychological placebo effect that was mentioned above by Ed is to do a double-blind test with an identical appearing placebo pill over a series, using a group of people. The Sportslegs rep stated that "first-rate vendors" sell his product. Well, looking at the list of "first-rate vendors" and knowing the buyers for a couple of them, I can tell you that they carry what their customers ask for and what sells. All of them carry items that, as Ed put it, are just "rabbit's feet" and "4-leaf clovers", things that might give a psychological boost, but have no real value.

If SportsLegs can produce data from an extended double-blind test, published in refereed journals, that shows statistically significant positive benefits greater than a healthy diet and training program, rather than a bunch of anecdotal "endorsements", I might accept that his magic pills are useful.

5:45 a.m. on December 19, 2012 (EST)
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I'm a distance runner (and running the 2013 Boston Marathon with the AMAA team).

In my expereince, to " manage your body's lactic acid",  you don't rely on some magic pill.


Just eat well and frequently practice your sport of choice.


If you want to take supplements, make it simple...Vitamin B, D and calcium.

this thread seems like someone trying to get some free advertising

6:00 a.m. on December 19, 2012 (EST)
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A friend of mine swears by a particular brand of sports drinks and gels, and when I have skied and hiked with him he basically takes time-outs to mix up batches in his water bottle. Says it helps keep him going on those all-day tours. He gave me some to try out, so I tired a few gels on some long training runs and then had one or two of the caffeinated espresso gels on the marathon I did in June. I'd say they gave me a bit of a kick, and the gels did go down fast'n'easy when I was tired and moving. But they're pretty pricey, so if you're not trying to win a race, why not just have some chocolate and a banana or orange, and maybe slow down and enjoy the scenery?

But that's gels etc. for endurance or a short term kick. I'm even less interested in long-term dietary supplements. Makes me think about Michael Pollan's writing about industrial food, the idea that Science and Technology will enable us to concoct some sort of Perfect Diet from streams of raw ingredients extracted from already perfectly good food. It usually seems to turn out that some of those ingredients or byproducts that come with them are actually bad for you. I'm not deep into organic food either, but I think Pollan's advice should serve most of us, and the planet, well: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

As for preventing sore legs, here's a prescription that works for me: Run hills 2-4 days a week. I haven't had a serious case of day-after legs since I took up running.

5:29 a.m. on December 20, 2012 (EST)
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The gels are expensive.

You can make your own.

Honey, molasses and salt.

June 21, 2018
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