There has been a noticeable buzz around Orbana Healthy Energy drink over the last few months. Here at Cyclo we can’t quite remember when it first started creeping into our collective consciousness, but one thing is clear: it’s becoming hard to ignore this new kid on the block – time we tried it out and delivered our verdict.
First to note: Orbana comes powdered in either individual-serving 50g sachets or 800g tubs which, those of you quick on the maths will know, delivers 16 servings. Powdered versus pre-mixed drinks is always down to individual preference, but the Orbana option arguably helps prolong shelf life – and eliminates artificial preservatives – whilst also allowing you to mix to whatever dilution suits (250ml is the base recommendation). Whatever your taste, it mixes effortlessly with only a few shakes of the bottle for a lump-free drink that, whilst advertised as being ‘orange, lemon and pineapple’, is probably better described as ‘generic sport fruit flavour’. Not to say it tastes bad, it doesn’t – although there is a slight tang about it.
Okay, so easily mixed and perfectly palatable means that Orbana clears the first couple of criteria jumps. How does it stack up beneath the bonnet?
The approach to energy delivery is certainly to be admired; the 185kcal provided by each packet is split between low and high GI carbohydrates, meaning the release of energy is staged rather than being ‘dumped’ into the body, thus avoiding spikes in performance, followed by those dreaded ‘sugar crashes’. To achieve this Orbana delivers 36% of its energy via high GI ‘simple sugars’ (a blend of dextrose and fructose) to give an initial power kick; backed up by the remaining 64% coming from the much lower GI starch-based maltodextrin for more sustained energy. Depending on the intensity of exercise, Cyclo would reckon on getting a good 60-90minutes out of a single sachet.
Orbana also throws in antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E (200% and 25% of your RDA respectively), in addition to various amino acids – including muscle-strengthening creatine – and a range of B vitamins for energy conversion.
Maintaining a good balance of minerals and electrolytes (often simply referred to as ‘body salts’), which are otherwise lost through the sweat process, is critical to exercise performance; drops in sodium, zinc and potassium can quickly lead to cramps and fatigued muscles if not kept in check. Orbana measures up well against standard hydration drinks and bests a number of regular sports drinks in this department; We certainly found it a bonus not to have to consider a separate hydration salts strategy on the bike – although in extreme conditions it would probably still be wise to have one.
In test (three cyclists, two rides each, since you ask…) we found energy levels stable, without jags or noticeable lows, enjoyed the taste – certainly enough find it easy to consume – and appreciated not having to top up with hydration tabs. It seems that the hype around Orbana could well be justified but if you want to make up your own mind we have free sachets to give away to the first 100 readers who follow the link below.
Orbana retails at: 6x50g sachets £12.96, 16x50g sachets £34.56 or 800g tub (16 servings) £30.00 – full details and online purchase at orbana.co.uk