Fueling us on long rides and during the hectic days covering Sea Otter Classic were a massive assortment of fresh nutritional products from brands old and new. For the most part, products seem to cleaning up their ingredients list, my hunch being that brands like Skratch and OSMO have generated enough awareness about the drinks we use that others are following suit. Then there’s the growing awareness that food -real, whole, good food- can provide a proper ergogenic boost that also improves overall quality of life. All of that seems to be translating into better food and drink choices while we’re on the bike, with less of the chemical sounding, made in the lab type offerings from the ’90s.
Leading the charge among bar makers is Picky Bars, a brand we’ve really enjoyed eating in the past thanks to their use of nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, dates, fruit and other real ingredients…without soy. Lately, they’ve expanded their flavor range, and they’re doing some fun things with the packaging, giving you the opportunity to be on the wrapper…
The current flavors include Cookie Doughpness, Lauren’s Mega Nuts, All In Almond, Need for Seed, Blueberry Boomdizzle and Smooth Caffeinator. Coming soon is a delicious new chocolate variety we got to sample called Aaaah Fudge Nuts. Picky Club members could order it as of the end of April, the rest of us have to wait until the end of May.
If you want a shot at being a cover model for their packaging, tag your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram uploads with #lifepoints and they’ll take a look at your action shot.
Nuun continues to expand their sugar-free flavor options for both the all-day and sports hydration tabs. We prefer the all-day versions because they use stevia rather than artificial sweeteners, but to each their own.
New from Nuun are the Plus tabs, which are carbohydrate-equipped seltzer tabs that are used on top of the flavor tabs to turn the hydration into energy, making it a proper sports drink.
They contribute another 50mg of sodium, calcium and magnesium, 100mg of potassium and 9 grams of sugar from sucrose and dextrose, on top of the electrolytes you’ll get from the flavor tabs. Or just add them to plain water if you want to keep your palate clean. They’re sold in tubes to accommodate six 16oz servings or single serve packets.
APX Sport Drink takes the ingredients to a minimalist approach, using only the sugars, electrolytes and flavors and that’s it. No preservatives, anti-caking or flow agents added to the powder. If that doesn’t make you feel good enough, 100% of their proceeds to go charity.
I sampled all three flavors and the Grapefruit (which also shows the new label design) was very refreshing and clean, perfect for those summer days when things tend to taste stickier and sweeter than normal. Each 26-serving pouch retails for $21.99 with free shipping in the U.S.A.
Flooid, from GQ-6, takes a bit more involved approach to on-bike fueling by adding a little complex carbohydrate from maltodextrin alongside the sucrose and fructose. They also add BCAAs, which have been shown to spare muscle breakdown and help boost recovery.
It, too, had a refreshing flavor. All of their flavors (orange, tropical and green apple) are gluten free, naturally sourced and don’t use any colorants. The name comes from Japanese characters that convert to Ji kyu ryo ku in English letters. Roughly translated, they mean power, stamina, endurance and performance.
They also offer an endurance booster product that can be mixed into Flooid, plus lactic acid buffer and recovery products.
For any athlete that’s been around about fifteen years, Carb Boom may rings some bells (and cause some Pavlovian salivating!). Originally started by mixing apple sauce with maltodextrin and packaging it in a fruit cup, the brand eventually put their real-fruit based flavors into more convenient packaging. The brand has seen some ups and downs, but the new owners have been resuscitating the brand over the past two years or so. There are now six flavors, including the original apple cinnamon, and they all still use a blend of fruit or fruit juice with maltodextrin. Personally, I’d like to see them move to all fruit puree rather than juice, but the taste is hard to deny. If you’re a fan of gels, seek these out…and definitely start with the apple cinnamon!
Bonk Breaker introduced Energy Chews in February. Since then (or, at least, over the past few months) they’ve also introduced new flavors for their regular and protein bars – Coconut Cashew and Cookies and Cream, respectively.
Coming soon is the new Salted Caramel Bonk Breaker bar which they apologized profusely for running out of samples of by the time I found their booth. They assured me it is delicious.