Nutrition Products Review

A Comprehensive Review of Race Sports Nutrition Products
Gels, Energy Chews, Powders, Superstarches and Nut Butters
By Sunny Blende, M.S., Sports Nutrition

Confusion. Indecision. Hunger. That’s what you see scanning the local running or sports store’s array of nutrition products, or perusing the latest issue of UltraRunning Magazine’s nutrition ads, or standing at an ultra’s aid station at mile gazillion in a daze or –the worst –looking up scientific information on that technical database, the internet. How can each of the vast assortment of sports nutrition products be the “best” and the “last-thing-you-will-need-for-your-PR”, and how can each of these products be backed by scientific studies proving they are the one that really works? The bottom line falls into two categories.

First, the human body is very adaptable. It is “possible” to run a 100-mile race on any food including ice cream (watch those volunteers carry in dry ice!), raw eggs (bring the chickens along to the aid stations – close-to-the-source calories!), any kind of food in any form of processing, and yes, even no food at all. It is important to know that if the human body needs calories for perceived survival, as in flight-or-fight (running), we have many systems that can convert whatever we have on board – or ingest – to energy. Some forms of calories may convert to energy easier than others (and with a lot less gut distress), but then again, the human body has adapted for thousands of years, day in and day out, in a struggle for continuous survival and a mere 100 miles has not been, believe it or not, the ultimate challenge☺

Second, scientific studies can be designed, by chance or purpose, to prove almost anything. For instance in a 10 K race, water, carbohydrates or even nothing may be what you need to fuel your muscles. But in ultra distance events, your needs may change during a race and your individual needs may differ from that of your fellow runners. Most “endurance” studies involve a treadmill or stationery bicycle, at a steady pace, and are designed for two to four hours. You may be out on the course for 16 hours, or more, or much more, and while carbs may be fine at first, protein may be better later on. Or if you become discouraged or depressed, a good snack of fat may be just the satiating tidbit you need. Depending on how a study is designed, or when the results are gathered, or how objective or subjective the researcher is in collecting data, the results can be very skewed. And your individual interpretation of what you drank or ate and how that affected you may not always be the most accurate. Can you remember the details of aid station nine when you’re at number seventeen? Or even at number ten?

When you, as an individual, are running, you use different macronutrients for different stages of your exercise. When you are going your fastest, you are using mostly carbohydrates, a limited fuel in your body. When you slow the intensity a bit and add some duration, you are using mostly fat, an unlimited source of fuel in your body. When you really add the distance and duration, you begin to use some protein for energy too. We have a lot of this macronutrient in our body, but not as stored fuel. We get this fuel from breaking down ourselves – cells, tissues and organs. This explains why we have sport nutrition products with different calorie sources…they can be used at different times, depending on what stage you, as an individual, are running at.

So, considering all the above, please keep an open mind about what you may need, like and set-a-PR-with when it comes to our staple of gels, chews, powders and nut butters. Some of the products in this list are rather new on the marketplace and some have been carrying us to the finish line for quite a while. All of these company’s have some input from ultra endurance athletes, or have been started by such, and I believe, have more than just profit as their bottom line. These companies have based their products on many of the peer-reviewed studies that have been published and show the need for calories and hydration in endurance events. It has been a pleasure to work with the company’s staffs and I am sure you will find some new flavors, ingredients and ideas in these products. 8There are some recent trends including more gels with peanut butter in them (which usually adds a bit of protein and fat), new gender-specific products (and more coming out), hydration drinks at 4% instead of the more traditional 6-8% sugar solutions and Monk fruit used as a sweetener. There are cold-brewed coffee shots instead of just adding caffeine to the mix, lots of savory flavors to replace some of the sugary ones and continued trends in enhancing fat burning. Not all these products fit nicely into the categories chosen, but please read the reasoning and development behind each product, as well as what makes each one unique. There is something for each and every runner, and these, along with some real food, will hopefully help you sort out what will work best for you in your next race!


Before sports nutrition products became an actual category, most endurance athletes used water, maybe some salt, and probably some sugar or fruit containing simple carbohydrates (sucrose and/or fructose). Gatorade and ERG were our first actual sports nutrition aids and those were simple sugars. As longer running races become more prevalent, diversification in products started to appear. It was in the mid-nineties that GU came on the market with a new product in the form of a gel that used maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate, as its main ingredient. Maltodextrin is a glucose polymer, or polysaccharide, that can easily be absorbed from the intestine in a more concentrated solution than simple sugars. This provided up to three times as many calories while clearing the gut at the same rate as normal body fluids. This breakthrough provided endurance athletes with more calories absorbed at a faster rate and more easily than solid food or simple sugars. Other products soon followed and today we have a dizzying assortment to choose from. They include many forms including simple and complex carbs, good fats and amino acids or whole protein. The following are some of the long-standing products in the ultra world, as well as some new ones, and a bit about each one that makes it distinctive or unique.

Accel Gel/ 2nd Surge Gel– Accel Gel –100 calories in a packet from fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin and whey protein, along with 115mg. sodium. Flavors: Citrus Orange, Key Lime, Strawberry Kiwi and Vanilla (caffeine free), Chocolate (20mg. caffeine) and Raspberry Cream (40mg. caffeine). Unique in its 4:1 carb to protein formula – using three carbohydrates to maximize energy transport and uptake into muscles and whey protein to reduce muscle damage and speed the recovery process. 2nd Surge Gel – 90 calories per packet from carbs and protein (agave syrup, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, whey protein and pea protein) and caffeine. Flavors: Double Expresso (100mg. caffeine from coffee), Pina Colada and Chocolate (100mg. caffeine from green tea extract). Unique in its formulation of carbs to provide rapid energy, proteins to decrease muscle damage and caffeine to stimulate the central nervous system to reduce brain fatigue and increase absorption rate of carbohydrate.

Clif Shot – 100 – 110 calories per packet, all from organic maltodextrin and organic cane sugar simple and complex carbohydrates (plus the chocolate and chocolate cherry have 1.5 gram of fat). Vegan and varying levels of electrolytes and caffeine. Flavors: Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry (100mg. caffeine), Citrus (25mg. caffeine), Double Expresso (100mg. caffeine), Mocha (50mg. caffeine), Razz, Strawberry (25mg. caffeine) and Vanilla. These gels are unique in that they are thinner consistency than most gels, offer a wide range (25-100mg.) of the ergogenic caffeine to choose from, have 60-90mg. of sodium and offer “litter-leash” packaging.

GU / Roctane GU – 100 calories per packet of complex carbohydrates (70-80% maltodextrin and 30-20% fructose; the ratio depends upon the flavor), an amino acid blend (to combat fatigue and accelerate carbs into usable energy), Vitamin’s C and E and electrolytes (sodium and potassium), as well as some flavors contain caffeine. Flavors: Strawberry Banana, Lemon Lime and Peppermint Stick (non-caffeinated), Mandarin Orange, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Outrage, Tri-berry and Plain (20mg. caffeine), Espresso Love and Jet Blackberry (40mg. caffeine) and three new flavors, Salted Caramel (20mg. caffeine) Peanut Butter and Chocolate Peanut Butter (1.5gm. fat and 1 gm. protein, no caffeine). GU’s uniqueness comes from the facts that 1) it was the original gel on the marketplace, 2) it is the number one selling gel – by a lot, with Roctane coming in at number two, and 3) there is a flavor for everyone (and even more at holiday time). Roctane – same 100 calories in the packet, but this gel is made with more of the ingredients that enhance ultra distance (four+ hours) and high intensity efforts (above lactate threshold) and has eliminated the Vitamins C and E. It has higher levels of Histidine (for buffering hydrogen ions), higher levels of citrates (contributes to the citric acid cycle for the production of energy) and higher levels of branched chain amino acids (helps to limit muscle catabolism and also used for energy). Flavors: Strawberry Kiwi and Pineapple (no caffeine), Passion Fruit, Island Nectars, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chocolate Raspberry, Vanilla Orange and Cherry Lime (35mg. caffeine). Unique for its improved muscle buffering by mitigating the effects of lactic acid build up, more efficient energy production, better recovery through decreased muscle damage and better mental acuity by delaying central fatigue.

Hammer Gel – 80 – 90 calories per packet, all complex carbohydrates with four branch chain amino acids (to prolong energy levels) Flavors: Apple-Cinnamon (new), Banana, Chocolate, Espresso (caffeinated), Montana Huckleberry, Orange, Peanut Butter (new), Raspberry, Tropical (caffeinated), Vanilla, and Unflavored. Unique in that you can use this as your sole source of energy in shorter training runs and races, or as part of your nutrition plan when added to other protein-fortified fuels for longer races. Made from two sources of complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin and a combination of grape juice and rice dextrin), one of which allows for maximal conversion to energy and another that raises blood glucose as fast as sucrose and faster than fructose. Also, the new peanut butter flavor has one gram of protein in it.

Honey Stinger Gel – 100 Calories per pack, all carbs from honey (Classic flavors) and both honey and organic tapioca syrup (other flavors). Dairy, soy, nut and gluten-free. Flavors: Classic Gold, Ginsting Classic, Acai Pomegranate, Vanilla and Fruit Smoothie. Unique newer flavors are 100% organic and have a slightly different texture (less viscosity) and taste (less honey-taste) from the original, due to their addition of tapioca syrup. The Ginsting variety contains 32mg. caffeine from kola nut extract.

Pocket Fuel Energy Shot (Cold Brew Coffee) – 30-33 calories from carbs (organic cane sugar, tapioca flour), 1gm. of fat (organic coconut milk) and 70 mg. caffeine per packet. Vegan, soy, dairy and gluten-free. Flavors: Java Energy Shot, Mocha Energy Shot and Vanilla Energy Shot. It is unique in being the first 100% organic plant-based actual cold-brewed coffee. Cold brewing produces a naturally sweeter flavor, reducing the acidity of coffee by 67%. Also a good source of antioxidants in a pudding-like consistency.

VFuel – 100 calories per pack, all carbs (maltodextrin, dextrose) – but no fructose. Flavors: Vanilla, Fudge Brownie, Peach Cobbler, Cool Citrus and Maple Bacon (!). Unique in a few ways including NO fructose (good for those ultrarunners who do not handle this sugar well), only 10mg. caffeine used to increase absorption of carbs, not as a stimulant, and also includes one gram of fat (fractionated coconut oil) as a MCT (medium chain triglyceride) that passively diffuses through the GI tract adding an additional dense source of calories that is still utilized for energy.

Vespa – VESPACV-25 contains 18 calories (for athletes over 160lbs.) and VESPA Junior contains 31 calories (for athletes under 160 lbs.) per pouch – all natural ingredients from carbs (honey, Royal jelly, Bee propolis and Wasp extract). VESPA is neither a fuel nor an electrolyte replacement, nor does it come in “flavors” other than its natural honey/extract state. It’s not even a gel except in the packaging. It is unique in that it is highly bio-available and purports to encourage muscles to “metabolize fat, thus stabilizing & conserving glycogen levels” with the key ingredient being extract from the Asian Mandarin Wasp. What this product is lacking is scientific, peer-reviewed studies. That said, it DOES fit into a metabolic efficiency training regime where an athlete may PAIR their low-carb diet with lower-intensity exercise to become a better fat-burner, and therefore rely less on carbohydrate intake, using more of their on-board fat, during an ultra race.

Clif Shot Bloks – 3 bloks are 100 calories and 2 servings come in a package. Bloks are from organic tapioca syrup, organic dried cane syrup and maltodextrin, with flavor choices mixed with 0mg., 25mg. and 50mg. caffeine. The margarita flavor has three times the sodium of the other flavors at 150mg. Unique in their variety of flavors, caffeine level and sodium level as well as the ability to chew or suck on these customizable energy chews. Packaging is easy to carry, open and squeeze out a blok without getting your hands sticky.

GU Chomps – 90 calories in a serving, 2 servings in a pouch, made from simple and complex carbs (tapioca syrup, cane sugar and maltodextrin) as well as electrolytes and Vitamin C and E. Gluten-free. Flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate, Black Cherry, Lemon, Orange and Watermelon (caffeine free), Cranberry Apple, Strawberry (20mg. caffeine) and Peach Tea (40mg. caffeine). Unique in they are the only available chew based on the original GU Energy Gel and they are a change of pace – you can literally chomp on them.

Fuel 100 Electro Bites – Not exactly a “chew”, but not a bar and not a gel. One package has 100 calories from potato starch, organic coconut oil, organic agave syrup and sodium-potassium-magnesium electrolytes, gluten-free. Flavors: Simply Salty, Salty Vinegar, Salty Vanilla, Apple Cinnamon and Pumpkin Spice. Unique in its use of coconut oil, a MCT (medium chain triglyceride) that is quickly absorbed into the small intestine and converted into energy with very little gastric activity and its low-glycemic, yet rapidly absorbed, agave nectar. They also have a consistency of a “salted graham cracker” and a crunchy, almost melting, texture.

Hammer Perpetuem Solids – 3 tablets are 100 calories and 2 servings come in a tube. They are the exact same nutrition as Perpetuem powder made from maltodextrin, non-GMO soy protein and are gluten-free and vegan. Flavors: Caffé Latte (25mg. caffeine), Orange-Vanilla and Strawberry-Vanilla. Unique size and packaging make these chewable tablets easy to carry and may appeal to athletes wanting something solid in their mouth during longer training outings.

Honey Stinger Energy Chews – 160 calories per packet, mostly carbs from multiple sources including 100% organic tapioca syrup and honey, plus one gram of protein. Gluten-free, dairy, soy and nut free. Flavors: Fruit Smoothie, Cherry Blossom, Pomegranate Passion Fruit, Orange Blossom, Pink Lemonade, Caffeinated Lime-Ade and Caffeinated Cherry Cola. They are unique because the chews are smaller and softer than most and because they don’t stick to your teeth.

Accelerade/Accelerade Hydro– Accelerade – 120 calories in one scoop powder from sucrose, whey protein, soy protein and fructose, including 210-220mg. sodium and 85-95mg. potassium. Flavors: Fruit Punch, Lemon Lime, Lemonade, Mountain Berry and Orange. Unique in its 4:1 carb to protein ratio and that it includes both whey and soy protein which helps extend endurance, enhance rehydration and speed recovery. Accelerade Hydro – 60 calories in one scoop from simple and complex carbs (dextrose, fructose and maltodextrin) and both whey protein and soy protein plus 190mg. sodium and 60mg. potassium. Flavors: Lemonade and Fruit Punch. Unique design for less intense workouts but still promotes faster hydration.

Clif Shot Electrolyte Hydration Drink – 80 calories per pack, all from simple carbohydrates – organic glucose and cane sugar. This is a 4% (rather than the usual 6-8% sugar) solution that includes 250mg. sodium for fluid retention. Flavors: Lemon Lime-Ade and Cranberry Razz. Unique due to its multiple source simple carbohydrate solution that aids in quick gastric emptying, fluid transport, absorption and retention, all with a very light flavor.

GU Brew / Roctane – GU –100 calories in two scoops of complex (maltodextrin) and simple (fructose) carbohydrates plus electrolytes (250mg. sodium and 40mg. potassium – Blueberry Pomegranate has 2X sodium). Flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate, Lemon Lime, Raspberry and Orange. Unique in its natural light mild flavor and its optimized 2:1 complex to simple carbohydrate ratio allowing athletes to keep going for many hours. Roctane – 240 calories per packet of complex and simple carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) as well as taurine, histidine, branched chain amino acids and electrolytes (320mg. sodium and 105mg. potassium). Flavors: Tropical Fruit and Lemon Lime (each with 35mg. caffeine) and Grape (caffeine free). Unique for including taurine to help heart and muscle function, beta-alanine to help increase muscle buffering capacity, all in a light tasting, easy to mix formula.

Tailwind Endurance Fuel – 100 calories per serving, all from simple carbohydrates, dextrose (glucose) and sucrose, gluten free, vegan, no soy or dairy. Included in the mix are electrolytes – 303mg. of sodium, 88mg. potassium, 26mg. calcium and 14mg. magnesium. Flavors: Mandarin Orange, Berry, Lemon and Naked Flavor, as well as the new flavor, Raspberry Buzz that includes 35mg. caffeine per serving. Unique in its simplicity; Tailwind dissolves to a clear liquid with no residual film in your water bottle or hydration pack and combines calories, hydration and electrolyte needs all in one light and clean tasting drink.

Hammer HEED, Perpetuem – HEED – 100 calories per scoop, all carbs from maltodextrin, xylitol and stevia, gluten-free, vegan. Flavors: Lemon-Lime, Mandarin-Orange, Melon, Strawberry and Unflavored. Unique in that it is 100% complex carbs and less sweet than most sports drinks due to addition of xylitol (which does not ferment and support acid-producing bacteria thus good for oral health) and Stevia (which does not affect blood sugar levels) and it buffers lactic acid. Perpetuem – 2 level scoops equal 270 calories, basically a “meal in a bottle” fuel containing 75% complex carbohydrates, 10% soy protein, and a small amount of healthy fat, gluten-free and vegan. Flavors: Caffé Latte (25mg. caffeine), Orange-Vanilla, Strawberry-Vanilla and Unflavored. Unique for its formulation to provide maximal benefits at an aerobic pace under 70% maximum HR for six hours or many days. Some fat in the fuel can slightly slow the rate of digestion and thus promote “caloric satisfaction,” an attractive plus during a primarily aerobic ultra-long distance event.

HoneyMaxx Sport Hydration – 80 calories in one scoop from a combination of sugars: honey and maltodextrin (no refined sugars), xylitol and stevia. Includes a complete four-mineral electrolyte profile and is natural and organic. Flavors: Orange and Lemon-Lime. Unique in that it can be mixed to meet an individual’s needs – from about a half a scoop on light workout days to two-plus scoops on long training days. It can also be used by children while exercising when mixed as the lighter, half scoop consistency.

OSMO Active Hydration (for Men and for Women) – 35 calories per scoop (recommended serving size is 2 ½ scoops, or 87 calories in both the men’s and women’s formula’s) and all carbs from sucrose and glucose. Flavors: Blackberry, Orange, Mango. Unique in their gender-specific nature – “Women are not small men” – and in their reasoning for not including maltodextrin in their product. Maltodextrin increases carbohydrate absorption, but decreases intestinal absorption of water and sodium. OSMO is formulated to promote fluid absorption based on “you can come back from low blood sugar pretty rapidly, 10ish minutes, but it takes hours/days to come back from dehydration”. OMSO works fine with real food and products that have simple sugars in them (gels, chews with glucose and/or sucrose). “Hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket”

SUCCEED Amino / Clip 2 – Amino – 148 calories per packet of carbs (maltodextrin, sucrose) and protein (branched chain amino acids) along with electrolytes and anti-oxidants Vitamins C and E. Flavor: Orange. Formulated for endurance events lasting more than 3 hours, Amino helps prevent mental fatigue and loss of concentration after many hours of exercise by supplying the 5-9% amino acids, as well as carbs, that make up total energy used. Clip 2 – 153 calories per packet from carbs (maltodextrin and sucrose), protein (branched chain amino acids) and fat (medium chain triglycerides – MCT’s). Flavor: Valencia Orange. Formulated for events lasting longer than 6 hours, Clip2 supplies easily digestible carbohydrates for muscle fuel, BCAA’s to spare athletes muscle catabolism and MCT’s to provide fat for fuel and to stabilize the digestive tract. Digestion of fat prompts the addition of acid neutralizing bicarbonate to the gut, therefore counteracting excess stomach acid.

Superstarches are an unusual type of carbohydrate made from sources such as waxy corn maize, barley or potato starch and they have the distinction of being very high molecular weight, low osmolality molecules that clear the stomach quickly. This can greatly reduce stomach distress while decreasing the time to actual absorption of calories. They have a slightly different taste from the usual powders, but they have been used very successfully in endurance sports – probably due to their quick gastric emptying and the need to take in calories less often. There are only two products on the US market at this time. Neither contains sugar or caffeine.

UCAN – 80-90 calories in one scoop from natural, gluten-free superstarch – a complex carbohydrate derived from non-GMO corn, no sugar and electrolytes (130-170 mg. sodium and 95-105 mg. potassium). Gluten-free. Flavors: Tropical Orange (sweetened with Monk fruit), Cran-Raz, Lemonade, Pom-Blue and Plain (15mg. sodium and 0mg. potassium). Uniquely stabilizes blood sugar and causes virtually no reaction from the fat-storage hormone insulin. Allows an athlete to use more of his or her own body-fat for energy while eliminating the constant spike and crash from re-dosing over many hours of endurance exercise. UCAN clears your stomach quickly eliminating gut issues, yet breaks down slowly over time in your bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar level even.

VitargoS2 – 280 calories per packet, Vitargo®S2 is the super-soluble form of Vitargo®, a molecular carbohydrate [special barley (amylopectin) starch] with zero sugar. Gluten-free. Flavors: Natural Grape, Natural Juicy Orange, Natural Tropical Fruit (all with Sucralose) and Unflavored. Vitargo’s low osmolality, molecular carbohydrate form is university-research proven to move through the stomach more than twice as fast as the carbohydrates, maltodextrin and sugars. This translates out to faster carbohydrate digestion and absorption into the body with no bloating.

Nut butters have been included in this review because when running an ultramarathon, an athlete’s needs change as the race progresses. Usually, protein and fat are not included in during-the-event fueling products. We don’t use a significant amount of protein until late in a race and we usually have enough fat in our bodies already. But in longer races this all changes. In addition, meals will be missed. Nut butters can “spare” some muscle breakdown by providing protein to be used as energy and both protein and fat to provide satiety, as well as just plain comfort food to a tired competitor.

CrossFuel – 140 calories per serving and 2 servings in a packet made from complex carbohydrates (rice starch), protein and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as electrolytes sodium and potassium. Organic, gluten-free and vegan. This is a unique product made from walnuts (not usually found in nut butters) from a brand new company that tested its recipe by propelling ultramarathon swimmers across channels around the world.

Justin’s Nut Butters – 180-200 calories per 1.15oz. packets and 80 calories per NEW 14gm. packets from fat, carbs and proteins – dry roasted nuts (almonds, peanuts or hazelnuts), sustainably sourced palm fruit oil, and in certain flavors, organic cane sugar, honey, maple sugar, organic cocoa butter and sea salt. Flavors: Maple Almond Butter, Classic Almond Butter, Honey Almond Butter, Vanilla Almond Butter, Chocolate Almond Butter, Classic Peanut Butter, Honey Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Unique in that all nuts in Justin’s products are sourced domestically; all ingredients are non-GMO and the majority are organic. The butters are made in small batches for higher quality and better taste. The company gives back to the community and the planet through several foundations as well as is committed to a goal of a completely renewable squeeze pack (!) There is ongoing testing.

Pocket Fuel Nut Butter Blends – 150-175 calories per 1.15oz. packets (also come in 1.8oz. and 20oz.pouches), from fat, simple and complex carbs and proteins – dry roasted almonds or hazelnuts, organic cane sugar, beet sugar or honey, organic sunflower oil and sea salt. Soy, dairy and Gluten-free, Vegan. Flavors: Banana Blueberry, Coconut Cherry, Chocolate Espresso, Chia Goji & Honey and Pineapple Coconut (from almonds) and Chocolate Haze and Vanilla Haze (from hazelnuts). Unique in producing its products in their own facility in Hood River, Oregon all from USA sources. These nut butters also contain a full spectrum of electrolytes needed for endurance sports including sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride from natural sources.
If any of you read Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, you may have read my definition of an ultramarathon – “An eating and drinking contest, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in”. All three of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) can be used for energy production during an ultra. If you run out of the muscles preferred fuel, carbohydrates, you can use another source to keep going…you just may have to slow down. There are MANY factors that influence these processes, and training also modifies an individual’s adaptations to these factors therefore assuring that what works this year, may not work next year, and that I will probably continue to have a job as a nutrition columnist trying to sort it all out for you! ☺ To further complicate matters, the majority of studies result in respondents being plotted along a bell curve, where most of the subjects had a similar reaction, but a few under-performed and a few more over-performed. If you wind up in one of these categories, the study really doesn’t apply to you…at least not for performance enhancement.
Try some of these products, experiment with some of the newer ones and take a crack at different combinations during your long training runs and tune-up races.
Remember our needs change as our fitness changes and as the length of time we are on the trail increases. What is the scientifically perfect for someone, may – or may not – be the best choice for you. And don’t forget the placebo effect. ☺ Enjoy your fuel!


BCAA – Branch chain amino acids are among the nine essential amino acids necessary for humans. The three that are used for ergogenic aids in sports nutrition products are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA are protein and new research has shown that athletes involved in intense training such as ultramarathoners may require one and a half to two times the RDA of protein (which is 0.8 g/kg/day) to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. They may help delay fatigue and help with recovery.

CAFFEINE – Functions as a stimulant of the nervous system by stimulating heart function, blood circulation and releasing epinephrine (adrenaline). Caffeine in conjunction with epinephrine potentiate muscle contraction, raise the rate of muscle and liver glycogen breakdown, increase release of fatty acids from the adipose tissue and increase the use of muscle fats.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES – Complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars in their make up and are slower to absorb than simple carbohydrates having one or two.

FRUCTOSE – A monosaccharide that can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose. Fructose is very sweet.

GLUCOSE – A monosaccharide derived from plants during photosynthesis. It can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and is the main source of energy when exercising, as well as the only source of fuel our brain uses. Common sources are carbohydrates.

GLUCOSE POLYMERS – Extended chains of glucose molecules sometimes also known as starch. They are not as sweet as glucose and are rapidly used by the body providing an ideal source of calories for exercise with less gastrointestinal distress.

GLUTEN FREE – excludes foods containing gluten (wheat, barley and rye).

MALTODEXTRIN – A chain of glucose molecules, usually seen as a white powder that is rapidly absorbed and almost tasteless. Used in sports nutrition products because it is a complex carbohydrate that has rapid absorption from the gut, and slower “drip” into athlete’s blood stream. Each glucose molecule must be cleaved from the chain.

MONK FRUIT – A zero calorie natural sweetener derived from a fruit (rather than Stevia which is derived from a plant). Many products are now starting to use it because it does not possess the metallic aftertaste that some find with stevia.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES – Those carbs that have one (single) or two (double) sugars, as in a monosaccharide such as glucose, fructose and galactose and disaccharides such as lactose, maltose and sucrose.

STEVIA – is a sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of a plant. Stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter aftertaste.

SUCRALOSE – is an artificial sweetener that is 300 to 1,000 times sweeter than regular sugar. The body does not break down the majority of ingested Sucralose so it has no caloric value. Splenda is a common brand name.

SUCROSE – A disaccharide (two sugars) composed of glucose and fructose.

TAPIOCA SYRUP – Made from the yucca root, but still a sugar. Not genetically modified and gluten free.

Taurine – a non-essential amino acid sometimes used in energy drinks to combat fatigue. A 2012 study from Australia reported that taurine might actually blunt the effect of caffeine.

VEGAN – One who abstains from all animal products including eggs, dairy and other animal-derived substances.

XYLITOL – A sugar alcohol used as a diabetic sweetener as it is roughly as sweet as sugar without the sugar-spike. It is also beneficial for dental health, helping to reduce caries by a third when used regularly.


Agave, all natural evaporated cane juice, barely malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane-juice crystals, cane sugar, coconut sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, glucose, grape sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maize syrup, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, raw sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, sugar, turbinado sugar and any of these names with “natural” or “organic” in front of them.