There are a lot of different approaches to exercise nutrition these days, but a lot of them have one thing in common – the trend towards more natural ingredients. Whether making your own bars or rice cakes, or buying ready made products from nutrition companies, ingredients are trending towards simpler recipes and things that would be found in your kitchen rather than a food science laboratory.
Clif is using this trend as an opportunity to launch their newest range of performance oriented products called the Athlete Series. Focusing on two different specific categories with sweet and savory, both options end up somewhere between a gel and real food. Describing them as more of a smoothie product, ingredients like coconut shreds and quinoa have been added to give them a slight chew. So while they are easier to digest than solid food thanks to a higher water content and squeezable texture, they provide more of a real food experience than a gel.
And there’s pizza.
Yes, Clif has invented a gluten free, vegan, certified organic pizza puree for your next long ride…
While pizza in a tube may sound like one of the weirder developments in sports nutrition, we’ll cut straight to the chase – yes, it tastes like pizza, and yes, it actually tastes good. Maybe not exactly like pizza but pretty darn close. Let’s just say that if you were craving pizza late at night after a bit of drinking, this would probably do the trick. The fact that both the new Savory flavors are gluten free and vegan makes it even harder to believe, but Clif is on to something with their new Energy food.
A lot of the motivation behind the new food in a tube comes from their work with Clif athlete and ultra runner, Scott Jurek. As a vegan athlete, Scott has been known to roast sweet potato wedges with salt and carry them or even slices of vegan pizza with him while running. Intended for activities lasting more than two hours, Clif’s savory energy foods are designed to offer the taste and nutrition of solid foods, but easier to eat and digest while exercising thanks to the higher water content.
Just what consistency does pizza or sweet potatoes in a tube take on? According to Clif, it was important that they had some texture to offer a slight chew and not just a pureed gel. To accomplish that the savory flavors include organic quinoa and the sweet flavors use shreds of coconut. The result is a liquid/gel/puree hybrid that could be swallowed straight, but also can be chewed.
Nutritionally, the savory flavors differ from the sweet by adding protein and fat. Along with the expected ingredients, sunflower seed butter and olive oil are added to boost the fat content in a desirable way. Due to the 550 or 600mg of sodium in each 120g pouch, one serving is the equivalent to 2-3 salt capsules which can help with long distance events. We should point out that the pouches themselves are pretty large and if you go by the back of the package for “consuming 1-2 pouches per hour for best results,” it could be difficult to carry them all on a self supported adventure. But for events with support along the way carrying one or two shouldn’t be a problem.
The sweet flavors use a similar concept, but are primarily focused on carbs and sodium. Intended for shorter workouts where the protein and fat aren’t needed, the sweet flavors have a moderate glycemic index for slower burning fuel than a gel. Also turning to more of the “superfood” ingredients, fruits like mango and banana are mixed with coconut, beet, and ginger to emulate fruit smoothies.
Slightly smaller than the savory flavors, the sweet pouches are 90 grams and have a shorter ingredient list. Like most Clif products, all four energy foods are USDA certified organic which means they can’t contain any GMO ingredients, and at least 95% of the total ingredients have to be organic.
Shipping out to specialty retailer only beginning next week, sweet pouches will sell for $2.29 each while the savory flavors will be $2.99. If you’re wondering about working that twist off cap while you’re exercising, we’re told you can replace the cap with a CamelBak bite valve for a one handed solution. Just be sure to wash it when you’re done.
Not quite as mind blowing, but still delicious are a few other new offerings from Clif in their bar line. The latest Clif Bar flavors include Berry Pomegranate Chia and Nuts & Seeds. The Builder’s bars gain a Chocolate hazelnut flavor, and Kit’s Organic adds Dark Chocolate Peanut, Dark Chocolate Walnut, and Dark chocolate Chilli Almond. All bars are available now.