Etixx started making sports nutrition products in 2009 and there are 23 different products including energy drinks, energy gels, energy bars, recovery shakes, recovery bars, vitamins and supplements such as HMB in the range.
The name Etixx comes from the word ethical and they test all batches of product against the WADA list and guarantee they do not contain any banned substances.
I tried the Etixx Energy Bar in Lemon Flavour with added magnesium and the Triple Action Energy Gel with electrolytes and vitamin C in Lime Flavour.
The energy bar contains 29g of carbohydrate in a 40g bar, so very similar to other bars on the market in terms of carbohydrate content, but also contains added magnesium (56mg per bar which is around 15% of recommended daily intake) shown to improve energy production and muscle function. The recommendation is 1-2 bars per hour of endurance sport, which is in line with British Cycling guidelines that suggest around 60g of carbohydrate per hour.
The bar has an oaty base with a lemon ‘yoghurt’ style topping. The base is quite dry and would be difficult to chew and swallow on its own I think, but the lemon top makes it much easier to digest and has a pleasant, but very sweet, lemon flavour.
The packaging was robust, but easy to open with teeth mid ride and the bars survived extremes of temperatures and didn’t crumble making them easy to hold and eat whilst riding.
The bars contain gluten, lactose and soya so may not be suitable for those with intolerances. They are also available in chocolate flavour.
They retail at £1.99 per bar or you can try all 3 bars Etixx offer in a trial pack for £5 or find some good deals in the combination packages with energy drinks and gels.
The gels are 40g with 24g of carbohydrate and can be taken without water, but if you consume with 350ml of water they effectively become an isotonic beverage according to Etixx. The electrolytes in the gel help replace those lost in sweat and vitamin C is also included (40 mg) to help support energy production and protect cells from oxidative damage. A variety of sugars are used in the gel therefore releasing energy at different speeds, so you get both the instant hit as well as the longer term energy supply. Again 2 per hour are recommended.
Having tried lots of gels over the years I would say these were average consistency, certainly not runny and super easy to swallow, but equally not ‘chewy’ and an effort to get down! On first taste they reminded me of cough mixture!
At £2.49 a gel they are towards the high end price point, but if you buy a mixed box of 18 you get 15% discount.
It is worth signing up for the Etixx newsletter which has some great offers and often contains useful nutritional advice. The website also contains specific advice for different sports and a great blog.
7/10 overall with 8/10 for the bar with the zingy lemon, but 6/10 for the slightly medicinal tasting gel
Does What it Says on the pack
8/10 great fuel for riding with the added benefits of magnesium and vitamin C
7/10 for buying individually, but some brilliant deals on the website and via the newsletter
9/10 Etixx have a superb range of products covering everything you will ever need for cycling and other sports
Easy to Eat
8/10 the products are a good size, easy to open and easy to eat on the move.
According to the Chia Charge website the word Chia comes from the Mayan word for ‘strength’ and messengers could run all day with just a small handful of chia seeds! Apparently Aztec warriors survived on nothing but chia during conquests and Native Americans could march for 24 hours on a teaspoon of chia seeds! Modern day Tarahumara Indians in Mexico still carry chia with them during ultra runs through the desert.
I tried the Ultimate Chia Seed Bundle which is £10 delivered to your door. The bundle contains 1 Chia Charge Cacao & Cranberry Protein Bar, 1 Chia Charge Trail Mix, 1 Honey Trail Mix, 1 Original Flapjack with Sea Salt Flakes, 2 Mini Banana Flapjacks and 200g of Chia Seeds.
The trail mix didn’t make it to a trail, I demolished it as the desk and it was lovely. The seeds have been added successfully to smoothies and used as a breakfast topping and the website blog has lots of recipes to inspire you.
And…… I am now officially addicted to the flapjacks!
I have taken them on rides and counted the minutes until I can eat them! The full size flapjack was enough to fuel an 85km steady endurance ride, I ate it in two pieces, as at 80g and over 350 calories it is a substantial bar. The seeds keep you entertained for at least 30 minutes after eating the bars as they stick in your teeth, but I didn’t mind this as they gradually soften and it gave me something to take the mind of the miles! The bar travels well and didn’t become too hard despite the freezing temperatures.
My favourite is definitely the original flapjack with sea salt flakes, but the banana ones were delicious too and didn’t have that horrible artificial taste you often get with banana flavoured products; probably because there is nothing artificial about them. No flavourings, preservatives or colourings are added to the bars, just real sun dried bananas!
The protein bar is vegan, wheat free and made with cashews, sultanas, cranberries, dates, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cacao powder, goji berries, cacao nibs, cacao butter and sea salt flakes – what’s not to like!?
Tim Taylor the man behind Chia Charge, a food technologist and runner says “It is my belief that food, in particular sports nutrition, should be more than just fuel to keep the body going. Having tried a few sport nutrition and energy products I came to the conclusion that whoever makes these things was at the back of the queue when taste buds were handed out! A few years ago I started developing my own formulations in the kitchen at home. I wanted to create food that tastes delicious and helps you perform, the result of which was Chia Charge”
Chia seeds are 20% protein, 20% omega 3, high in antioxidants and fibre as well as low in sugar. They have a mild, nutty flavour and give a controlled energy release and promote fast recovery.
I have already bought some more of the flapjacks which are perfect fuel with fast acting carbohydrates to give you an immediate burst of energy and more complex carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels. The protein and Omega 3 and 6 will aid recovery and the sea salt flakes will also help electrolyte replacement, but far more importantly they taste amazing!
Chia Charge stockist are listed on the website and include a good variety of running, outdoor and cycling shops as well as Ocado or you can buy direct from the website with free postage over £25.
There is a new, no added sugar, berry flapjack on the way and I would love to try the nut butters.
You can find Chia Charge on YouTube here on Twitter @runningtimt + @chiacharge and like on Facebook
The flapjack really is amazing, I keep eating it!!
10/10 for the original flapjack, definitely addicted
Does What it Says on the pack
10/10 yummy bars, a natural superfood and no rubbish added, great fuel for riding
9/10 a box of 20 is £32 with 3 extra free bars and free postage so comparable to other bars on the market, but the price does go down the more you buy so only £25/box if you buy 5 which is great value
9/10 2 varieties of flapjack with a new one on the way, protein bars, raw seeds, nut butters, trail mix and the option to buy a mixed pack to try everything out
Easy to Eat
8.5/10 although I found far too easy to eat and could eat a whole box they are larger than normal energy bars so I found half was plenty which means faffing around returning the other half to your pocket and they do start to crumble a little once opened. Having said that the mini size is perfect. The bars travelled well and didn’t go hard in the cold.
93% it gets our star buy rating!
The secret training products are relatively new to the scene; the main man behind these intriguing new products is Tim Lawson. Tim also being the founder of the well-known nutritional products SIS (Science in Sport) has vast experience with developing the best nutrition products for over 20 years. Tim also being a fantastic athlete himself is working with athletes from all levels from beginners right through to elite athletes.
The brand Secret Training have started out with The Strip System which includes:
Pins in a Tin
Micro-Fibre Body Cloths
Post Race Wash
All these products can be bought separately or as a Race Day Personal Care Kit (£49.99); this means all the products come in a tidy bag to keep them all together. Having used these products since they were first launched they have accompanied me to all my races. I definitely believe they are a worthwhile investment towards your racing and personal care, helping you to keep clean and comfortable while riding your bike. There is nothing better than products that make your cycling more enjoyable. Having one bag of essentials when you’re racing and travelling filled with all the essential bits and bobs you need (and often forget) is brilliant.
More recently the team at Secret Training have been developing nutritional products which were properly introduced on the 7th January 2015 at their open event. This presentation consisted of the riders and media getting their first taste of the Stealth Gels and Stealth Super Hydration Drinks with the Strip products also being featured. While trying the assortment of gels (Banana, Lemon & Lime, Citrus, Tropical, Berry), my personal favourite was obvious – the Banana Gel, which seemed to be a popular first choice with a lot of the cyclists present. Tim was there to talk through the science behind the Gels and how they work, unlike some other brands gels the Banana gels actually have real banana in them! The gels can be bought individually for £1.25, £17.50 for a pack of 14. The Berry Energy Gel with Caffeine & Betaine and Banana Gel cost a little more at £24.50 for 14 or £1.75 for single shots, I’m not sure why this is but I’m guessing it’s to do with the cost of the fruit and caffeine ingredients being more expensive or the process involved in integrating them into the gel. As well as trying the Gels the Super Hydration Drinks were a big hit with me coming in a wide range of flavours; Lemon & Lime, Blackcurrant & Elderflower, Mango & Passionfruit and also Lemon Tea. They retail from £15.99 for a selection pack of 20x 14g sachets; each sachet mixes with 500ml of water – to £24.99 for a 600g tub of a single flavour, so they are competitively priced. Each of the flavours are well balanced and relatively neutral, with no overpowering flavours or after taste. The gels and hydration drinks are easy to consume and enjoyable, unlike some other nutritional products I have previously used which have been hard to stomach in the quantities you need to aid your performance.
From speaking to Tim I have found out they are currently working on developing recovery drinks, so there is a lot more to come from this new brand and I can’t wait to see the results. Furthermore Tincoff-Saxo riders are being supported by all products produced by Secret Training, they will be providing valuable feedback for the brand to enable the development of flavours and product ranges, the aim is to provide exactly what riders need and want.
CyclingShorts.cc give Secret Training products a Star Buy rating of 97%:
Personal Care Kit – 98/100
The Personal care kit is unique as I don’t know anything like it.
Nutrition Products – 96/100
In my opinion the nutrition products are the best, better than SIS, Tim said it was very difficult to make ones better but he thinks they have – I have to agree!
I really like the products, try them for yourself, the secret is out!
You can check out the range at: www.secret-training.cc
Beet it Sports Bars
This time last year I had the privilege to test Beet It Shots and wrote quite an in-depth review and report about the product and the impact 0.4g Nitrate has on sports performance. This year I have had the privilege to test Beet It pro-elite Beetroot and oat flapjack.
For those who do not know much about the idea of using Beetroot as a super food then I recommend reading my previous review but in a nut shell.
Research has shown the the consumption of 0.4g of Nitrate prior to taking part in a sport significantly boosts your performance.
The science: beet nitrates are converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signalling agent that causes vasodilation, a widening of the blood vessels. Wider blood vessels equal increased blood flow. Better blood flow means more stamina and improved oxygen usage, leading to a 15%ish boost in performance.
But beetroot products are not just for endurance athletes, a lot of the famous beet root juice users like Mo Farah are distance aerobic-energy-based athletes. Additionally, the majority of studies have been performed on runners, swimmers, rowers and cyclists. On the surface, the science behind beet root juice seems like it only provides a simple aerobic/endurance boost.
Beet juice-derived nitric oxide works so well it has been used in the Olympics as a supplement by endurance athletes for years now. No wonder this preconception is so pervasive. However, improved oxygen usage can be a boost to any athlete.
Nitric oxide is able to temporarily bolster the aerobic/oxidative system and helps traditionally non-aerobic, non-endurance athletes recover faster, even if they aren’t participating in a long-distance, endurance-based activities because the body draws its ability to regenerate energy from that system.
Therefore, if you’re an olympic athlete or a recreational sports person, you can benefit from beet root juice products.
This has certainly been born out this summer from my experience in the heat of riding in the Vendee. Beet It sports bars are easily digested and taste much nicer then the shots, with the added bonus that they contain slow releasing oats for addition food supply while riding.
I followed a simple regime, eat a bar 1 hour before riding and I also tested a second bar towards the end of rides over 2/3 hours. I did not start using the product until I had built up some miles in my legs and I had that ever present thigh burn at the start of rides.
The most instantly noticeable affect of the Nitrate is the lack of thigh burn at the start of rides and the ability to ride longer before fatigue begins to set in. Which is pretty much the same finding as last year so the delivery system does not affect the absorption and performance of the product.
What was new for this year was the consumption of a second bar on longer rides, while this did not necessary boost performance further but it did have a more noticeable effect on day two. Riding out on day two I did not have the expected heavy legs but it was as if I had had another bar that morning. So now my routine is to have a second bar post long ride to aid recovery.
I really can not recommend this product highly enough, it is the best sports nutrition product I have ever used, and I have used a few, it is way better then any gel, protein carb mix you can buy and to be honest is the only thing other than a zero calorie electrolyte that I will ever use.
If I was Victor Kiam I would buy the company the product is that good. Beet It pro-elite beetroot and oat flapjacks are a must.
I’d give it 110% but my editor tells me I have to cap my enthusiasm at 100% they are a CyclingShorts.cc star buy!
RRP: £25.00 for a case of 15 bars
Racing Weight Cookbook
Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes
by Matt Fitzgerald & Georgie Fear
Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear have come together to produce ‘The Racing Weight Cookbook for Athletes’. This book is aimed at endurance athletes, giving you the tools and knowledge to improve your diet, to fuel performance for training and racing. It’s all about obtaining your optimal racing weight through healthy eating, within the requirements of your bodies needs. It explains that conventional diets are no good for endurance athletes.
I’ve read the pre cursor to this book ‘Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance’ so was really interested to see what this book had to offer.
The book is also very cleverly aimed at different kinds of cooks. Those that can’t cook, those that can cook a little and those of us who love cooking. So even if you love cooking but don’t have time, you can use the ‘can’t cook’ section.
As both a coach and an athlete I was very interested to see if the cookbook would enhance what the first book delivered and it certainly does that.
There is a brief outline about the first book, but there is enough information for you not to need to read it. It’s easy to follow and won’t take you long to get started, a definite plus!
This book is really good for those of us who have never managed to stick to a diet for longer than a few weeks, that’s because it is not a diet book. It gives you lots of tips and tricks to get the energy you need without overeating, tips for swapping foods and best of all, lots of recipes. It looks at how many carbohydrates your body needs, dependant on your weight and the amount of hours you are training for. There is also a handy table that can help you score the quality of the food you are currently eating. It’s very easy to follow, which was great for me as I do tend to get bored very quickly.
I have to say the recipes are amazing and the pictures make the recipes look appetising. I particularly liked the chocolate peanut butter banana shake as a post workout meal. Eating post workout is something I struggle with, but this was a great recipe, easy to make and super quick to drink. Plus and I always think this the seller… it tastes great!! Really, it does!
I’ve also had a go at one of their Granola recipes, wow, honestly I have been bowled over by every recipe I’ve tried.
One thing about recipe books though, which I do dislike, besides the American measures, is the need to buy things that most people don’t have in their store cupboard. So essentially it’s all about planning and shopping.
I pondered over whether a club cyclist would buy a book like this or whether it was specifically aimed at competing athletes. On reflection, everybody who spends quite a lot of time on their bikes would benefit from this book, you don’t need to be competing, just putting the miles in, so maybe the title ‘Racing Weight’ will marginalise sales of this book.
Would I buy it? As a coach? Yes I would, as an athlete? Yes definitely. Would I recommend this book? Without a doubt.
The Racing Weight Cookbook gets a Cycling Shorts Star Buy Rating!
Author: Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear
Published by VeloPress
Available in Paperback
Price: RRP £16.95 or $24.95
I have been testing the full range of energy products from TORQ Fitness for Cycling Shorts. I first came across TORQ products last year, so I was interested to see what their other products were like. Here are my findings…
TORQ are well-known for their varied choice of flavours so it was with some apprehension that I tried the vanilla flavoured energy drink, as I wasn’t convinced that I would like it. How wrong was I? It tastes more like marshmallow, but I was hooked from the first drink. Not too sweet, and it didn’t make me thirsty (there have been many that have over the years), so I take that as a positive. Having said that, would I think the same if I had tested it in the heat of summer? Possibly not, as I am not sure it would go down as well in a warm climate however I think an ice cube in your bottle would keep it cool and solve that problem.
If vanilla is not for you, then don’t despair! They have pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, both of which are really tasty and thirst-quenching, as well as orange and lemon. I have to admit that the orange flavour isn’t for me (it seemed to have a bit of a weird aftertaste that I couldn’t get used to) but others would probably disagree!
For a breakdown of their flavoured energy drink go to: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy
The other amazing energy drink that TORQ do is their natural organic flavour. This has proved to be a lifesaver over the winter, as I have had it in my tea (yes, that’s right, in tea) as a top up of energy for those longer back to back training rides. It also means that if you’re not keen on flavoured energy drinks and would prefer to use cordial, then TORQ energy is the answer there too.
More information can be found about the Energy Organic here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy-organic
In a word, I guess you can say that they cater for everyone!
I have had TORQ gels before, and the first thing that occurred to me was that TORQ have changed the design of the wrapper to make them easier to open on the move. The texture is also great – some gels can be too thin and watery whereas others can be too thick and similar to wallpaper paste – so TORQ have obviously been doing their homework as to what works best. In addition, like the energy drinks, they have combined maltodextrin with fructose so that they work super fast, which means that you can keep going longer!
The first gel that we tried was the banoffee flavoured version. Having overdosed on bananas as a child, I’m not overly keen on anything vaguely banana-related, so I was fully expecting not to like this flavour. Good news for people who aren’t too keen on bananas – the after taste was one of caramel not bananas!
Rhubarb and Custard flavour is one that seems to have a Marmite opinion when you talk to people about them – some love it others loathe it. I am in the “love it” camp – it’s really sweet, which won’t appeal to some people, and you do need a drink after it, but there’s no vile after-taste!
Another hot favourite was raspberry ripple – again very sweet, which won’t appeal to some, but TORQ have obviously worked hard on the flavouring of these gels so at least you know that it actually tastes like it says on the wrapper, and not something random. Top job all round, I’d say!
By the way, did I mention that all of their gels are dairy and wheat free and are suitable for vegans too?
The technology and science behind the gels can be found in more detail here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-gel
The beauty of the TORQ energy bars is the high moisture content – some energy bars need a pint cup of tea with them, but these energy bars are really easy to eat on the bike – you don’t feel as if you’re expending more energy chewing the bar than riding the bike, which is always a bonus!
These bars come in a variety of flavours, from mango to apple and raspberry to pineapple and ginger. I particularly liked the latter, as it sounded a bit weird but in actual fact you could even taste the ginger!
The only downside of these bars (sort of) is that they are foil-wrapped to preserve their moisture and keep them fresh (which is a good thing) but it means that they can be difficult to unwrap with gloves on. In a race situation though, the ideal would be to have them unwrapped in your back pocket, in bite-sized chunks, so that you don’t need to worry about it. Problem solved!
More information on the bars can be found here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-bar
All TORQ Energy, including the natural flavour, comes in three different pack sizes – 500g costs £13.99, 1.5kg costs £27.99 and 3kg costs £47.99. The flavoured energy also comes in a box of 20 sachets, which costs £27.40. Don’t worry if you want to try before you buy too, there is also a sample box of five flavours which costs £17.40.
Gels without the added guarana (i.e. all flavours except Forest Fruits and Banoffee) retail at £1.45 per gel, with the guarana gels retailing at £1.75 per gel. However, if you buy a box of 20, then they cost £1.37 and £1.66 each instead, so a box would cost £27.40 for those without guarana and £33.20 for those with guarana. Not cheap, but bearing in mind all TORQ products are made with Fair Trade ingredients, they are punching above their weight, given that they are very competitive with other brands. If you want to try before you buy a box, you can also purchase a sample pack of 12 gels for £18 and you can also buy a box of mixed flavours. At the moment, TORQ are also doing a deal whereby you can buy two boxes of gels without guarana for £52, so you can swap flavours!
With the exception of the Organic Mango which retails at £1.65 each and £37.40 for a box of 24, the other bars retail at £1.45 each and £32.88 for a box of 24. Again there is the option of multiple boxes and mix and match for those of you wanting to try before you invest in a box of 24 which you may not like.
Free postage and packaging
Now this may seem like a foregone conclusion nowadays, but some of TORQ’s competitors do charge postage and packaging, so I think this is a bonus!
So, what do I give the products as marks out of 100?
Taste – 92% (it would have been higher but I wasn’t convinced with the Orange flavour)
Price – 90% (competitively priced, with different quantities to suit different budgets)
Value for money – 95% (the larger quantities work out to be really cost-effective, if you can afford it)
Overall – 92 out of 100 – it gets our Star Buy Award!
- TORQ Gels
Taste – 95% (all really tasty and can’t really fault them)
Price – 85% (competitively priced, but may prove to be an expensive luxury for some)
Value for money – 90% (the science and thinking behind the energy gels increases their value in my opinion)
Overall – 90 out of 100 – another Star Buy Award!
Taste – 80% (tasty but some can seem similar to others, the texture is great though)
Price – 85% (again, competitive but could be seen as expensive for some)
Value for money – 85% (a lot of thought has gone into the products, which is what you are paying for)
Overall – 83 out of 100