Featured Nutrition Reviews

Primal Pantry Bars

Primal Panty BarsPrimal Pantry produce a range of five bars designed to compliment a paleo diet, but before you go screaming from the room shouting ‘fad’, hang fire. Whilst we’re not about to get embroiled (at least here and now) about the benefits or otherwise of paleo what you should know is this: whether you love or loath the idea of paleo Primal Pantry Bars are still perfectly placed to fuel your ride. In fact they do so brilliantly.


So, Paleo 101: No grains, refined sugars, dairy, processed foods or oils of legumes such as soya. All of which means the Primal Pantry Bars are grain-free, don’t use sulphates in their dried fruits, contain only ‘real food’ and are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. In fact – and this is really refreshing to know – the ingredients are pretty much spelled out in the flavour name of each bar, the Apple and Pecan Primal Pantry Bars, for example, contain dates, almonds, organic apple, pecans, cinnamon and almond oil. That’s it, no nasty surprises here.


Primal Panty BarsAside from the Apple and Pecan option the Primal Panty range of flavours are Brazil Nut and Cherry, Hazelnut and Cocoa, Almond and Cashew, and Coconut and Macadamia – the latter our favourite although we’re hard pushed to pick. The bars are handmade and cold-pressed with a rich texture and flavours that don’t overpower, yet are distinctive and readily identifiable (just like real food should be.)


Nutritional values vary slightly across the range but again taking Apple and Pecan as being fairly representative they will serve up 199kcal, 4.2g protein, 19.4g carbs (16.9g of which are sugars), 11g fat (0.9g saturates), and 3g fibre per 45g bar.


Let’s compare Primal Panty to a more ‘traditional’ bar: The much heavier (65g) Zipvit ZV8 Uncoated Orange bar offers 244kcal – so actually a much lower, adjusted for weight 169kcal – 4.7g protein (3.2g adjusted), 34.9g carbohydrates (24g adjusted), 7.2g fat (4.9g adjusted) and 10.3g fibre (7.1g adjusted). A little more bang-for-your-buck on carbs but if you don’t fancy emulsifiers, wheat gluten, wheat malt, glucose syrup, invert sugar syrup and maltodextrin then Primal Pantry Bars look like an obvious choice.


Actually to be clear – and fair – the composition of the ZV8 bars is fairly typical of energy bars across the board and they have their place and use (we’ve fuelled plenty of miles on them) but Primal Pantry clearly offers something both new and radically different.


Primal Pantry Bars retail at £27 for a box of 18 – £1.50 per-bar, not only spot on for a comparative price point but actually something of a bargain when you consider the quality of ingredients and homemade credentials. Boxes are available either in single flavour or as a mixed box with three of each flavour plus three extra, which Primal Pantry call their ‘random surprise.’


Further details and online purchase of Primal Panty Bars at

Featured Nutrition Reviews

Osmo Active Hydration

Osmo Active HydrationOsmo Active Hydration, available in both orange and blackberry flavour, comes packed in jersey pocket friendly 20g sachets ready to blend in the bottle. Created by endurance athlete, exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Stacy Sims Osmo Active Hydration is intended for use during exercise to actively increase fluid absorption and replace key electrolytes which would otherwise result in an overall loss of performance on the bike.


So what’s in the pack? Unlike most sports hydration and nutrition products Osmo seems a little coy on the subject; obviously the ingredients are listed (sucrose, so basically sugar, being number one), but it throws in ‘OsmoAct Beverage Base Blend’ to appear a little more arcane – although this then is a blend of sucrose (more sugar or the sugar already listed?), D-glucose (sugar again), sodium citrate, potassium citrate, magnesium citrate and calcium citrate. Osmo Active Hydration also includes a range of vitamins including C, B2 and B12.


Mixed with 500ml of water (and taking a little shaking to mix) Osmo does prove rather sweet – hardly surprising when 17g of the packs 20g weight is sugar – but the flavours are fairly refreshing with no artificial aftertaste. On test they seemed to help hydrate well and went down easily enough – the levels of ‘salts’ look well balanced for the job in hand and the convenience of the small tubular packaging was appreciated.


Osmo Active Hydration is a perfectly decent product, let down a little by both the branding and information (or lack thereof) on the website. Not sure they are doing themselves any favours by noting that Stacy Sims ‘assisted Lance Armstrong in researching thermoregulation in 2010’ either…


A further oddity is that both the blackberry and orange flavours are listed on the Osmo website as being specifically ‘for men’, whilst women get their own mango flavoured variety which are formulated to help ‘avoid premenstrual-related performance decline…’ Fair enough (and seemingly scientifically valid), but we’re sure there’s room for the ‘regular’ formula in most women’s kit bags too.


If you’d rather regulate your hydration strategy with zero calories then something like H2ProHydrate or ZipVit’s ZV0 Electrolyte Drink will serve you better – but if you want a (very quick release) sugar surge thrown in – or want to avoid ‘avoid premenstrual-related performance decline’ – then Osmo Active Hydration clearly ticks the right boxes.


24 sachets of either blackberry or orange Osmo Active Hydration retail at £34.80 (as do the women-specific mango flavour) or all three versions are available in cheaper, but perhaps less convenient, tubs of 400g for £15.99. More confusion again here as the 400g tubs are advertised as being 40 servings, yet a serving is listed as being 20g – so isn’t that just 10 servings?


Further details and online purchase of Osmo Active Hydration at

Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar Nosebag

Mulebar NosebagNosebag is the latest nutritional offering from MuleBar; available in two flavour combinations Tamari Nuts with Seeds and Fruit Avalanche they contain no synthetic ingredients, artificial preservatives, colourings, flavourings or palm oil – just real food.


Starting with the Tamari Nuts that offers up 417kcal of energy with 33.1g fat (4.3g saturates) with 12.6g of carb of which 2.3g are sugar. There’s a decent hit of protein too with 14.5g from the combination of pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds and apricot kernels, which are coated in tamari (a variant on soya sauce.) Whilst the fairly generic seed and nut mix are nothing unusual it’s the tamari apricot kernels that set things apart with a delicious tang that lingers in the mouth and has you reaching back for another hit. A more generous ratio of these to the other ingredients would certainly have been a good thing.


On to the Fruit Avalanche: Obviously these are going to deliver far less energy than the nut-packed option but at 207kcal that still tops most gels including, for example, MuleBar’s own Cherry Bomb (112kcal.) Again fairly obviously the protein levels are down on the Tamari Nuts option at 2.9g but so too are fats at 2.2g (0.3g saturates.) The fruits that make up this particular ‘avalanche’ are raisins, apricots, and dried cherries, gooseberries and goji berries. The taste actually left us slightly disappointed – it’s far from bad and there’s a nice sharpness (the gooseberries?), it’s just that MuleBar have set their own bar so high in serving up more left-field options we half expected popping candy or unicorn tears.


The 70g bags allow for several generous handfuls on the ride and whilst it would obviously be cheaper to rustle up your own custom trail-mix there’s both convenience and the knowledge of excellent quality ingredients with Nosebag.


Both varieties of Nosebag retail at £19.60 for eight packets or £35 for 16 packets. Further details and online purchase at


More reviews of MuleBar products here.

Featured Nutrition Reviews


CocopureCoconut water is an excellent and natural isotonic drink and Cocopure from gonutrition sets out to deliver all of the goodness in a more convenient form than slicing the top off a coconut and sticking in a straw.


Shipped in a 250g quantity – enough for 35 servings – Cocopure contains 100% powdered coconut water that is rich in electrolytes, the ‘body salts’ sweated away during exercise. Because the levels of electrolytes, particularly potassium and sodium, are approximately in proportion to those of the body Cocopure is naturally isotonic meaning it quickly (but not too rapidly) rehydrates the body. Coconut water – and therefore Cocopure – also contains natural calcium and vitamin C along with a health amount of sugars (around 2.6g per serving) to help refuel post-ride.


7g of Cocopure needs to be added to 100ml of water to optimum delivery although we personally found a little extra water, closer to 120ml, provided a slightly less intense and more palatable flavour. The taste is certainly authentic – as you would expect from 100% coconut water powder – and although it mixes thoroughly, it does have a tendency to settle if left in the bottle too long.


A single serving of Cocopure delivers 10% RDA of potassium and 30mg of sodium, which (at a conversion of x 2.5) equates to 75mg of salt of the recommended daily 6g. Of course adding a little more or less water will transform the drink from isotonic to either hypotonic or hypertonic depending on your requirements.


If you want to add some additional fruit sugars post-workout we found that Cocopure mixed well at a 50:50 ration with natural pineapple juice for a recovery drink that tasted good enough to stick a cocktail umbrella in.


Cocopure might seems a step further away from ‘authentic’ products like market leader Vita Coco, but it still delivers a 100% pure product just with a dash more convenience. Our only real criticism is that the 250g quantity ships in an enormous (and enormously wasteful) pack easily big enough to accommodate a kilo that slightly undermines the ‘take anywhere’ credentials.


Cocopure retails at £16.99 for a 250g pack or £28.99 for 500g, and represents good value at 41-49p per 100ml serving. By way of comparison Vita Coco is approximately 50p per 100ml (depending on the quantity in which you buy it) whilst alternatives like UFC Refresh can be had for as little as 24p per 100ml. But did we mention that Cocopure comes with added convenience?


Cocopure is available to buy online at

Featured Nutrition Reviews

33Shake Endurance Shakes

33Shake33Shake are really talking up a storm – we’ve heard about ‘revolutions’ in sports nutrition so many times over the years that there’s now something of an immunity to the rhetoric; but given the incredible press that 33Shake are generating perhaps this is a brand that really mean what they say.


As relative newcomers to the market and describing themselves the ‘sports nutrition underground’ their stance is certainly combative with claims that the sports ‘no-trition industry’ simply: ‘Take a ton of cheap manmade sugars, blend with a negligible amount of the cheapest active product at the lowest concentrations possible, then pack with whatever junk additives and preservatives are needed to keep costs down and shelf life up…’ Fighting talk, so what do 33Shake do differently?


Pretty much everything it would seem. By spending money only where it matters – so in part allowing good word of mouth to spread the word – 33Shake are able to spend 17,000% more than industry norms on ingredients. Depending where your priorities lay this is noticeable in two key areas: the quality of what you’re putting into your body is second-to-none and the taste is exceptional.


The flavour across all three varieties of the Endurance Shake (Original, Mocha, Cacao) is strong – not overpowering – but certainly robust with layers of flavour coming through like little, alternating ripples. This is a homemade taste – absolutely what the makers were going for – that makes you appreciate the quality and realise how artificial so many inferior products are by comparison.


The 55g sachets can be mixed to taste with a recommended 200ml of either milk, water or coconut milk by blending for a full minute to help break down the naturally chunky mix. We tested all three methods but found that milk (actually soya milk) worked best, with water our least favourite and coconut milk, whilst adding plenty of benefit in its own right, dominating the flavour rather too much.


In terms of nutrition, as that’s really where things stand or fall, 33Shake delivers impressively. The headline figures show (per 100g) 521Kcal of energy, 11g protein, 38g of carb – of which 14g are sugars – 27g of fat (9g of which are saturates) and 13g of fibre. We say here ‘headline figures’ because to really understand the benefits – and substantial differences to other products – the 33Shake website really deserves to be explored in full.


The 33Shake Endurance Shake isn’t cheap at £6.99 a go, but when you consider exactly what you’re getting for your money it stacks up well in our opinion. And ask yourself this: what price am I willing to pay for the nutrition I fuel my sport with?


The 33Shake All-in-one Endurance Shakes are also available in a ten x shake Value Pack bringing the per-shake price down to £6.49 and a 30 x shake Lifestyle Pack (£5.99 per shake). Further details and online purchase as

Featured Nutrition Reviews

OTE Duo Bar

OTE Duo BarOdd in many ways that OTE are not a better-known brand, partly because they are the official nutrition partners of Team Lotto Jumbo, but also, if the Duo Bar is anything to go by, their products are really rather good…

The OTE Duo Bar has been developed by professional sports nutritionists and is based on race food used by professional cycling teams. The 65g bars – we had the chocolate chip to test out – are pre-sliced into two equal bites, with each serving up approximately 20g of carbohydrate, enough we would figure to push through around 40minutes of training or racing depending on intensity.

The texture of the Duo Bar is crumbly with a homemade appeal, slightly on the dry side and certainly needing a swig of water to consume, but the taste is decidedly good without being overly sweet. The nutrition, beyond the 40g carbs per bar (18g of which are sugars), also stacks up quite neatly: 10g of protein, 1.5g fibre and decent levels of fortification including B12, calcium and magnesium. Although most of the supplementary levels are quite low it all helps, especially when it comes to replacing even small amounts of body salts lost through sweat.

Whilst the Duo Bar is certainly too dry to depend on alone during exercise – we really got through the water bottle on test – it’s certainly worth adding to the list of nutrition foods to help power your training and racing.

An individual 65g OTE Duo Bar, chocolate or vanilla, retails at £1.85 with boxes of 24 available at £39.96. Further details and online purchase at

Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar Eastern Express

MuleBar Eastern ExpressFar, far too often Cyclo’s race nutrition plan looks like this: eat something sweet, eat something else sweet, feel sick, fail to eat anything else. Not good. Salvation from this reoccurring recipe for disaster could, in part, come in the shape of the MuleBar Eastern Express, a new savoury energy bar that bucks the sugary trend.


MuleBar have always delighted in doing things a little differently; their rage of flavours – including Piñacolada, Mango Tango and Strudel – are always a delight on the ride and it’s perhaps no surprise that they have produced something as left field as the Eastern Express given that tentative steps had already been taken with the halfway-house sweet/savoury Liquorice Allsports bar.


The Eastern Express combines pistachios, almonds, cashews & pumpkin seeds with an exotic blend of nigella seeds, cayenne pepper and garam masala (itself a heady mix of coriander, cumin, ginger, cassia, black pepper and cloves.) The result is a little like a Bombay Mix with dominant pistachio and a welcome saltiness; on paper there’s a danger that description doesn’t sound great, but trust us it tastes it.


Whilst the savouriness and salt hits the spots and proves a welcome break from the same-old sugary sweetness of most bars, the texture too is a surprise; so often on the ride, and regardless of the mix of bars you might try, texture becomes repetitive but the Eastern Express helps mix things up on this front too.


As you might expect from a bar with such a high percentage of nuts and seeds (about 20% by weight) there’s a significant delivery of protein – 7.1g per 56g bar – making them good for recovery too. By way of contrast, taking the Mango Tango flavour as being fairly representative, that would serve up just 4g per 56g bar. But Eastern Express doesn’t skimp on the energy levels with an impressive 265Kcal per bar, actually higher than the Mango’s 201Kcal, and 22.5g of carbs (15.2g of which are sugars). All this makes the Eastern Express a credible mix not just a novelty flavour.


Of course the bars do benefit from a swig of water to help digest, yet, despite the savouriness, no more so than your average sweet energy bar we found.


MuleBar Eastern Express bars are available in packs of 5 at £7.99, 12 at £19.00, 24 at £38.00 and, representing a 10% saving, boxes of 48 at £68.00. Full details and online purchase at

Featured Nutrition Reviews

Elivar Hydrate Plus

Elivar Hydrate PlusWhen Elivar launched it offered a complete three-part system for pre-, during and post-run energy with its Prepare, Endure and Recover products all aimed at athletes over 35. Now that system becomes four-part with the introduction of Elivar Hydrate Plus.


The 25g sachets mix with 400ml of water to make an electrolyte drink with combined energy delivery of 97kcal per serving. The powder mixes quickly and the resulting drink doesn’t clump or clog sports bottles but is somewhat gritty in texture and tended to settle if left too long in the bottle. The flavour is nominally orange but really a bit generic ‘fruit’, not unpleasant, and no better, no worse than most electrolyte drinks and with no bitter aftertaste.


The electrolyte delivery is predominantly sodium and potassium (Sodium Chloride, Monopotassium Phosphate), no magnesium, and the energy is delivered via the somewhat unusual isomaltulose, a natural constituent of honey and sugar cane, that is intended for sustained energy release.


Whilst the original Elivar range found its niche by catering for the over-35s with additional fortifications, the Elivar Hydrate Plus, despite the branding, really offers nothing specific for the age group and is suitable for anyone looking to combine their electrolyte replacement with a dash of energy.


So, certainly not as ground-breaking in concept as the original Elivar Prepare, Endure and Recover products, but a solid enough addition to the hydration market.


Elivar Hydrate Plus retails at £12.99 for a box of 12 sachets. Further details and online purchase at


Read the Cyclo review of the original Elivar products here.