Nutrition Recovery Reviews


AprèsRecovery drinks are, inarguably, an excellent idea after a long training ride or tough sportive – an energy-sapped body benefits from carbohydrate replacement and protein can go to work repairing the damage and getting you set for the next saddle-up. But however much good we know it’s doing us, trying to throw down a cold drink at the end of a blisteringly bitter ride is something we have never particularly relished the idea of. If only there was a hot recovery drink we could use… Enter Après, the hot malted chocolate drink that looks to tick all the right boxes.


Après is the brainchild of brothers Luke and Matt Farren who, after a six-hour training ride so cold they report their bidons froze (possibly a painful euphemism) came up with the now seemingly obvious idea of a hot beverage that fulfilled all the requirements of a traditional recovery drink.


Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and made from sustainably produced skimmed milk powder, sugar and cocoa, Après delivers the accepted ideal 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio (25.6g carbs, of which 19.2g is sugar, to 8.2g of protein for 40g serving). It also contains a range of vitamins including A, D, E, C, B1, B2, B3, and B6, plus a range of minerals – potassium, magnesium, zinc – likely to have been lost trough sweat even on the coldest or rides. For good measure each serving contains 2g of L-Glutamine, an amino acid that, despite very limited evidence to support any benefit to athletes, continues to find its way into sports products. Still, no harm in hedging of bets and including it here.


Cyclo found that Après mixed quickly and without too much annoying ‘clumping’ to produce a drink with a good chocolaty taste and a hint of malt that didn’t overpower things. Hot water is invariably available at the end of well organised sportive and we found the idea of a hot drink (that was also doing us good) a veritable pick-me-up. It is often suggested that milk-based drinks make for more effective recovery, in part because of the slightly slower absorption rates and natural electrolytes, in which case Après hits another high note. Both malted barley and quality cocoa have well defined antioxidant properties too – more good news for depleted riders.


In comparison to something like the chocolate flavour For Goodness Shakes 3:1 Recovery drink – which comes in larger 72g sachets to mix to a 500ml drink – the numbers stack up like this:


FGS 266.5kcal – Après 142kcal

FGS 16.3 protein – Après 8.2g

FGS 48.9g carbs of which 45.6 sugar – Après 25.6g, 19.2g sugars

FGS 1.2 fat of which .6g saturated – Après 0.8g, 0.4g saturates

FGS 0.1g sodium – Après 0.24g


Vitamin and mineral content varies between the two products on %RDA, and it’s vital to remember that these are drinks of different size; that said a drink’s a drink so the above figures are a fair indication of what you will be putting down you at the end of a ride. But for our money, on a cold day, Après looks very much like a winning formula.


Après is available in single 40g sachets at £1.99, packs of six at £11.40 and boxes of 15 sachets at £26.99 – free delivery on orders with more details at


Nutrition Reviews

Jack Links Beef Jerky

Jack Links Beef Jerky ReviewIf there is one thing here at Cyclo we like almost as much as riding the bike, it’s food. Before, during, after the ride – and as much as we can happily recommend a number of bike nutrition solutions (take a look at our reviews of Bikefood or Shot Bloks for example), it’s often ‘real’ food we crave in the saddle. Enter then Jack Links Beef Jerky, quite possibly our favourite new snack…


Beef Jerky? On a bike? Where’s the carbs? Actually there are some – around 17g per 100g of snack – which is barely significant compared to something like a High5 Energy Gel say, which would boast closer to 70g per 100g (roughly 3 gels worth) but what is significant here is the protein content, so often overlooked when it comes to exercise. Protein is useful (arguably essential) for several reasons: some of the amino acids in protein help your body absorb carbohydrates; protein is essential to recovery – a process that can be started whilst still exercising. Jack Links Beef Jerky delivers a not-unreasonable 46g of protein per 100g.


The science aside, here’s the thing: Getting food, of whatever protein/carbohydrate ratio, down you during exercise is a whole lot easier when it tastes great and Jack Links Beef Jerky certainly does. With a reputation for care and attention they make these snacks from only the choicest beef and at just 3% fat it’s a winning formula. Beyond the original flavour there is also the Sweet and Hot variety which, although undeniably tasty, are lower on carbs (just 12g per 100g) and which we found slightly dehydrating on the saddle so perhaps best saved for post-ride refuelling.


If you want more there’s also Beef Steak Bites (25g carbs, 34g protein per 100g) and their Teriyaki variety (18g carbs/36g protein) both slightly higher in fat at 4%, plus equally delicious Chicken Bites Flamin´Buffalo Style or Curry (12g carbs/32g protein and 4.8g fat). But for our money the Beef Jerky originals are where it’s at for adding both taste variety and a useful dose of protein to your ride.


Just a couple of minor words of warning: first if you’re looking for gluten-free the original flavour isn’t, whilst the rest of the range is. Secondly, if you are a true purest, note that the full range, apart from the Beef Stake Bites, contain the flavour enhancer MSG and thirdly take care: each pack contains an essential (but very easily swallowed if you have your eyes on the road) non-edible sachet of oxygen absorber to maintain freshness.


Cautionary note noted, we couldn’t recommend Jack Links Beef Jerky highly enough, great on the ride, great for recovery afterwards.


Widely available on line in both 25 and 75g sizes, more information at


Nutrition Reviews

Beet It Sport Shots

beet it sports shotYou like beetroot right? Really? Too bad, perhaps, if you don’t because it has become something of a fad over the last year or so, joining other previously unsung oddities to become a member of the hallowed ‘super-food’ group with impressive (or at least impressive sounding) credentials. On the face of it adding beetroot or its derivatives to a sporting diet makes good sense; it’s abundantly rich in dietary nitrates which carries some quite strong evidence for reducing blood pressure – this, in turn, may help improve exercise efficiency (according to recent studies – more of which below) by increasing oxygen uptake. One way of consuming enough beetroot to possibly see results is by taking Beet It Sport Shots – little 70ml bottles of extract with a dash of lemon juice to help remove some of the associated ‘earthy’ taste. Cyclo took the plunge and put them to the test.


Now, true to say that our hearts seldom leap when we test something that carries the warning ‘may turn urine pink’, but so be it. First off, the taste: Beet It tastes uncommonly like, well…, beetroot (with a hint of lemon), so unless it’s the texture of the pink imp that usually puts you off this is unlikely to do anything to persuade you that beetroot now ranks up there with truffle or a good steak. In terms of improving performance? Naturally hard to say in any meaningfully empirical sense even after two weeks of daily consumption, but then much of the ‘evidence’ for benefits comes from worryingly low-key studies (very small test groups, no double-blind testing, exceptionally short test period and no study of long-term benefit).


If you buy into the ‘super-food’ idea, then giving Beet It a go will undoubtedly boost your dietary nitrates (and probably lower your blood pressure), but so too would making sure that your daily intake includes celery, cress, rocket and a host of other green leafy vegetables. Personally this isn’t something we’ll take to on a regular basis at least until there is a whole world of additional proof, and it’s done nothing to convince us that beetroot is anything but the devil’s food. Oh yes, and it turned our urine pink too…


Beet It Sport Shots cost £27 for 15, more details at


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Bikefood Pure Energy Gels

What sort of food do you need on a bike? The obvious answer, of course, is ‘bike food’ which should make the handily-named and easy-to-remember Bikefood Pure Energy Gels a shoe-in of a choice when it comes to the crunch. But having nabbed the best name and web address ( do they stack up in the areas that really matter?


For those that care about such things (which Cyclo hopes is all of you) these live up to their ‘Pure Energy’ tag; containing no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or thickening gum agents and delivering all of their 117.2kcal per 40g pack via natural sugars; a blend of honey – the primary source – plus agave syrup and carob. The decision to pack them with sugars results, in addition to an incredibly sweet taste that won’t suite all palates, in a relatively high carbohydrate content of 28.8g.


But fear not the idea that sugars alone can result in peaks and troughs of energy (the dreaded ‘sugar crash’); the theory goes that because the sugars here are derived from a variety of sources – as opposed to simply fructose as an example – the energy release is both staged and sustained; something we certainly found in testing. With a dash of lemon oil added to the mix, these undeniably tasted like Lockets which, whilst not unpleasant by any means, made for a slightly nostalgic ride with connotations of missed school days. Also worth noting that this is virtually a carb-only gel; just .05g of protein, nowhere near enough to make any difference to absorption rates.


As suggested already, Bikefood Pure Energy won’t be to everyone’s taste and anyone who struggles to digest other brands’ already sweet gels should probably avoid. But for our part Cyclo enjoyed mixing things up on the ride and using Bikefood in conjunction with other energy sources and gels; the natural and vegetarian (though not vegan) credentials were welcome and the approach to recycling – via where returned wrappers from any manufacturer get you entry into a monthly prize draw – is a fun and useful initiative.


Bikefood Pure Energy Gels takes an unusual and welcome approach to serving up sustained levels on the ride – a product for those who care about what they put into their body and what they don’t drop all over the road. Retailing at £1.45 each or £33.75 for a box of 25. Further details at


Nutrition Recovery Reviews

ZipVit ZV0 Electrolyte Drink

Frequent readers of Cyclo will have noticed that we’re hot on good hydration. If you also spotted our recent review of ZipVit ZV8 Energy Bars it will come as no surprise that we have turned our attention to ZV0, the same company’s sports electrolyte drink.


Initially developed to meet the demands of Cervelo Test Team riders, ZipVit ZV0 combines seven key electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat with L- Glutamine, an amino acid whose dietary sources include everything from beef to dairy products, which some (so far quite limited) research suggests can boost the immune system and aid fatigue. These individually wrapped, effervescent, tablets dissolve on 500-750ml of plain water and low calorie (just over 12kcal per serving) and formulated as low-carbohydrate (0.28g) which may also help burn body fat more efficiently during prolonged exercise.


Whilst difficult to swear to their efficiency with regards to either fat-burning or immunity building, the ZV0s certainly deliver on the rehydration front and, crucially, taste pretty good too. Free from artificial colours and flavours, the original Watermelon option tastes refreshing (oddly more like cucumber though, we thought) and does a reasonable job of masking the slightly ‘salty’ taste, but by far Cyclo’s favourite is the all-new Cherry flavour, one of the best tasting electrolytes we’ve tested to date.


If you’re looking for pure and unadulterated rehydration something more along the lines of Elete Water might suit, but if you want that little extra (and a great taste to boot) then ZV0 is an excellent option. £7.99 buys 20 tabs, enough to make between 10 and 15litres of drink. Further information and online sales at


Nutrition Reviews

ZipVit ZV8 Energy Bars

An energy bar packed full of goodness, but almost inedible, is useless. A tasty energy bar so dry it feels you’ve had all the moisture sucked from your body (you know the kind) is equally useless. Step forward the ZV8 Energy Bar from ZipVit – rammed to the rafters with goodness, a range of delectable flavours and almost as juicy as heading straight for a jaffa.


Taste, of course, is a matter of preference but with a range that incorporates banana, orange, chocolate, yoghurt coated peach and apricot and chocolate coated strawberry there is probably something here for everyone. The flavours are vibrant without being overpowering and despite being marketed more towards the ‘sciency’ end of the spectrum there is something of a home-spun taste that perfectly balances sharp tang with sweeter fruits – even the chocolate coated option manages to avoid being sickly sweet. The juiciness is the really big selling point for Cyclo. So often on the bike we are left scrabbling for the water bottle to help wash down a bar that it comes as an real treat to discover a product that almost feels as if it’s actively helping, rather than hindering, the hydration strategy.


In terms of ‘goodness’ the ZV8 is second to none. Delivering easily digested carbohydrate energy with the addition of 9 supplementary vitamins (Bs 1, 2 and 3, plus C and E amongst them). Exact levels vary slightly between varieties, but taking the uncoated orange as an example the ZV8 will deliver 244kcal, 4,7g of protein, 34.9g of carbs (21.3g sugar, 7.2g of fat of which 0.7g is saturated) per 65g bar.


Hard to fault and easy to eat, the ZV8 may well be the Cyclo taste of the summer (should the summer ever actually arrive…) Available individually, but bulk purchasing at around the £25 mark for 20 bars makes sense to us.


Nutrition Reviews

Raw Chocolate Energy Balls

How often can you say that a power-boosting energy snack tastes good, let alone fantastic? Hold that thought and add to it the number of times you have said, ‘man, that snack tasted so nice I’m going to send some as a present to the wife/husband/bank manager…’ Well it seems that the Gorgeous Chocolate Heart Company have achieved the seemingly impossible with their range of extraordinary raw energy confections designed to both boost performance and tickle the taste buds in equal measure. Meet the Raw Chocolate Energy Balls…


Weighing in at 40g and looking like a chocolate truffle on steroids (though obviously  containing no such thing) the range consists of four options: Spiraball, Berriball, Buziball and the Lovebite Ball; all incorporate 100% natural ingredients including raw chocolate (in the form of cacao powder and butter), which unlike most conventional chocolate isn’t processed or roasted, leaving it – and the other ingredients, rich in easily assimilated nutrients, minerals and vitamins. The Spiraball adds spirulina and figs to the mix, whilst the Buziball has goji berries and maca (lepidium meyenii), the Berriball adds cranberries and chia seeds (to provide omega3) and the Lovebite contains both ginseng and guarana. With the latter suggesting ‘libido raising’ properties it might be best to pass on this one on the bike where lycra leaves little room for, ahem, growth.


All joking aside, the range delivers excellent power-boosting properties, certainly in line with plenty of commercially available (and less palatable) traditional gels and bars. Take the Buziball for example which delivers 153kcal from 17.4g of carbs (14.8g of which derives from sugars) and mixes in a healthy dose of 3g of protein to help, amongst other things, metabolise the energy faster. A bigger jag of protein can be found in the Spiraball (4.3g) and all four provided an excellent lift on Cyclo’s test rides.


Yes, you’re unlikely to switch your entire nutritional strategy on the bike to one made up entirely of raw chocolate truffles, but on long events mixing up the intake is desirable and the Gorgeous Chocolate Heart Company provides a way of lifting both spirit and performance all at once. Go on, treat yourself…


Wheat, dairy, sugar and gluten free the range is available in a growing range of high street health food shops or via the website £8.00 for four of the same or one of each, including UK P&P.


Extras Nutrition Recovery Reviews


Good hydration is – as Cyclo is so often at pains to highlight – vital to good performance, fail to hydrate and you will ride sub-standard. But hydration isn’t just about replacing volume lost to sweating; it’s about replacing elements, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium, too and the more accurately to can target these levels the better. This could well be were a new range of products called H2ProHydrate comes in.


Unlike most ‘salt’ replacement tablets H2Pro comes in a range of four ‘strengths’: 250, 500, 1000 and 1500 each designed for either different levels of excursion or sweat rate. An individual’s sweat rate (how much of these elements we lose per hour) can either be roughly self-calculated or more highly measured by undergoing a quick and painless test at one of the centres currently offering the service in the UK – see for details. Once measured it is simply a case of picking which of the four tablet strengths best matches the results.


Even without undergoing the test the H2Pro tablets can be employed as highly affective hydration solutions. The 250s are used as a general ‘day to day’ tablet and the 500s more closely match the levels of most electrolyte sports drinks – both can be useful therefore in keeping levels stable in the lead up to a sportive or hard training session; whilst the 1000 and 1500s are more appropriate for high sweat sodium loss individuals (as identified by testing) or for longer/hotter rides and multi-day events.


With a crisp, very slightly citrus taste that isn’t overpoweringly ‘salty’ H2Pro has tested well with Cyclo having used both the 500s as background hydration and the 1000 strength as an on-the-bike electrolyte and post-ride re-hydrator. Both the 250s and 500s cost £6.99 for 15 tabs, whilst the 1000s and 1500s come in at the same price for 10. Further information and online ordering via


For more information on hydration read the Cyclo feature Cyclists: Don’t Sweat It here.