Osmo is a new brand in the already-crowded UK sports nutrition market, with a portfolio of products for male and female athletes including this Preload Hydration drink mix. It's specifically designed for consumption before intense exercise – especially in hot conditions – to help your body hydrate and therefore help improve performance. It seems to work, and may provide benefits if you're seeking an extra edge on race day.
Previously on road.cc we reviewed Osmo's Active Hydration Drink and outlined the scientific premise behind the product's formulation: too much carb in an athlete's liquid can lead to dehydration and a drop in performance, so the carb content in Active Hydration is comparatively low compared to most energy drinks from other manufacturers, although more than the various 'zero carbs' products also available these days.
The premise around Preload Hydration is similar: it's all about the athlete comfortably loading up with liquid, rather than carbs, but using a small proportion of carbs in the drink to (in layman's terms) help the liquid work better.
This means 100ml of Preload Hydration (when the powder is mixed with water) provides just 2.5g of carb. So your average 500ml bottle contains less than 15g of carb – compared to around 50g per bottle provided by some energy drinks from other manufactures.
The Osmo website contains several scientific studies (many conducted by Dr Stacy Sims, who happens to be Osmo's Chief Research Officer and co-founder), proving that high carbs can be counterproductive in an athlete's drink, and emphasising hydration as the key purpose of drink - with carbs coming from food.
Osmo Preload Hydration is designed to be consumed the night before a race, and then again 30 minutes before the start of a race. The taste is slightly bitter, with a soapy texture, and not really very pleasant. This may be due to the favourings, which include lemon juice powder, lemon oil, monk fruit extract and pineapple powder.
The other ingredients include sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, sucrose, potassium bicarbonate and magnesium citrate – all minerals or electrolytes which, according to Osmo's scientific studies, are beneficial when exercising and sweating, especially in hot conditions.
Scientific studies are one thing. But does Preload Hydration actually work? In my experience, yes. I tested this drink before a couple of short hard training sessions – one hour warm up then one hour just below time trial speed – and I certainly went well on the night. Would I have gone any better if I'd drunk just water? It's hard to say. But based on my very unscientific study, I'd definitely recommend Osmo Preload Hydration as worth a try for anyone looking to score any possible (legal) advantage in a race situation.
When it comes to price, Osmo Preload Hydration costs a penny under £20 for a 260g tub. For most adult men (over 70kg) the recommended dosage is around 33g of powder in 610ml of water, meaning a tub will provide just eight drinks. Given the recommendation to consume one drink the night before and another 30 mins before racing, that means you'll use up a tub in just four events.
For most cyclists that'll be a step too far in terms of cost, but for high performers seeking serious results, it may be a price worth paying.
Specialist drink-mix specifically designed for hydration before racing to improve performance; effective, but not cheap
road.cc test report
Make and model: Osmo Nutrition Preload Hydration
Size tested: Pineapple and Lemon
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is a hydration product, or more precisely a PRE-hydration product, designed to be consumed before serious exertion, such as a race. The Osma website says 'Osmo PreLoad Hydration is a special application "hyper-hydrator". Use it before intense efforts, ultra-endurance events or exercise in hot conditions. PreLoad was used to win gold in London and by Peter Sagan to secure the Green Jersey in the 2013 Tour de France. Consider it your secret weapon to:
* Increase Performance During Hot & Intense Efforts
* Maximize Sustained Power
* Reduce Muscle Fatigue and Cramping
Osmo uses only the highest quality natural ingredients."
Based on my experience, performance is good, in that I felt I went well during some hard training sessions after consuming this drink as directed. (Not scientific, I know, but all I've got to go on.)
At almost 20 quid a tub, this product seems expensive – especially if you're an average-sized male athlete (over 70kg), as the tub will provide just eight drinks. Given the recommendation to consume one drink the night before and another 30 mins before racing, that means you'll use up a tub in just four events.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, this product performed very well, in that I felt good during some hard training sessions after consuming this drink as directed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Personally, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were a serious bike rider looking for an extra edge.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is a specialist product that won't appeal (or be needed) by most cyclists. On the upside, it might make you go faster. On the downside, it doesn't taste especially nice, and it's not cheap. But for serious racing cyclists deciding whether to use this product won't be a matter of cost. It'll be about results. On that basis, I recommend Osmo Preload Hydration as worth trying. If you find it works for you, stick with it. If it doesn't work the magic, then try something else.
About the tester
Age: 53 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding and rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)