This blog forms part of our wider The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread blog series, where we look at some of our favourite Innovations in the food & drink industry. We’ll be uploading new posts regularly so keep checking back for some inspiring food for thought…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a MAML – a middle-aged man in Lycra. I’m strictly baggy tracksuit and unflattering rugby shirts as I cycle to work or join the hordes sweating around Richmond Park on a Sunday, dodging rutting deer and impatient motorists. Nevertheless while I may sneer at the latest Lycra fashions, I do take my fueling seriously… probably why I need to run and cycle so much. Having worked on Gatorade’s innovation pipeline for a few years, I’ve become hugely intrigued by hydration, “not so Smart-waters” that have nowhere near enough electrolytes in them to be useful, and particularly sports fuel, protein and more.

One thing that does strike you by this whole sports fuel category is how bi-polar it is. Either chemical tasting gels, which feel like they’re made from the unpalatable sweepings from a 1970’s candy innovation programme or dry and thankless muesli based bars made from the sweepings of a Grand National Horsebox… I’d rather jump off a Cliff. But we’re all prepared to make sacrifices to power up that hill a minute quicker or to stay-out, energized and feeling on top form for another half hour. But what if there was another way, a way to fuel for athletic performance and duration… and to actually enjoy the process of fueling. Dare I say it, a sports fuel that tastes nice, maybe even delicious?

So while laughing at my Lycra clad mates the other week, they led me to a profound discovery – Veloforte. A fuel bar, that works… it tastes delicious, and even better, it seems to be completely natural. While working with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in the US and Loughborough here in the UK, it is amazing how much has progressed with our ability to measure performance. The science of sports measurement and analysis has evolved rapidly in the last decade. What is also evident, is our own physical evolution is much slower, it takes millennia and still what our bodies really need are simple grains, pulses, fats, proteins and not refined sugars and e-numbers.

Back to the future nutrition… What Veloforte have done, amazingly, is travel back in time, they have based their Sports Food, on original recipes that powered the Roman Legions on day long marches. So next time you’re preparing for a long hike, a charity marathon or global domination; I’d recommend you check out Veloforte Mixed Bites. They’re literally the best thing since sliced…cake.

Key Lesson: Whilst innovation can often be triggered by looking forwards, monitoring trends and keeping an eye on the future, sometimes it can be just as important to look elsewhere for inspiration, and you might just want to look back to move forwards.

BY ENGINEER Ed Hebblethwaite

ed.hebblethwaite@thevalueengineers.com