Drop it. Dissolve it. Drink it. Those are the quick instructions Chicago-based BE Innovations Inc. gives for the use of its quarter-size ZYM electrolyte tablets. The small effervescent drops — which fizz and dissolve in water like Alka-Seltzer tablets — are made to ease the process of converting plain water into a vitamin-fortified, electrolyte-rich sports drink.
ZYM is one of three similar drop-and-dissolve options for exercisers and outdoors types. The originator of the category, nuun & co. of Seattle, as well as hydration-products behemoth CamelBak Inc., offer essentially the same thing.
The products from all three companies come packaged in small plastic tubes with 10 to 12 tablets inside. Prices range from about $6.50 (nuun) to $10 (CamelBak). Over the past four years, I have used these products extensively, and each one is good. The differences come in the flavors each company offers as well as the amount and type of vitamins, electrolytes, caffeine or other constitutes added into the fizzing mix.
In 2004, nuun & co. changed the category of sports drinks by introducing the original fizzing tablet. It took sugar out of the sports-drink equation and created a “fast-acting, optimally-balanced electrolyte hydration drink in a tab,” as the company puts it.
I have used nuun since 2006 on dozens of trips and training days. The company’s flavors, from lemon-lime to cola, are the most subtle in the category. Add a nuun tablet to your bike water bottle and in about two minutes you get a drink that tastes refreshing and light. There is only a hint of flavor, and it does not overpower water’s thirst-quenching natural state.
The nuun tabs have 360mg of sodium apiece as well as three other electrolytes, potassium, magnesium and calcium. There is no sugar, no caffeine, and little else in nuun, which takes the most minimalist approach to its product in the fizz-and-drink category.
ZYM sets itself apart from nuun by adding B vitamins and, for its ZYM Catapult product, 100mg of caffeine. I get a bigger immediate boost from ZYM than nuun. Its taste in either of the company’s two flavors (berry and lemon-lime), is stronger, too.
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