Controversial ‘wonder’ supplement drink ketones taste like gin and tonic, according to Jumbo-Visma mountain domestique Laurens de Plus.
Ketones are currently legal under the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines despite being surrounded by controversy for the potential performance-enhancing benefits, although as yet there is limited evidence of their effectiveness.
Talking the Belgium’s Radio 1, De Plus spoke openly about his team’s use of the ketones.
‘If you indicate that you want to use it, the team arranges everything and they include it in your supplement plan,’ De Plus said in the interview.
‘It tastes a bit like Gin-Tonic with a lot of imagination, but actually nobody in the team likes it. Not everyone in the team uses it, but I feel good about it. I am satisfied with it and I am happy that it is not done hysterically. Everyone can buy it. It is only the way it is used that can make the difference.’
Ketones are naturally produced by the body as an alternative power source to glucose or fat. A ketone supplement drink can be turned straight into energy as an alternative to carbohydrates.
The drink was created by Professor Kieran Clarke of Oxford University. He found in a study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, that professional cyclists were able to add up to 400m of distance to their efforts over a half hour period.
During the 2018 Tour de France, it was believed that six teams used ketones including Deceuninck-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal. It was suggested that Chris Froome and Team Ineos used the supplement, however both have denied the claims.
A difference of almost half a kilometre is potentially huge in a top-level cycling race but Clarke remained pragmatic about the true effects of ketones when talking to Cyclist in a previous interview.
‘If you have glucose by itself or ketones by itself, it’s not superior. It’s exactly the same – it’s just providing energy. For sprints glucose is better actually, because you need something that’s anaerobic,’ Clarke explained.
‘The ketone itself is inhibiting glycolysis so that with the same exercise you’re preserving glycogen and producing much less lactic acid – this hasn’t been seen before.
‘What may be happening is if you are doing something that isn’t a sprint, like a marathon, you won’t hit the wall as quickly. Not only that, but it stops you from aching afterwards.’