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


Extras Recovery Reviews

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz ReviewThere were two things that made us want to take a closer look at the Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero: First, we are told (by the makers) that it’s incredibly popular with cyclists and second we love ‘natural’ products and this one claims to consist of ‘99% natural ingredients’. So, what does it do? Is it any good? And can we forgive it that 1%?


The Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz, which comes in a 100ml pump bottle, is intended for spraying onto aching muscles either during or post-exercise to provide an instant cooling effect, which gives way to a gentle warmth through the treated area. It achieves this through a blend of botanical extracts including peppermint (natch), white willow, arnica, witch hazel and blue chamomile – whilst the carrying agent (a natural alcohol denant) also adds to the initial cooling as its rapid evaporation leads to a drop in skin temperature. Looking at the other active ingredients in order: peppermint essential oil can reduce inflammation (and smells good), willow – in the form of bark extract – is an astringent, which will cause mild skin contraction, arnica has proven efficacy as an anti-inflammatory, witch hazel is a toner, and chamomile is another anti-inflammatory. Phew…


If you’re wondering about the 1% of synthetic ingredients: menthyl lactate is a common cosmetics ‘cooling agent’, potassium sorbate is a preservative (E number 202) and ascorbic acid (actually a form of vitamin C) is utilised as an anti-oxidant in the spritz. Nothing to worry about here and the other 99% is more than commendable.


Does it work though? The short answer is an unequivocal yes. The cooling effect was instant and quite intense shifting, after a few minutes, to a background warmth that lasted in excess of half an hour. Perhaps not strictly for use as pain relief, and, as it evaporates so quickly (an essential part of the cooling mechanism), it lacks the advantage of being compatible with massage. But for instant revitalisation with tangible soothing results that eased muscle tension this is an undeniably useful product that deserves to find its way into the bag of tricks for post-sportive or intensive training session. Cyclo would love to see a mini version – say sub-50ml – that could tuck into a jersey pocket…


Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero is available for £11.99 from


Recovery Reviews

The Stick

The Stick MassageAt first glance The Stick self-massage gizmo looks like a gimmick and ranging in price from £27.99 to £47.99, depending on size, a pretty expensive gimmick at that. But having heard so many people (cyclists and marathon runners in particular) rave about the benefits Cyclo thought it time to take a closer look…


Invented back in 1991 in America, The Stick is, in essence, a long… erm… stick, with handles at either end and a series of free-rotating spindles between; these look disturbingly like vertebrae but are, in fact, the bits that really go to work on sore muscles when you begin your self-massage session. It can be employed for a variety of massage sessions, working both trigger points and general deeper tissue pummelings, with the version Cyclo had on test (the shortest, 17inch and cheapest, £27.99) being particularly effective at working the legs.


We found some real benefits from use, both pre-ride warming and, in particular, post-ride workouts that shifted knots and released tight calf muscles quickly and efficiently. The price seems high, but compared to a single 30minute physio session things start to look far more cost effective.


It’s hard to get beyond the feeling that The Stick is a gimmick; the US website describes it as ‘The toothbrush for muscles’, a completely ridiculous simile that doesn’t stand up to even the slightest of inspection; whilst the UK site opts for the barely-better ‘The massage tool for happy muscles’. But if you can get beyond the hype and are prepared for the initial outlay, then The Stick could be a true long-term friend for both injury prevention and recovery; this is certainly kit that Cyclo will keep close to hand (and leg) from now on.


True cheapskates should take a look at the ever-excellent (and often deranged) website, where some penny-pincher has posted instructions for making your own out of household objects. We wouldn’t swear by the results, but it will give you something to read whilst using your own (genuine) Stick.


Further details and online ordering at



Extras Recovery Reviews


We hope we’re not getting to ‘sciencey’ here, but breathing relies on muscles. And like the other muscles of the body, those involved in respiration can be trained to maximise their efficiency. For years now the major player in training these muscles has been the Power Breathe ( and its imitators, small handheld devices that look not unlike a ventilator and which rely on slowly increasing the ‘load’ or resistance across a program of daily breathing exercises. Now there’s a new kid on the block which could go head to head (lung to lung?) with the Power Breathe…


Developed by Progressive Sports Technologies, based at the Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University, the RespiBelt is, to put it in reductive terms, an elasticated belt that attaches just below the pectorals or breast and can be adjusted with Velcro webbing to increase or decrease the resistance on breathing. The unique selling point here is that, unlike the Power Breathe, it can be used during training sessions on the bike (or indeed run) to deliver results in tempo with whatever workout you already had planned.


In terms of use, things couldn’t really be simpler: line up the tabs with the marks on the Velcro webbing to increase or decrease the level of additional workout and slip the belt on; then just cycle or workout as usual whilst the RespiBelt does its thing. Gradually increasing the load over several weeks (which is recommended for maximum benefit) means that the device never feels constrictive and on testing Cyclo noticed tangible results within ten days. There seems to be a wealth of credible science behind the RespiBelt (lots to be found and pored over at and testimonials seem to be coming thick and fast – Mo Farah’s pre-Olympic training regime included its use and even at less elite levels we can certainly see the benefit.


Available in five sizes – XS to XL – and, whilst not cheap at £59.99, adding this to your bag-o-tricks means effective exercising of muscles essential to cycling but all too often neglected. Full details and online purchase 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


Extras Recovery Reviews


Rocktape is, for Cyclo’s money, far and away the best kinesiology tape available. Useful for supporting injuries in a variety of ways, Rocktape can also be used to apply compression for injuries (potentially reducing inflammation and speeding recovery) and to help fatigued and ‘pulled’ muscles repair – used sensibly it can even allow for the continuation of exercise during a recovery period.


We’ve tested this under numerous conditions and for treating and supporting a range of minor niggles and it plays out well right across the board, but there are a number of unique selling points to Rocktape that really raises it above the competition. For a start the huge amount of elasticity means that it can be more accurately applied and provides far better range of motion once in place, it also (crucially) stays absolutely put even under hot and sweaty conditions. Secondly not only is the width generous but because it isn’t pre-cut it can be used at lengths that best suit the injury, so everything from IT band to plantar problems can be addressed. That really brings us neatly to the third thing we love about Rocktape – the manufacturers take the time and effort to clearly and precisely spell out its uses, including a details instructional leaflet and online video guidance to help you get the best from it.


For bonus plus-points, and purely on the fun side of things, it is available in a wide range of colours and designs that even includes hard-as-nails looking tattoo or skull options. Aiding recovery has seldom looked so cool… Costing a little more than some of the competition (expect to pay in the region of £10 for 5m, good for around 5-10 applications to injury) but far superior than most. Well worth the extra in Cyclo’s opinion and if you don’t want to take our word for it then note: Rocktape are the official tape supplier to Team Garmin Cervelo, so now you can recover, if not quite ride, like a pro.


Available from


Extras Recovery Reviews

Biofreeze Gel

It’s a fact that the quicker an injury can be treated the better and invariably with muscle pulls, strains and aches that treatment will begin with cooling. Of course in the real world, and particularly out on the road, access to an ice-pack is limited which is where Biofreeze Gel may well comes in.


Although also available in larger 32 and 16oz sizes, the more pocket-friendly 4oz size is perfect for longer rides and sportives; a useful addition to any first aid kit. Alcohol-based Biofreeze uses menthol as it’s active ingredient which works (through a process know as ’gating’) by stimulating sensory receptors in the skin, thereby blocking other (pain-related) receptors and effectively tricking the brain into believing there is nothing to worry about.


Although nowhere near as effective, particularly longer-term, as choosing a gel or cream that contains non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – often known as NSAIDs – Cyclo certainly found that Biofreeze brought fast and effective relief to both calf pain and post ride plantar aches. The cooling effect felt relatively short lived but seems more than adequate for quenching that initial stab of pain or low-level throb. There is also something to me said for the simple curative effect of ‘rubbing in’, a massaged muscle or well thumbed tendon will respond quickly, which is why we certainly prefer the gel version to either the spray or roll-on options, although the latter works well for applying pressure on application to larger muscle groups.


Ice-packs and coolant bandages such as Physicool undoubtedly deliver longer-lasting results and NSAIDs will work harder for rehabilitation and in treating more serious conditions, but as a quick, easily transported fix Biofreeze Gel has much to recommend it.


Widely available, the 4oz (118ml) gel retails at around the £9.99 mark on the high street, but is available for £7.45 online via although shipping costs of £3.95 apply for orders up to £36 making this best as a bulk buy option.


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.