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Review: Orbana

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Orbana Healthy Energy was born in the UK during 2005 and could be the next British invasion. Orbana is not to be confused with the ever-increasing numbers of so-called energy drinks loaded with stimulants to give the user a fake feeling of energy only to crash and burn sooner than later. To be more descriptive Orbana is a sports performance hydration drink with a mixed carbohydrate source for immediate and prolonged energy with branch chain amino acids, electrolytes, reasonable amounts of vitamins to support health and performance. In this review for Orbana I will detail my personal experiences using Orbana over the last 2 months, along with some factual information of the key ingredients in Orbana as they relate to primarily hydration, fueling and recovery for endurance exercise performance.

It is no secret that we all need hydration, fuel and electrolytes to maintain exercise output "energy" in endurance training and competition. Typically sports drinks for the endurance athlete are primarily of a single source or multi source carbohydrate with varying amounts of electrolytes added. Orbana per 50g serving has 44g of carbohydrate is comprised of Maltodextrin, Fructose and Dextrose to keep you going strong and there is irrefutable proof that a multi carbohydrate solution is superior to a single source. Simply put from the Orbana web site “Orbana contains a unique blend of ‘mixed GI’ carbohydrates and is composed predominantly of complex carbohydrates (64% Maltodextrin) rather than simple sugars (36% Dextrose and Fructose). The high GI Dextrose gives an initial lift whilst the lower GI Maltodextrin prolongs your endurance without the spike and crash. This mixture does not upset the stomach, so it goes down easily and is readily digested.” It is also notable that a little Fructose actually decreases perceived exertion as well and adds a bit of sweetness to aid in palatability.

BCCA beter than Isolates of whole protien

More recently there has been the addition to protein into not only recovery drinks but to drinks designed for active hydration and fueling to maintain high energy levels. Scientific studies have conclusively shown that small amounts of protein along with carbohydrates elicit a favorable response during prolonged endurance exercise being increase endurance performance, decrease muscle catabolism, and greater recovery following exercise when a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 8:1 – 15:1 is consumed. Mostly these drinks contain an isolated protein of either soy or whey. Without going into it the pros and cons of either one fact needs to be addressed that essential amino acids (EAAs) particularly the three EAAs Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine that are branched chain amino acids (BCCA’s) are far superior to a whole protein sources of soy or whey isolate that contains both non-essential and essential amino acids for endurance training. Basically 5g of EAA’s is equivalent to 10g of mixed NEAA’s and EAAs that is about 13-15g of whey isolate depending on the quality. EAAs must be consumed as part of your diet as these cannot be synthesized de novo, meaning inside your body. BCAA in particular have been shown to attenuate muscle damage during prolonged endurance exercise, may be effective to increase the endurance exercise capacity, increased resistance to fatigue and enhances lipid oxidation during exercise. The difference between using primarily using BCAAs as in Orbana vs the all of the EAAs, I believe is that from the available research I have reviewed over the years in a nutshell BCAAs prevent protein breakdown, but do not increase protein synthesis, wiliest EAAs prevent protein breakdown, and increase protein synthesis. For most endurance athletes this makes since and once you factor in the conversion ratio the 2g of BCCA being equal to 4g from a whole protein source Orbana fits right in there with a 10:1 of carbs to protein.


There is also 700mg of creatine in Orbana though listed as an amino acid it actually is not an amino acid in the classical sense creatine is synthesized de novo in the kidney and liver from three amino acids L-arginine, glycine and the EAA L-methionine which is also in Orbana at 50mg. But isn’t creatine for bodybuilders and will make my muscle big? The truth is no creatine alone is not responsible for muscle or water gain, you need to train specifically for hypertrophy “to gain muscle” and the fact is endurance training attenuates most to all hypertrophy when both strength and endurance training are concurrently applied. The good about creatine for the endurance athlete is most notable for those that are vegetarians. Creatine was shown to significantly improve performance in cognitive and memory tests. Vegetarian supplementation with creatine seems to be especially beneficial, as they appear to have lower average body stores, since meat is a primary source of dietary creatine. For those endurance athletes that do eat meat creatine supplementation has shown to reduced rectal temperature, heart rate, ratings of perceived leg fatigue and may reduce the inflammatory response induced by endurance exercise. Creatine has not shown to increase VO2max, functional threshold or anaerobic power in cyclists, though the before mentioned benefits warrant the inclusion of one of the most studied and generally regarded as safe supplements available today.


The electrolytes sodium and potassium maintain the body’s water and electrolyte balance, which protects against muscle cramps and fatigue. Electrolytes are also necessary for muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Orbana with an electrolyte profile of 137mg of sodium and 135mg of potassium from sodium bicarbonate and potassium phosphate, is a good start and will suffice for most individuals in most training and competitive situations. Personally I add a 1/8th tsp. sea salt to my drink, as I know from experience I function best with around 400mg and hour. Everyone is a little different as one of my Motocross riders that competes in the solo “Ironman” division at the annual Perry Mountain 24hr Challenge needs close to 1800mg an hour for 24hrs but that is Alabama in July. Others may only need 50mg an hour but the additional 80-90mg doesn’t pose any health risk or hurt performance. Orbana also contains a small amount of zinc 2.3mg that is 15% of the US RDA. Zinc is essential for good health and the functioning of over 300 enzymes. These play a role in virtually all physiological processes including energy production, growth and bone strength.


Antioxidants C & E are also present in Orbana in what I will call sane amounts, what do I mean by sane amounts? Over the last decade there has been a substantial amount of hoopla about oxidative stress and the need for antioxidant supplementation, especially for endurance athletes. To date there is zero empirical evidence to support these claims. The problem is the mechanisms of exercise-induced oxidative stress are not well understood, so I do belive that some caution is needed with high dose supplentation. There have been multiple studies to investigate supplementation with high amounts of Vitamin E generally 400UI – 800UI (about 267mg – 534mg) one study in particular followed 34,000 individuals for several years. The general consensus is that when Vit E taken in these amounts increases your risk of certain cancers, heart attack and all cause morbidity though smaller amounts are beneficial for good health though it has been concluded that Vit E neither attenuates the oxidation of lipoproteins nor muscular damage induced by exhaustive exercise. Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells, and is utilized rapidly during infections. One should understand that oxidative stress from exercise and infections really are quite different and are a mistake to make any comparison or similarity. Vitamin C does play a role in the function of endothelial nitric oxide synthase so vasodilation can occur as exercise intensity raises, as well has wound healing. Some studies have shown Vitamin C supplementation prevented endurance exercise-induced lipid peroxidation and muscle damage others have not, also there has been no improvement in any exercise performance test in any study I am aware of for vitamin E or C supplementation. In three well-conducted studies were subjects received 1000mg of C and 400 UI of E showed post exercise insulin sensitivity was markedly decreased. This reaction is the exact opposite of what you would want and what is troubling these are the high amounts of C & E that are so typical in multi vitamins and a wide variety of supplement marketed towards athletes. I’m not saying that everyone should stop supplementing with Vit C or E just use some sense and sanity when you do, as the amounts of C 120mg and E 5mg in Orbana adhere to this as I have recommended to my athletes for the past decade.

B vitamins

Orbana also contains energy releasing B vitamins in what the Orbana web site states “High concentrations of B vitamins in Orbana yield a powerful energy boost and sustain endurance.” Though in reality they are again what I call sane and reasonable amounts ranging from 25% 1.5mg for B12 to 290%, 5mg for B2 (riboflavin) of the US RDA quite lower than what I see of 1000% – 10000% the RDA is other products frankly B vitamins in those amounts are not needed ever. B vitamins do play a major role in converting food into energy. Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 are vital for good health and DNA synthesis. Biotin and Pantothenic Acid are essential for the breakdown of fats. They are also required for optimum nerve and muscle function, as well as maintaining good health through healthy heart and digestive systems.

What I liked best about Orbana is the taste it is very refreshing when mixed 1 serving to a 26oz bottle the natural orange, lemon and pineapple flavor is addictive and does a good job of masking the not so palatable EEA L-methionine and BCAA’s. When mixed at double strength I was expecting it to be too sweet but was pleasantly surprised it was not. At 190 calories per 50g serving is right around the amount of calories I suggest my athletes consume to start with and does seem to be just about right for most for racing though 1.5 – 2 50g servings an hours would be better for heavy training if all the calories are coming from Orbana. When using Orbana I felt really good I had a clean smooth feeling of sustainable energy throughout my workouts. I never felt sluggish or bloated as I have with endurance fuels that had a whole protein like soy isolate and Orbana is head and shoulders above in the taste and palatability department. In addition Orbana has no stimulants for those that are sensitive to them or for one reason or another do not use them. Orbana also has no artificial colors and is naturally colored with beet juice powder.

Orbana is also part of the Informed-Choice a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products. Informed Choice certifies that supplements and/or ingredients have been tested for banned substances by the world-class doping control laboratory, HFL Sport Science. Learn more about the Informed-Choice Product Registration Process.

All the ingredients in Orbana are labeled with the amounts of each, I really like that and in my opinion this should be the standard and required by law for all nutritional supplements. For a lot of supplements the user really has no idea what is in them and the makers hide behind a propitiatory ingredient with the explanation so our competitors do not copy our exclusive proprietary formula. Right now the in the US the ingredients of the propitiatory blends must be listed in order of the greatest to lowest amounts but with no actual amounts and this is new since 2011. Before they did not have to list anything other than the name of the propitiatory formula. The fact is if a competitor wanted to copy a formula all they need to do is have it analyzed. The consumer does have the right to know what is in a product my hat is off to Orbana for that.

We Didn't Like

Nothing at all

The Final Say

From my experience with Orbana over the last two months I do have to say that Orbana “Heathy Energy” is a quality well thought out formulation for the endurance sport athlete and general fitness buff in a great tasting delivery system. You can use before during and after all your training and racing. All of my athletes that I gave samples too really liked the flavor and reported as I have smooth consistent even energy during their workouts. Orbana the British invasion has begun so drink up be strong!

To try out Orbana with out a big investment you can purchase a 5 pack of Orbana Healthy Energy at www.amazon.com for $13.46, my suggestion is to just go ahead and get several16 serving packs at $41.85 each.

The packets are really convenient for mixing when you are out and about and they pour really easily into your bottles so there is no mess.

For Retailer, Wholesale and Direct Order inquiries please email Kristi Lachenmeier at kristi@orbana.com

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