High5 Zero electrolyte drink comes as a tube of 20 tablets. You mix one or two with water in your bottle and drink it to replace minerals in the body lost via sweat, which helps to prevent muscle cramp. We reviewed this product back in 2010, but it's recently been re-launched with a high-profile advertising campaign that heavily promotes this drink's ability to help you burn more fat.
Before studying that claim in more detail, first let's look at the drink itself. Zero comes in three flavours - Berry, Citrus and Cherry-Orange - but the important ingredients are the same, including sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium, plus dashes of Vitamin C and Green Tea Extract.
Zero's nutritional information indicates that all 20 tablets contain a total of 2g of carbohydrate (making it 0.1g per tablet), with each tablet providing 7 kJ or 1.7 kcal of energy according to the packaging, or 1.4 kcal according to the High5 website. But we're talking gnats. Either way it's a tiny amount of carb, making Zero virtually-calorie free. Hence its name, I guess. But as carb is the main thing you need to keep you going on a big bike ride, Zero is definitely not an energy drink.
But does it help reduce cramps? Yes. I suffer from muscle cramps in my legs after about 60 miles on long rides, and find I can definitely reduce this problem by using High5 Zero drink. I usually drink two bottles the day before a big sportive, and then have another one in the morning before the start. On the ride itself, I wrap a couple of tabs in a plastic bag, and add them to my bottles at one of the feed stations.
(That's another advantage: dropping tabs into your bottle is easier than spooning in power.)
Based on my experience, I'd say that if you suffer from cramps then this Zero drink will definitely help fight them off during long rides (or even short rides). The actual amount you need to drink will be a case of trial and error, and as with any energy product you should test it during training first before using it for real in a race or sportive.
So far, so good. Now let's have a look at that fat-burning claim.
The High 5 advertising says that that test subjects using Zero 'burn 41% more fat', implying that using this product can help you lose weight. While this is absolutely true, it's only because Zero contains virtually no carbohydrate. And if your body has no carb to use as an energy source, then it'll burn fat.
If you had only water in your bottle, you'd burn fat at pretty much the same rate. (Admittedly, the electrolytes in Zero might help you ride a bit further, but only by keeping the cramp at bay).
If you look closely at the High 5 advertising, you will see the 'burn 41% more fat by drinking Zero' claim is qualified by another statement in smaller type: 'instead of a normal sports drink'. Ah yes. That would be the carbohydrate-loaded normal sports drink. It's simply not comparing like with like.
Don't get me wrong. As a source of electrolytes for avoiding cramp, High 5 Zero is brilliant. But you shouldn't be mistaken into thinking it's some kind of magic potion for shedding excess kilos.
So while it's fine to use just High 5 Zero alone when training, if you're racing or riding long sportives then you'll usually need to take on carbohydrate as well (via energy gels, bars or normal food), and you'll also need to keep up the liquid intake. The right food and drink remain important for avoiding cramp; using electrolyte replacement doesn't preclude this.
A tube of 20 tablets of High5 Zero costs £6.98 from the High5 website. You can get it for a similar amount at your local bike shop, and for a bit less at the usual big on-line stores. On a crude tabs-per-quid basis, this is cheaper than most similar products from competitors and represents good value.
Excellent drink mix to help replace vital minerals and avoid cramp. Can also help burn fat, but only because it provides no energy.
road.cc test report
Make and model: High5 Zero Electrolyte tablets - 20 tablets
Size tested: Cherry Orange flavour
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 drink to replace lost electrolytes. It is not an energy product as it contains virtualy no carbohydrate.
For reducing or avoiding muscle cramps, it defititely works.
The High5 website says: "ZERO is the new SUGAR FREE electrolyte drink from High5; it's virtually calorie free ... and has a light refreshing taste ... Researchers have also found that simply drinking ZERO instead of a normal carbohydrate sport drink 22 participants burned on average 41% more fat during exercise."
Comparing a calorie-free drink with a carbohydrate drink is the same as saying "simply drinking a carbohydrate-free drink instead of a carbohydrate sports drink...". Well, er, yes. But it's not comparing like with like.
Zero comes in a tube of 20 tablets. It's easier to drop tabs in your bottle than spoon in powder, especially when you're halfway round a big sportive.
For reducing or avoiding muscle cramps, this drink definitely works.
Each tab weighs a couple of grams, ideal for carrying in your pocket, so you can add one or two to your drink mid-ride.
On a crude tabs-per-quid basis, this is cheaper than most similar products from competitors.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
As a source of electrolytes for avoiding cramp, High 5 Zero is excellent. But you shouldn't be mistaken into thinking that you can shed excess kilos simply by drinking it.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or 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,