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Review: Osmo Nutrition for Women

Osmo Nutrition is touted as having developed the first hydration and recovery system specifically designed for women. Developed by Dr. Stacy Sims, an expert in the field of hormones, the system is designed to offset the physiological effects that female hormones have on training and racing. The catch phrase used by Stacy Sims is that “women are not small men.”

As a female, my coaches have never treated me any differently than the guys. Workouts have never been any shorter or slower, and recovery time isn’t any longer. So it never occurred to me that hydrating for efforts, or refueling for recovery, should be tailored to my sex. The only thing I knew is that, once in a while, I’d need to partake in FE tablets or red meat to keep my legs from feeling drained. Needless to say, the Osmo story piqued my interest.

First Impressions

First, let me say that having lugged around some of the largest containers of hydration and recovery mix on the market, the small tubs and individually wrapped packets were a surprise. Three different formulas were included: PreLoad Hydration, Active Hydration, and Acute Recovery.

Taste

Keep in mind that of all the senses, taste is probably the most subjective. With that being said, because I ride everyday, flavor is of the utmost importance when I choose a drink. I want something that’s tasty, but not so overwhelming that I tire of it quickly, aka flavor fatigue. The flavor of the Active Hydration is Mango, which I found to be a good balance. In fact, it was very light and mild, almost like a Popsicle in the summer.

The PreLoad hydration mix is primarily meant as a hyper-hydrator for prolonged training or competition in warm weather. That said, because I’ve been heading out for long weekends of mountain biking in the desert, without many miles in my legs mind you, I thought it best to partake before each ride. I diligently fill a water bottle at breakfast and sip it for the next hour or so before I head out to ride. It’s definitely salty, but it has a light and pleasant “Pineapple Margarita” flavor that isn’t overwhelming. In fact, it sort of has that refreshing “where is the umbrella in my drink?” taste.

As for the Acute Recovery mix, Osmo provides a Honey & Spice flavor. I like cinnamon as a spice, but orange flavored spices have never set well with my palate—the Honey/orange spice flavor of the Recovery Drink didn’t sit well either. I’m not sure why this flavor was chosen. Personally it seems to fit somewhere in the Yogi arena of chai and spiced teas rather than in the realm of cycling. In other words, it’s definitely a very specific flavor. I did drink it, however, and I’ve found that adding a substantial amount of ice tempers the bold flavor a bit.

Function

In full disclosure, I don’t usually use a drink mix during my rides. Instead, I’ve always relied on plain ol’ water for hydration and sandwiches for fuel. This has been primarily because low-calorie drink mixes usually have copious amounts of sugar in them, and I want to be hydrated when I ride, not on a sugar high. Although sugary drinks taste good, too much sugar inhibits the body’s absorption of water. But, that being said, I’ve ended rides covered in a white salt crust on more than one occasion, and that’s a pretty good indicator that I need to intake more sodium during hydration. I’m probably just toying with fate that I haven’t had any debilitating episodes of cramping. The Osmo Active Hydration for Women mix is touted as having an optimized ratio of glucose, sucrose, and sodium, which in turn, facilitates the body’s absorption of water through the small intestine.

Over the past month, slick rock and drops have tested me, but surprisingly, my legs have felt amazing. I haven’t been training much in the saddle at this time of year. In fact, I spend most of the fall trail running—anathema to most cyclists. Even on the long climbs, though, I’ve been putting out more power than I anticipated. I also haven’t been finishing rides crusted in salt. Coincidence? I think not. Just as importantly, though, I’ve had no GI issues, no cramps, and well, I haven’t been gassy.

Moving on, I was looking forward to seeing the benefits of Osmo’s Acute Recovery Drink for Women. As much as I was convinced that it would live up to the PreLoad and Active Hydration, I couldn’t get past the taste. My legs have felt strong over the past month, which has even included a few double-days on the bike. So, you could say that it’s doing its job. Thankfully, though, I haven’t felt bloated or had any GI issues, which is more than I can say for most recovery drinks.

Drawbacks

If your weekly mileage on the bike rivals that of your friends’ in cars, you’ll be using quite a bit of Osmo. The tub sizes are a little small, and while that may preserve the freshness of the drink mix and avoid clumping, as is seen in large containers, it means that you’ll need to clear out some cupboard space. Also, I’m hopeful that Osmo will expand the line of flavors as the word spreads. A blackberry Active Hydration (like what’s found in the “Men’s Line”) and a chocolate Acute Recovery would be perfect.

Conclusion

Even if you’re not female, you’ve probably noticed that hormones play an important part in your everyday sanity. To find a product that helps to temper the aggregate effects of said hormones on my training is a bit of a godsend. Not to mention that it’s long overdue that women are given their own products beyond the “shrink and pink” model. I will definitely continue to use Osmo in my daily training.