When it comes to food and nutrition I’m a traditionalist, I believe in three square meals a day with a balanced diet and exercise. I don’t buy into protein or slimming shakes or all these fad diets. Then YFood contacted me in March 2020 to see if I would be interested in reviewing their ready to drink meals (in a bottle) from a hiking perspective on one of my YouTube videos.
I wasn’t keen at first for the reasons I stated above. However after some research into the company and the product, I decided to go ahead with a review and they sent me a supply of 500ml bottles of ready to drink meals in 5 different flavours; Alpine Chocolate, Smooth Vanilla, Cold Brew Coffee, Happy Banana & Fresh Berry (Crazy Coconut now available).
What YFood say: “YFood is a fully balanced ready to drink meal that contains everything the body needs: plenty of protein, 26 vitamins & minerals, essential omega fatty acids & important fibre. It satisfies your hunger (3-5 hours) & gives you constant energy for a successful day”.
The first lockdown in Spring 2020 made it more challenging to test this product, so my first test was a cycle around East Lothian. I had my normal breakfast of cereal, a banana and 150ml of fruit juice and headed out on the bike. Half way around the 40 mile cycle I began to flag so I pulled over for a break and tried their Alpine Chocolate drink. I’m not a fan of chocolate flavoured drinks, but the Alpine Chocolate went down nicely. Nice taste and consistancy, I was expecting a thicker liquid, but it wasn’t too disimilar to a milk shake. My first impressions were good: I liked the taste, I didn’t feel full or bloated, but most importantly, nourished enough to fuel my cycle home.
The 500ml drink delivers 500 calories (kcal) and 33ml of protein and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. There is no added sugar and of course it’s lactose and gluten free! YFood claim the drink should satisfy your hunger for around 3-5 hours. I’ve found through my tests that I’m at the lower end of that spectrum, this includes fairly demanding exercise, either cycling or out on a hike.
On a separate overnight cycling trip I tried YFood shakes again. This time in place of my breakfast in the morning before cycling home. I opted for the Cold Brew Coffee (includes caffeine) on this occasion and this is my favourite flavour out of the range. My friend Kevin tried the Fresh Berry flavour, he seemed to enjoy it.
As lockdown restrictions eased I managed to test YFood on bigger hiking trips, one of those being a big route in the Cairngorm Mountains. After a long day’s hiking I set up the tent and proceeded to have a Vanilla flavoured shake. Vanilla is my least favourite, but I was hungry and tired. It definetly perked me up, getting protein into my body quickly. It meant I could have my normal camping meal a bit later on. Freeze dried meals alone sometimes don’t quite cut it after a long day out on the hills.
At the end of 2020 YFood contacted me again to see if I would be interested in doing a further review if they sent more bottles. I felt the ‘meal in a bottle’ option might not appeal to many hikers or backpackers due to the weight and bulk of carrying these bottles – 1 bottles equals 500ml in liquid to carry, not to mention the enviromental impact of more plastic to recycle.
I suggested they could send the Cold Brew Coffee powder version instead with a shaker, they agreed and I received these just before Christmas.
The 1.5kg bag of powered YFood arrived with a shaker and measuring spoon. Preparing is straight forward; three level spoonfuls (equivelent of 85g) of powder into the provided shaker and fill with cold water up to the fill line on the shaker, this makes one drink. Shake for around 10 seconds and enjoy.
The empty shaker bottle weighs 105g and is easy to rinse out and clean after use. If you don’t have the measuring spoon to hand then the shaker has powder fill line too. (Also has useful measuring markers in ml and oz, ideal for measuring water for preparing freezed dried meals).
Due to recent lockdown restrictions I haven’t rigorously tested the powder version quite as much as the bottles. However I have tried these during some winter hikes in my local hills. Once again I had my usual bowl of cereal, banana and fruit juice before leaving the house. Mid morning during the hike I prepared a shake which sustained me for most of the hike until I returned to my car. I then had another shake before driving home. On both occasions I brought home my tuna lunch and other snacks that I didn’t eat, so the YFood meals certainly did their job in keeping me sustained during two 5 hour hikes in snowy conditions.
Ultimate hiking food?
So that leads me to the question, are YFood products the ultimate hiking food?
The Meal in a bottle is excellent, packing in 500 calories , 33g of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. They provide or contribute towards an excellent start to your hiking day or to replace protein at the end of the day when you’re tired and want something quick and healthy to eat. For anything more than one night away then they will add a lot of weight to your pack, plus the plastic waste for those who are trying to reduce their plastic consumption. (The bottles are made of 30% recycled plastic and are 100% recycleable). YFood claim they still want to improve in this area).
Going forward the powdered version would be my choice. Lighter to carry, easier to store away in your pack and less waste packaging. The powder version isn’t as carlorific at 400kcals and packs in 26g of protein, but still offers 26 vitamins and minerals. The powder form is also cheaper!
I would only use these occasionally to replace my breakfast, lunch or dinner. However using either the powder form or bottled shakes to supplement my three staple meals, has cut out a lot of sugary snacking on cereal bars and chocolate whilst out on hikes, that is surely better for my health and I certainly feel more nourished whilst doing demanding outdoor activities.
What do they Cost?
At the time of writing 6 bottles cost £20.94 (15% discount with a subsciption) this works out at £3.49 each (£2.97 with a subsciption).
A 1.5kg bag of powder offering 17 meals costs £29.99 (15% discount with a subsciption) this works out at £1.76 per meal (£1.49 with a subsciption).
The YFood powder has definitely given me ‘food for thought’ when planning future hiking trips. I would pack enough powder to give me 2 shakes per day, one after breakfast and one for the end of the day. This would cost £3.52 a day which may seem slightly expensive, but you’d need less protein/cereal bars which can be costly too depending on which brands you buy. The cost difference would then be negligible.
The Cold Brew Coffee flavour is my favourite and it’s an added bonus it actually contains some caffeine. But all the other flavours are delicious too. Albeit I haven’t tried their new Crazy Coconut flavour yet….
If you wish to try these for yourself, YFood have provided a discount code: use WALLACE10 for a 10% discount and the products can be purchased here https://uk.yfood.eu/