Review - OSMO Nutrition Hydration Drinks

Sports drinks may appear to be a homogeneous product; there are different brands and flavours, but don't they all do the same thing - supply our body with electrolytes and sugar to keep it going?

The short answer is no. Within the 'sports drinks' market there is huge variety: different sugars, different electrolytes, different compositions, and of course different flavours. The universal fact I suppose is that most contain some kind of sugar, though that is a weak unifying fact at best.

However, OSMO Nutrition breaks even that strand of similarity. The nutrition ethos behind this brand is that sugar should not come from your drink; rather drinks should be for hydration, and sugar should come from solids. It is an interesting approach and one that appeals to me as someone who suffers from gastric reflux with an overload of high-sugar drinks.

OSMO Preload Hydration Powder

The first component of the OSMO Nutrition range is the OSMO Preload Hydration Powder. This works on the theory that your performance is so drastically altered by de-hydration that it is vital to ensure you are super-hydrated before you begin your race or workout.

The OSMO Preload Hydration powder contains a mix of electrolytes that are needed to get your body into a fully hydrated state. Dependent on your body weight, you mix up the powder with water to the specified concentration, and drink it the evening before your event, and then a second solution 30 minutes prior to starting.

Does it work? Gauging the effect of nutrition products outside of a lab environment is always going to be difficult, however I have been using OSMO in the recent hot conditions in the UK, as well as racing at a 12 hour MTB race in Denmark.

The first thing of note was that I needed to drink less. That might seem predictable given that I had taken on 600ml of water more than usual before I started exercising. The difference is that I would normally find that if I had taken on this much water before a ride, I would simply need to pee more, and still drink the same amount whilst riding. That didn't happen with OSMO Preload, rather I drank less during exercise, but felt consistently hydrated.

In trying to understand the science behind this, I found the neat video below helps. In short, in hot conditions the PreLoad seems to have a noticeable effect on how well hydrated you feel.

OSMO Active Hydration Powder

Next up on the test cycle was the OSMO Active Hydration Powder - the 'during sport' hydration mix. This product relies on established hydration science, providing your body with the optimum mix of electrolytes required to avoid cramping, and keep functioning at its best. The difference is that unlike most sports drinks, which also contain a wide mix of sugars to "fuel" your body, this powder contains minimal amounts.

Why? The theory is that taking on too much fluid in a bid to 'fuel' your body, leads to "sloshing" in your stomach, as well as digestive problems (you'll know what I mean if you've ever used energy gels and energy drink as your main sustenance for a long day on the bike). OSMO therefore proposes that you hydrate with water, but fuel with solids, such as energy bars and other solid snacks like Honey Stinger Energy Chews.

This is an interesting approach, and it certainly is kinder on the stomach. I felt just as strong as I normally do in terms of energy and performance, but without the negative effects of some energy drinks.

Therefore, I would recommend OSMO Active Hydration if you find yourself with a dodgy stomach after many hours in the saddle, or if you prefer to eat solid foods rather than gels and liquid sugar.

To explain the science behind the OSMO Active Hydration, here's another video.

Acute Recovery Powder

We all know the final and vital part of any sports nutrition regime is recovery. OSMO have got that base covered as well.

The OSMO Acute Recovery brings more science to recovery than normal. The mix of whey isolate and casein provides a longer release of protein for recovery, giving a sustained benefit. The inclusion of a small dose of caffeine provides a faster conversion to the 'Recovery State'. The correct amount of carbohydrate then ensures there is enough energy to recover, without overdoing the sugar intake at this recovery stage.

I recommend mixing the vanilla flavour with almond milk (or dairy milk) as suggested on the pack; it gives it a far nicer texture and makes it more palatable. The mix does seem to provide an effective recovery tool, and leaves you feeling more energised ahead of your next training session.

A bit more science behind the OSMO Acute Recovery mix:

In summary, OSMO Nutrition takes sports nutrition to a whole new playground. Elite athletes such as Peter Sagan, Team Saxo-Tinkoff and several Ironman triathletes have been using this technology for a few years; it provides an effective way to hydrate, stay hydrated, fuel and re-fuel your body, without having some of the side effects that other sports nutrition products have.

Well worth a look if you want to test out this potentially groundbreaking science.


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