In March this year I was given a few bags of Vietto’s Tears to try out, by Megabake head baker Brett. I bumped into Brett over three years ago when supporting my then fiancé Imogen Smith at the Chicks in the Sticks 3 hour race. At the time, Brett had one main product with the Witch Eater energy bar, and he had all the ingredients laid out on a platter. It was a good indication of just how natural his bars were, and I’d only really spotted the small stand as I was impressed by the nutritional value of the free sample in Imogen’s race pack, which I was eying off as a feed zone snack. For me, not Imogen.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve put a few orders in to Brett, tried his gourmet cereal, and caught up for a beer when he has been baking his bars in an inner Brisbane commercial kitchen. He has two other bars but the Witch Eater is still my favourite. When we catch up we talk bikes, racing, nutrition, exchange insights (aka gossip) and he keeps me in the loop of what he’s working on.
Vietto’s Tears is a sports drink that Brett had been working on for a while, and his aim was to create something that would be palatable beyond the 2 or 3 hour mark, and not rot your teeth. So it needed to be pH neutral and not overly sweet. And of course Brett wanted to make sure the ingredients were all natural.
I had started using Skratch at the time, otherwise I had used Science in Sport mixes or whatever was on offer at a feed zone. My teeth have been pretty bad since about 2010. Long hours of slight dehydration, using sports drinks, gels or anything like that does wonders for eroding your teeth. Mostly I drink water on the bike because of that, unless nutrition demands mean I have to be getting carbohydrate in via fluid as well (which is most races, to be fair). Because of all this, Vietto’s Tears had me intrigued.
It’s a hypotonic mix, which means it has a lower concentration of solutes than your blood. So it gets absorbed better. In contrast, fruit juice or soft drinks are usually hypertonic, which slows down absorption and is therefore not so good for rehydration. An istonic drink has the same concentration of solutes as your body. There is research that says a hypotonic drink will rehydrate you faster than water, and even have you feeling more refreshed.
The mix of glucose and fructose is 2:1, done to make for the best energy absorption. It’s all a kind of sugar, right? Well yes, but the way they get absorbed is different. Only a certain amount of glucose can be absorbed at a time, and if you consider that fructose, while not as beneficial as glucose in exercise, gets absorbed via a different ‘gateway’ what you end up with is more useable energy. There are electrolytes too – just sodium, which Brett claims is all you need. And that’s the basis of the whole product and even the Megabake range, only the essentials make the ingredients list.
You can read the exact stats on the Megabake website.
In the bottle and on the bike
Vietto’s Tears comes in your fairly standard 500g pack, and Brett recommends mixing two scoops (26g) with 500mL water. We use Camelbak bidons so 2.5 scoops works best for the 710mL we have measure them at, and the powder mixes easily. There are three flavours, all naturally sourced, although I don’t really have a favourite.
It’s an easy powder to mix, without leaving chunky bits, and it’s not overly sticky if you spill it by shaking your bottle with the valve open, which does happen from time to time even for the best of us.
My first race using Vietto’s Tears was the marathon stage at Easter in the Alice. And I had a shocker with problems with gastric emptying, therefore I ate and drank less and the inevitable happened – I hit the wall and struggled home uncomfortable and sunburnt. It’s not a good way to start a stage race.
But the problem here lay with my morning ritual, which I’d messed around with! And if you’re reading this you probably know how silly that is. With an early stage start I’d tried to get a good breakfast in too close to the race start, with the inevitable outcome.
The next two stages went way better, with a bottle of Vietto’s Tears on board, and breakfast consumed a little earlier.
Since then, I’ve used the mix in each flavour for races at home and abroad, including The Pioneer in November.
What I have noticed most is one of the things Brett was working on, and that is how palatable the drink is even after a couple of hours. We can only carry one bidon on our Norco Revolvers, but at races like The Pioneer I tend to use a Camelbak Chase Bike Vest or Octane 10 with water in the bladder, and have a bottle of Vietto’s Tears on the bike. I could happily run the drink mix in the bladder but I still like to have water on hand.
I’m not a nutritionist, nor a dentist, but I can honestly say that I will continue to use Vietto’s Tears. When low on fluid it is really satiating, and while my teeth haven’t improved I don’t have the all-over ache that can occur after big days or back to back days of chugging sports drink.
In terms of value, you’re looking at about $1.30 per 500mL bidon. It’s good value for a quality sports drink, although I’d happily invest in a large tub of the stuff if that was an option that came up. As it is, a 500g bag is an easy size to travel with, and at $24.95 it’s not a crazy investment to try something that might work better for you than something off the shelf of a supermarket.
And I guess the important point is, while I’ve left writing this review a little late in the year it has reminded me that I’m all out of Vietto’s Tears, and I need to get online to order some more – or maybe catch up with Brett to hear more about his next product…
Price: $AUD24.95 per 500g
From: Megabake Kitchens