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Enervit Sport Carbo Flow is designed to be taken before exercise to assist with intense and sustained performance. The chocolate flavoured powder can be mixed with water, milk or natural yoghurt to provide a low-fat source of carbohydrates, as well as 400mg of cocoa flavanols – studies show these help with the elasticity of blood vessels. Although quite expensive, it's convenient and seems to work.
Carbo Flow is 77% isomaltulose, which is a carbohydrate consisting of both glucose and fructose – it's derived from sugar beet. If you're diabetic you may have heard of it, as it has a low glycemic index and provides a steady flow of energy without spiking blood sugar levels the way simple sugars do.
This is good for cycling, as glycogen stores can be preserved, leading to increased power outputs at the end of longer rides (over 90 minutes).
I opted to take Carbo Flow almost immediately before riding, and felt good on long rides during testing. Of course, this could be coincidence and is hard to quantify, but there are plenty of scientific studies showing the benefits of isomaltulose for sports. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see its use increase in coming years.
But wait, I hear you cry, tell me about the flavanols! Oh, okay. Flavanols are a plant nutrient found in things such as tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries and peanuts. All of which sound more fun than a tub of powder.
Flavanols in cocoa, meanwhile, have have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent clots, and fight cell damage... unless they don't. Some conflicting studies show little to no improvement in these areas.
Whatever the truth, one portion of Carbo Flow contains 400mg of cocoa flavanols, surpassing the commonly recommended 200mg daily amount. For reference that's 188.7mg flavanols per 100kcal, which stacks up well against sources such as milk chocolate (14/100kcal), dark semi-sweet chocolate (85mg/100kcal) or apples (130mg/100kcal).
Although there are plenty of other sources of flavanols, Carbo Flow is a quick and convenient one with a relatively low fat and sugar content.
Enervit says that Carbo Flow can be mixed with either water, skimmed milk or low-fat natural yoghurt. However, they also say it should be at room temperature to prevent the degradation of the flavanols... mmm, room temperature milk.
Personally, I found it quite hard to get down mixed with yoghurt, as it make a thick paste that's on the cusp of chewy. With skimmed milk the taste is good, but having to leave milk out of the fridge requires more planning, and it still doesn't mix as well as with water.
Dissolving it in water works best for me, and usually takes about 30 seconds. Also, 150-200ml really isn't much, so it's easy to get down in a few gulps. The chocolate flavour is perfectly palatable and not ridiculously sweet.
I took two scoops each day during an intense training block, almost immediately before riding, so I could benefit from the slow-release carbohydrates as well. By the weekend I was very pleased with my power numbers, but once again it's hard to prove a genuine correlation. Either way, it didn't have a negative effect on me.
At £26.09 for 400g, Carbo Flow isn't cheap, but from what I can see it lacks any direct competition. This tub contains roughly 14 portions, so lasts either a week at two scoops or a fortnight at one. If you've got a big target event coming up, you may well find it's worth a go – in comparison to some race entries it's peanuts (though sadly not the kind with more flavanols).
There are sound, scientific reasons to think Carbo Flow might give you an advantage, and for my part I had a positive experience using it.
Effective slow-release carb drink with added flavanol benefits, but it's pricey
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Enervit Sport Carbo Flow 400g (Before)
Size tested: 400
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?
Enervit says Carbo Flow is: "...a low-fat energy product with carbs to be used before intense and sustained performance. One portion provides 208 kcal and 400 mg of cocoa flavanols, helping to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow (for a daily intake of 200 mg of cocoa flavanols)."
It has a positive effect on my performance, but is expensive and mixes better with water than other fluids.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
INGREDIENTS: Isomaltulose (77%) - Low-fat cocoa powder with a 8,3% flavanol content (degree of polymerisation 1-10) (10,6%) - Maltodextrin (5,8%) - Low-fat alkalinised cocoa powder (low-fat cocoa, acidity regulator: potassium carbonates) (3,74%) - Thickener: sodium carboxy methyl cellulose - Flavouring - Salt. **Isomaltulose is a source of glucose and fructose. May contain eggs, soybeans, milk.
57g serving (2 scoops)
400mg Cocoa Flavanol per serving
208 kcal per sefving
No stomach issues.
Hard to say without a proper, scientific study, but if the apparent gains are real I'd say its a cost-effective way of improving performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's easy to get down with water, and I was happy with my performances after a week using it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The claimed performance benefits, feeling more energetic at the end of long rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Having to use it with milk that isn't cold, and the difficulty of eating it in natural yoghurt.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Direct competitors are extremely scarce. As far as flavanols are concerned, this is an expensive way of getting them – but it's also far more convenient thanks to the high concentration, which adds value.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Some
Use this box to explain your overall score
Most research shows this should benefit your performance, and I had a positive experience using it. However, it is expensive as a tub only lasts you one or two weeks. It's also a shame it doesn't mix as well with milk or yoghurt as it does with water – that would make it more usable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,