In the never-ending quest to improve health and sporting performance, more and more athletes are focusing on their nutrition to ensure they are eating right to fuel their activity. Luckily, an ever-increasing number of firms are catering to this growing demand, offering up products that promise to provide needed energy and nutrition in easy to consume, healthy and sustainable products.
UK based James White Drinks is the manufacturer of a variety of fruit and vegetable drinks, energy and snack products, and amidst a late winter cycling training regime we recently tested the four varieties of their Zinger Shots, alongside some of the classic Beet It Organic Shots. The Zinger naming clearly implies hot and warming flavours, and the four varieties in the range are built around spicy ingredients such as ginger, chilli and pepper. Those varieties are Organic Ginger, Lime Chilli, Xtra Ginger Zinger, Turmeric Juice Zinger. We enjoyed the spiciness of all the shots, but recognise that taste is a subjective matter!
There is 70ml of liquid in each bottle, and the bottles are made out of recyclable PET plastic; allying concerns over the waste that such one serve products generate. All shots are made in the UK, contain no preservatives or artificial colours, and – excluding the Turmeric shot – hold Soil Association Organic certification. While James White suggest that the shots can be taken before or during a bike ride or run, we generally took them first thing in the morning prior to training.
Organic Ginger Zinger
Perhaps the ‘classic’ of the Zinger varieties, this shot was the least intense with a solid apple and ginger flavour. Ginger’s properties as a tummy soother are well known and we found the shot a pleasant alternative to the usually sticky energy drink or gel consumed prior to exercise. Energy gels can upset stomachs, yet this Zinger had the opposite effect, and generally helped to alleviate discomfort when taking on food or drink during training.
Lime Chilli Zinger
This was a favourite flavour – the spiciness of the chilli and sourness of the lime combined together for a very moorish shot. James White says that this shot aids hydration, and as a source of sucrose, assists blood glucose maintenance and glycogen sparing effects during exercise. We certainly found the shot energising and an enjoyable drink before a work out.
Xtra Ginger Zinger
When James White says this is ‘for ginger fanatics only’, they aren’t lying! Extremely gingery and very warming, we found this was best sipped slowly. While not unpleasant, some with more sensitive palates may find that this shot too strong. However, if you do enjoy strong intense ginger flavours, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take this out training on a cold winter or early spring day. With the small bottle safely stored in a pocket, small sips of the drink mid run or ride will act as a bracer against cold air. Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping assist muscle recovery post training.
Turmeric Juice Zinger
A strong flavour like Turmeric will always divide opinion, and we certainly were at TGV towers. This was actually Rachida’s favourite flavour, as she’s a huge turmeric fan (and seemingly puts it on everything at the moment!). Turmeric’s properties as an anti-inflammatory are well known, and James White says that the Curcumin found in Turmeric enhances muscle recovery after work outs. With Turmeric somewhat in vogue, this is a good option for those wanting to up the quantities of this apparent wonder spice in their diet.
The humble beetroot has seen itself transformed into a superfood over the past couple of years. Nitrates – which beetroots contain an awful lot of – have been linked to much improved performance in endurance sports. And the Beet It range is well known amongst cyclists and runners looking to get a beetroot fix without the risk of copious amounts of beet peeling, blending and dyed kitchen surfaces and clothing. The Beet It Organic Shot is made up of 98% concentrated beetroot juice and 2% lemon juice; made from concentrates.
Again, whether one enjoys the flavour of beetroot is entirely personal, but we found this shot delicious. After finishing each serving we were sad to see it end. Sweet and highly beetrooty, this shot provided a good pick me up with breakfast. However, one thing we found this shot to be is quite filling. The consensus is that regular consumption of beetroot helps to improve performance and we only tried the James White shot for a handful of days. However, regular beetroot consumption does appear advisable for those taking part in endurance sport, and the Beet It range appears to be a good option.
Our time with the Zinger and Beet It shots highlighted the benefits of introducing such shots into an athlete’s diet. Ultimately it may be hard to pin point where the exact improvements in performance and health arise from, but the Zinger and BeetIt Shots proved highly enjoyable, and certainly provided a welcome wake up prior to training on cold winter mornings. Struggling with adverse northern European conditions, these shots gave some pre-workout pep and motivation, and generally contributed to higher energy levels during the testing period.
Of course, the enjoyment of the shots will come down to personal taste – beetroot and ginger are quite polarising flavours. Further, some shots ought to be consumed with caution (see Xtra Ginger).
There is no doubting that these shots provide energy for physical activity, but for long activities lasting over an hour, energy bars, gels, sugar water and such will likely be required. From a sporting perspective, such shots won’t serve as a substitute to eating a balanced diet pre, during and after training. However, they seem to serve as a good training aid, that is pleasant to consume while helping you top up on natural goodness and nutrition.
Try the shots for yourself – order your own from the website and put a ‘zing’ in your training!
See you next time,
Mike (aka, Mr Green V)