The newest nutritional supplement company on the market, OSMO Nutrition, has been gaining a lot of attention since its unveiling at the Amgen Tour of California back in May, and rightfully so. The new brand has some different philosophies and ideas on ingredient choices that are helping them make a name for themselves in a market already bursting with choices. OSMO, which gets its name from the term osmolality (the amount of dissolved substance in fluid, i.e. how much sugar, protein, electrolytes, etc. are dissolved in water), has four products: Active Hydration, Acute Recovery, GoodNight Recovery, and PreLoad.
Of the four, it’s really the Active Hydration and Acute Recovery that are the meat and potatoes of the line, while the other two aren’t necessarily everyday products. All four use only organic and natural ingredients, “the best money can buy” according to co-founder Ben Capron, from the GMO and hormone-free protein all the way down to the freeze dried fruit. Each of the products were developed by Dr. Stacy Sims, who uses her experience from working with the likes of Lance Armstrong, Andy Schleck, and Team Garmin, combined with the science from peer reviewed journals.
Active Hydration- Dr. Sims’ mantra of “food in the pocket and hydration in the bottle” is reflected in the Active Hydration formula, which at 70 calories per 16oz of water is on the low-end calorically compared to many other brands. By design, its osmolality is kept lower than higher calorie drinks in order to achieve the fastest possible absorption; the fluids with electrolytes are delivered to the blood stream quicker, and without causing any gastrointestinal distress. $24.99 (20 servings)
Acute Recovery- Designed to be consumed immediately after exercise to take your body from a catabolic state (breaking itself down), to a recovery phase. To achieve this, two different proteins are used to begin the re-building process: a fast burning whey isolate, and slower digesting casein. One ingredient it contains that isn’t found in many other recovery drinks is caffeine, but OSMO uses a small amount because recent studies have shown a significant increase in muscle glycogen uptake when caffeine is ingested post-exercise. $39.99 (10 servings)
PreLoad Hydration- The third product in their line is formulated to hyper-hydrate and buffer lactic acid, specially designed for very hot weather, or an event such as a time trial or cyclo-cross race, where you will not be able to drink enough to replenish your fluid losses. OSMO claims that taking PreLoad will give you 8-11% more blood plasma the following day, which dramatically increases the amount of time before dehydration could set in. $24.99 (10 servings)
GoodNight Recovery- Made to drink just before bed during a heavy training block, or after a big training day or race. Its blend is designed to continue rebuilding damaged muscle, while helping your body and mind to relax and get a restful night's sleep. Cherries are part of the formula, which not only have a lot of antioxidants in them, but also sleep improving melatonin. $39.99 (8 servings)
What Do We Think?
During a two-month trial period we went through quite a bit of OSMO Nutrition product, mainly Active Hydration and Acute Recovery. The most noticeable aspect of all the products is that they are not overly sweetened, but have an emphasis on ingredients that hydrate, re-fuel, and repair, rather than solely cater to our taste buds. Active Hydration’s natural fruit flavoring gives it a subtle taste; which is a good thing, in our opinion, for an exercise drink. It was palatable even when the temps hit the triple digits, keeping our electrolyte balance in check and our muscles cramp-free. One thing that you’re not going to get from Active Hydration is adequate calories for rides over a couple of hours, so in order to stave off the dreaded bonk, some sort of solid food is necessary.
Acute Recovery quickly became a habit for us after every ride, even if it was just the one-hour lunch rides. Mixed with water alone, the flavor wasn’t anything to brag about; but mixed with soy milk the Vanilla was good, and left us satisfied for an hour or so until we had a real meal. When we intentionally didn’t use Acute Recovery after a one hour ride, the difference we felt the following day was negligible. But, when trying the same thing after a hard three or four hour ride, the difference in our ability to get in a quality workout the following day was apparent.
GoodNight Recovery’s benefits were more subtle than those of Acute Recovery, but after a big ride it did seem to help us wind down and have a more relaxed night's rest, something that can be hard to do when your body is racing to recover. PreLoad Hydrator was definitely a special use application, which we only had the need for a couple times. The amazingly salty-tasting mix did what its intended to, store extra fluid. We wouldn’t recommend it for an uphill time trial, since the added fluid retention packs on some extra weight.
The single drawback we found with OSMO Nutrition was the price, mainly with Acute Recovery and GoodNight Recovery. At $4 per serving, it puts a decent dent into the budget, especially if you happen to be using all the products on a regular basis. The premium that comes with OSMO’s integrity to using the best possible ingredients will keep it from finding its way into everyone’s bottles; but for those who value organic ingredients, and the most up-to-date nutritional science, OSMO Nutrition will fit the bill.