Featured Nutrition Reviews


ElivarThe sports nutrition market is a crowded one and barely a couple of months pass without a new contender fighting for shelf space. Elivar is the latest offering, claiming to bring something new to the mix with products aimed squarely at the 35+ age range.


Elivar is a complete three-part system for pre-, during and post-exercise (the Holy Trinity of sports nutrition) with unique blends to support the needs of older athletes, undoubtedly a smart move given the rise in numbers of so-called MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) and equally their female, non-acronymed, equivalent. The range – Prepare, Endure and Recover – comprises of a variety of blended carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals that have been tailored to ensure that even during intense workouts and rides all bases are covered with fortification and the use of low GI (slow release) carbohydras.


Taking each in turn: Prepare, for use around 90minutes before exercise, uses a blend of fast and slow proteins – 27g per 65g serving – for muscle mass maintenance (and, in part, to begin the recovery stage even before training), combined with an equal quantity of carbohydrates, only half of which are sugar derived, 3.1g of fibre and vitamins B6 and B12 to aid the immune system. The flavour, chocolate, is perfectly palatable and the mix blended, we found, quickly and without clumps clogging our bottle, although retaining a slightly gritty texture.


Endure in Orange and Mango flavour – personally less to our liking, with a somewhat artificial aftertaste – is a 45g serving, which again mixed quickly to a relatively smooth drink for use on the bike. It delivers 32g of carbohydrates (13g from sugars) balanced in a 4:1 ratio with 8g of protein. The inclusion of thiamine, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin C and B12 all help to promote energy metabolism, with the addition of calcium and vitamin D for bone strength (an increased necessity for older athletes) and, again, vitamins B6 and B12 for the immune system.


Back to chocolate again for the Recover (ditto for the blending, non-clogging qualities) and a mix of whey powder and cassein to extend the ‘recovery window’ with 27g of protein and 28g of carbs (50% sugar derived) per 65g serving hopefully making quick work of getting you ready for the next ride. Again this is fortified with B6 and 12 for the immune system – which ironically can be somewhat compromised by endurance exercise – and calcium and vitamin D for the bones.


Because we often know so little about how our food is produced, harvested, stored and transported even those paying close attention to their diet could certainly do well to consider both food/sports nutrition fortification and vitamin supplementation and Elivar certainly addresses this admirably along with bringing a good range of additional benefits to boot.


The RDA (Recommended Dietary/Daily Allowance) percentage of vitamins varies throughout the range but taking vitamins C, D and E as a fairly representative example they are: 21%, 47% and 30% respectively for Prepare, 21%, 35% and 26% for the Endure, and 39%, 48% and 33% for Recover. Although all three products do contain sodium it was a surprise not to find the inclusion of potassium (possibly zinc and magnesium too) to aid hydration and replace the ‘salts’ lost through sweating during endurance exercise, especially as these form part of the complete package offered by the likes of Apres (review here) and For Goodness Shakes (review here)



Possibly this will be addressed in time along with the flavour (and flavour range); but for now Elivar is an excellent choice for those 35+ year-olds with a lust for life and desire to put in the miles on the bike.


Elivar Prepare and Recover are available in boxes of 12 individual 65g servings at £24.99 or 900g tubs (13 servings) for £34.99 and Elivar Endure in boxes of 12 individual 45g servings at £19.99 and 900g tubs (20 servings) at £24.99. For further details on Elivar and online retail see


Featured Nutrition Reviews


ChiaIt’s inarguable that modern diets are woefully short of Omega 3 – an essential fatty acid most commonly consumed in the form of oily fish. Its use has long been associated with a range of impressive sounding health benefits including blood pressure reduction and, perhaps more importantly for cyclist, reducing inflammation throughout the body, which in turn brings biomechanical gains during exercise.


One of the latest ‘superfoods’ to market, packed to the brim with Omega 3, protein, antioxidants and fibre is Chia; cultivated for centuries by the Aztecs and tribes of the Southwest of America it was once so highly prized as to have been used as currency. The Chia Co actually produce all of their products in Australia (a similarly ideal climate) and follow a broadly environmental regime for minimal global impact.


The seeds themselves (or the oil, which is also available) can be used in many ways – added to smoothies or breakfast cereals, baked into flapjacks or homemade energy bars, sprinkled on salads or added to a variety of recipes, many of which are available on the company website. Eaten alone they have relatively little taste, slightly nutty – rather like a bland sunflower seed.


Usually we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending a natural ingredient that contains so many potential health benefits; however recent studies (particularly those led out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center [sic] in America) have suggested a link between Omega 3 fatty acids and an increased risk of prostate cancer. In actual fact most of the ‘links’ are the result of media misrepresentation and a lack of understanding of results (by the press) but if you want to do your own research then the abstract from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that inadvertently kick-started it all can be found here. Chia is certainly a potent source with much to recommend it.


Chia is available in a variety of pack sizes from 8g ‘shot’ packs (£4.79 for ten) to 1kg jars at £19.29 – further details and the new UK online shop can be found at


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Creative Nature 38g Bars

Creative Nature 38g BarsIf you about what you put in your body (and frankly you really should) you can’t help but have noticed the proliferation of natural-credential energy bars hitting the market recently. Now Creative Nature a young, ethical organisation established to ‘promote health, creativity and respect for the environment’ have launched Creative Nature 38g Bars. The bars come in four flavours – Blissful Berry, Heavenly Cacao, Sublime Seed and Tropical Treat – all cold pressed and using 100% natural and, with the exception of the seed bar, raw ingredients.


The Blissful Berry variety contains cranberry (an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants) and goji berries along with apricots, pineapple and sultanas. There is a refreshing tartness to the bar that cuts through the sweetness and it delivers 122kcal with 27.9g carbs, just 0.1g of saturated and 6g of dietary fibre.


Heavenly Cacao is a mix of dried fruits including dates, cranberries and cacao (i.e. cocoa) in a blend of powder, nibs and butter – with a taste like luxury fruit truffles it’s easy to forget that this bar is actually healthy. 132kcal per bar with 26g carb (just 14 of which are sugars, lower than the Blissful Berry) and – to be expected – higher saturated fats at 1.1g, still nothing to be concerned about.


Tropical Treat – the juiciest of the bars by far – blends pineapple and coconut, but it’s the tang of raw ginger that comes through. 124kcal per bar with 24.5g of carbohydrates (13.8g from sugars), 2.7g of fibre and 2.8 of fat – 1.9g of which, the highest of the varieties, is saturated.


Sublime Seed, the only one of the four varieties we didn’t much like, uses roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds and hemp protein to serve up 170kcal, 16.7g carbs and 3g of fibre. Although not personally to our taste, the bar is commendable in delivering a seed bar that is moist and easily digestible rather than being like something to hang in a birdcage. With 6.5g of protein in the mix it’s also the most useful bar for post-ride recovery.


The range is an excellent addition to the natural energy bar market; good clean tastes, ample ‘goodness’ (two to three bars per hour for a hard ride – on par with most sports-specific gels) and with bountiful green and ethical credentials to back them up. Given their small, jersey-pocket-friendly size they definitely deliver; the Heavenly Cacao, for example, hits you with the same carbs as the much larger 55g, similarly marketed, Chimpanzee bars (see Cyclo review here).


Creative Nature 38g Bars RRP £0.99 and are available, from amongst other places, – for further information on the company see


Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar Energy Bars

MuleBar Energy BarsAn energy bar with impeccable organic and Fairtrade credentials, an energy bar highly rated by top athletes (including many Tour de France riders), an energy bar that tastes great. Most manufacturers would rest on their laurels if they could tick just one of those, not so Mulebar who seem determined to go the extra distance on all counts. So how do the MuleBar Energy Bars stack up?


Variety is key when it comes to getting adequate nutrition on the ride and MuleBar offers a choice of seven unusual flavours: Liquorice Allsports, Pinacolada, Mango Tango, Summer Pudding, Apple Strudel, Hunza Nut and Jimmy’s Choc Orange – intriguing, no? We found all but the Liquorice Allsports both tasty and true to description (different strokes, etc. and you may well love the Allsports too), and crucially, so as to avoid hydration issues, the bars are moist and easily digested without recourse to the bidon.


Not only do these taste like real food, they’re made from it too and the company is committed to introducing further organic and Fairtrade ingredients as they become available – want more ‘green’ credentials? Some of the wrappers are decompostable (and more will be soon) and the company is signed up to the ‘1% For the Planet’ scheme where 1% of sales goes to a network of more than 3000 approved environmental organisations worldwide. Nice to know that something fuelling your ride is also helping protect the planet…


Nutritional values natural fluctuate between flavours but to take Summer Pudding (our flat-out favourite) as a fairly typical example a 56g bar serves up: 187Kcal, 38g of carbs (29g of which are sugars – most of which from the fruit ingredients), just 3g of fat – 0.4g saturates – and 3g of fibre for good measure.


There is, of course, a growing move towards all things natural – even organic – but MuleBar are far ahead of the game when it comes to variety and taste. Summer Pudding will fuel us through the next few months and when the weather changes we’ll gladly switch to Hunza Nut. Or Apple Strudel. Or Mango Tango. Or…


MuleBar Energy Bars are available at with boxes of 12 are £19.00 and boxes of 24 £38.00


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Vita Coco

Vita CocoIf you have attended almost any sporting event over the last few months – indeed almost any outdoor event – you can’t help having noticed the presence of Vita Coco; pumping the kind of high-visibility on-site marketing into the ‘natural hydration’ market that Red Bull reserves for the energy drink.


The story goes that friends Ira Liran and Michael Kirban were talking to two Brazilian women in 2003 about what they most missed about their country; their answer, ‘agua de coco’ (coconut water) set Liran and Kirban on a course to bring it to market in the US – successfully achieved, on a small scale, along the East Coast the following year. A decade later and Vita Coco is sold in a reported 20,000 outlets globally. But how does it really stack up in the hydration department?


Served ice-cold it’s certainly refreshing – it’s ability to quench, we found, reduces exponentially with any rise beyond straight-from-the-fridge-temperature – but the real secret to Vita Coco is that it contains a balance of electrolytes very close to that of the human body. This means it hydrates ‘in balance’ in the same way that an isotonic energy drink does but, broadly speaking, in a much more ‘natural’ way. Both fat- and cholesterol-free, the original Vita Coco, contains just 0.02g of sodium and 5g of carbohydrates – the result a small quantity of added fruit sugars – per 330ml serving.


It probably goes without saying that Vita Coco have diversified. There are now five additional flavours from which to choose: peach and mango, pineapple, orange, tropical fruit and acai and pomegranate. Of these, none but the acai (a ‘drupe’ from the palm of the same name) and pomegranate truly tickled our taste buds; we found them a little insipid and certainly no improvement over the original pure coconut variety. Acai and pomegranate was another matter; an unusual taste with a surprisingly pungent – but pleasant – smell, this could well be our post-ride drink of the summer. Of course the extra fruit also adds to the carbohydrates – typically an addition 1g, hardly worth worrying over.


So, certainly not all varieties to out taste (they may well, of course, be to yours) but the choice of a truly natural hydration solution appeals immensely when the alternative is often overly-sugared, ‘sciencey’, sports drinks. Keep it ice cold and keep it natural.


Vita Coco is available in 330ml, 500ml and 1litre servings; Prices vary widely – try comparing 20,000 retail outlets – but for full details and list guide prices (and online purchase) see


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Chimpanzee Energy Bars

Chimpanzee BarsAt Cyclo we’re big on natural energy bars; we often find them easiest to stomach, especially during longer events and training rides, and avoiding ‘artificial’ nutrition is always high on our list of priorities. Having recently been introduced to new Czech brand Chimpanzee Energy Bars – with their distinctive and fun branding and which the manufacturers claim ‘gradually releases energy to get the best out of your sport or workout’ – we were eager to take a look (and taste…)


Available in three flavours – Raisin & Walnut, Date & Chocolate and Apricot, with a new Beetroot & Carrot flavor coming soon, the makers say that their Chimpanzee Energy Bars are made of the ‘highest quality organic ingredients’ and are completely natural, with no preservatives, artificial colours or flavourings. Taking the Apricot as a fairly representative example, each 55g bar delivers 215kcal, with 26g carbohydrates (of which half is derived from sugars), 8.2g protein and 5.2 of natural fibre, approximately 21% of your RDA. The carb/protein balance is clearly close to what is often considered the optimum 3:1 ratio, making them ideal for either pre-ride fueling or on-bike nutrition where two bars-per-hour should support a moderately tough workout.


Cyclo found the bars fitted neatly into the back pocket of our cycling jersey (in fact we managed to get three in one pocket) and were effortless to open; always a plus when we consider the wrestling matches we’ve undertaken with some bars. All three flavours were easy to chew and digest, were extremely tasty and certainly felt like they were delivering on the energy front too. We’ve found in the past that some energy bars can be hard to chew and swallow, and need to be washed down with a drink, not so with the Chimps – another definite plus-point.


Of the three bars our personal favourite was the Raisin & Walnut, the mix of organic walnuts, organic raisins and cinnamon proving a very pleasant combination. To give an insight as to what ingredients go into a Chimpanzee bar, this, by way of example, makes up the Raisin & Walnut variety: organic rice syrup 15%, roasted soybeans 13%, soy flour 12%, organic soy fat 10%, organic raisins 10%, organic walnuts 10%, organic whole oats 9%, barley malt 8%, rice crisps 5% (rice flour, glucose syrup, barley malt extract), organic evaporated cane juice 5% (FairTrade), organic cinnamon (FairTrade) and salt.


For the purposes of a second opinion Cyclo spoke to Luke Tyburski, an endurance athlete, adventurer, and journalist sponsored by Chimpanzee. ‘Being an Endurance Athlete, with nutrition playing a huge part in my training and racing,’ says Tyburski, ‘Chimpanzee works extremely well due to their bars containing majorly organic ingredients, and no preservatives, or articial flavours or colourings. An all natural, great tasting, easily digestible energy bar that causes no stomach upset, and a constant stream of energy, there is nothing else I want from my nutrition during training and racing… I recently returned from a month-long training camp in Nepal in preparation for the Everest 65km Ultra Marathon, I used Chimpanzee bars throughout all my training, at altitude, throughout the mountainous trails and racing. I found them not only tasty, but easy on my stomach…’


Chimpanzee’s compare well to the similarly styled, long-established Clif Bar (see the Cyclo review here); serving up more-or-less identical levels of carbs and protein, although with Chimpanzee Energy Bars retailing at £1.99 per 55g bar and boxes of 12 x 55g bars at £19.10, Clif (often available for as little as £1) certainly come out best on cost alone. A place, then, for Chimpanzee Energy Bars on our future rides? Absolutely. It’s always good to mix things up and keep variety levels high and with their natural credentials and excellent taste a space for Chimpanzee Energy Bars in our jersey pocket is guaranteed.


For more information on Chimpanzee Energy Bars, and details of both online and offline retailers see



Nutrition Reviews

BioSteel High Performance Sports Drink

BioSteel High Performance Sports DrinkWhen it comes to sports nutrition it’s perhaps not quite all in the name (Cyclo hopes the ingredients might go some way towards defining success) but certainly a name can tell you quite a lot. BioSteel! Now there’s a product name that sounds… hard, a name that suggests no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point, tough-as-old-boots results. How then, we wondered, does BioSteel High Performance Sports Drink measure up beyond the label?


The unavoidable cultural cliché obliges us to point out that with a name like BioSteel, this is a product that could only hail from the USA – and so it does, where it enjoys much success across a range of pro sports, not least in hockey and golf. Indeed it was whilst working as a trainer in the former that BioSteel creator Matt Nichol, a veteran strength and conditioning coach, set about creating an energy drink that delivered maximum results whilst working well within the sports strict anti-doping regime.


Hoping to break the UK market, BioSteel is an easy dissolve (non-clumping) mixed berry fruit flavoured powder that, mixed with plus or minus 250ml of water, delivers 1.5g of carbohydrates (non-sugar, so no associated ‘crash’) along with a mix of ‘body salt’ electrolytes to maintain balance in hot or sweaty conditions. The blend of amino acids are intended to aid recovery and, it’s claimed, boost mental clarity.


As always, hard to substantiate such claims outside of structured testing, but as a pure electrolyte drink it works well, with a crisp, clean flavour that doesn’t so much as hint at artificiality (despite hardly wearing ‘natural’ credentials on its sleeve). Certainly the ‘energy’ levels are relatively low – compare the whopping 30g carbs something like Nectar Sports Fuel delivers in a similar sixed serving…


So, perhaps it’s definitely not all in the name. BioSteel High Performance Sports Drink is a product that sounds incredibly impressive, but (tentative ‘mental clarity’ claims aside) serves mostly to refresh and rehydrate. Perhaps we missed something, but Cyclo doesn’t quite ‘get’ BioSteel. Whilst we wait for enlightenment, we’re happy to reiterate that it tastes good…


Retailing at £69.99 for a tub that, depending on dilution, will give 30-60 servings – BioSteel is available online from


Nutrition Reviews

BeetActive Concentrate

BeetActive ConcentrateThere is strong evidence that beetroot can help to reduce blood pressure; in turn there is a suggestion (not much more than a suggestion until further research is undertaken, to be honest) that this in turn may aid oxygen uptake and thus endurance performance. Either way adding dietary nitrates, in which beetroot is rich, is largely to be commended and one way of doing that is with BeetActive Concentrate.


Made from 100% concentrated beetroot juice, with no added preservatives, BeetActive comes in a 210ml bottle (typically containing the juice of over 30 beetroot), which is diluted to make around two litres of juice. The taste, whilst undeniably ‘beetrooty’, is sweet and pleasant and has nothing of the unpleasant earthiness that plagues rival product Beet It Sport Shots (read the Cyclo review here). It may still prove something of an acquired taste for some, but if the idea of downing BeetActive as a juice doesn’t appeal it also makes an unusual salad dressing when mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar…


Whilst (likely) reducing your blood pressure and possibly improving endurance, one thing is for sure: regular use of BeetActive will turn your urine pink – something we found slightly unnerving and not something we’d usually discuss in public. On a more serious note, be aware too that reducing blood pressure, whilst generally considered a good thing, may not be desirable for those already suffering from abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension). As with all supplements, if there’s cause for concern, it’s always wise to seek advice from a medical professional.


Eating celery, cress, rocket and a host of other green leafy vegetables will all raise dietary nitrates too, but if you’re looking for an easy boost then BeetActive is an interesting addition to the arsenal of cyclist’s weapons; naturally it also counts towards your ‘five a day’. Costing £10.99 for two 210ml bottles (the minimum online order), BeetActive works out to approximately 85p per-day/drink around half the price of a single Beet It Shot. Buying in greater bulk – six or 12 bottles – further reduces the cost.


Details and online purchase at