nuun Active + Plus for nuun energy tab system - review
Customisable energy dosing is a strong USP, but is it enough to help nuun’s system stand out from a crowded market?
by Andrew Lee
Where we normally get all-in-one carbohydrate solutions with added electrolytes, or electrolyte-specific drinks, nuun have taken the approach of starting out with the base electrolytes, then fortifying them with extra salts and carbohydrates with an add-on product.
Sound complicated? We’ll explain more later, but for now nuun claim this process creates “the ultimate sports drink".
Marketing hyperbole, yes, but how does that translate in reality? We put them to the test.
nuun Active is the base product, forming the nutritional and flavour platform for the system.
One tablet equals one serving for a 475ml solution, and includes 4g of carbohydrates of which 1g are sugars, 38mg of Vitamin C, 25mg of magnesium, 360mg of sodium, and 100mg of potassium.
Hence, it’s very much an electrolyte-based product with very few carbs, which certainly positions it on its own as a hydration product, rather than an energy-delivery medium. However, that’s where Plus for nuun comes into play…
Plus for nuun
As the name indicates, Plus for nuun is the additional product that, when added to Active, creates a more rounded energy drink – the “ultimate energy drink", in fact. For this, you add two tablets for a full 475ml serving (in addition to the base Active tablet), which adds extra electrolytes and carbohydrates to the mix.
That’s an additional 50mg of sodium, 100mg of potassium, 50mg of calcium and 50mg of magnesium, plus 10g of carbohydrates, of which 9g are sugars in the form of dextrose and sucrose. For the record, both products are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and are certified by Informed-Choice.
So, how do these two work together?
Price: Active £6.99; Plus for nuun £6.99
Sizes: Active 10 servings; Plus for nuun 6 servings
Flavours available: Active: Citrus Fruit, Tropical Fruit, Orange, Tri-Berry, Lemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade. Plus for nuun: flavourless.
Website: nuun life
UK distributor: Extra-UK
I’ll save you the trouble of doing the maths: used according to instructions, the mix delivers 14g of carbohydrates (10g of sugars), 410mg of sodium, 200mg of potassium, 75mg of magnesium, 50mg calcium, and 38mg of Vitamin C.
And, with each having a key role to play in energy delivery and muscle function, I’m certainly glad they’re there as the weather begins to heat up and I sweat more on my rides.
Throw in the fact the Active tablet has a little Vitamin C in there for immune support, as well as calcium for bone-structure fortification alongside normal muscle function, nuun haven’t skimped on the details.
While I can’t definitively say for sure that it’s had a positive influence on bone density or, indeed, immune support over and above my normal healthy diet, it’s nice to know it’s there.
Of course, the other main reason you use these in tandem is to get energy into your body, thanks to the carbohydrate content of the Plus tabs. In one respect, it’s useful to have a drink that can be dosed according to requirements, and the combination is effective at delivering energy, no question. However, it’s a slight shame that there isn’t a little more of it for a more powerful solution.
As an example, nuun itself claims that we require around 30g of carbohydrates per hour to replenish energy stores over a two-hour period, and much more if your exercise stretches longer than this, as many rides tend to.
And, with each “full serving" providing just shy of half of that two-hour requirement, it quickly becomes apparent that the drink solution on its own isn’t going to cut it.
In fairness, nuun point out that you’ll require extra sources of carbohydrates to meet your energy requirements – something us cyclists wisely do through gels, energy bars and, dare we say it, cake, but it does bring the “ultimate" portion of the “ultimate sports drink" statement into question.
Perhaps “customisable sports hydration and energy supplement" would be a more accurate description, then, because as a hydration product that can provide a limited energy supply, it’s very good.
The citrus fruit flavour Active on test is tasty and very palatable, while the normally flavourless Plus tablets act as a slight flavour intensifier when used with the Active, which is no bad thing.
However, if you accept that you’ll need more energy products to fuel you alongside the Active and Plus combo, costs can become a little dear for that customisability. Each tube costs £6.99, with 10 servings in the Active, and 6 in the Plus.
It’s slightly annoying that they don’t match up so you’ll always have a leftover somewhere if you use the full servings but, that aside, the cost for one full serving comes to £1.86 (£1.864, if we’re being exact, with Plus making the bulk of that at £1.165 per two-tab serving).
And, the bottom line is, I can’t help but feel that for an overall product that doesn’t meet more of a person’s approximate energy requirements, it’s an awful lot of money to spend, irrespective of how effective the hydration portion of the Active and Plus combination is.
What nuun have here is a deluxe hydration product in the Active, with an effective fortifier in the Plus add-on tabs. Unfortunately, for most cyclists it’s unlikely to have the energy content necessary to be anything more than a slightly-more-potent-than-usual electrolyte drink, with costs spiralling when you double the mixture or add in your chosen foods to support your rides.
A neat concept, but it misses the mark for value and overall carbohydrate content in our view, despite the positives.
- Active product is a very good hydrator
- Customisable nutrition with the Plus product
- Convenient tab dose form
- Decent flavour
- Not enough energy in a normal serving