“Nocte” is Science in Sports attempt at creating the perfect night-time recovery drink for athletes and when the product was first launched it garnered favourable reviews. SIS get a lot right with this product but unfortunately Nocte is not without its problems. Let us start by looking at the basics: Nocte is a recovery supplement for athletes sold essentially as a “chocolate powder” in elegant dark sachets.
SIS have used an old formula from the body-building community as the basis for their product: ZMA (Zinc-Magnesium-aspartate) a synergistic combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin b6. I first encountered ZMA when I took up weight training in gyms during my student years in Denmark (I know, it doesn’t show!). Back then, it was the second supplement I was introduced to after creatine and while the studies on ZMA remain conflicting, I found it had many desirable benefits, primarily a much deeper and more restful sleep and interesting vivid dreams (not that kind!).
Unsurprisingly then, Nocte has exactly the same effects and should be taken shortly before bed-time just as you would do when taking the standard ZMA supplements on the market. As I have been injured for most of the time I have been testing Nocte, I have not seen any other positive benefits as my training has simply not been hard enough to spot a marked difference.
It is very likely to assume that the product will do what it says on the tin, however, as it contains 549mg of protein or just over half of the recommended daily dosis for athletes training 10-15 hours per day. When I did weight-training 5-6 times per week with an aim to gain strength and size, the general protocol was similar: take a protein shake together with the ZMA complex before bed-time. SIS may have inadvertently created a very practical night-time drink for weight-lifters, power-lifters and body-builders.
My main grief with Nocte comes from the inclusion of whey protein, sweeteners (sucralose and fructose) and salt, all ingredients that do not go well with my personal choice of staying as close to a paleo (or caveman) diet as possible. As the product contains milk protein it may cause problems for people with lactose intolerance and as it also contains soya lecithin and wheat gluten, coeliacs and athletes with soy intolerance likewise need to stay clear of Nocte.
Unless you are in very heavy training the 149kcal of energy contained in each 45g sachet may be more than what you need and in that case a standard ZMA supplement would be a better choice if you are looking for a food supplement that will help improve sleep and boost testosterone production. If you lifestyle is active and you train seriously for six or more hours per week, your body will find use for the materials in Nocte and weight gain should be of little concern with this product.
A major advantage of the nutritional composition is that the zinc and magnesium concentration is very high (222% RDA) even compared with other ZMA products on the market.
Nocte has a decent taste (like a reasonable, if not outstanding chocolate drink) provided by fat reduced cocoa and vanilla. The biggest problem with the powder is constant clogging. While the instructions say you can mix with both cold and hot water, I found that cold water made it impossible to dissolve properly. Even with boiling water shaken in a mixer or stirred in a huge cup with a fork, I just could not get the mixture to dissolve properly.
I eventually found a workable solution by stirring the powder with a whisk as I poured boiling water over it but this still left some powder residue in the finished drink as well as some lumps. All in all, that detracted from taste and drinking experience. It could have been as good as a lovely cup of hot chocolate before bed-time. As it is, I believe SIS need to go back to the drawing board on this one. They get a lot oright with this product but I would not repurchase Nocte personally. Anyone not sharing my specific qualms will still find decent value for money and benefits from the drink.
To perfect the supplement, I would suggest leaving the current ZMA formulation in there (possibly upping the content of B6) and replacing the whey protein with branched-chain amino acids. I would also replace the sweet simple sugars with maltodextrin and remove the added salt. Athletes have plenty of sources of sodium and imbalances between potassium and sodium is a much more serious problem than low sodium levels in athletes. Therefore, I would suggest adding in potassium as well.
I tested the chocolate version of Nocte (a vanilla flavour also exists) purchased from Sub4. Sachets retail at €2.50. I purchased a drink box of 15 for the discounted price of €24.99.
Rating: : Great concept, decent taste. Let down by ingredient list and difficulties dissolving powder.