Osmo_NewProducts_AR_women_webby Molly Hurford

In the past month, we’ve had the chance to both review the latest offerings from Osmo Nutrition products for women, and also sit down with founder Stacy Sims, the creator of the nutritional supplements. What I’ve found is that the products, formulated specifically for women’s needs, actually do seem to make a difference, especially for someone on-the-go right after racing.

“It’s not a novel concept to me, because all of my research has been done on sex differences,” said Sims, who was a rower in college when she first became interested in exercise science. “All the studies were being done on college age men, and I was like, ‘I’m not a guy,” she laughed.

“So it was a burning thing to me. I’m not a guy, I want to know the answers. It was a selfish study!” She continued to work, studying endurance runners, herself, and her teammates. Women, she explained, need less carbohydrates, and right before menstruation, they need more salt, “because as an endurance athlete, you need it. It’s little things like that.”

Doing her Ph.D., Sims studied the concepts even further. “This product is the culmination of the research I’ve been doing for 20 years,” she said. “The recovery drink is a bigger hit of protein and glucose because there’s a 90 minute window of recovery, whereas guys have much longer. You really want to get that muscle repaired, and the glucose helps with glycogen that’s been depleted, which avoids stressing the body.”

Pro racer and season standout Elle Anderson also uses Osmo Nutrition, and she’s so excited about it that she spent Providence weekend sporting her “Women Are Not Small Men” Osmo t-shirt and raving about the active hydration mix. I’ve been testing it out as well, and was pleasantly surprised. I liked the theory, but was skeptical that I would really feel a difference, especially as someone who doesn’t love sports drinks of any kind. But between the mango flavor for the Active Hydration and the honey-cinnamon for the Acute Recovery, it didn’t feel like a chore to test the mixes out over the course of a month, from the hectic atmosphere and constant physical stress of navigating Interbike in Las Vegas, to racing Elite in New England’s Holy Week.

A side note: The men’s and women’s recovery and hydration products are different nutritionally but cost the same, which I appreciated. And for more info on sports nutrition and Osmo’s philosophies, there’s a great FAQ guide on their site (see below for the URL).

Active Hydration for Women:

Designed to “Increase power output, improve endurance, and most interestingly, avoid premenstrual-related performance decline,” the Active Hydration mix is primarily sucrose and glucose-based, and at 35 calories in a serving, it’s ideal for taking with you to the start line. I started sipping it 30 minutes before my races and drank straight up until the officials called 30 seconds to the start, and I was impressed how much better I felt being properly hydrated with it. Whether that’s a consequence of being more focused on drinking than normal or something specific to the product, I can’t be totally sure, but sugary sports drinks like Gatorade often hurt my stomach and occasionally cause cramping during the race. Not a problem this past month, and the light flavor wasn’t overly sweet. It was also a lifesaver working around the clock in Las Vegas for Interbike and CrossVegas, where it’s hard to remember to drink or eat enough!

Acute Recovery for Women:

Acute Recovery for women was designed because, “As women, our recovery physiology is heavily influenced by our menstrual cycle. Recovery is critical for us because progesterone and estrogen inhibit muscle repair and glycogen restoration.”

Aside from tasting great (especially when added to almond milk instead of water!), the Acute Recovery drink really did help me feel significantly better after long workouts, and after races. Cyclocross is such a hard effort that often, it’s easy to not want to eat anything post-race, which is why most Elite racers opt for smoothies or protein powder/recovery powder. This has, by far, been my favorite post-race “food,” especially since I often have to start working as soon as the race finishes so rarely have time to sit and eat a full meal. And again, typically post-race, I suffer from what’s been referred to as “’cross gut,” and luckily, drinking this isn’t as bad as most of the other drinks I’ve tried. At 80 calories per serving, it’s a little light, but mixed with almond milk, it’s just the right nutritional profile and caloric intake for a solid recovery.

The verdict? If you’re a woman who’s still searching for a solid nutritional supplement, the Osmo line for women is definitely worth checking out.