Only you can decide what balance of carbs, protein and fat you need from your energy snacks and nutrition products, but here's a quick round-up of the latest options to hit our desks.
The American firm has made its presence felt in the pro cycling ranks in recent times thanks to the sponsorship of Team Sky and links to British Cycling. Their G Series is separated into before, during and after products, and into standard, Fit and Pro categories, depending on your level. Being the "high-performance" cyclists we are at BikeRadar, Gatorade dropped by to show us samples of the Pro range.
Let's start with pre-training. The Prime is a caffeine free, orange/berry/lime flavoured blend of carbs (83 kcal per 100ml) and B vitamins, in 118ml ready-made pouches that should be consumed 15 minutes before competition or training. As with all their products, they are available from online retailers such as Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles for £1.49 each or on their website in the US for $2.29 each or $41.22 per 20.
Once you're riding, the Perform powder will be your weapon of choice. The 350g tub (£8.99/$28.99 for 907g in US) comes in fruit punch, orange and lemon-lime flavours and packs in 125 kcal per 35g/500ml serving. Recovery is taken care of by the 500ml berry/orange Recover protein drink, which tastes much like the energy drink (think Ribena) but is slightly heavier on the stomach. It contains 16.5g protein/125 kcal per serving. The drinks are also available as packs (minus the box shown above) containing one of each product, together with varying degrees of British Cycling membership, from around £60.
Be warned - Multipower's caffeine/guarana pre-training Red Kick drink is not for the faint hearted. If you can get past the rotten flavour (chemical, almost), this stuff is rocket fuel. We sneakily quaffed a 500ml bottle before a recent round of Rollapaluza roller racing at Bristol whilst everyone else was hitting the ale and it more than did the trick, powering us to an unexpected place in the finals. Each bottle only contains 81 kcal, but it's the incredible 160mg caffeine and 1000mg taurine that's its biggest selling point. You can pick up 24 bottles for £40.56 direct from their website.
Elsewhere, the Energy Charge is stimulant-free but no less potent for it. Each 500ml bottle (£40.56 per 24) contains an off-the-chart 70g carbs, with 271kcal per serving. Given the strength, they're not ideal road ride fodder and we found them more difficult to get down than a lighter drink. They come in orange, tropical and wild berry flavours and are definitely for the mountain bikers only. The 55g Protein Shake proudly exclaims how much of the muscle building stuff it packs into its 500ml bottle. Available in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, they are low in fat but hard to get down - 55g of protein is a lot. A pack of 12 costs £39.60 and are perhaps the reserve of track sprinters.
Irish firm Kinetica possess a huge range of products specific to a wide variety of sports, but the two we had our eye on were the Energy Gel (60g) and the 100% Recovery powder. The gel also comes in berry and tropical flavours, but our cola sample tasted like the ice pops we used to eat as kids. It's less viscous than most which makes it easy ingestible and contains 20g carbs/80 kcal per serving. They are available through their website for £36 per box of 24.
The Recovery powder is a strange one, continuing the trend of non-milky post-ride protein drinks. We find such drinks struggle to strike the right balance between a milky drink and a fruit drink, with the taste suffering as a result. The recovery drink contains whey protein, and comes in blackcurrant and orange/mango flavours.
Though it says you should mix with water, using milk improved the taste immeasurably for us, not to mention boosting the protein content. When mixed with water, each 75g serving produces 267 kcal (41g carbs/24.8g protein) and retails for £24.99 per box of 10.
The first of two products from High5 is the citrus IsoGel Plus gel (60ml), which is more drink than traditional gel. It contains 25g carbs, 105 kcal and a dose of caffeine. RRP is £24.75 per 25. The Zero Electrolyte tablets continues the growing trend of zero calorie electrolyte drinks, with research quoted by High5 suggesting such drinks burn 41 percent more fat than carbohydrate drinks during workouts. Each tube (£6.98) contains 20 tablets, with one tablet making each drink. Flavours include neutral, citrus, berry and cherry-orange.
Another product in a new sachet packaging is the Xtreme Energy Source drink, and is surely competing with Multipower's Red Kick in the most potent stakes. Each 50g serving contains 188 kcal, 47g carbs and 150mg caffeine, costing £13.99 per 12. It's ideal as a boost later in a ride, or if you're in need of a boost after work in evening rides. A word of warning, though; don't over do it too late in the day or you'll find a good night's sleep elusive. Similarly, don't be tempted to have it too early in a long ride or you could set yourself up for a caffeine crash. From experience we'd say keep it to within 60-90 minutes before the end.
The sister company to the muscle building nutrition firm Maximuscle, Maxifuel takes care of the endurance side of things. Their Viper Active energy range comes in a number of forms, including powder, gel, powder sachets and capsules. The 35g, 135 kcal powder sachets (£19.99 per 20), in orange and raspberry flavours, contain carbs (30.9g) and electrolytes for hydration and immune support. If gels are your thing, the 70g, 101 kcal lemon/lime and raspberry sachets contain 25g carbs and cost £35.99 per 24.
Viper Active sachet, Viper Boost capsules & Viper Active gel
Neither of the gels above contain caffeine, which might make the Viper Boost capsules appealing if that's your thing. They're pretty potent and really perked the BikeRadar office after the post-lunch slump. Each two capsule serving contains 100mg caffeine, 50mg guarana and 744mg L-Carnitine, and cost £19.99 per 30.