Category: Food

You may have noticed that there are a lot of energy bars on the market…and a lot of them have ingredients that may leave you scratching your head. Why would athletes (or ANYONE, for that matter) want to eat artificial flavors or colors or other unpronounceable additives in the foods they are depending on for energy?

But now, there’s a new player on the market that is addressing these concerns.

A couple weeks ago, Jonathan from ZEGO reached out to us to tell us about their new energy bars…these things check a lot of boxes for folks who are concerned with what they put into their bodies.

Here’s the rundown on them, straight from the ZEGO website:

    Safe. Allergy-friendly*, natural ingredients.
    Gluten Free.
    Nut Free.*
    Lots of Protein. 10g per bar
    Not a lot of Sugar.
    Healthy fats.
    Sustained Energy. Low glycemic index.
    Delicious. Something you’ll WANT to eat during a workout!

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And the proof is in the ingredients list:

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As if the ingredients weren’t enough, ZEGO even donates 20% of their profits to supporting childrens’ nutrition initiatives. That’s a winner right there!

ZEGO is in the final stages of an Indiegogo fundraising effort so they can ramp up production. Please support them if you like the sound of their product — I think it is a great thing they are bringing to the market.

Jonathan was kind enough to send me samples to try — the caramel (previously referred to in print and visual ads –even in the pic above — as “sunflower”) and chocolate. They are DELICIOUS — just a hint of sweetness and a chewy, satisfying mouthfeel. Best of all, they go down easily; many other energy bars sit in my gut like a lead brick, but the ZEGOs kept me rolling on a long training ride this weekend.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

We didn’t send anyone to this year’s Sea Otter, but writers from our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com went and covered a lot of goodies in the mountain-biking world. One of the items our pal Art spotted was Koala Bottle — a magnetic bottle/cage system for bicycles:

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Here’s a bit straight from the manufacturer’s website:

Koala Bottle is The Magnetic Bottle (TM) that attaches to your bicycle, tethers to your aero bars and much more.

Koala Bottle is designed for safety and ease of use! The magnetic ring on the bottle provides 360° of contact and is designed so that you can easily drop the bottle into the cage when you are finished drinking. When you hear the ring click and engage the magnets you know that the bottle is firmly attached.

A magnetic bottle, you say? Why, didn’t another company try this a while back? And probably a couple before that? Yes…the concept has been tried before, and while the idea has its merits, most of the previous incarnations were hamstrung by proprietary bottles or other glaring problems. Not so with Koala Bottle — they really seem to have this thing figured out!

First off is Koala’s choice of bottle — the industry-standard Specialized BPA-free bottles with a soft, high-flow valve. They are branded with the Koala logo. No proprietary bottles here — so if you lose it or the bottle becomes uncleanably funky, you can toss it and replace easily (more on that in a bit).

Second is the cage itself — it’s of a fairly minimalist design, with stubby arms to help support the bottle. Up near the top of the cage are two very strong magnets that cling to the steel ring around the bottle itself when the bottle is inserted/dropped into the cage. Koala thoughtfully molded the cage with holes and long slots (and even provides longer-than-usual mounting screws) to fit almost any bike with brazed-on waterbottle mounting points. You can see the magnets and the mounting options in this photo:

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Back to the bottles for a bit — the secret is the steel ring that fits around the neck of the bottle.

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Koala sells replacement rings or complete bottles…or you can install the original one onto any standard Specialized bottle by following these quick steps:

Pretty slick, eh? Those Specialized bottles are everywhere, too — many bike shops and companies who have their own branded waterbottles start with Specialized “blanks”.

For those of you who might be concerned with the retention aspects of the magnetic cage, fear not. I filled up a bottle and rode my mountain bike up and down local stairways, curbs, deeply potholed streets and other urban hazards. The bottle never once shook loose. In fact, the magnets in the cage are so strong that an empty bottle is a bit of a struggle to remove from the cage! When it’s time to replace the bottle in the cage, you don’t even really have to line it up…just get it in the vicinity of the cage and let those powerful magnetic fields do their thing. Snap! This is definitely a benefit when you’re sipping in traffic on your commute; the last thing you want to do is fuss with your bottle.

Why would someone choose such a bottle system? It doesn’t really save weight; the cage comes in somewhere around 55 grams, which is a bit heavier than other plastic cages and similar in weight to typical aluminum/steel cages. Where this system shines is on bikes with limited clearances, like on small frame sizes. Since the bottle can come out of the cage sideways, no clearance above the bottle is needed. This also shines in the offroad world, when frame triangles on suspended frames are too tiny for traditional waterbottles and cage systems.

The Koala bottle is designed and manufactured right here in the U.S., and sells for $27.99 (21 oz size) or two dollars more for the 24 oz. size. Not a bad deal at all. This system definitely has a home on a couple of my bikes — I am sold on the concept!

Check out Koala Bottle by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

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Over the summer, I had a chance to attend Interbike where I came across a sports drink that I actually liked. I generally don’t like the taste of sports drinks despite the huge variety available, so when I came across Skratch Labs I wasn’t expecting much. Over the course of the Outdoor Demo where I had to stay hydrated (due to the Las Vegas sun), I found myself wanting more and more of the drink. Not to take away anything from the boys from Florida who developed the “G Series” but this new company is doing something that I never thought would be possible for a sports drink: focusing on keeping it all-natural.

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History of Skratch Labs

Launched officially in February of 2012 (although it really started in 2008) while working to prepare the Garmin team for the Tour de France, Allen Lim set out to solve the stomach problems his riders were experiencing from their existing sports drinks. After some trial and error, he developed a drink mix that worked for his riders. With no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives of any kind, the drink was designed to replace everything lost in sweat with just a little bit of real fruit for flavor. And so, Allen’s “Secret Drink Mix” caught on quickly with the peloton and he was soon mixing batch after batch of it from Skratch in his own kitchen.

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How does it compare to Gatorade and the others?

When I think of sports drinks, I immediately think of the argument of why a sports drink is better than water during physical activity.

Argument: Water doesn’t have electrolytes and an athlete needs it to better perform.

Quite a good argument but whenever I read the ingredients of any sports beverage, I am left wondering why it needed more than water, sugar, salt and fruit. To better make sense of why I just said that, here’s the definition of what an electrolyte (the sole argument that seems to trump water in athletic use every time) is:

Electrolyte: A substance that dissociates into ions in solution and acquires the capacity to conduct electricity. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphate are examples of electrolytes, informally known as lytes. (Medicinenet.com)

Based on that definition, electrolytes are found in every food I can think of, but I never see it on a label of a sports drink.

According to their Public Relations person, this is how it’s different:

“Skratch Labs Hydration Drink Mix is an all natural sports drink designed to replace everything lost in sweat without the common complaints of flavor fatigue and GI issues. Made with less sugar, more electrolytes and flavored only with real fruit powder, the bottom line for Allen when he created it, and for us now, is that it just works better.”

It comes with fruit, NOT in flavors

There are designated “flavors” that the drink comes in but to be honest, I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I suppose somebody could argue with me on this, but if a company (or a restaurant) actually included real fruit in their drinks and that’s where the taste comes from, I would think that the drink is a fruit drink. I know it’s kind of a play on words, but I don’t think any of the other major sports drinks can claim that their “Fruit Punch” actually has fruits in it.

Here’s the list of “flavors” it comes in:
• Lemons and Limes
• Oranges
• Raspberries
• Pineapples
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My own take on it…

About a month ago, I was able to get a supply of Skratch Labs drink mixes to review. Now obviously, I’m not a scientist or a researcher that can quantify or qualify a conclusion with supporting research between differing drinks because after all, I write for a bicycling commuting blog =) and not a medical science journal BUT I can assure you that my experience with the Skratch Labs drink mixes have been great! As far as how it tastes? It tastes sweet but not too sweet. It’s refreshing and cleansing like an organic juice blended at a local Jamba Juice. As far as performance? Like I said, this is by no means done scientifically but considering I have never been a fan of drinking sports drinks during rides because I often end up feeling more dehydrated but with this, I did not feel that way. I like that this drink packs more sodium in it because I don’t know how many times I’ve noticed a good amount of salt stains on my biking jersey, helmet, sunglasses, etc. I also liked that it was lower in sugar so my teeth don’t take the beating they already do with Gu and whatever else I consume just to keep riding.

My biggest attraction to this drink, other than that it has real fruits to replace the sugar content, is that it’s gluten-free. I’m not a huge health nut; my experience with gluten-free foods have been excellent. I won’t get into it, but I noticed that I sleep better and have more energy on a gluten-free diet. One thing though: Although officially they’re not gluten free, the certification that is costly for a small company like them will come sometime in 2013.

I strongly suggest this product. Until I find another sports drink that’s better, I will personally be using Skratch Labs drink mixes.
I encourage anyone to take a look at their website to browse through their products.

Company links:
http://www.skratchlabs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/skratchlabs?fref=ts
info@skratchlabs.com

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.