Zipvit ZV10 Energy Chews
Chews are a category of on-bike foods we're happy to see grow, and Zipvit's ZV10 Energy Chews are a new entrant in this energy food niche. If you haven't heard of Zipvit, it's because they're relatively new to the market. It's a Swiss-based company that jumped right into the professional cycling arena. They started big, getting involved with the Cervélo Test Team at the very beginning. They picked up Radio Shack in 2010, lost CTT with the Garmin merger, but picked up AG2R-Mondiale for 2011, as well at Team Geox and the Sean Kelly-An Post team.
Zipvit makes a big selling point of claiming high quality and purity of their ingredients. None of their products are made from any animal products, so they're good for vegans. They're gluten- and lactose-free, making them safe for the intolerant as well, and they're flavored with natural ingredients.
We sampled the Pomegranate and Watermelon ZV10 Energy Chews pack -- half the chews are one flavor, half the other. As much as we like bars and gels, this middle-of-the-road option is very appealing. Many chews seem like a solid form of gels, tasting less like syrup and more like "healthy" candy -- sweet without the sugary punch of real candy. We find they go down easier and are more appetizing on hot days than either gels or bars. Compared to bars, they take less chewing and never feel like a log in the stomach.
For us, the difficulty with the chews is mainly getting them out of the package. We figure that as they increase in popularity, there will be more experiments in how they are formed. Clif took a good step forward with their sleeve concept for their Shot Bloks. But for the others, you need to fish them out of the bag somehow. For us, we try to remember to rip open the bag a bit before riding, then pull the bag out of our pocket, and with one hand force the chews out of the bag into our mouth. Some, like the Shot Bloks, seem to get stuck in the bag (perhaps this is why they developed the sleeve), while others, and ZV10 Chews are a good example, come out pretty easy, not sticking to the bag or each other.
Like the Shot Bloks, we need to bite these before swallowing, but as with the Bloks, only one bite. For us, Zipvit has an advantage here, as the chews are smaller to begin with and the Zipvit chews don't stick to our teeth as much -- they're less sticky than those chews that feature gelatin.
One of the differences between the two products is size. There are eight chews in a ZV10 package totaling 180 calories, whereas there are only six Bloks totaling 200 calories. Both regard a serving as half a package, a distinction we fail to understand. Both have a vegan ingredients list. Zipvit uses tapioca syrup, sugar, and maltodextrin as the main ingredients, though that obscures the fact that the ZV10 has 46g of carbohydrate with only 22g of sugar per package. It also loads you up on the sodium, with 100mg of sodium per package. Shot Bloks are similar in these elements as well, with the main difference being that Shot Bloks have a 10% larger serving size.
Where Zipvit goes their own way is how they pack in anti-oxidants and vitamins. A package contains more than 30% of US Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamins C, E, B1, B2, B6, and niacin. The quantity of vitamin C is actually at 50% of RDA. Zipvit believes these ingredients help your body oxidize carbohydrates and fats to more efficiently produce energy for riding. By eating them, you're keeping the fire stoked and adding some heat to burn more of what you've already got on store.
Zipvit offers instructions that detail the optimal way to time your consumption of the ZV10 chews. Obviously, this is written with the idea that there are no constraints on your time, attention, effort, and stomach. However if you can't follow a regimented plan, you should do as you always have done: eat before you think you're hungry and certainly eat the moment you feel hungry. Here's what we were told:
"A rider who wants to boost energy stores before a ride lasting more than an hour should consume the packet slowly in the 60 minutes before the ride e.g. 1 chew every 15 minutes from 60 minutes pre ride and then 2 chews on the start line, literally 5 minutes before the off. This will help to ensure that insulin levels are not increased before exercise, which compromises endurance performance by increasing the rate at which valuable carbohydrate stores are used. During a long ride or race, the ideal would be to consume the chews slowly during exercise, in combination with gels, bars and ZV1 Energy drink to achieve a total carbohydrate intake of about 110g per hour. In practice this may not be possible, for example before a tough climb there may be no opportunity to feed for 30 minutes or more. In such circumstances it would be better to down a whole pack of ZV10 at once, 5 minutes prior to a hard sustained effort. Similarly 60 minutes before the end of a race there may be no opportunities to eat because of repeated attacks, or a highly technical finish. Under these circumstances it may also be better to eat a whole pack of ZV10 an hour before the race end and attempt to top up carbohydrate intake with a gel and energy drink."
We did not follow this protocol carefully. We tried a few times, but it took more attention than we were capable of. We instead followed our typical plan for long rides, which is try to eat every hour, provided we're not going all-out or within five minutes of going all out.
The ZV10 Energy C hews were definitely tasty and were easy to chewy quickly and digest, even with a dry mouth. We couldn't always tell the difference between the pomegranate and watermelon flavors, though both were lightly-flavored in the way the Zipvit drink tastes. The package was easy enough to open. In fact, we crashed once with a package in our pocket, and the force of the impact ripped our pocket and opened the bag for us.
As for the added vitamins helping improve performance, we'd like to believe it. The contention makes sense, but we didn't notice any greater improvement other than the calories helping keep us going. All things being equal, it seems like it's better that the anti-oxidant blend is there rather than not. Since it doesn't seem to hamper performance and the taste is good enough for us to come back and want more, we'll take it as all good. We'll probably order another box of the chews in the future, as the sixteen-package box will take us a while to go through.