Osmo nutrition are included in our top 20 brands as they were the first out there to make female specific energy and recovery products.

Despite women having very different hormone levels to men, female specific nutrition had never really been considered a necessary product development before.

Founder Stacy Sims changed all that. The consultant scientist and nutritionist who has worked with pro teams such as the USA's women's track pursuit and BMX riders had one key motto: "women are not small men."

Sims, who studied at Stanford University, made the very valid point that most sports nutrition studies that key brands use to develop their products use mainly or all male test subjects. These men are often collage aged, between 18 and 22 years-old, and therefore not your average female cyclist.

Following her own work with endurance athletes and personal research, she launched the brand with hydration and protein recovery drinks formulated specifically for women, men, and children - with variations in carb, protein and salt levels to provide the correct resources for each body type. The 'pre-load' hydration drinks do not contain a high calorie content as per many energy drinks - and Sims was always clear that these are designed to provide adequate hydration (even in hot conditions) and not to be used as a sole energy source.

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What's different for women?

Most of Sims' arguments for developing women's specific products revolved around our fluctuating hormone levels, which call for a different approach. Explaining this to us, she said: "Women have an altered energy metabolism during exercise which completely impacts how we recover. Our recovery window is smaller and we have a predisposition to become over trained if we do too much intensity at different times during the cycle."

"Women have an altered energy metabolism during exercise which completely impacts how we recover."

We always knew we felt a bit 'off' in the weeks leading up to our period, but Sims gave us the science behind that feeling - explaining: "During the menstrual cycle, we have two hormone phases: high and low. During the low hormone phase [days 1-14 from first day of bleeding], our carbohydrate metabolism and recovery is the same and we are able to complete high intensity workouts. During the high hormone phase [days 15-28], estrogen reduces the availability of carbohydrate and increases the amount of fat used for fuel; thus we have problems hitting intensities. Elevated progesterone increases our core temperature by ~0.5’C, increases total body sodium losses, and increases muscle breakdown (and at the same time, reduces the body’s ability to synthesize muscle).

"If this wasn’t enough, the combination of elevated estrogen and progesterone drops our available plasma [which transports nutrients around the body] volume by around 8%, and with concurrent shifts in baseline thresholds, makes us more predisposed to hyponatremia [low sodium induced bonking]."

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So what does it all mean?

All this means that during the high hormone phase - which comprises almost half of every month - women need to take more care with hydration and recovery - getting extra sodium in during workouts and protein both before and afterwards. Osmo where the first brand to step outside the box and identify and then cater for these needs, and its that fact that earns them a spot in the TWC20.

We tested out the products when they first arrived on the market in 2014 - and loved the mild taste of the honey and spice option. As with most nutrition brands, Osmo offer a wide range of flavours, but out favourite has to be the Vanillia options.

Big changes...

Dr Sims has recently moved on from Osmo, and the brand is working through some changes - all we know is they're going to be 'big'. However, products are still available to buy from Amazon, and a new site is promised for launch soon.

We've not been able to get any more information out of Osmo regarding what's coming, but if it's anything near as groundbreaking as what they already provide, they'll be on to something good.

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