Finding the right nutrition products to fuel your outdoor activities can be a challenge. What should you eat when you’re running an ultra marathon? Climbing Mt. Shasta? Or heading out on a mountain bike for a long day? There are so many sports nutrition products on the market, where do you even begin? Well don’t worry, we are here to help! Below is a list of our favorite endurance nutrition products and personal testimonies from a few Truckee athletes that use them. If you’re in the Tahoe area, make sure to stop by our shop, Tahoe Mountain Sports, to try something new or stock up on your favorite endurance fuels.
Tailwind was born when it’s founder Jeff finished the Leadville 100 MTB with his head in a trash can. Fed up with the lack of endurance sports products that didn’t cause GI distress, he got to work on creating his own. He and his friends were the guinea pigs for his new endurance fuel and tested the early prototypes on the trails outside of Durango, CO. After much trial and error, the Tailwind powder we know and love was born.
What makes Tailwind unique is that it is a complete all day fuel. It contains a precise combination of calories, hydration, AND electrolytes to power you through high intensity activities. If you’re a caffeine addict and looking for an extra boost, they do have several caffeinated flavors to choose from. The best thing about Tailwind is that it’s easy on the stomach. It’s designed to match what your gut can absorb and enters your system quickly, so you won’t have to stress about unexpected “gut bombs” on the trail. The flavors are light and clean, making it extremely drinkable for those long pushes.
In an era where sugary, processed foods are the mainstay of an American diet, it’s refreshing to find a simple healthy snack like EPIC. This company makes delicious meat bars, bites, and snack strips that are high in protein and low in sugar. Inspired by the simplicity of a hunter gatherer diet, EPIC products start with high quality meats such as bison, wild boar, and turkey, and are complimented by nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices.
The company has high standards for their meats and are transparent about their sourcing; you can learn about the supply chain for each animal on their website. They also work with various organizations to improve animal welfare standards and all of their livestock is raised in open pasture.
Their meat bars and snack strips are perfect for long days in the backcountry when you want a filling snack or for those times when you just need a bite of something savory. Each bar is gluten free, grain free, soy and dairy free.
Hammer Nutrition makes a wide variety of performance oriented products. Their Heed Sports Drink is a popular energy drink that uses complex carbs to deliver sustained, long lasting energy. It also contains a complete electrolyte profile to replace what you sweat out. For adventures lasting hours or days, Perpetuem, Hammer’s endurance fuel drink, is what you want for a complete and balanced fuel. It contains complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat and helps you maintain performance for the long haul. They also make a variety of recovery products like Recoverite, a tasty recovery drink that contains a 3:1 ratio of complex carbs to protein which helps your body recover faster. This drink ensures you’re meeting your nutritional needs to replenish and rebuild after long training days or hard workouts.
This Steamboat Springs company makes delicious honey based foods like organic waffles, energy gels, and organic chews. Honey is the source of energy in all of their foods. The natural energy source is rich in carbs, easy on the stomach, and and is released into your system at a slow, steady rate to provide you with sustained energy. Their products are versatile and can be used before, during, or after activity.
Honey Stinger Organic Chews are a favorite among athletes of various disciplines. They’re easy to eat and don’t stick to your teeth. You won’t get sick of their awesome flavors; be sure to try strawberry, the newest on the market. The Organic Waffles are a nice alternative to bars when you’re looking for a substantial snack. They were inspired by the street waffles sold in Europe that professional cyclists would often eat. Honey Stinger took this concept and made it their own by adding a thin layer of honey in the middle of the waffle. These also come in gluten free flavors.
Clif is a staple of sports nutrition and makes everything from bars to chews. Their Organic Energy Foods were inspired by Clif athlete’s home recipes and are chock full of wholesome ingredients like beets, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. These make great snacks when you’re craving whole foods on the trail. Clif Bars are tried and true for time spent in the outdoors. Made with organic ingredients, these bars are delicious, nutritious, and provide sustained energy any activity. If you’re looking for a twist on the original flavors, keep an eye out for when their seasonal flavors like spiced pumpkin pie, hit the shelves. If you’re looking for quick, on-the-go energy Clif Bloks are an excellent choice. Put a pack of these in your pocket to keep your energy levels steady on a long run bike ride. They come in lots of tasty flavors, some of which have extra sodium and caffeine, for when you need an extra boost.
Nuun has the answer to all of your hydration needs, whether you’re running an ultra marathon or just trying to stay hydrated throughout the day. Nuun revolutionized the world of sports drinks when they came out with the first low sugar, electrolyte tab. Today, nuun has three main categorizes of hydration products: nuun electrolytes, nuun vitamins, and nuun performance, all of which are made of plant based ingredients and are gluten, dairy, and soy free.
Nuun electrolyte tablets replenishes the electrolytes you sweat out during exercise: sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These tablets provide essential hydration to prevent cramps and keep your muscles functioning properly so that you can perform your best. For everyday hydration, choose nuun vitamins. These tabs are loaded with vitamins and minerals and a blend of electrolytes to keep you hydrated during your day to day activities. Nuun performance combines carbohydrates and electrolytes to provide both fuel and hydration for high intensity activities. They use a precise ratio of carbs to electrolytes which helps your body absorb fuel and stay hydrated during long, strenuous activity.
From the field…
So what do people think about these products? I asked a few Truckee athlete’s about their nutrition strategies and favorite foods. Here’s what they had to say.
Dave Polivy, backcountry skier
My general nutrition strategy is focused on keeping my energy levels as even as possible throughout the day. My favorite products are Tailwind Mandarin Orange mixed with my water, Honey Stinger Organic Chews in Grapefruit, and Epic Bars in Beef/Apple/Bacon. This hits all of my food groups and all my needs for playing hard in the mountains. I take in electrolytes and calories with water and eat honey stinger chews for that nice gummy yumminess that keeps the pallet active and provides something to chew on. Then of course, there are Epic meat bars, my favorite. I tend to eat these during breaks from moving and love the salt, flavor and general ease with which I can consume these.
My strategy completely changed when I discovered Tailwind a few years ago. I realized that Tailwind is all I really need to put in long days on the trail and in the mountains as it provides enough electrolytes, sodium, calories and therefore energy to succeed.
Coral Taylor, mountain biker
I LOVE nuun hydration tablets; I usually throw one or two in the bladder of my Osprey hydration pack before heading out on the trails. For foods, I like to keep Clif shotbloks or Honey Stinger energy chews in the hip pouches of my Osprey hydration pack for quick access as well as quick energy hits to keep me from lagging on the trails.As time goes on, I’m becoming slightly more scientific to my nutrition/hydration approach. Living in an arid climate, I feel that my body usually does better with some electrolytes, especially as the temps heat up and my exertion level increases. I used to drink Gatorade for hydration and have switched to nuun or Tailwind, in an effort to have less sugar and more benefit – and have noticed that I perform better and feel better.
A few of my favorite products are Clif shotbloks in Gingerale and Margarita with 3x sodium for super hot days and Honey Stinger energy chews, any flavor without caffeine – they are like gummy bears that you feel good eating! When I stop at the top of a climb, or am sitting on the chair lift at Northstar enjoying my view and want some more food, I’ll eat a Clif bar. I do enjoy having savory foods, especially for longer rides and hikes, so would like to incorporate more EPIC products.
Peter Fain, ultra runner
My nutrition strategy is different based on weather (temperatures), length of race and time of year but as far as usage, I always carry tailwind and honey stinger. I also add some sort of solid food as well, like a Patagonia Provisions bar. For longer days I’ll use rice balls.
My favorite product is Tailwind in neutral & orange. It’s easy on the stomach and I can drink it for hours without getting palate fatigue and without developing any stomach distress. My nutrition strategy changes every year. As I get older I find certain products I used to like are no longer effective for me. And I’m trying more often to lean towards real food when it fits.