Featured Features

33Shake Chia Energy Gels

33Shake Chia Energy GelsOnce in a while a product comes along that really does things differently and 33Shake Chia Energy Gels certainly tick that box.


From the same company that produce the excellent All in One Shakes, see our review of those here, the Chia Energy Gels look to be a whole new way of fuelling your ride. For a start they are a dry mix, weighing in at just 21g of ingredients (under 30g all-in with the packaging) to which you add your own liquid. There are several clear advantages to this: firstly the slight weight-saving on a long ride if you opt to fill them with water from the bottom (marginal gain!) but more significantly it makes them versatile. Want more carbs? Add fruit juice. An electrolyte hit? Top up with coconut water. A caffeine boost? Stick in a shot of espresso…


To prepare for use you undo the resealable spout, blow to slightly inflate the pack, and then fill with your chosen liquid. Give it ten minutes and the gel is good to go and if you want to prep them in advance they can be kept for up to 24hours once opened and hydrated. Of course it’s a slightly tricky job to hydrate the 33Shake Chia Energy Gels from a bidon, but it’s more than manageable and no more inconvenient that getting covered in sticky ‘traditional’ gels when trying to open them (also there’s nothing sticky about these…)


So, what’s in the 33Shake Chia Energy Gels? Well there’s coconut palm sugar, Himalayan pink salt and organic Madagascan vanilla – which give them just the subtlest of flavour – but at their heart, in case the name hadn’t already given it away, are chia seeds that deliver an exceptionally smooth (no jags and crashes) source of energy, here helping serve up 90kcal, 11.2g of carbs (6g of which sugars), 4g of fat (0.4g saturates) and 5g of fibre. It’s a heady mix, perfectly judged for the bike.


The texture – not a strong point with any energy gel – is slightly gelatinous but easily swallowed and because you are the master of your own destiny when it comes to hydrating them they can be made thicker or thinner to taste. Okay, so you’ll spend a couple of miles picking chia seeds out of your teeth with your tongue, but it gives you something to do between gels. Perhaps 33Shake should use it as a selling point?


In addition to helping power the ride the gels also include 1.1mg iron and 17.6mg and 103mg of sodium and potassium respectively – helping to replace salts lost through sweating and adding to your hydration strategy – plus 1.1mg of calcium. Because the Chia Energy Gels are fresh, handmade and natural with no preservatives (basically ‘real’ food) their shelf life is shorter than more conventional gels, generally 10-12 weeks, but each gel is marked appropriately.


There’s no doubting that 33Shake do things differently, but not just for the sake of it. We’ve been hugely impressed by the ‘clean’ and sustained energy from these gels.


33Shake Chia Energy Gels retail at £1.99 each, dropping to £1.89 per gel when you buy them as an Event Pack (10 gels), or just £1.79 per gel when you buy an Endurance Pack of 30 gels.


Further details and online purchase of 33Shake Chia Energy Gels at and you can get social with them on Facebook and Twitter too.


Four-time World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington champions 33Shake and you can read on our sister-site TriGear what she has to say about training and racing here and nutritional and mental preparation here.

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

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



Science in Sport Launch REGO + Fruitflow® gel

Science in Sport Launch REGO + FruitflowScience in Sport (SiS) have announce the launch of their innovative new SiS REGO + Fruitflow® gel, designed to aid faster recovery and consequently allow athletes to train to a higher level than they were previously able to do. The first of its kind in the UK, SiS REGO + Fruitflow® is an easily-digested recovery gel specially designed to help reduce the muscle inflammation caused by intense exercise by helping to reduce the overstimulation of blood platelets during exercise – which, in turn, helps to contribute towards healthy blood flow. To achieve this the gel employs Fruitflow®, a tomato extract containing naturally occurring tomato compounds which can beneficially interact with blood platelets and counter the coagulation effect of adrenalin and a protein called thrombin which are produced during strenuous exercise.


Commenting on the launch Luke Heeney, New Product Director at SiS, said, ‘Our commitment at SiS to helping athletes perform better through effective, scientifically underpinned nutrition has led us to launch this new recovery gel. We are delighted to be adding it to our successful REGO recovery range…’


Designed to be taken between one-and-half and three ours before exercise, SiS REGO + Fruitflow® comes in banana and mango (combined) flavour, in 60ml sachets and do not require additional water. They are available to buy at an RRP of £2.29 in selected specialist sports stores and online at


Cyclo will bring you a full review soon.


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