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Nuun Electrolyte enhanced drink tabs (4 pack)



Refreshing, good for keeping cramps at bay, and no ill-effects on the stomach.

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Nuun hydration tablets have been around for a few years (in fact, they're the original electrolyte-only tab) and recently some new flavours have been added to the range. Dropping a Nuun tab in a bottle of water creates a refreshing drink with added minerals to help keep you hydrated and avoid cramp when cycling.

First up, it's important to realise that Nuun tabs do not create an energy drink. There's no carbohydrate (ie, no source of energy), but that's the idea. Nuun was originally conceived to separate hydration from energy needs, and so the end result is a non-sticky non-sickly sugar-free liquid that really is nice to drink, even after (especially after) eight hours in the saddle on a long hot sportive or training ride.

The key ingredients of Nuun tabs include the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These are the 'electrolytes' that help your muscles keep working. Similar rehydration products from other brands also contain these minerals/electrolytes but, according to the boffins at Nuun, the most important ingredient is sodium which most people need at a rate of around 700mg per litre of water. Each Nuun tab contains 360mg of sodium, specifically designed to go in a half-litre bottle – although the Nuun website confirms that you can alter this ratio to suit your own needs and preferences.

Do Nuun tabs work? In my experience, yes. I am prone to cramp, and having used Nuun tabs on a couple of long rides recently I can say the tabs seemed to keep them at bay. On a more prosaic level, I really enjoyed the taste of these drinks – which probably helped me drink more (which in itself helped reduce the chances of cramping up).

So what are the flavours? The new ones include strawberry lemonade, lemon tea and fruit punch – which seem to fit in with the friendly, informal, Innocent Fruit Juice / Dorset Cereals vibe that seems to be going on at Nuun HQ. These are added to existing flavours such as tri-berry, lemon and lime and kona cola (which has a dash of caffeine).

Testing the various varieties at the desk here in Towers, my initial impression was that the flavours were mild, verging on weak. But out on the bike, they're just right. Refreshing, not sweet, but not too tangy either. There was no sign of stomach ache, bloating or (possibly too much detail) farting – all effects that some cyclists report experiencing from similar products.

On price, a box of four tubes from the Nuun on-line store is £24 - although you can the same box for considerably less from other online stors; and you can buy single tubes containing 12 Nuun tabs for around £6 in your local bike or sports shop. It's hard to compare directly against similar products from other brands as the formulations vary, but on a crude milligrams-of-sodium-per-quid basis the Nuuns work out at 50p per tab containing 360mg of sodium. This compares against, for example, High5 Zeros (a tube of 20 tabs is about £7) which works out at 35p per tab of 250mg of sodium.

When we get down to this kind of level, though, it's not really about price. It's about if the drink works for you. Does it taste nice? Does it keep you hydrated and keeps cramps at bay, without causing any stomach ache? Do you still feel like drinking it after several hours of cycling? In my experience, the answer to all these questions is yes, so I'd recommend giving Nuun tabs a try to see if they work for you as well.


Hydration tablets creating a non-sticky drink in a variety of flavours. Refreshing, good for keeping cramps at bay, and no ill-effects on the stomach. test report

Make and model: Nuun Electrolyte enhanced drink tabs (4 pack)

Size tested: 4 pack, Various flavours

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

This product is a tablet designed to be mixed with water to create a drink to keep you hydrated. It is not an energy drink, and it contains virtually no calories. If you're doing a long ride, you'll need a supply of carbohydrate in addition to this drink.

The Nuun UK website has this to say on its homepage:

"Portable nuun hydration tabs allow athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and other active folks to easily and conveniently manage hydration, whenever and wherever they need it. Nuun is light and refreshing with no sugar and is non-sticky so it's great in bottles and hydration packs. ... Over the past 10 years, nuun has built a passionate following among cyclists, runners, triathletes, swimmers and outdoor enthusiasts."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The Nuun website lists the ingredients as follows:

"Active Ingredients: level (mg)

Sodium (carbonates) 360.0

Potassium (bicarbonate) 100.0

Calcium (carbonate) 12.5

Magnesium (sulfate) 25.0

Vitamin C 37.5

Vitamin B2 500 mcg

Other ingredients: citric acid, sorbitol, sodium carbonate, natural colours and flavours, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, polyethylene glycol, magnesium sulfate, sodium benzoate, calcium carbonate, acesulfame potassium, riboflavin-5-phosphate"

Rate the product for performance:

The product performs perfectly: on test rides it was nice to drink, kept me hydrated, kept cramp at bay, and didn't have any ill-effects on the stomach.

Rate the product for value:

Compared to similar electrolyte-only hydration tabs, on a crude miligrams-of-sodium-per-quid basis, the price is fair but not an absolute bargain. But deciding whether to use this drink or not shouldn't be based on price alone; it should be based on if it works for you.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

This product performed very well overall: on test rides it was nice to drink, kept cramp at bay, and didn't have any ill-effects on the stomach. It's also easy to carry a few tabs wrapped in silver foil to top up bottles at sportive feed-stations.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Taste. Still refreshing after several hours.

Did you enjoy using the product? yes

Would you consider buying the product? yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

This is an exceptionally good product - nice taste, does the job, fair price, no ill-effects - so fully deserves an overall score of 9.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 51  Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm  Weight: 11 stone / 70kg

I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic  My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,


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andyp | 11 years ago

'Brilliant, except the whole cramp = lack of electrolytes theory is wrong....
Hurrah, more bad science.

There is *some evidence* to suggest that a loss of electrolytes does not contribute to cramp. Very different to what you are saying.

David Else | 11 years ago

Thanks for the feedback, folks.

Just to clarify, I’m fully aware of the debate among sports scientists over the benefits of sports drinks (of both the energy and rehydration variety), and the not unrelated debate about the financial links between some research institutes and some manufacturers. For example, there was an intriguing article in the British Medical Journal recently that covered this topic in some detail, and an equally fascinating follow-up discussion on the BMJ website.

On the specifics of hydration tabs, the Science of Sport article is very interesting (as are the comments that come after it). If I understand correctly, the Science of Sport article states that the amount of liquid lost when sweating is comparatively more than the amount of minerals lost when sweating. This means the CONCENTRATION gets higher, as the article states, but I understand that there is still an overall LOSS of minerals.

And it's these lost minerals that should be replaced (ie, with hydration tablets) when it comes to helping prevent cramp, according to some sports science studies. Meanwhile, other studies emphasise the importance of drinking water to correct the concentration balance and say minerals are unncessary, and yet more studies recommend both water and minerals.

While the scientific debates continue, I think a lot comes down to personal experience. As I say in the main review, I suffer from cramp, and using Nuun tabs seemed to keep it at bay on long rides. It could be the minerals, or it could simply be the pleasant taste and non-sticky texture of this product that encouraged me to drink, which in itself helps reduce the chances of cramp. Or it could be a bit of both. Either way, in my experience, it does the job.

By the same token, anyone’s decision on whether to use this kind of product should be based on the same test - does it do the job? - and so I end the review by saying: “I’d recommend giving Nuun tabs a try to see if they work for you as well.”

I hope that clarifies my position. Thanks again for the feedback.

crikey | 11 years ago

Brilliant, except the whole cramp = lack of electrolytes theory is wrong....

But it doesn't stop people using it and insisting it works.
for more info.

kie7077 replied to crikey | 11 years ago

@ crikey & Sanderville

Very good article there, and I just watched the Panorama episode too. It's back to trying to eat as healthily as possible I guess... And source some beet juice  4

I was proper fooled by the whole sweating out electrolytes = cramp idea.

sanderville | 11 years ago

I mostly use Nuun but I have tried others and I'd point out that Nuun tablets dissolve quickly and cleanly, especially compared with High5 tablets.

Mind you, since watching the Panorama episode about sports drinks and then doing some reading-up on water poisining I have dramatically cut down the amount that I drink before, during and after excercise and I have pretty much stopped using sports drinks. I have to say I feel much better for it.

pedalpowerDC | 11 years ago

I've been on them for almost 5 years. I love that I can drink sloppy and not get sticky. The only time I had stomach issues with them was in a particularly railing crit stocked with various elite national champions, and I nearly puked for 3 laps after taking a single sip.

Chuffy | 11 years ago

Definitely my favourite technical ride drink - they actually taste pleasant, unlike most of the others which taste horribly artificial.

Oh and by the way, if you turn the tube they are actually called UNNU (best pronounced in a Vic Reeves style and with several exclamation marks).  4

Mat Brett | 11 years ago
kie7077 replied to Mat Brett | 11 years ago

 39 I can't help but notice a link to the US site where Americans are charged as little as $22 which is  26 £13.66 per 4-pack  13 . Rip-off Britain once again  14

ragtag replied to kie7077 | 11 years ago
kie7077 wrote:

 39 I can't help but notice a link to the US site where Americans are charged as little as $22 which is  26 £13.66 per 4-pack  13 . Rip-off Britain once again  14

They are made in America - if that makes any difference.

Love nuun. They have got it just right. Never had a problem with them, and the containers are handy for other things too when the weather is bad. High5 - I tried some freebies from Wiggle.. still got one in the cupboard I can't bring myself to use.

pwake replied to kie7077 | 11 years ago
kie7077 wrote:

 39 I can't help but notice a link to the US site where Americans are charged as little as $22 which is  26 £13.66 per 4-pack  13 . Rip-off Britain once again  14

Sorry to break this to you, mate, but I live in the US and I can get them for $3.99 a tube down at my local store. I make that $15.96 for 4 tubes, so about a tenner! I'll have to load up a suitcase and make like Del Boy next time I'm back over in Blighty.  1

ragtag replied to pwake | 11 years ago

Oh I'm over to Greenwich in a couple of weeks, will have to stock up then.

kie7077 | 11 years ago

£24!!! I saw the list price as £19.99... checks... On wiggle who are selling for £18, Probikekit price £15.29 and they say the list is £20.39, perhaps there is no list price... But Probikekit don't seem to have reliable stock indicators (they did refund quickly though).

I just bought an 8-pack off ebay, £32, that's much better value at £4 per tube.

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