Featured Nutrition Recovery Reviews

Scheckter’s OrganicEnergy

Need a boost on the bike? Hate the quick fix ‘jag’ of coffee or more traditional energy drinks? The answer could well lay with Scheckter’s OrganicEnergy, a break from the norm that delivers a 100% natural power lift and boasts organic credentials to boot, whilst also claiming a more sustained approach to energy levels without any of the sudden crash that can accompany other manufacturers’ product. As if Scheckter’s needed one more trick up its sleeve, it tastes great.


Developed by Toby Scheckter, a former racing driver who was raised on an organic farm, the 250ml cans of OrganicEnergy delivers through three main mechanisms. Firstly, caffeine comes from a combination of raw green coffee bean extract and guarana, the latter a South American plant related to the maple which delivers twice the caffeine of coffee alone – one can of OrganicEnergy provides approximately 85mg caffeine, about the same as a double espresso. Secondly, ginseng a traditional herbal supplement that claims innumerable benefits (though none scrupulously tested or proven) and finally gingko biloba another long-established herbal preparation which is often said to improve mental focus and improved blood circulation – though the latter isn’t amongst Scheckter’s claimsf for it.


However, Cyclo can be absolutely certain on several points: the caffeine boost was more than perceptible on the ride, a good steady increase that felt sustained and didn’t leave us lagged at the end of it. Beyond the increased buzz that you would expect caffeine to deliver, it’s also worth noting that mounting research shows that it can, in the short term, increase VO2-Max (effectively the amount of oxygen you can metabolise and the effectiveness with which this happens) in addition to raising lactic acid thresholds which can delay the onset of fatigue. We also know for sure that Scheckter’s OrganicEnergy tastes incredibly good – almost an unheard of quality in energy drinks where the norm still seems to be ‘if it tastes foul, it must be doing some good.’ This drink delivers a crisp, clean, slightly citrus taste with no bitter after tang.


Soil Association and Vegetarian Association approved, Fairtrade compliant, 100% natural and organic and, another bonus, from this month also available in a ‘lite’ version that has 33% fewer calories, thanks to the switch from sugar cane to organic agave, a cactus-like plant native to Mexico. Scheckter’s OrganicEnergy is available from Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and some independent health food stores across the UK with a RRP of £1.45 for a 250ml can. This drink is definitely set to be Cyclo’s taste of the summer rides. Further information at


Nutrition Reviews


9Bar is a nutritious and, we have to say delicious, seed bar that packs so much in it’s a wonder the bars aren’t twice the size. As important as what the makers put in, is what they leave out – no artificial additives, wheat, dairy, gluten, lactose, yeast and egg free. Impressive credentials and Cyclo has it on good authority that these find their way into top flight pro team nutrition programs as an addition to the all-singing-all-dancing energy bars supplied by the big makers.


Easy to see why when you consider how good for you the contents are. The Original 9Bar combines sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and poppies with a carob topping, and serves up a whopping 277kcal from the 50g bar – 14.6g of carbs (13.1 from sugars), 9.2g of protein and good doses of omega 3 and 6. There is also the likes of zinc, magnesium and potassium present, excellent for replacing body salts lost through sweat on the ride.


The four other flavours, Pumpkin, Flax, Nutty (Cyclo’s favourite), Organic, are also damn tasty and all offer up the same, or similar, levels of nutritional excellence. Made in Wales, 9Bars should, we believe, find their way into every cyclist’s pocket (and then mouth.) It may only be January, but we put money on this remaining one of our products of the year.


RRP: £0.95 – widely available on the high street and online via


Nutrition Recovery Reviews

Nectar Sports Fuel

Goodness Shakes are rightly known for their excellent sports recovery drinks (see the Cyclo review here) but now they have taken the plunge into the exercise sports drink market with an intriguing new idea. Nectar Sports Fuel is a concentrate which comes in a 2litre bottle (at around £25.00) with a precision pump that delivers exactly the correct amount (25ml) for mixing with 500ml of water – but here’s the clever bit: pump once for a hypotonic drink, twice for an isotonic drink or three times for a hypertonic solution.


Perhaps that needs a little explaining… the hypotonic version will deliver fast hydration and is best suited for use during low intensity workouts (or long, slow bike rides) or in hot conditions. Isotonic works best for higher intensity workouts, strenuous rides or races and delivers a greater energy boost, whilst the hypertonic, three pump, version serves up a real surge of energy for that sprint finish or for interval-style training.)


In terms of the ‘sciencey bit’ Nectar is a ‘dual carbohydrate source’ consisting of 2 parts glucose to 1 part fructose; because these two types of energy use different methods for absorption into the body they can enter the bloodstream (and therefore ultimately the muscles) up to 55% faster than either a standalone glucose or fructose-based energy drink.


The taste, as you might expect from For Goodness Shakes, is excellent too. The Lemon/Lime variety is pleasantly tangy and the Light Orange variety has a mellow mandarin hint – obviously having a sports drink that is actually palatable makes all the difference to drink the right amount. Value’s good too – depending on the concentrate level you opt for each diluted 500ml serving will cost from around 65p, around half what you would expect to pay for a pre-prepared sports drink with similar values.


As a rough guide to nutritional values, the isotonic version (double-pump, 50ml of concentrate) will serve up 240Kcal of energy with 60g of carbs (48 from the combined sugars) along with a good balance of potassium, magnesium and other body salts otherwise lost through sweat.


For more information, visit:

Nutrition Recovery Reviews

Euro Shopper Energy Drink

An energy drink from Euro Shopper? What next? Lidl sports gels? Netto hydration tablets? Regardless, the budget brand has introduced their own energy drink to an already pretty crowded market, but at the very least they have had the good sense to give it the no-confusion name of ‘Energy Drink’. And if there is one thing that Cyclo loves more than a good long Sunday sportive, it’s saving a few pence in the process which makes this, at a mere 35p per 250ml can, a tempting proposition. How does the Euro Shopper Energy Drink shape up?


Of course price isn’t everything can a drink costing less than a third of the market leader’s be any good? Euro Shopper are obviously convinced they can take on the big boys here, even employing the rather cheeky tag line ‘All the taste, none of the bull’, and on taste alone it does measure up well. Like-for-like the sugar levels are close to that of Red Bull – 28.25g for Euro Shopper compared to 27.5g for RB, and this is offset by the caffeine bitter kick, 77.5mg against 79.5g for the equivalent size of RB. Rather shamefully though Energy Drink doesn’t list its sodium content. So taste is reasonable and, after all, who glugs an energy drink for taste alone?


The Euro Shopper option has reasonable levels of active ingredients besides the caffeine content – Taurine (950mg), Vitamin B12 (0.4mg), Vitamin B2 (0.66mg), Vitamin B3 (7.2mg), Vitamin B5 (2.4mg), Vitamin B6 (0.8mg) and is certainly on a par with most other, more expensive, alternatives. As the major active ingredient the caffeine alone is likely to give you the kick you require – there is strong evidence to suggest that besides the ‘buzz’ it will provide, it can also increase the lactic acid threshold (meaning, potentially, that muscles will take longer to fatigue) and raise, by as much as 5%, your VO2Max (the amount of oxygen you can effectively process during exercise.)


Certainly it lacks the ‘cool’ of Red Bull and you’re unlikely to see either the Euro Shopper X-Fighters or Flugtag any time soon, but this is certainly a good budget option for these lean times.


Nutrition Reviews

High5 Energy Gel and IsoGels

High5 GelHigh5 have been around for quite some time and in addition to their other products, including their EnergySource 4:1 and Protein Recovery mix, Cyclo has long used their energy gel products that come in two basic types: traditional gel and IsoGel. The basic High5 Energy Gel is a strong concentrate with an intense rich flavour – available in apple (a Cyclo favourite), banana, citrus, orange and summer fruit – the consistency is thick, though no thicker than rival products, which does require a good glug of water to help it down. The 38gram sachets contain an ample 23grams of carbohydrate to keep you riding hard and for an extra kick caffeinated versions are also available, although we find these to have something of a bitter aftertaste.


For an easier time, and to avoid the need for taking water with your gel, the High5 IsoGel is a really neat solution. Although bulkier than the traditional gel coming in at 60ml (for the same 23gram serving of carbs) they naturally have a far thinner consistency, more like taking a tiny drink than trying to force down a thick gel – the flavour is less intense and the experience far less sticky than with the usual gloop. Available only in orange and berry (please, please can we have apple too?) there is, again, a ‘+’ option which delivers the caffeine hit.


Unlike many gels the High5s are genuinely easy to open one handed, giving you no excuses next time you’re head to head in a race. Both also contain the electrolytes sodium and potassium in just the right quantity to ensure efficient carb metabolizing. Both the Energy Gels and IsoGels are widely available online and off. Expect to pay around £20.00 for 20 IsoGels and £25.00 for 25 Energy Gels.


Nutrition Reviews

Clif Bar

Having recently enjoyed reviewing – and obviously eating – Bounce Energy Balls (review here), Cyclo thought it about time we introduced you to one of our all-time favourite ride snacks: Clif Bar. Whilst Bounce are pretty much the new kids on the nutrition block, Clif are currently celebrating 20years of delivering wholesome, nutritious goodness having made their début, appropriately at a cycle show, in September 1991. A couple of years before CEO and Founder Gary Erickson had been enjoying a 175mile bike ride when he tried a friend’s sports bar, hated it and thought “I could make a better bar than this…” Two years of experimenting in his mum’s kitchen and having named it after his father, Clifford, Erickson realised his ambition.


Clif Bar are available in three flavours in the UK – Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Choc Chip and, our favourite, Crunchy Peanut Butter, whilst in the US consumers are spoiled by a far wider choice including the intriguing sounding Iced Gingerbread, Spiced Pumpkin Pie and Black Cherry Almond. In common with Bounce, Clif sport impressive natural and (largely) organic credentials along with a thoroughly home-made look and texture. They weigh in at 50g and because they are both filling and slightly on the chewy side they lend themselves to nibbling rather than gulping down in one hit – something that can be advantageous when trying to drip-feed your body the suitable nourishment on a long ride. Taking the Crunchy Peanut bar as a fairly representative example of the whole range the delivery of goodness is impressive for weight: 193kcal per bar with 9g of protein and just shy of 30g of carbohydrates; as you should be looking at an ideal protein to carb ration of between 1:3 and 1:4 (as this is where the absorption of carbohydrates works most efficiently) Clif Bars are spot on. 13g of the 29.5g of carbohydrates are (natural) sugars and less than a quarter of the bar’s 4.5g of fat are saturates. Pretty much every other important vitamin and mineral is also present – from A, D, E and C through Magnesium and Zinc for body-salt balance.


Clif Bar may have been around for two decades, but are still hard to beat.


Available individually from numerous high street health food and sports shops or as boxes of 15 online with an RRP of £19.99



Nutrition Reviews

Munchy Seeds

Munchy SeedYou may have noticed by now that Cyclo likes to snack on a ride (and before and after one too if truth be told). And, always on the lookout for something a bit different, we were more than happy to take a nibble at this interesting selection of snacks from Munchy Seed, which are available in a variety pot and packet sizes, including a jersey pocket friendly 30g sachet.


They come in a good variety of flavours too: the Omega Mix and Pumpkin Mix both add a slightly salty crunch, the Chilli Mix throws in some heat and the Vanilla Pumpkin comes on like a little sugared-almond mouth explosion. In addition to being mighty tasty, these nibbles add a reasonable dose of protein to your ride  too, which in turn of course, helps the body to absorb carbohydrates during exercise. Munchy Seeds also boast a strong “Natural” pedigree and the company website is awash with information on the health benefits of everything from Apricot Kernels (an anti-spasmodic effect to help strained muscles) to Nutmeg (easing digestive problems), Hemp (circulatory boosts) and Flax (Omega 3). Always nice to find an extra trick for your goody bag that doesn’t bloat you on artificial nastiness and better still when there are so many potential benefits.


For their weight they pack a punch in the pure nutrition department too; although they vary from variety to variety the Omega Sprinkle, for example, delivers 613kcal, 28.4g protein and 13.1g carbohydrate (1.5g of which is sugar) per 100g serving.


200g tubs cost £3.50, 30g sachets around 60p or a variety pack of sachets (6 of each flavour, 24 in total) are £12.50. Available from selected supermarkets and health food shops, or online at


Nutrition Reviews

Bounce Natural Energy Balls

Bounce BallsHere at Cyclo we are always on the lookout for nutritious (and hopefully tasty) treats to either supplement or replace gels, which despite many years in the saddle we still can’t quite bring ourselves to enjoy. Bounce Natural Energy Balls certainly seem to bring something a little different to the table; made from 100% natural ingredients and available in five unusual flavour combos: Fudge Walnut, Cashew and Pecan, Almond Protein, Peanut Protein and Spirulina/Ginseng. Depending on variety the individually wrapped balls weigh in between 40 and 50g with varying combinations of wheat, dairy or gluten-free credentials, making them suitable for cyclists with special dietary needs and all contain some truly whopping amounts of carbs and protein. Take, for example, The Almond Protein Hit Bounce Ball – our favourite on test – which packs in 12g of protein and 21g of carbs (12g of which is sugar) to serve up more than 200kcal of energy – ample quantities for fuelling up pre-ride, topping up once in the saddle or recovering afterwards.  The balls themselves can truly be described as “rustic”, looking perhaps more like something you would hang in a bird cage, but don’t let looks put you off. Bounce Balls are in fact incredibly tasty and a welcome addition to the kit bag if you’re looking for some variety in your exercise-dependent diet. They are, however, a little dry to the palate and we found that they needed to be taken with a drink.


The Spirulina/Ginseng variety is undoubtedly the most curious variety. Advertised as a “Defence Boost” this one is probably best used post-ride as it has an ideal 4:1 ratio (more-or-less) of Protein:Carbohydrate and is packed with Ginseng (noted as an antioxidant) and the lesser-known Spirulina, a “superfood” which dates back in use to Aztec times. It has a slight marzipan taste and texture, due to the inclusion of vanilla and almonds, and is one of the most unusual health foods Cyclo has ever tried.


Bounce Balls have really tried to do something different with their product range, both in ethos and execution and we wholeheartedly recommend that you give them a try, assuming you can provide a positive answer to their tag-line slogan: “Have you got the balls?”


Various UK stockists or available at, with a 12 price of £16.55