Featured Nutrition Reviews

GU Electrolyte Brew

GU Electrolyte BrewGU launched the world’s first energy gel all the way back in 1991 and for many athletes its outstanding credentials and impressive range of flavours – Jet Blackberry, Lemon Sunblime, Vanilla Bean to name but a few – keep it at the number one spot. And when it comes to sustained hydration during training or racing the equally impressive GU Brew is also worth your attention.


Three of the four available flavours (raspberry, orange, lemon/lime) may seem a little conservative compared to the GU Energy Gel range, but Blueberry Pomegranate adds an unusual twist and all four do a good job of cutting through the slightly salty taste that blights many electrolytes. The flavours are all-natural and you can tell; there’s no bitter chemical aftertaste and they are subtle enough not to overpower.


Taste of course is just one element – and frankly not the most important one – but GU Electrolyte Brew stacks up well where it matters too. Fundamentally an electrolyte drink needs to replace the ‘body salts’ lost during strenuous exercise, when these are depleted the neuromuscular system’s ability to work effectively is compromised and the result (at least the most noticeable immediate result) is muscular cramping. The raspberry, orange, lemon/lime flavours all pack in 327mg of sodium and 52mg of potassium, whilst the Blueberry Pomegranate ups the levels of sodium to 490mg, but cuts potassium to 40mg. There’s not a huge effective difference between these levels for the average athlete, although the added sodium could prove beneficial in more extreme conditions…


In addition GU Electrolyte Brew includes a dual-blend of carbohydrates; the mix of maltodextrin and fructose (‘complex’ and ‘simple’ carbs respectively) is at 2:1, a ratio that is considered optimum for absorption. The dual carbs both provide energy during training and help maximise the absorption in the stomach of both fluids and the potassium/sodium electrolytes. In short they help rehydrate you quicker.


A single 34g sachet makes a larger than average 621ml drink – the rather odd volume probably the result of GU’s American heritage where it would make a far more round-sounding 21floz.


GU Electrolyte Brew is sold in boxes of 16 sachets at £41.60 or more reasonable (but perhaps less convenient) canisters containing 35 servings for £30.


Further details of GU Electrolyte Brew at and online purchase from, amongst others,


Featured Nutrition Reviews

HPN Ultimate Cyclo-Endurance

HPN Ultimate Cyclo-EnduranceAnother month, another brand-new nutrition product… Despite the relative crush of the market Ultimate Cyclo-Endurance from HPN (Hyperformance Nutrition), an isotonic mix with blended carbs and amino acids, is looking to edge out some shelf-space for itself. Cyclo grabbed a bidon and put it to the test.


Hyperformance Nutrition is a relatively new company, formed back in 2011, and promoting a commendably simple philosophy: ‘Train effectively, incorporate optimum nourishment in your training plan and ensure optimum recovery and rest.’ They also note: ‘We go to great lengths to make sure (our products) taste great too!’


In that case let’s start with taste: Only one option, lemon – but it’s a good, clean and crisp tang achieved without artificial flavours or sweeteners (there are no artificial colours or preservatives either) and although there is a slightly bitter aftertaste, probably the result of using stevia as the natural sweetener, it’s more than palatable. The scooped powder also mixed completely without any globs of residue – a true rarity in own-mix formulas in Cyclo’s experience.


The rather awkward one and three-quarter scoops (couldn’t HPN have made a smaller scoop and called it a nice round ‘two’?) mixes with 700ml of water for optimum use with a recommendation to consume the full amount every 40-80minutes on the bike. That’s a lot of bottles for a decent-length ride, but arguably about right for a shorter, faster session.


The nutritional values of Ultimate Cyclo-Endurance certainly stack up well. A 700ml bottle will deliver a fairly impressive 193.2kcal with all 44.9g of carbohydrates delivered via sugars (a blend of dextrose and maltodextrin.) The BCCAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids, here in the form of soya) are added, in part, to reduce fatigue, whilst the mix also includes vitamin C, B2, B6, B12 and niacin (vitamin B3) – in all this represents a really solid approach to on-bike nutrition, whilst the isotonic balance will help the hydration strategy.  That said, in an ideal world we’d rather see a more all-encompassing approach to replacing ‘body salts’ than the mere inclusion of sodium and potassium chloride…


Variety, they say, is the spice of life and having plenty of variety when it comes to nutrition and hydration can be key to mixing and matching for best results on the bike. We would no more recommend the sole use of Ultimate Cyclo-Endurance than any other product, but it’s impressive blend (and generally good flavour) make it a great race-day or training addition. At £14.99 for 1.05kg – making up 20 bottles – the value is good too.


Further details and online purchase of Ultimate Cyclo-Endurance at


Featured Nutrition Reviews


BLOCKHEADThere are times on the longer training sessions or endurance races when a caffeine shot seems like just the thing. But with cans of energy drinks, let alone a nice tall latte or espresso shot, rarely convenient/possible BLOCKHEAD could be a solution.


BLOCKHEAD is a new compressed energy gum, the creation of British sport scientist, Danny Lowe, who applied his knowledge of absorption methods to create a product that reportedly works five-times faster than caffeinated energy drinks. Each pack contains ten pieces, with each delivering 32mg of caffeine which, because its absorbed orally via the buccal mucosa membranes in the mouth rather than in the digestive tract and stomach, gets to work within around five to ten minutes of chewing (compared to 25-45minutes with most caffeinated drinks.)


The BLOCKHEAD taste starts not unlike a ‘traditional’ chewing gum flavour (sort of generic fruit) but quickly deteriorates into bitterness, not entirely pleasant and, in fact, not worse than some energy shot drinks. On test rides there was a noticeable caffeine buzz within 15minutes and under slightly stricter test control raised the resting heart rate by 20% within 10minutes and a fairly sustained 25% within 15minutes.


Caffeine is certainly proven to increase alertness but technically only improves endurance performance in high doses – around 3-6mg per kg of body weight – and as the maximum recommended daily consumption of BLOCKHEAD is three pieces (96mg) there’s probably only marginal gains to be had here. That said, the recommended daily allowance may be erring on the side of caution when you consider that a 250ml can of Red Bull – to take the market leader as a fairly representative example – contains 80mg of caffeine, which the Food Standards Agency suggests is: ‘the same as three cans of cola or a mug of instant coffee.’


Arguably there are other benefits to caffeine – and by association BLOCKHEAD – some (relatively small-scale) studies suggest that caffeine at doses around those found in a single espresso (70-80mg) have a positive effect on both lactic acid build-up and VO2 levels – basically the rate at which the body can absorb oxygen.


BLOCKHEAD, which is sugar-free, also packs in vitamins B3 (as niacin), B6 and B12 (all at 15% RDA per piece), along with taurine, an amino acid that, amongst other things, helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood.


Some confusion creeps in with BLOCKHEAD with the mint flavour – which does a better initial job of disguising the bitter taste – as each piece contains an increased 50mg of caffeine and the recommended daily consumption is listed as four pieces. At 200mg total that’s double the recommendation of the standard flavour…


Whatever the evidence – or exact levels required – the fact is that many rely on the occasional caffeine shot to get through training or racing (or simply the day) and BLOCKHEAD, with its fast absorption rate, offers an incredibly convenient way of doing it.


Single packs of BLOCKHEAD retail at £1.95, with cartons of 18 packs available at £28.08


Further details and online purchase of BLOCKHEAD at


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Hüma Chia Energy Gel

Hüma Chia Energy GelThere is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choosing a gel to power the ride, and the latest addition to the UK market is Hüma. Already gaining a considerable reputation in America, Hüma lands in the UK with solid 100% natural credentials and more than its share of tricks up its sleeve.


The 100kcal from each sachet has carbs derived not just from the fructose in the fruit purees that are the cornerstone of Hüma but also from both evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup. Glucose/fructose blends improve absorption rates and help sustain energy in a more linear fashion, avoiding sugar highs and subsequent crashes, and Hüma is further aided by the addition of chia, which, as a blended fibre, further moderates how carbs are metabolised.


Chia is also well recognised as an excellent source of essential amino acids and of Omega 3 in particular; it also works as an antioxidant and has gained something of a name for itself as a super-food over recent years.


Hüma Chia Energy Gel is available in four flavours – Strawberry, Apple and Cinnamon, Mango, and Blueberry. As you might expect from a gel that eschews chemicals and additives in favour of fruit purees the tastes are crisp, clean and easily identifiable; they are, perhaps, a little on the sweet side, but show us a gel that isn’t. The texture is smooth (none of that frogspawn consistency that taints many gels) and, we found, went down without the need of additional water.


If all that’s not enough to tempt you Hüma is also gluten and dairy-free, vegan friendly and delivers sodium and potassium to replace ‘salts’ lost through sweating at a similar level to many electrolyte solutions.


Hüma Chia Energy Gel sachet sizes vary slightly between flavours – Mango 43g, Apples and Cinnamon 45g, Blueberry and Strawberry both 46g – but all retail at £47.76 for boxes of 24.


Further details of Hüma Chia Energy Gel at


Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar ReFuel

MuleBar ReFuelCyclo has long admired the products from MuleBar and used both their Kick Gels and Energy Bars across numerous long rides, what we haven’t done – until now – is use and review their equally delicious MuleBar ReFuel Bars…


MuleBar was born after a climbing trip to cerro Aconcagua in 2002 where co-founders Alex and Jimmy say they simply couldn’t stomach any more of the energy bars on offer from their guides. After five years of experimentation, research and (presumably) eating the company produced their first commercial available products in 2007 and in many ways things haven’t changed much since as they still product nutrition bars and gels based on their founding principles of nature, taste, performance, environment and simplicity.


The MuleBar ReFuel certainly ticks all of these boxes: In terms of ‘nature’, they use no synthetic ingredients, artificial preservatives, colourings, flavourings or palm oil, just a blend of bogoya banana, Fairtrade dates, Fairtrade almonds, cocoa and chocolate drops to produce either their Chocolate Banana or Chocolate Date flavour. Trust us, that blend also covers ‘taste’ – both flavours are excellent, with a sticky moreishness that fools you into thinking that they can’t be good for you.


But of course, they are. The MuleBar ReFuel Chocolate Date is made from 23% Fairtrade dates and delivers 240Kcal, 31g of carbohydrate and 13g of high quality protein per 65g bar, whilst the Chocolate Banana (same size bar) is 25% Bogoya banana to give 246Kcal, 34g of carbs and 14g of protein. The commendably stripped back ingredients also ticks off ‘simplicity’ from the co-founders list.


That leaves only ‘environment’ and it’s good to know that not only do MuleBar use Fairtrade ingredients (ReFuel is the only Fairtrade protein bars on the UK market), they are also Vegetarian Society approved and are signed up to the 1% For The Planet scheme which sees 1% of annual sales donated to sustainability initiatives.


MuleBar ReFuel RRP at £2.50 per 65g bar or online at at £30 per box of 12, £60 per box of 24 for either flavour or mixed boxes of both flavours. Go on, treat yourself…


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Nordic Oil Omega 3

Nordic OilOmega 3 oils, it would seem, are useful at almost every stage of life, but because the body doesn’t produce it naturally we need to find either a rich dietary source or through supplements such as those produced by Nordic Oil. As a ‘modern diet’ is so often lacking in Omega 3s of sufficient quantity or quality, the latter is invariably the better option.


Nordic Oil uses only premium quality Omega 3 oil sourced in deep, clear waters from cold-water anchovies, herring and sardines (some of the best sources available) and ‘deep’ and ‘clear’ are key for a rather odd reason. The fish themselves are no more capable or producing Omega 3 that we are, instead they get it in turn from their food source (often krill) and the better quality the water, the better the fish food, the better the fish, the better the Omega 3s… the better the product. Phew.


Nordic Oil produce a range of products which includes the bottled High Grade Omega 3; it’s cold-pressed and triple-filtered, which improves both purity and quality, and if you’re concerned about the taste (memories of childhood?) the edge is somewhat removed with a dash of natural lemon flavour. If supplementing with capsules looks like a more attractive proposition the Nordic Oil 1000mg capsules go down easily but deliver less than half of the EPA and DHA (the two key components of Omega 3) that the straight-from-the-bottle oil serves up. They are still a solid option when you consider that at least part of your Omega 3 requirements are likely to be being met through diet alone, especially through ‘oily’ fish, soybeans, walnuts, flax, etc.


Omega 3 provides a range of benefits, but to be (very) reductive it reduces stress (systemic not mental), which can be particularly beneficial to endurance athletes. However it has been subject to controversy in 2013 with large sections of the media have had a field day with ‘links’ between supplementing and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Almost all of this has been the result of media misrepresentation and a lack of understanding of results (by the press) but if you want to do your own research – and if you’re going to stick something in your body Cyclo would always recommend you do – then the abstract from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that inadvertently kick-started it all can be found here.


Public Service Announcement over – we can probably get on with supplementing and being healthier, happier cyclists. Nordic Oil High Grade Omega 3 500ml bottles retail at £26.99 (£15.99 for 250ml) and 60x1000mg Omega 3 Capsules – a month’s worth – RRP £9.99. Further detail and online purchase at


Vegetarians looking for a supplementary source of Omega 3 might consider a product like Chia – take a look at the Cyclo review here.





Featured Nutrition Reviews

GU Energy Gels

GU Energy GelsFor more than 20 years GU have been at the forefront of the energy gel business and although a few (minor things) have been tweaked here and there they are still largely unchanged since their launch in 1991 – testament to the mantra ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’


Don’t be fooled by the somewhat miniscule 32g GU pack size; they deliver 100kcal per serving – equal to many larger gels – from 25g of carbohydrate, a blend of 70-80% maltodextrin and 30-20% fructose (depending on flavour variety.) The mixed carb source has several benefits: fructose absorbs quickly and so goes to work fast, but the gentler on the stomach maltodextrin – a starch derivative – absorbs slower for sustained energy but still quickly enough not to shunt blood away from otherwise preoccupied muscles. Combined, the fructose and maltodextrin provide a steady energy source without the peaks and troughs of simple sugars. To aid carb absorption and to help fight off muscle fatigue each serving also contains 450mg of amino acids in addition to sodium and potassium to counter ‘body salts’ lost through sweat.


GU also offers a wide range of flavours – Jet Blackberry, Chocolate Orange and Cyclo’s favourite Vanilla Bean amongst them. All of the flavours are well balanced (tasty without being overpowering) and the consistency is closer to a paste than most gels, which takes some getting used to and does require a swig from the bidon to wash down.


GU certainly delivers on the energy front and those with sensitive stomachs should benefit from the maltodextrin biased carb content, flavour range means there is (probably) something for everyone and their tiny packet size – half of a Maxifuel Viper for similar energy delivery for example – means there is less bulk in the jersey pocket. As the makers say: ‘Just suck down a packet of your favourite flavour and go (big)!’


GU Energy Gels are £36 per box of 24, further details and online purchase from


Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar Kick Gels

MuleBar Kick GelsSometimes it’s the little things in life that matter, the detail that amplifies the underlying excellence – like the dab of rouge on the woman’s cheek in Seurat’s La Grande Jatte. Okay perhaps we’re waxing a little too lyrical for a gel review, but MuleBar Kick Gels are ridiculous easy to open…


Opening a gel one-handed on a bike can be precarious at best, but the angled rip top on MuleBar Kick Gels is a breeze and (generally) the tab stays attached so there’s no quandary about stashing two bits of litter and no eco-embarrassment from the top taking flight behind you. On a further environmental note the Kick Gels are registered organic, have no synthetic ingredients, artificial preservatives, colourings or flavourings and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Although the wrappers are not compostable like many of MuleBar’s energy bars, we suspect they’re working on that too.


All this would count for nothing if the gels didn’t perform in the energy department, but they stack up here too. Values differ very slightly between flavours – Apple Strudlel, Lemon Zinger, Café Cortado and, our favourite, Cherry Bomb – but generally you can expect around 110kcal with 27g of carbs (25g of which from sugars) from a 37g sachet. Carbohydrate sources again vary in their specifics between varieties but are a mix of fast and slower release sugars from fruit sources and high GI brown rice syrup (which can also be easier on the stomach than fruit derived sugars.)


Flavours are excellent with the Lemon Zinger and Cherry Bomb both delivering a welcome tang to cut through the sweetness, whilst the Café Cortado, as the name implies, adds 100mg caffeine – a little more than you would get from an 80ml espresso or two regular 330ml cans of Coke (should you really not care about your health.) The Café Cortado also throws in natural guarana extract which, combined with the caffeine, delivers a noticeable kick. To partially counter body-salt loss from sweating all four varieties of MuleBar Kick Gels include 100mg of sodium derived from Himalayan crystal salts, and although we applaud adding something that sounds like it’s been collected by Lara Croft, it would arguably have been good to have included some potassium too. Sweat rate and sweat composition vary massively from person to person but with anything between 400 and 1800mg lost per litre of sweat even 2-3 gels per-hour are not the complete solution.


Tiny niggle aside (who relies on their gels for rehydration strategy anyway?) MuleBar Kick Gels have a great deal to recommend about them. Boxes of 12 are £19, boxes of 24 gels £38 – further details and online purchase at