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Reviewed: Zipvit ZV1 Energy Drink Elite

Until recently, Zipvit struck us as one of those odd names we saw on Euro’ race jerseys. We couldn’t place it at first when we saw it, but it seemed to be “around.” Maybe it was on second-division team jerseys, the tops that are splattered with a multitude of names and brands we’ve seen here and there over the years. Case in point, the Acqua e Sapone style of design — even for small brands, there’s always more room to give a few bucks and your name gets slapped on the jersey somewhere.

Turns out, that Zipvit is a Swiss-registered company that’s only been in existence since 2008. They started big, getting involved with the Cervélo TestTeam 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. They’re making inroads into triathlon, running, and even motorcycle racing.

As we’re always in search of good-tasting on-bike foodstuffs, we were excited to see a new product to test out. New stuff means more variety, less boredom, making eating on the bike more interesting, and potentially improving performance. We tested out the Zipvit ZV1 Energy Drink Elite in Fruit Punch flavor.

Zipvit makes a big selling point of claiming high quality and purity of their ingredients. None of their products are made with any animal products, so it’s all ok to consume for vegans. They’re gluten- and lactose-free, making them safe for the intolerant, and all their products are flavored with natural ingredients.

The drink follows the recent trend of high sodium and low sugar. While they claim this is ideal for year ’round performance, it has always struck us as particularly beneficial in the summer. Sweet drinks are fine cold, as are protein drinks, but they become less palatable as the mercury shoots up and the ride drags on. A serving of their drink yields 130 calories, with 32g of carbohydrate (10g of sugar) and 215mg of sodium. In contrast, powdered Gatorade yields a bit less than 100 calories, 28g of carbohydrate (all sugar) and just under 200mg of sodium. Accelerade, which we tested out last year has 180 calories, 31.5g carbohydrate (30g is sugar) and 285mg of sodium.

To the people at Zipvit, absorption of the ingredients by the body is the key to the success of a sports drink. It’s a decent metric, if only it were easy to measure. The faster nutrients get to your blood without effort by your stomach, the faster you’ll be replenished is a theory that makes sense to us. This is why two-thirds of the caloric value in this drink comes from maltodextrin, a flavorless corn or wheat starch (usually corn in the US, wheat in Europe) that provides the carbohydrate calories without sweetness. The slight sweet sensation in the drink comes from the 10g of sugar. In their experience, this ratio of maltodextrin to sugar very rarely created a digestion problem among elite athletes.

The sodium in the drink, sea salt, works both during digestion and after. It increases the speed and efficiency of water absorption in the small intestine, and thus passes it to the rest of the body faster. The sea salt also provides sulphate and magnesium, two minerals lost through sweating.

The ZV1 drink also boasts a fair number of seemingly obscure nutrients. Copper glycinate chelate, ferrous biglycinate chelates, manganese glycinate chelate, and trisodium phosphate. Glycine is an amino acid and chelate is a compound of a metal ion and another structure (in this case an amino acid) that, when taken together as a compound, make it easy for the stomach to absorb readily. ZipVit looked into the composition of sweat and found these minerals present, so they’re using an efficient way to put back in what you’re sweating out.

ZipVit’s drink is easy to mix. It is the rare drink where one scoop is the serving size for a standard-size water bottle. Kudos to them for this little bit of engineering. On the other hand, the tub they use is huge, it seems to have capacity for at least 40% more powder than they actually send. Just put the mix in a bottle, add water, and shake. The powder seems to dissolve best in room temperature water, though if you prefer to mix with cold water and ice cubes, you’ll just need 30 seconds or so of vigorous shaking.

The resulting beverage feels “thin” when swallowed, meaning that there is no syrupy sensation. It certainly goes down better when it’s cold, so much that it seems like it is water with a little flavoring and a slightly tart taste.

The slightly tart sensation gets stronger when the ZipVit drink is warm, but it’s more of a hint. As “Fruit Punch” flavor goes, it is close to PowerBar Endurance’s flavor, and not nearly as strong as you’d experience from “Fruit Punch” Gatorade or Accelerade. This is a good thing. When we’re hot and thirsty and facing down a warm bottle, we have no hesitation drinking it and the taste isn’t so sticky as to convince us to gasp and need a water chaser.

Overall, we liked the taste. After going through a tub of ZipVit, we ordered another. It was equally palatable on cool spring days and on hot summer days. People who are particularly salty sweaters might not think there’s enough sodium, but they could try increasing the concentration if they’re so inclined. Zipvit ZV1 gave us an easy method to put electrolytes back into our bodies as we ride. It’s much easier than trying to remember to pull out the Ziploc baggy full of pills at regular intervals and safer than fumbling with them in a group at 25 mph. Like any other good electrolyte replacement, we know from experience (here and otherwise) that these salts and minerals are essential for extended rides at strenuous levels. That we get a mild carb boost with a pleasurable, fresh taste is a bonus.