The Zero sport electrolyte drink is a new product from High5. Although I’ve used various energy gels and drinks with electrolytes included, this is the first time I’ve used an electrolyte-only product. And so far, I’m impressed.
I don’t suffer too badly from cramp, but when the going gets really hot and tough I do get warnings from my legs (“keep going like this, sonny, and we’re going to seize”) that force me to back off the pace a tad, especially on hills. So I welcome anything that can help me overcome this mutinous habit in my lower limbs.
The drink comes in the form of a tube of soluble tablets each about the size of a 10p bit. You drop a tab into a bottle of water on your bike, let it dissolve, then drink.
Why do this? Basically, to replace the essential minerals that get lost through sweat when exercising. Put in the simplest terms, you need these minerals to help your muscles work efficiently. If levels are low, you can’t go so fast or so far, and it’s part of the reason you get cramp.
What’s in the drink? Not surprisingly, those same essential minerals: namely sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Plus citric acid, artificial sweeteners and some flavouring.
Does it work? It works for me. After a couple of trials on local training rides, I used these tabs in one of my bottles on the final stage of this year’s Etape du Tour - the Col du Tourmalet - among the longest, hottest, toughest hills I’ve ever had the joy to pedal up. Although I suffered like a dog, and sweated like a donkey, I did have a single twinge of cramp.
Will it work for you? It’s impossible to say. Like any similar product, you need to try it for yourself. But if you suffer from cramp it’s well worth a go.
Mix up a drink and try it first just sitting at home. If it doesn’t disagree with you, drink a bottle on an easy training ride. If it still feels fine, drink one on a hot hard ride. If you notice the benefits, add Zero tabs to your armoury for your next race, sportive or long training ride.
What does it taste like? Like a slightly fizzy drink, and quite refreshing. And you get a choice of flavours: orange, berry and citrus. Another advantage is the size of the tablet. If you’re doing a long sportive, you can wrap a couple of tabs in a bit of silver foil, and stick them in your back pocket or under-saddle pouch where they take up no space at all, ready to be dropped into a bottle of water at one of the feed stations.
The High5 website recommends adding each tab to 500ml of water, but the tube itself indicates they can be added to up to 1 litre. I was using one per 750ml bottle. This is the kind of thing you can experiment with until you find the balance that works for you.
A tube of 20 tablets costs £6.99 from the High5 website, and you find it for nearer £6 at other on-line stores. That works out at about 30p per bottle-full.
Finally, it’s important to realise that Zero is not an energy drink. As the name implies, the tabs contain very minimal carbohydrate, no sugars and no caffeine. When training, racing or riding sportives, you’ll need to take on the usual amounts of carbohydrate, and you’ll need to hydrate as well - two other key components of avoiding cramp.
Used in conjunction with adequate energy food and water intake, these tablets may well help regular sufferers avoid cramp, and even assist your performance if you only suffer occasionally.
road.cc test report
Make and model: High 5 Zero Sport electrolyte drink tablets
Size tested: citrus/orange/berry
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
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, mtb,