The best energy drinks for 2014 tasted, tested, rated and reviewed!

Carbohydrate-enhanced energy drinks are the easiest way to get stay energised during triathlon training and racing. We look at 12 top contenders for the energy drink crown.

Best Triathlon Energy Drinks

CNP Team Sky Race Drink, Elivar Endure, Gatorade G Series Pro

CNP Team Sky Race Drink

£24, 20 sachets (£25, 1.6kg)
cnpprofessional.co.uk; paligap.cc

So new we’re barely allowed to talk about it, CNP’s low intensity drink is great for high intensity work. The mix was developed with Team Sky, so it’s for serious athletes who down bottles of the stuff. Cue neutral flavouring and almost half the amount of recommended powder per 500ml bottle of most mixes. That means less energy per bottle, but the electrolyte elements and a trace of protein fast-track fuel into your system. Because you’re drinking more for the same effect, dehydration is countered and carbohydrate overload is less likely, too.

Carbs 94g Sugar 17g Protein 1.1g
Carbs/500ml 21g £/500ml 34p-£1.20

Low concentration but well reinforced refuelling drink for high intensity training

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

Elivar Endure

£20, 12 sachets (£25, 900g)
elivar.com

The first nutrition range developed for club 35 to 80 delivers real benefits but will punish your pension. Endure is designed around low GI carbs mixed with energy mobilising additives, plus protein for sustained diesel power. You get branch-chain amino acids, claimed to speed up muscle recovery, and extra calcium for senior skeletons. Its rich and synthetic taste was described as “more like work than pleasure” by some testers and they struggled with it at higher intensities. It’s great for long steady sessions or heavy training blocks though. It’s easily the most expensive here.

Carbs 71g Sugar 28g Protein 18g Carbs/500ml 32g £/500ml £1.25-£1.66

Sustained steady-session energy delivery and recovery for senior athletes, but expensive

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Gatorade G Series Pro

£11.50, 12 sachets (£9, 350g)
gatoradestore.co.uk

Gatorade is high profile, having sponsored Team Sky, but their sugar-loaded G Series drink needs careful use. Gatorade makes a lot of their 40 years’ experience in energy drinks, so the recipe is surprising. Sugar and dextrose headline an 89 per cent sugar mix. This is great for rapid fluid absorption, but means real care is needed not to create energy spikes and troughs. It also tastes aggressively sweet and there’s a big slug of salt and other electrolytes included. Even with a smaller sachet size and a lower concentration than most, our testers struggled with it when working hard. The 350g tubs are expensive.

Carbs 91g Sugar 89g Protein 0g
Carbs/500ml 33g £/500ml 93-96p

Very sugary, instant hit electrolyte enriched mix but needs serious diluting or careful sips

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

Best Triathlon Energy Drinks

High5 4:1, High5 2:1, Maxifuel Viper Active

High5 Energy Source 4:1

£17, 12 sachets (£35, 1.6kg)
highfive.co.uk; hotlines-uk.com

This drink takes High5’s 2:1 maltodextrin to fructose Energy Source base and adds
a 20 per cent whey protein dose. This potentially helps increase the speed of energy processing and we felt strong with a bottle or two for company. It gives your post-training recovery a kick-start too, making this a versatile drink. Its all-natural flavouring is gentle and neutral enough to quaff by the bottle even when you’re properly thirsty and it’s electrolyte enriched too. The additional protein and other gear beefs up the cost significantly though.

Carbs 77g Sugar 36g Protein 19g
Carbs/500ml 37g £/500ml £1.03-£1.41

Expensive, but protein reinforced energy and electrolyte drink is great for heavy training

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

High5 Energy Source 2:1

£13, 12 sachets (£30, 2.2kg)
highfive.co.uk; hotlines-uk.com

High5’s 2:1 offers a tasty and effective mix. The 2:1 ratio of starch carbs and fructose is one you’ll see touted as the optimum balance for useful pick-up plus sustained energy, and at normal concentrations it works. The natural colours and flavours are pleasantly palatable and there are no salty electrolytes. We had no trouble using it at intense exertion rates or long outings. You can also over-concentrate by 50 per cent or even add a Zero electrolyte pill. Sachets are expensive, but the big tubs are more affordable.

Carbs 94g Sugar 38g Protein 0.1g
Carbs/500ml 44g £/500ml 64p-£1.08

Excellent, tasty but not overpowering and very versatile energy-only mix, but not cheap

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

Maxifuel Viper Active

£20, 20 sachets (£20, 750g)
maxifuel.com

Maxifuel’s ingredient-rich Viper Active is a hard worker rather than an easy drinker. With a high sugar ratio in the maltodextrin and dextrose energy mix, Viper strikes your energy levels as aggressively as it sounds, with an obvious boost in energy. That needs handling with care to keep fuelling consistent, although the eight per cent protein adds a slow-burning background base. High levels of electrolytes and amino acids make this a complex refuelling recipe that works during and after sessions too. This all makes for a strongly scientific taste, and it’s not the easiest gear on your gut over extended sessions.

Carbs 83g Sugar 53g Protein 8g
Carbs/500ml 29g £/500ml 93p-£1

Heavily fortified multi-level energy mix, but taste and turbulence not universally tolerated

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Best Triathlon Energy Drinks

Osmo Active Hydration, OTE Energy, SiS GO Electrolyte

Osmo Active Hydration

£16, 400g 2pure.co.uk

ctive Hydration
£16, 400g 2pure.co.uk

Osmo makes bold claims about life-changing performance. Conceived at the turnaround point of the Hawaii Ironman bike leg by triathlete and PhD student (now Dr) Stacy Sims, Osmo is all about fastest possible fluid absorption. That means a ton of sugars, assorted citrate electrolytes and B vitamins rather than starches. That sounds like a shortcut to an energy spike but Osmo recommends a low concentration. This makes the sweet, mineral taste less of an issue, though it’s more medicinal than moreish. Price per gram is high but recommended dosage small.

Carbs 90g Sugar 80g Protein 0g
Carbs/500ml 19g £/500ml 88p

Radical fast absorbing high sugar, low concentration electrolyte drink, but pricey

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

OTE Energy Drink

£18.20, 14 sachets (£23, 1.2kg)
otesports.co.uk

this is a proper performance-enhancing product. The mostly maltodextrin energy load gives solid sustain with enough sucrose for pick-up purposes. There are no artificial sweeteners, flavours or preservatives and it’s vegan and gluten or dairy-intolerant friendly too. The neutral pH is designed to sit easily in the stomach. Add light flavours that leave your mouth clean not sticky and, despite seriously high sodium and electrolyte concentration, it’s easily drinkable. It mixes very easily and nice little touches include twin rip lines on the sachet for different sized bottles and synced energy loads across gels and drink.

Carbs 93g Sugar 19g Protein 0g
Carbs/500ml 40g £/500ml 82p-£1.30

Excellent, easily drinkable intense or extended performance mix

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

SiS GO Electrolyte

£21.40, 18 sachets (£24, 1.6kg)
scienceinsport.com

SIS has rebranded their GO range to “GO Electrolyte” and it’s still a useful, if strong tasting, all-rounder. Most of the energy payload is maltodextrin starch for sustained release, with just enough fructose to give a bit of pep. There are loads of different natural flavours to stop you getting bored and it’s electrolyte enriched. Most of these flavours are strong and the aspartame sweetener and electrolyte load creates a synthetic taste, meaning it can be overwhelming during longer multi-bottle or higher-intensity/temperature sessions.

Carbs 91g Sugar 17g Protein 0g
Carbs/500ml 36g £/500ml 75p-£1.08

Proven mixed energy and electrolyte drink but best diluted for high intensity sessions

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Best Triathlon Energy Drinks

Sponser Competition Hypotonic, Torq Energy 2:1, ZipVit ZV1 Elite

Sponser Competition Hypotonic

£19, 1kg
sponseruk.com

this mix of carbohydrates and electrolytes is a useful blend if you’re OK with synthetic-tasting flavouring. It’s designed as a “slow release” mix, but with over 50 per cent sugars it’s one of the faster reacting recipes here. Flavouring is a synthetically floral air-freshener style, but it’s clean on the palette. It mixes easily and goes down OK across a wide training range. That’s despite a fairly high dose of electrolytes including salt and even calcium piggybacking the main starch and sugar payload.

Carbs 96g Sugar 52g Protein 0g Carbs/500ml 38g £/500ml 76p

More synthetic taste than most but still a useful all-rounder

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Torq Energy 2:1

£14, 500g (£48, 3kg)
torqfitness.co.uk; zyro.co.uk

In a world of just-about-bearable beverages this all-natural starch and fruit electrolyte mix is user friendly and enjoyable. Vegan friendly, with no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives, Torq’s two-parts maltodextrin, one-part fructose energy mix is a clean drink. A 500ml bottle delivers the same dose as a Torq gel or bar, for consistent fuelling with a usefully quick pick-up and effective energy sustain. The wide range of fruit and vanilla flavours taste great and sneak in a decent electrolyte boost without any hint of gagging at higher exertion levels too. Flavours can get over rich at higher percentage concentrations.

Carbs 91g Sugar 30g Protein 0g
Carbs/500ml 30g £/500ml 64p-£1.12

Great tasting, easy drinking clean energy, at a good price if you buy big

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

ZipVit ZV1 Elite

£11, 700g (£21, 1.4kg)
zipvitsport.co.uk; i-ride.co.uk

ZipVit’s Elite drink tastes on the scientific side, but it works really well, especially in high intensity situations. There are no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives, but like their bars it has a laboratory taste. The high levels of sodium and other electrolytes give a slightly brackish, potentially nauseous note at first, but it’s worth bearing with. It mixes really easily in a rush and our testers synced with the taste and ingredient balance fine. Everyone was positive about its fast and effective energy delivery. It successfully picked us up from bonks without obvious comedown afterwards and it’s well priced.

Carbs 91g Sugar 31g Protein 0.1g
Carbs/500ml 32g £/500ml 52-55p

Synthetic taste, but a really effective all-conditions energy mix at a great price

Performance 4/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5