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Nuun vs High5 Electrolyte Tablets – No Sugar Hydration Comparison (for Cyclists, and Diabetics too)


I’ve been delighted with the recent trend towards no-sugar electrolyte replacement drinks – I have diabetes, so most isotonic drinks were off the menu thanks to their alarming sugar content.

A free sample of High5 Zero was taped to the front of a magazine recently, and I saw Nuun tabs for sale in Leisure Lakes when I paid a visit to buy my new Endura MT500 top (review to follow). So I decided to run a quick back-to-back test for your delectation.

What Are These Electrolytic Hydration Tablet Thingies, Then?

When you exercise, you lose water.  But when you sweat, you also pump out salts which your body needs to replace to function at its optimum.  You might have read about people who’ve done a hard event, then drank lots of water, then dropped dead.  Over-simplifying things grossly, this can be because their body’s systems are watered down too much by plain water – we need to replace the other good stuff that’s lost by sweating, too.

These tablets are made to combine a cocktail of useful salts and things into a soluble tablet.  This saves space & reduces packaging thereby helping to save the planet, and it means the tabs are easy to store at home or in your pack/pocket out on the bike.

Doing away with sugar not only reduces bulk, it works better with your body: sugar-rushes are almost always followed by a post-sugar crash which isn’t much fun.  If you’re diabetic like me, sugar rushes are just a no-no unless you’re going hypo, in which case you should have a gel and suitable snack handy anyway – but that’s a different issue.


£6 of your hard-earned might seem steep for a few tabs, but think of it this way: Depending which option you choose, the packs work out between 30p and 50p per 500ml of drink, which is bloody good value when compared with a full bottle of juice from the shop.

High5 Zero vs. Nuun

I tried the Pink Grapefruit flavour High5 Zero, because that was the freebie I got with my magazine… but I’d probably have bought that one anyway.  It tasted light and refreshing and I’d have no hesitation buying that flavour again.  For the Nuun version, I bought a tube of Tri-Berry tabs: once again, the flavour is refreshing without being overpowering.  In both cases, you expect a slightly salty taste but I couldn’t detect any saltiness.  Just to be sure, I asked our girls (aged 9 and 10) to try them and they both thought the taste was great: so much so that they keep asking if they can have one when we’re at home! So that’s a hit on both counts, flavour-wise.

For me, the main consideration seems to be that for a similar price per tube, High5 supply 20 tabs whereas Nuun only give 12.  If you’re prone to getting quickly bored of the same flavour, maybe 12 tabs is enough.  If not, then I’d recommend High5’s tubes of 20 as it equates to only 30p per bottle.

If you’re wondering how the stuff mixes, have a quick look at this video.

Want Some?

You can  probably buy these from your LBS but if you’re looking to compare or buy online, then visit the following links and make your own mind up.  I particularly like the Nuun 4 Tube Variety packs, since I’m one of those people who likes a change.  But don’t forget, High5 are cheaper per drink.  The links show you the range of different flavours available – there’s something to suit everyone, even you.

1. High5 Zero at Chain Reaction Cycles
2. High5 Zero at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
3. Nuun at Chain Reaction Cycles
4. Nuun at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
5. Nuun 4 Tube Variety Pack at Wiggle – shows quite a saving over buying one at a time.

Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

 Stop Press: Banana Nuun Update:
Everybody knows that Banana is the finest flavour of milky things in the universe. Fact.  Especially that wonderful chemically-enhanced banana flavouring of our youth.
But +Chris McGovern , +Rick Horsfield and I wondered how banana flavour  would taste in a watery thing, particularly an electrolyte and salt-containing watery thing.
So, I ordered some BananaNuun from Wiggle.
And let me tell you, folks: the taste is… well… not all that good.
I’d stick to the citrus or orange & berry, if I were you.



  1. Fishd

    I’ve used Nuun for years now and loved them… the new flavours are yummy as well.


    There’s concern in some camps around a few of the ingredients that Nuun use… there’s apparently a lot of E numbers for something that’s supposed to be an athletes drink.

    No idea what’s in the High 5 stuff… but I keep getting samples too.

    • Phill

      That’s interesting, I’ll have to have a look what’s in them. Probably just colour & bulking agents plus sweeteners that people may be bothered about.

    • Phill

      Good question Lee. They’re specifically formulated to replace electrolytes and salts so I’d think they would help with cramps, yes. At the price they’re certainly worth a try. I’ve hardly every suffered with cramps so I’m not the best person to say. BUT: I wonder if any other readers could help…?

  2. SiBryant

    This is a very interesting article for me. I have type 2 diabetes and have recently returned to cycling. I have just been drinking water on my rides but after 7-8 miles I start to cramp up and energy levels really drop.

    I have been wondering if I could find anything to help me whilst avoiding the evils of sugar etc.

    Do you think these could be the answer to my problems?



    • Phill

      Hi Si,

      I’d definitely give them a try if I were you, the salts and electrolytes are designed to keep your body moving and I’m pretty confident that they’ll prolong the exercise you can do before cramps become a problem. Le me know how you get on (but avoid banana flavour!)

      Cheers, Phill.

So, what do you think ?