Featured Nutrition Reviews

Osmo Active Hydration

Osmo Active HydrationOsmo Active Hydration, available in both orange and blackberry flavour, comes packed in jersey pocket friendly 20g sachets ready to blend in the bottle. Created by endurance athlete, exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Stacy Sims Osmo Active Hydration is intended for use during exercise to actively increase fluid absorption and replace key electrolytes which would otherwise result in an overall loss of performance on the bike.


So what’s in the pack? Unlike most sports hydration and nutrition products Osmo seems a little coy on the subject; obviously the ingredients are listed (sucrose, so basically sugar, being number one), but it throws in ‘OsmoAct Beverage Base Blend’ to appear a little more arcane – although this then is a blend of sucrose (more sugar or the sugar already listed?), D-glucose (sugar again), sodium citrate, potassium citrate, magnesium citrate and calcium citrate. Osmo Active Hydration also includes a range of vitamins including C, B2 and B12.


Mixed with 500ml of water (and taking a little shaking to mix) Osmo does prove rather sweet – hardly surprising when 17g of the packs 20g weight is sugar – but the flavours are fairly refreshing with no artificial aftertaste. On test they seemed to help hydrate well and went down easily enough – the levels of ‘salts’ look well balanced for the job in hand and the convenience of the small tubular packaging was appreciated.


Osmo Active Hydration is a perfectly decent product, let down a little by both the branding and information (or lack thereof) on the website. Not sure they are doing themselves any favours by noting that Stacy Sims ‘assisted Lance Armstrong in researching thermoregulation in 2010’ either…


A further oddity is that both the blackberry and orange flavours are listed on the Osmo website as being specifically ‘for men’, whilst women get their own mango flavoured variety which are formulated to help ‘avoid premenstrual-related performance decline…’ Fair enough (and seemingly scientifically valid), but we’re sure there’s room for the ‘regular’ formula in most women’s kit bags too.


If you’d rather regulate your hydration strategy with zero calories then something like H2ProHydrate or ZipVit’s ZV0 Electrolyte Drink will serve you better – but if you want a (very quick release) sugar surge thrown in – or want to avoid ‘avoid premenstrual-related performance decline’ – then Osmo Active Hydration clearly ticks the right boxes.


24 sachets of either blackberry or orange Osmo Active Hydration retail at £34.80 (as do the women-specific mango flavour) or all three versions are available in cheaper, but perhaps less convenient, tubs of 400g for £15.99. More confusion again here as the 400g tubs are advertised as being 40 servings, yet a serving is listed as being 20g – so isn’t that just 10 servings?


Further details and online purchase of Osmo Active Hydration 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 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