Welcome to the first ever Men’s Fitness and Women’s Fitness Nutrition Heroes awards, featuring 105 standout products across three categories: General Health, Endurance, Muscle & Strength.
We know that navigating the world of nutrition can be bewildering, with every company marketing their products as being invaluable to your health and fitness, but with the global sports nutrition market worth an estimated $13.9 billion, taking every claim at face value would set you back quite a bit. Which is why we’ve launched these awards: to point you in the right direction and showcase the products that really are worth your money.
The categories were compiled by independent nutritionists and dietitians (with some additional input from in-house experts), and each of the 105 ‘nutrition heroes’ were selected on the basis of nutritional merit and quality of ingredients.
Perfect for the time-poor and less enthusiastic cooks among us, ready-made meals and meal-delivery kits make it possible to eat well while juggling a busy schedule.
Prices vary, gousto.co.uk
Gousto’s 60+ dish menu changes weekly, offering dishes to meet a range of dietary needs, including dairy-free, plant-based and gluten-free. Choose meals from the company’s Healthy Choices range to score two of your five a day (ideal for the 76 per cent of us not meeting the target), and opt for a protein-carb combo (such as Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, or Sweet Chilli Chicken with Veg-Packed Rice) for post-training recovery.
Prices vary, cookfood.net
If you love home-cooked nutritious meals but also nights off, then COOK’s frozen meals fit the bill. Meals are guided by the UK’s Eatwell Guide, with suggestions on how to balance your meal with a side if needed, making them a good all-round choice for healthy eating. Choose any dish with a yellow heart – these contain no more than 30 per cent of the recommended intake of fat, sugar and salt.
Riverford Recipe Boxes
Prices vary, riverford.co.uk
Ethically minded favourite Riverford Farmers has launched organic recipe boxes to join its veg boxes. All meals are low plastic and focused on seasonal vegetables, containing around 400 to 600 calories, with weekly guest-chef recipes, such as Anna Jones’ Baked Dhal with Tamarind Glazed Sweet Potatoes. Unsurprisingly, the star here is the veg. Each recipe is a riot of colour, reflecting its range of phytochemicals: vivid plant compounds are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Prices vary, eatchefly.com
Microwave meals done differently, Chefly dishes heat from pot to plate in just three minutes, making them the ultimate in convenience – perfect when you arrive home late, tired and ravenous. All meals are 400 to 600 calories and lactose-free, and at-a-glance macro and calorie breakdowns make it simple to choose a meal suited to your needs. Most contain a decent serving of protein.
Prices vary, fielddoctor.co.uk
‘Nutritionally supercharged’ Field Doctor is the new kid on the meal-delivery scene, offering chef-made meals designed by expert dietitian Sasha Watkins. Each meal is underpinned by evidence-based dietary principles which support a healthy gut, heart and ageing – think plant-focused and less meat (but better quality). Many of the meals contain a third of the recommended daily fibre intake and uniquely, most are IBS-friendly, making them suitable for sensitive stomachs.
According to The Vegan Society, one in five Brits have cut back on meat since the start of the pandemic. Happily, the rise of plant-based meal kits reflects this trend, and you won’t be sacrificing any flavour or nutritional credentials compared to the meaty alternatives.
Mindful Chef Vegan
Prices vary, mindfulchef.com
Recipe Box favourites Mindful Chef have added a vegan range to their menu, with seven changing recipes per week and an emphasis on pulses, which are low G.I. and rich in fibre, equalling a filling choice. The at-a-glance nutrition panel displays macros and calories, making it easy to pick recipes to suit your requirements. Mexican Veggie Chilli & Sweet Potato Nachos, or Edamame & Chickpea Coconut Curry offer good ratios of carb to protein, for post-workout recovery.
Prices vary, allplants.com
Whether you’re 100 per cent plant-based or just want a meat-free meal now and then, allplants’ menu – with over 50 dishes – has something for you. All meals contain at least two of your five a day and most are a great source of filling fibre. Choose a meal containing plant-based protein and carbs (such as the Rigatoni Bolognese with Lentil and Walnut Ragu) for steady energy. Simply remove from the freezer, heat and eat.
Prices vary, planty.uk
Flash-frozen to lock in nutrients and reduce food waste, Planty’s vegan meals are coded with nutrition symbols (low sugar, high fibre), so you can see the benefits at a glance and choose according to your goals. Most of the dishes provide 400 to 600 calories, contain two of your five a day, and offer a good portion of both protein and carbohydrate, making them a balanced choice for a midweek meatless meal.
Prices vary, rootkitchen.uk
Root Kitchen offer plant-based frozen meals, with an emphasis on ingredients sourced from local suppliers. The more meals you buy, the more affordable they become: order ten to fill your freezer for roughly £4 a meal. The menu is coded with nutrition icons to guide your choices, e.g. rich in fibre or low in saturated fat. Standout meals include the Butternut Squash Lasagne, containing three of your five a day; and Moussaka, with 60 per cent of your recommended daily fibre intake.
Prices vary, grubby.co.uk
The UK’s first entirely plant-based recipe kit, Grubby’s aim is to make plant-based cooking simple – ideal if you want to explore reducing meat intake without sourcing unusual ingredients or following complex recipes. Each recipe includes an average of six fresh vegetables and most are high in complex carbohydrates, making them a good option if you’ve got a heavy training load.
Statistics suggest that around 60 per cent of Brits take some kind of dietary supplement, with over half opting for multivitamins: products containing several essential nutrients that can help plug shortfalls in your diet.
£6.60 per month (3-month supply), vegansociety.com
If you’re one of the growing number of people adopting a totally plant-based diet, the VEG 1 multivit and mineral from The Vegan Society is a great ‘all-in-one’ option. Containing the seven most at-risk nutrients in a vegan diet – including B12, vitamin D, iodine and selenium, which are important for immune function and energy levels – it comes in at just seven pence a day.
Heights The Smart Supplement
£33 per month (3-month plan), yourheights.com
A multivitamin that’s focused on brain health, Heights was co-developed by a neuroscientist and dietitian, and is backed by science as a result. It contains 20 key vitamins and minerals that support cognition and normal brain function, including those which are tricky to meet through diet alone – think omega-3 and vitamin D – and in addition for
plant-focused eaters, iodine and B12. Worth trying if you’re struggling with sleep, mood or focus.
Vitabiotics Wellman Original
£8.55 per month (monthly subscription), vitabiotics.com
A good all-rounder for supporting energy levels and immune function, Vitabiotics’ Wellman Original contains a range of B vitamins that are necessary for the normal energy release from food, plus iron and B12 (needed for healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body). It also includes vitamin D, which is recommended in supplement form from October to April – and year round if you have limited sun exposure.
Vitabiotics Wellwoman Original
£6.36 per month (monthly subscription), vitabiotics.com
A broad-spectrum multivitamin, Wellwoman Original includes a range of nutrients to support energy levels, plus iron, which is shown to be low in about a third of women’s diets. It also contains the higher dose of folic acid required in the early stages of pregnancy, making it suitable if you’re trying to conceive or hoping to in future – as it’s recommended that you take folic acid in the two to three months before conception.
BetterYou MultiVit Multi Vitamin Daily Oral Spray
Offering a unique pill-free format, this blackcurrant-flavoured spray delivers 14 key nutrients, including iron, selenium and iodine – found to be at low levels in a significant number of women and those who consume less meat and dairy. Designed in partnership with Cardiff University, the spray is fast-absorbing, and doesn’t need to be consumed alongside food or drink, making it an easy option you can take any time of day.
Research suggests 66 per cent of us snack at least once a day – with two thirds of us looking for healthy snacks most or all of the time. This little lot have got you covered.
PROPER Corn Lightly Sea Salted Popcorn
£15 (pack of 8), proper.co.uk
Popcorn’s status as a healthy snack comes from the fact that it’s a wholegrain: the kind of grain you want to be choosing if you want to take care of your digestive and heart health. PROPER Corn’s Lightly Sea Salted Popcorn comes in at 97 calories, and contains a couple of grams of fibre, too.
Nairns Cheese & Smoky Chipotle Oatcakes
£1.60 (per pack), shop.nairns-oatcakes.com
Another wholegrain snack choice, oatcakes are a source of beta glucan, a type of gummy fibre that helps to regulate cholesterol levels. Granted, you won’t get a sufficient dose from one oatcake alone, but make them a regular feature and you’ll benefit from this clever fibre. Load with a protein-rich topping for a satisfying between-meals snack.
HIPPEAS Chickpea Puff Snacks
£20 (24 packs), uk.hippeas.com
At around 90 calories a bag, HIPPEAS Chickpea Puffs are a good low-cal alternative if you’re looking to knock your crisp habit on the head. Made from chickpeas, each bag contributes a small amount of protein and fibre, and contains less saturated fat than the same weight of potato crisps, giving a nod to heart health.
BRAVE Paprika & Chilli Roasted Peas
£11.99 (12 pouches), bravefoods.co.uk
These British-grown split peas are roasted with a fiery mix of paprika and chilli, which makes for a delicious-tasting snack with impressive nutrition credentials: 7g plant protein and 7g fibre (almost a quarter of the recommended intake) per pack. Also available in Sea Salt & Vinegar – and check out BRAVE’s Roasted Chickpeas, too.
£11.76 (18 bars), amazon.co.uk
These are what you’d make at home if you ever found the time to squish dried fruit, oats and nuts together. If not, Nākd has got your back. The company’s Apple Danish and Banana Bread bars are around 100 calories and contain enough dried fruit to count as one of your five a day. They could also be used as a source of carbohydrate for fuelling a longer run or bike ride, if you consume two to three bars per hour. Available in a wide range of flavours, from Blueberry Muffin to Coffee & Walnut.
The word ‘superfood’ is ultimately a marketing term, but it’s one we’re drawn towards as signifying health. There’s no evidence that one food ‘has it all’, but these products offer some noteworthy benefits.
Aduna Super-Cacao Powder
£9.99 (275g pack), aduna.com
The health benefits of cacao are down to its high flavanol content. Flavanols are plant compounds shown to improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Aduna’s Super-Cacao Powder contains high levels of these flavanols, and it’s the only cacao powder verified to support heart health. Add two teaspoons to your morning oats or protein shake, or blend with milk and a banana for a supercharged recovery drink.
Naturya Superberries Organic Superfood Breakfast Boost
£6.49 (150g pack), hollandandbarrett.com
Containing a mix of ‘superberries’ (goji, golden and acai) and seeds, the Naturya Breakfast Boost is a convenient way to add some extra vitamins and minerals to your breakfast bowl, post-workout smoothie or porridge – each spoonful providing useful amounts of iron, zinc and magnesium. Berries are a good source of anthocyanins: blue, red and purple pigments associated with various health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and improved cognition.
MOJU Vitamin D Shots
£27.80 (4 x 500ml bottles), mojudrinks.com
MOJU’s punchy drinks are based on effective, functional ingredients to help you feel your best. Its Vitamin D Shots are an easy way to cover off your daily dose of the sunshine nutrient (necessary for normal immune function and bone health) alongside a zesty hit of orange, ginger, lemon and turmeric. Way more tasty than taking a pill.
Super U Shroom Coffee
£34.99 (60 servings), superu.co.uk
If you’re looking for a lower-caffeine alternative to coffee, Shroom fits the bill. Each cup contains 50mg of caffeine from Arabica beans (50 per cent less than a standard cup) and three types of ‘functional mushroom’ extract, which it’s claimed support energy levels and immunity. Mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants (as are coffee beans), but evidence for other benefits is limited to animal studies, so this is best viewed as an alt-caffeine option.
Linwoods Flaxseed, Sunflower, Pumpkin & Chia Seeds & Goji Berries
£5.79 (425g pack), linwoodshealthfoods.com
A blend of four seeds and goji berries, this milled mix is a great source of fibre, which is the one nutrient most adults aren’t getting enough of. High-fibre diets help protect against constipation and are linked with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer – making it an essential nutrient for long-term health. Throw onto cereal or yogurt, or add to a smoothie.
Since the discovery that we’re more microbe than human, gut health has become a big deal, and rightly so. These are some of the foods, drinks and supplements that can support your stomach.
The Cultured Collective Turmeric & Ginger Kimchi
£5.75 (250g tub), theculturedcollective.co.uk
Not all fermented foods contain live cultures, but the Cultured Collective’s range of kimchis and krauts are unpasteurised, which means they are a source of live beneficial microbes linked with good gut health. As an added plus, fermented veggies are rich in vitamin C and fibre, and an 80g serving will count as one of your five a day. A great way to pep up your lunchtime sarnie or salad.
Yeo Valley Organic Natural Kefir Yogurt
£1.50 (350g pot), sainsburys.co.uk
Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented milk drink and the most widely researched fermented food, with evidence that it’s well-tolerated in those with lactose intolerance and may help relieve constipation. Yeo Valley’s Kefir is mild in flavour and contains 14 strains of live cultures, as well as being rich in protein and calcium – a useful food for muscle recovery. Use it to top cereal or fruit, or add to a smoothie.
MOJU Prebiotic Shots
£27.80 (4 x 500ml bottles), mojudrinks.com
Prebiotics are found naturally in a range of plant foods and have been shown to stimulate the growth of beneficial gut microbes, but getting enough can be tricky. MOJU’s prebiotic shot contains prebiotic fibres from chicory root, green banana and baobab, and is genuinely delicious – think of a sherbert flavour with a hint of raspberry and lemon. As with all prebiotics, start small and build up to a daily shot, to allow your gut to adapt.
PhD Life DIGEST Microbiotic Support
From £20, phd.com
PhD’s DIGEST powder (from the company’s new holistic health-focused Life range) contains both a shelf-stable probiotic and prebiotics (specific fibres that feed beneficial microbes) in one, making it a convenient way to nourish the microbes in your gut. Experts recommend aiming for 5g prebiotics a day, and one scoop of DIGEST will have you covered – but start with a half dose and build up if you have a sensitive stomach. Ideal for stirring into a smoothie or shake.
Precision Biotics Alflorex
£24.99 (30 capsules), boots.com
Developed by a team of leading scientists at the APC Microbiome Institute in Ireland, this is a probiotic with good credentials. The unique strain in Alflorex is the well-researched Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, shown in clinical studies to help alleviate digestive discomfort. Worth a try if you’re struggling with IBS symptoms.
Supermarket sales of alcohol might have jumped up during lockdown, but according to YouGov 16 per cent of us drank less or not at all – and thanks to this lot, it’s now easier than ever to go teetotal (at least during the week).
Prices vary, seedlipdrinks.com
Seedlip was the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit, and their growing range of herbal blends taste (almost) like the real deal, making it easy to cut back on alcohol without missing out on flavour. The key is to build your drink like you would a decent G&T: think quality tonic, plenty of ice and lemon or lime, plus a mint or cucumber garnish.
Punchy Drinks ‘Golden Hour’ Soft Punch
£12 (6 cans), punchydrinks.com
Fed up at the lack of genuinely tasty alcohol-free beers? Meet Punchy Drinks, the company on a mission to bring non alcoholic drinks to a level playing field with their alcoholic counterparts. Its Golden Hour – with blood orange, aromatic bitters and cardamom – is low in sugar, high in flavour and a Great Taste award winner to boot. Serve chilled over ice for the perfect post-work wind-down.
Sea Arch Coastal Juniper
£24.95 (75cl bottle), seaarchdrinks.com
Worth buying for the bottle alone, but with plenty of flavour to match, Sea Arch is the standout spirit we tested. It’s made up of six distinct and distilled botanicals – sea kelp, juniper berries, cardamom, angelica root, cucumber, grapefruit and blood orange – to deliver a crisp, fruity taste that pairs perfectly with your favourite tonic. Sugar- and calorie-free, Sea Arch is as good for you as it is for the planet, with each bottle designed with solvent-free paint, each box made from recycled cardboard, and not a single-use plastic in sight.
£3.30 (6 x 275ml), sainsburys.co.uk
Beck’s Blue is brewed in the same way as a traditional Beck’s and is made of the same four ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water. The only difference is that Beck’s Blue then undergoes de-alcoholisation, so it’s alcohol-free. With 53 calories in a 330ml bottle, versus 126 calories in a standard Beck’s, this is a switch that can save you calories – and the hangover – without compromising on taste.
Infinite Session Pale Ale
£20 (12 cans), infinitesession.com
‘Alcohol Free beer that actually tastes like beer’ is the tagline for Infinite Session’s range of pale ales and lagers. The emphasis is on flavour, and it shows: the American Pale is a World Beer Award UK Winner. For just 36 calories per 330ml can, it’s possible to enjoy a beer that tastes like your favourite, without compromising your intention to cut back on the booze.
Energy gels and chews are specifically designed to be absorbed quickly for a fast-release energy boost. Most contain around 20 to 40g carbs, and some come with electrolytes and caffeine for an additional pick-me-up.
Resilient Nutrition Long Range Fuel Beyond Nut Butter
£4.99 (per 100g pouch), resilientnutrition.com
If you’re looking for something a bit different from standard gels and need to fuel serious endurance sessions, these are a great option. The pouches focus on whole food for energy, and are much larger (100g) in size. Based on the slow-release properties of nut butter, there are two energising flavours: Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut, and Coffee & Pecan. Both options contain 300mg caffeine and L Theanine, an amino acid shown to aid focus and concentration. Each 100g pouch also contains around 573kcals, 13.9g carbohydrates and 16.8g protein.
£24 (pack of 15), torqfitness.co.uk
These 45g gels combine maltodextrin with fructose in a 2:1 ratio, to enhance endurance performance without digestive upsets. Providing 28.8g carbohydrates per sachet, they also contain five electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium), and natural flavourings, with no added colours or artificial sweeteners. There’s a great range of flavours to choose from – including Lemon Drizzle, Black Cherry Yogurt, Orange and Banana, Forest Fruits, and Banoffee – and they manage to avoid tasting sickly sweet.
Veloforte Natural Energy Gel
£24.99 (pack of 15), veloforte.com
Refreshingly light-tasting gels with 100 per cent natural ingredients. Each 33g sachet provides 22g fast-release energy based on brown rice syrup, real fruit concentrate and electrolytes – with no artificial sweeteners or additives. These gels are easy on the stomach, meaning they help to avoid bloating, cramping and other gut symptoms. Take with water.
Science in Sport GO Isotonic Energy Gel
£22.50 (pack of 15), scienceinsport.com
These gels have been specially designed to be taken without water and are based on maltodextrin to avoid stomach upsets. Each 60ml sachet provides 22g carbohydrate and around 87kcals – which makes them lighter than other options on the market. They come in a range of fruit flavours: Blackcurrant, Orange, Tropical, Lemon & Lime, and Apple.
Clif Bar Shot Bloks
£39.03 (pack of 18), wiggle.co.uk
If you’re not a fan of gels or find it difficult opening a sachet while running, these are the perfect answer. Convenient soft chews, they provide a quick carbohydrate fix with a little sodium and potassium added, but you do need to follow with a mouthful of water. Three bloks provide 24g carbohydrate and 100kcals.
Convenient grab-and-go bars are ideal for fuelling a long workout. Energy bars are primarily designed to replenish calories and tend to be higher in carbohydrates to keep you fuelled. To keep hunger at bay and balance blood sugar, choose a bar that also provides some easy-to-digest protein. Many combine glucose and fructose in a 2:1 ratio for ease of absorption. For moderate-intensity exercise, you will be looking to consume around 45 to 60g carbohydrates per hour.
Veloforte Energy Bars
From £2.49 per bar, veloforte.com
These great-tasting, vegan-friendly and gluten-free bars are 100 per cent natural, based on fruit and nuts, with a variety of flavours. The Di Bosco Bar (62g weight) – made from red berries, almonds and pistachios – provides 249kcals, 40g carbohydrates, 5g protein and 5g fibre. For anyone after an additional boost, the Pronto Caffeine Energy Bar provides 80g natural caffeine, sourced from guarana powder and matcha tea.
SIS GO Energy Bar Mini
£35 (pack of 30), scienceinsport.com
Easy on the stomach, these high-carbohydrate bars are ideal for a quick energy refuel, and the smaller size is a bonus if you’re travelling fast and light. Based on oats, rice crisp, dried fruit and a little soy protein, each 40g bar provides 26g carbohydrate, 4.5g protein and very little fat.
Clif Bar Energy Bar
£15 (pack of 12), wiggle.co.uk
Cliff Bar makes a range of excellent, natural-tasting bars. The brand uses organic and whole ingredients, including rolled oats, oat fibre and dates, to deliver a flapjack-like texture. Be warned, though: the bars are quite large, with a 68g White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bar containing 279kcals, 7.4g fat and 42g carbs. With 9g of protein, too, they’re a good choice for longer endurance sessions, as well as post-workout refuel.
£29.95 (mixed pack of 15), torqfitness.co.uk
These low-fat, high-flavour energy bars provide 34g of dual-delivery carbohydrate (2:1 mix of glucose/ maltodextrin and fructose) for a quicker and more effective energy boost, without digestive upsets. Based on organic fruit and oats, they are light-tasting, portable, and low in fibre and protein, for quick and easy on-the-go refuelling.
Eat Natural Bars
From £2 (pack of 3), most supermarkets
A popular grab-and-go snack, these bars also work well for endurance outings. Fruit and nut-based, and gluten-free, they provide around 215kcals, 23.6g carbohydrate and 2g protein. There are a number of great-tasting flavours available, including our favourite: dark chocolate with cranberries and macadamias. Eat Natural also provide higher protein bars, with the chocolate and orange providing 11g protein, with 14g carbohydrates.
NATURAL ENERGY DRINKS
Looking for a natural lift without loads of sugar and carbs? These natural energy drinks are ideal for an instant hydrating boost, and often contain added functional ingredients.
Tenzing Natural Energy
From £25.99 (pack of 24), tenzingnaturalenergy.com
Refreshing without being overly sweet, Tenzing’s range of natural sparkling energy drinks are available in four flavours, including Original, and Pineapple & Passionfruit (£35.99). With natural caffeine, vitamin C and electrolytes for an instant energy boost, they contain 48kcals per can, with no artificial sweeteners or additives. Each can also provides 80mg caffeine, 12mg vitamin C and 250mg electrolytes.
£25 (pack of 12), geniedrinks.co.uk
Fruity, lightly fermented tea drinks based on real fruit extracts and kombucha for a probiotic boost. With 60kcals per can and no added sugars, these make a healthier alternative to regular sparkling sodas. Available in a range of great flavours: Dry Apple, Fiery Ginger, and Sweet Citrus.
MEDAHUMAN Energy CBD Drink
£30 (pack of 12), medahuman.com
These natural fruit juice, CBD-infused drinks contain additional nutrients to support physical and mental performance. Each 250ml can features 20mg mind-clearing CBD, energising B vitamins, vitamin C, 42mg caffeine and the fatigue fighting Siberian ginseng.
WOW Hydrate Electrolyte & Vitamin Water
£17.99 (pack of 12), wowhydrate.com
Endorsed by a roster of high-profile athletes, WOW Hydrate has established itself as a big brand in sports hydration. Its Electrolyte Water delivers vitamins – including energising vitamin B6 and immune-boosting vitamin C. To keep those vitamins fresh, innovative Push Cap technology releases them into the water as soon as the cap is pressed (but not before).
Virtue Clean Energy Drinks
£11.97 (pack of 12), amazon.co.uk
A natural caffeine sparkling drink with 10 calories per can and zero sugar, each 250ml can contains the same amount of natural caffeine as a cup of coffee (80mg). Derived from yerba mate or green coffee extract (depending on the flavour), with additional B vitamins, these provide a noticeable boost straight away.
If you’re less fussed about all-natural ingredients and more focused on performance, these are our favourite ready-to-drink options.
Grenade Energy Functional Energy Drink
From £1.99 (per can), grenade.com
Grenade Energy is a new addition to the brand, with three great-tasting flavours: Cherry Bomb (sour cherry flavour), Sun of a Beach (tropical pineapple, orange and coconut) and Berried Alive (strawberry and blueberry flavour). All are free from preservatives and artificial colours, and pack the same punch as two espressos. Each can is free from sugar and calories, while boasting 1,500mg BCAAs, plus electrolytes and B vitamins.
Nos Original High Performance Energy Drink
£2.59 (per can), americanfizz.co.uk
US brand NOS has a range of energy drinks, but the Original gets our vote. The taste is slightly citrusy, and the energy comes from a blend of natural caffeine (200mg per can/100mg per recommended serving), vitamins B6 and B12, taurine, inositol and guarana.
Cellucor C4 Energy Carbonated
£26.99 (pack of 12), hollandandbarrett.com
Best reserved for when you need a serious lift, C4 Energy contains 160mg caffeine per can, with a little added L-arginine, taurine, betaine, B12 and niacin. There’s 28kcals per 500ml can, zero sugars and no artificial colours or flavourings. Available in four flavours: Frozen Bombsicle, Twisted Lemonade, Cosmic Rainbow, and Orange Slice.
Myprotein Command Energy Drinks
£11.89 (pack of 6), myprotein.com
This range from Myprotein was actually designed for the gaming market, to reduce mental fatigue, while boosting alertness and concentration. But we reckon they’re ideal before the gym, too. Each can packs a considerable 180mg of caffeine, plus added zinc, vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin A. They also contain nootropics such as lion’s mane mushroom powder, known for its ability to support cognitive function and mental health.
Predator Nutrition 3D Energy Drink
£2.99 (per can), predatornutrition.com
If you’re really flagging and need to perk yourself up for a monster workout, one can of Predator Nutrition’s 3D Energy Drink contains a whopping 200mg caffeine. That’s going to be far too much for some, so only drink if you’ve got a good caffeine tolerance. Also included is added taurine, to assist blood flow; L-carnitine, to help with fat oxidation; energising B vitamins; and panax ginseng, a root shown to improve cognitive function.
If you’re taking on any endurance challenge, you’re going to need to give your body sufficient fuel – primarily in the form of carbohydrates – to maintain energy. The body can hold between 300 and 600g of glycogen – enough energy for around 60 minutes of exercise. If you’re training for longer, you’re going to want to top up glycogen levels, and the following carb-rich products were all formulated with exactly that in mind, ensuring you’ll have plenty left in the tank when the going gets tough.
Science in Sport Beta Fuel 80
£37.50 (15 sachets), scienceinsport.com
Tried-and-trusted brand Science in Sport has worked closely with elite athletes to develop the new Beta Fuel range, made specifically for endurance exercise (two hours or more). The range includes this dual-fuel energy drink, which has been formulated with carb sources maltodextrin and fructose to deliver 80g of carbohydrate per sachet.
Wiggle Nutrition Energy Drink
£14.99 (1.5kg pack), wiggle.co.uk
For an affordable option, look no further than this tri-carbohydrate blend from online sports store Wiggle. Its fast-acting formula of dextrose, maltodextrin and fructose energy delivers 45g of carbohydrate per serving. Choose from Lemon & Lime, Berry and Orange flavours.
HIGH5 Energy Drink
£31.99 (2.2kg tub), highfive.co.uk
A long-standing favourite among the endurance crowd, HIGH5’s 2:1 delivers the energy you need in the form of glucose and fructose in a 2:1 ratio, which optimises the carbohydrate delivery to your muscles. It also contains sodium and potassium – key electrolytes lost through sweat – and comes in an easy-access tub.
Torq Energy Drink Powder
£27.99 (1.5kg pack), torqfitness.co.uk
A brand that we’ve repeatedly turned to for on-the-bike energy, Torq Energy Drink Powder is another maltodextrin/fructose mix that uses a 2:1 ratio, to enable your body to absorb 40 per cent more carbohydrate energy than glucose alone. It comes in some funky flavours, too, including Pink Grapefruit and Vanilla Pod.
£21.99 (1.32kg tub), wiggle.co.uk
This powder, easily mixed with water, has a glucose/fructose mix that the brand calls ‘C2MAX’, because it maximises the amount of energy that the body can convert into energy. It also contains five essential minerals lost through sweat, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium – essential for hydration and to help prevent cramp.
Endurance sessions mean attention to hydration and electrolyte balance. Sweating is your body’s defence system against overheating. Unfortunately, though, when you sweat, you lose some important minerals known as electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. Electrolytes support a number of bodily functions, including energy production and fluid balance. Top your reserves up with the following products.
£7.39 (pack of 20), highfive.co.uk
A fan’s favourite, whether you’re working out in the gym or fuelling longer endurance sessions, these portable tablets taste a treat and come available with or without added caffeine. There’s no added sugar, and a balanced blend of electrolytes.
ViDrate Enhanced Hydration
£16.95 (pack of 20), vidrate.co.uk
ViDrate powders are primarily designed to encourage hydration throughout the day, rather than to fuel serious endurance sessions. But for those who need something more than just a bottle of water, these are a good option. The range of flavours includes Strawberry & Lime, Tropical, and Mixed Berry – all naturally fruit-flavoured and sweetened with stevia. Each contains sodium, potassium and B12. If you need a subtle boost, try ViDrate Boost, which contains 30mg caffeine per sachet.
Bulk Electrolyte Powder
£5.99 (100g pouch), bulk.com
If you prefer a simple, effective electrolyte powder without unnecessary additives, this is the perfect addition. Each serving supplies 260mg sodium, 77mg potassium, 47mg calcium and 7.5mg magnesium. Simply mix with water or add to your favourite energy drink for effective hydration.
Science in Sport GO Hydro
£7 (pack of 20), scienceinsport.com
As an effervescent tablet, these readily dissolve in plain water making them a practical, portable way to replenish lost electrolytes. GO Hydro contains sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium, and has been designed to meet your sodium requirements at a specific concentration (30mmol/L). The wide range of flavours includes Cola, Pineapple & Mango, Pink Grapefruit, Strawberry & Mint, and Immune Orange.
Veloforte Mixed Electrolyte Powder Pack
£5.25 (pack of 3), veloforte.com
Designed to hydrate and restore energy, fluid balance and focus, these easy-to-mix powders are made with real fruit powders and natural electrolytes. No fillers, effervescents or binding agents are used. There are three types available, depending on your workout needs: Attivo contains carbs, electrolytes and caffeine; Vivo contains all the electrolytes you need to keep you going; while Solo is the low-carb option.
Small but potent, these are the no-nonsense options to fight fatigue in an instant. Once confined to a few products, sports shots are now easy to find, catering for post-workout recovery as well as that pre-training fix.
£1.99 (per shot), active-edge.co.uk
These little sachets are ideal post-exercise. A wealth of research shows that drinking Montmorency cherry juice significantly speeds up recovery and reduces muscle soreness after hard exercise. These feature melatonin, too, which can help you sleep soundly. No added sugar, sweeteners, preservatives, flavourings or colourings.
Nutrition X Repair Collagen Shot
£24.99 (box of 12), nutritionx.co.uk
This 60ml shot is specifically designed to aid joint recovery, combining 20g collagen with 110mg chondroitin sulphate, 160mg glucosamine sulphate, vitamin C and copper. These are particularly beneficial during recovery periods, or ahead of/following surgery or muscular rehabilitation. Available in two flavours: Tropical and Raspberry.
Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 Shot
£20 (pack of 15), beet-it.com
A go-to for several elite sports teams, Beet It’s Sport Nitrate 400 shots deliver a dose of dietary nitrate (400mg) per 70ml shot, derived solely from concentrated beetroot juice. The product has been used in numerous research trials on sports performance, with dietary nitrate supplementation shown to significantly reduce the oxygen cost of exercise – by as much as five per cent – and delay the onset of fatigue by 16 per cent. Consume one or two shots one to three hours before training, and up to six days before competition.
Myvitamins Pre-Workout Shot
£32.99 (box of 12), myvitamins.com
Need an instant energy boost? These shots combine 200mg caffeine and B vitamins, plus 2g beta-alanine and 3g creatine monohydrate. There’s also arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) to support the production of nitric oxide – and delay tiredness – in the working muscles.
The Turmeric Co. Original Raw Turmeric Shot Box
Founded by professional footballer Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu, these turmeric-based shots boast some impressive anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Using fresh, raw turmeric root, blended with piperine and a little flax oil for absorption, and without any added sugars or preservatives. A few flavours are available: Raw Turmeric and Ginger, Original, and Raw Turmeric and Beetroot.
MUSCLE & STRENGTH
Whey protein is a staple in most athletes’ diets, and for good reason: it’s digested quickly, absorbed efficiently and generally tastes good. However, when it comes to price, nutritional profile and ingredient lists, there is a lot of variability. Whether you’re looking for a whey concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate, look at the ingredients list carefully – ideally you want a high protein content by weight, with low carbs and fat, and without unnecessary fillers and additives. Check serving sizes and the amount of protein per serving before buying. Here are our favourites…
The Protein Works 100% Micellar Casein
£22.99 (33 servings), theproteinworks.com
Casein is a slow-release protein for sustained release of amino acids, making it perfect for taking just before bed, to keep your muscles fuelled as you sleep. The Protein Works’ offering is 100 per cent ultra-fine casein, with 24g protein per serving and a delicious, silky, creamy texture. It works well in protein-powder recipes, too.
Form Nutrition Superblend Protein
£26 (13 servings), formnutrition.com
One of the best-tasting protein powders we tried, Form’s Superblend combines plant-based protein with greens and superfoods. Despite containing no artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners or added sugar, it manages to be sweet but not sickly and, as well as the 20g of protein, each serving is loaded with probiotics to keep your gut in
The Organic Protein Co. Organic Whey Isolate
£32 (16 servings), theorganicproteincompany.co.uk
Double filtered from fresh, organic, grass-fed milk, this is the best choice if you want assured additive-free quality. Being an isolate, it’s low in sugars (0.77g per serving) and fat (0.17g per serving), with 22.2g protein per serving and just 94.2 calories. The Organic Protein Co. also has a range of flavoured whey concentrate powders available.
Myprotein Clear Whey Isolate
£22.99 (20 servings), myprotein.com
If you’re looking for a lighter, fruity option, Clear Whey is a good choice. This is a hydrolysed whey protein isolate, which tastes more like a refreshing fruit drink than a milky protein shake. There are loads of flavours to choose from – including Bitter Lemon, Orange Mango, Peach Tea, Mojito, and Rainbow Candy – with each serving packing in a respectable 20g protein, 4g BCAAs and 3g glutamine. It’s also low in fat (0.1g per serving), with natural flavouring and sucralose for sweetener.
bulk Organic Pure Whey Protein
£32.99 (16 servings), bulk.com
The all-natural option, this is an unflavoured whey concentrate with a hefty 24g protein per 30g serving. That makes for an 80 per cent protein content, which you’ll do well to beat elsewhere. It’s totally organic, from start to finish, and responsibly sourced from European, grass-fed cattle.
VEGAN PROTEIN POWDERS
Plant-based protein powders have come a long way and most now not only match whey protein for post-workout appeal, but also in terms of their recovery credentials. Blends, or single-protein sources – such as pea, soy, hemp, rice, pumpkin seed and so on – are widely available. Many people opt for rice and pea blends, as they tend to be gentle on the stomach and provide high amounts of the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, making them particularly good for building muscle.
Pulsin Natural Chocolate Flavour Pea Protein
£12.99 (10 servings), pulsin.co.uk
A popular, great-tasting option, this pea protein’s main strengths are its excellent digestibility and abundance of leucine, which is the amino acid most responsible for muscle building. It’s also high in isoleucine, valine and other essential aminos. Pulsin’s natural chocolate powder is smooth and creamy, with 70 per cent protein content – sweetened with stevia only. A 25g serving provides 17.4g protein, with 97kcal.
Huel Complete Protein
£25 (26 servings), uk.huel.com
If you’re looking for something more than just a protein powder, Huel excels. A nutritionally complete, plant-based protein powder that contains more essential amino acids per gram than whey protein, per serving it also provides 20g protein and 5g BCAAs. Huel also contains all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and iron, phytonutrients, essential fats and fibre. It’s made from a sustainably sourced blend of plant proteins, hemp, faba and pea protein, and is available in a range of flavours.
Musclemary Not Just Protein
£35 (20 servings), musclemary.co.uk
More than just a protein powder, Musclemary combines the benefits of a vegan protein blend (pea and hemp) with selected superfoods such as maca, matcha green tea, CLA, goji berries and acai – plus a B vitamin complex and vitamin C. Available in three delicious flavours: Chocolate Crush, Berry Haze and Vanilla Dream. Each scoop provides 18g protein and all the essential amino acids.
Vega Clean Protein
£29.99 (15 servings), myvega.co.uk
Smooth and creamy, Vega’s Clean Protein is a complete, multi-source blend of premium plant-based protein made from pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin. Low in sugar and high in BCAAs, with 25g protein per serving, this is a high-quality option if muscle gain is top of the list of priorities. As well as that hearty dose of protein, each serving of Vega Clean Protein also contains pineapple, which contains an enzyme that helps the body digest protein more easily.
Herbalife Tri Blend Select Protein Shake
£46.10 (15 servings), herbalife.co.uk
Made from a blend of pea, quinoa and flaxseed for a mix that’s not only high in protein (20g per serving) but also fibre (6g per serving), this is a high-quality – and low-sugar – protein powder. It bakes well, too: visit myherbalifeshake.com for recipe ideas.
The portable – if pricier – alternative to powders, ready-made shakes are good to go and often loaded with an impressive amount of protein. The flip side is that the calorie count can often be higher than just-add-water powders, but the products in this list manage to keep the kcals in check while sacrificing nothing in terms of taste.
Optimum Nutrition Protein Shake
£1.99 (per 330ml bottle), optimumnutrition.com
This is a great-tasting, ready-to-drink milkshake, with 25g of muscle-repairing protein per bottle. With just 161 calories, it also beats a lot of its rivals in terms of kcal count, and comes in four flavours: Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, and White Chocolate. Each is sweetened with the artificial sweetener sucralose.
Grounded Protein M*lkshake
£19.95 (6 bottles), grounded.co.uk
This shake is slightly higher in carbohydrates (25g), but still packs 20g protein per 490ml carton. Available in two flavours – M*lk Chocolate and Mint Chocolate – Grounded’s M*lkshakes are based on pea protein and coconut, with less sugar than skimmed milk. Continuing the planet-friendly theme, each carton is 100 per cent recyclable.
£2.49 (per 330ml bottle), barebells.com
A simple ingredients list is always a good sign, and Barebells’ ready-to-go protein milkshakes are made up mainly of milk, water, milk protein and cocoa powder (plus a few sweeteners). They’re lactose-free and pack in 24g protein per bottle. Straightforward but delicious flavour options include Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla and Banana.
Grenade Carb Killa Protein Shake
£2.49 (per 300ml bottle), grenade.com
Not a particularly original choice, but this is simply the best-tasting shake we’ve tried. The texture is smooth and creamy, without being sickly, and each bottle contains a plentiful 25g dose of protein. Banana Armour gets our vote, but there are also five other flavours to choose from.
Bodyhero Plant Protein Shake
£2.70 (per 300ml carton), bodyhero.com
A rich, creamy plant-based shake with 20g protein from non-GMO peas. With 5g fibre and a small amount of sugar, this is a delicious but healthy grab-and-go option for picking up between the gym and other life stuff. It’s rich in all the essential amino acids, including BCAAs.
If you’ve had your fill of dried chicken and eggs, protein bars are the snack of choice for anyone leading an active lifestyle, providing an on-the-go alternative to more cumbersome shakes and time-intensive meals. Word to the wise, though: some are little more than glorified chocolate bars, so you do need to be a bit careful with your selection. Look for bars that contain at least 20g protein and ideally a low sugar count, with plenty of fibre.
Myprotein Protein Bar Elite
£25.99 (12 bars), myprotein.com
This is one of the best-tasting protein bars you’ll find. It’s Informed-Sport certified, meaning it contains no banned substances and is safe for professional athletes of all levels. Two flavours – Toffee Vanilla, and Dark Chocolate Berry – manage the sweet-but-not-sickly balance perfectly, and you’ll do well to find a bar with more than the 26g protein packed in here.
Science in Sport Protein Bar
£40 (20 bars), scienceinsport.com
Utilising a three-part blend of casein, whey and soy protein, these bars chuck everything at your muscles to kickstart growth. An equal split of 20g protein and 20g carbs aid both repair and energy, and the texture is pleasantly chewy without being too claggy. Chocolate & Peanut or Mint Chocolate are your flavour choices, and there are 219 calories per bar.
Body & Fit Clean Protein Bars
£18.99 (12 bars), bodyandfit.com
In terms of pure nutritional quality, these are the best protein bars on the market. They’re fairly high in protein (20g), but the star of the show is 23g fibre – important not only for gut health, but also to reduce the risk of numerous diseases. It’s also one of the lowest-calorie bars, with 183kcals, and a pleasantly brief ingredients list. The protein is derived from whey and milk, and sweetened with stevia, and the Blueberry Yoghurt flavour gets the nod from us.
Grenade Reload Protein Oat Bar
£1.99 (per bar), grenade.com
A delicious combination of nuts and oats, each 70g bar is presented in two handy 35g portions, making it ideal for an energy boost pre- and post- workout. Eat both at once and you’ll get a sizeable 17g protein and a whopping 7.4g digestion-assisting fibre (and just 2.2g sugar). Slow-release oats also make these a handy option for a grab-and-go breakfast as well as a post-workout snack. The bars are available in three flavours: Billionaires Shortbread, Chocolate Chunk and Blueberry Muffin.
bulk Macro Munch Protein Bar
£2.49 (per bar), bulk.com
Available in seven flavours – including our favourites, Chunky Chocolate Orange, and Irresistible Raspberry Cheesecake – these bars contain 20g protein from a mix of whey, milk and soy. The Chocolate Orange option contains 225 calories per 62g bar, with a respectable 6.9g satiating fibre and just 2.9g sugar. It is, though, a little higher in total fat than some of the other bars (8.1g with 2.9g saturates).
VEGAN PROTEIN BARS
Nowadays, there’s a huge range of dairy-free bars to power your post-workout recovery. And just like plant-based powders, these vegan options are more than a nutritional match for their whey counterparts. Many are also gluten-free.
The Protein Works Ridiculous Vegan Protein Bar
£21.99 (9 bars), theproteinworks.com
This vegan bar comes in four flavours (try the Chocolate Biscuit Crunch) and contains 15g protein from a blend of soy and pea. Sweetened with just xylitol and stevia, the sugar content is very low at 0.8g per bar, with just 10g carbohydrates. It also supplies around 8g fibre per bar, which largely comes from chicory root.
Misfits Protein Bar
£18 (12 bars), misfits.health
A decadent triple-layered chocolate bar, made from a pea-soy blend that packs 15g protein per bar. There’s practically no sugar (less than 1g), but the real USP is the crunchy texture hidden beneath that chocolate coating.
Pulsin Cookie Dough Protein Bar
£23.88 (12 bars), pulsin.co.uk
New from the Pulsin range, this tastes as indulgent as the name suggests, but there’s a not-to-be-sniffed-at 13.9g chicory fibre (known for its prebiotic properties) packed into each bar. The protein-to-calorie ratio isn’t as good as other bars in the list, with 15g protein per 227-calorie bar, but for pure taste this is perhaps the best plant-based option we tried.
PhD Smart Bar Plant
£29.99 (12 bars), phd.com
With a chart-topping 23g protein per bar, look no further than PhD if that’s the only factor you’re interested in. The texture is a little powdery, but you do get used to it – and those recovery credentials make a bit of perseverance worth your while.
Bodyhero Plant Protein Bar
£2.50 (per bar), bodyhero.com
Nutritionally, this bar has it all: 20g vegan protein with all essential amino acids and a substantial 13g fibre, with only 1.8g sugar. It’s also gluten-free. Taste and texture-wise, there is some room for improvement (it’s a little dry), but the nutrition credentials make up for that.
Powders, shakes and bars have their place in any performance diet, but when you’re not getting a balanced intake of nutrients and macros from real foods, you’re probably going to want a few savoury extras to keep muscle protein synthesis ticking over. Here are five of our favourite high-protein nibbles.
Squirrel Sisters Nuts
£1.10 (per bag), squirrelsisters.com
The perfect easy-to-carry snack, full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omegas, Squirrel Sisters’ range of nuts include Fiery Chilli Roasted Cashews and Smoked Almonds. Each 25g pack contains 4-5g protein and around 135 calories, with no added sugars.
bulk High Protein Biltong
£7.99 (100g pouch), bulk.com
This is another natural protein snack that boasts a sizeable 30g protein per half a pack, with less than 3.5g carbs and under 2g fat. Available in Peri Peri or Original flavours.
HECK Bangin’ Bites Chicken Italia Cocktails
£2.25 (15 packs), tesco.com
New from HECK, these snackable cocktail sausages contain chicken and a few natural flavourings, but no added nasties. Just under half a pack will provide 19g protein with only 2g saturated fat. The perfect lean and low-carb snack.
EatLean Tasty Cheese Snack Bars
£3 (4 bars), eatlean.com
We know cheese is a good protein source, but these snacks are lower in fat than regular hard cheese and come in handy 30g snack packs. With 60 per cent less fat and 30 per cent more protein (10g in total) than standard cheddar, they’re an excellent portable, bite-sized option – and come in at just 80kcals.
£13.49 (2 boxes), grandmacrunch.co.uk
Boost your breakfasts with this high-protein, low-carb, plant-based cereal. It tastes great and there’s a nice crunch, but the numbers are the really impressive factors: per serving there’s 15g protein, just 111kcals and a mere 0.4g sugar. Made from soy protein isolate and sweetened with erythritol, GrandmaCrunch comes in three flavours: Coconut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon.
Pills and powders are no substitute for a considered, ‘real food first’ approach to nutrition, but supplements can certainly help you take your performance to new heights, or provide the finishing touches to your body goals. Aside from traditional protein products, there are thousands of other sports supps to choose from – here are just five of our go-tos.
Youth & Earth Liposomal L-Carnitine
£34.99 (250ml bottle), youthandearth.com
If burning fat during a workout is your priority, first you need to mobilise it – and this will help you do just that. L carnitine is an amino acid responsible for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria: our cells’ energy powerhouses. Although available in tablet form, it’s most effective as a liquid supplement, making this Passion Fruit option from Youth & Earth a no-brainer.
Science in Sport Beta Alanine
£9.74 (90 tablets), scienceinsport.com
Research shows that beta alanine can improve both weight-lifting and endurance performance, so it could make all the difference if you’ve hit a plateau in the gym or can’t quite hit that 5k PB. For best results consume 2.4 to 4.8g 30 minutes before training. Science in Sport’s vegetarian- friendly option contains 1.6g per two tablets. Take two tablets, twice a day.
£24 (200g pack), neovite.com
Colostrum is a popular supplement for both immune support and post-workout recovery. Numerous research studies highlight its importance for lean muscle mass, improvements in stamina, endurance and strength performance, as well as an ability to shorten recovery times. Neovite is a lactose-free, UK-sourced colostrum powder, also available in a low-fat version. Take 5-10g one to two times per day, especially post-training.
Innermost The Power Booster Creatine Monohydrate
£12.95 (60 servings), liveinnermost.com
The go-to supplement for athletes and gym-goers looking to increase power, strength and speed, creatine monohydrate is creatine with one molecule of water attached to it. This form of creatine has been around – and extensively studied – for decades, making it one of the few supplements that’s genuinely tried, tested and proven (notably to improve recovery and energy mid-workout). Innermost’s offering is a neutral-tasting powder that mixes well.
UNITY U ULTRA Recovery
£64.90 (1-month trial), unityperformancelab.com
This full-spectrum power blend is designed to support muscle tissues and joints, and reduce pain. It uses nothing but clinically studied ingredients, including turmeric, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6. UNITY’s products don’t come cheap, but you are paying for premium ingredients free from the ‘fillers’, ‘binders’ and unsustainable plastic coatings associated with cheaper supplements out there. UNITY’s partnership with scientists at the University of Westminster has also ensured each plant-based capsule delivers maximal doses of the very best stuff.