Rachel Brumfield can be seen racing anything from the Resolution Run to Eleven Miles to Paradise, but also likes to explore and spends time in the mountains during the summer. You can follow her adventures on instagram @rachbrums. As a 2017/2018 RErun she tried a few nutrition options and shared her thoughts with us.
As runners, we’re used to seeing the same brands when it comes to fueling options: Clif Bar, Gatorade, GU. It’s easy to miss the newer and/or smaller companies, whose ethos and high-quality products are worth supporting. I had the privilege of tasting a few and was delighted to find a couple new favorites!
In general, I hate gels. I cannot stand the texture, the super sweet taste and how they make you all sticky, no matter how careful you are when eating them. I tend to go the chews and gummy route instead.
However, with MAPLE SYRUP on the table, I’m reconsidering my go-to fuel sources. I cannot say enough good things about the two products below – my sincere thanks to whoever decided to put maple syrup in little packets for on-the-go energy!
Ingredients: pure maple syrup
Of course, maple syrup is a natural, wholesome and incredibly tasty carb! We’ve all enjoyed it on our breakfast for years, but who would think of it as running fuel?! Turns out it’s low glycemic, providing sustained energy, and is full of nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, magnese, zinc and potassium. Better yet, it’s easy to digest, quick to absorb and tastes really good. No more gel-induced gut rot or choking down strange textures. The cyclist who started this company is genius.
Untapped comes in the same convenient packaging as the traditional gel. Each package is 38g and contains 100 calories.
- Endurance Tap
Ingredients: Canadian maple syrup, sea salt and ginger
If you want to level-up from Untapped’s pure maple syrup, try the Endurance Tap brand. With the addition of sea salt and ginger, the syrup has a little extra zing. The texture is also a bit thicker, resembling a traditional gel. Each packet has a tiny cap, making it easy to split it up throughout a run.
Endurance Tap contains 100 calories and weighs in at 38g. Overall, I like this one a teensy bit better than Untapped because of the resealable packaging and salty, gingery taste.
I’m super excited about the prospect of running and eating straight maple syrup. It’s like pre-breakfast on your long run. And, it’s absolutely perfect for chilly winter running. While it may be more of a cold-weather flavor, I’m pretty confident I could enjoy it all summer, too.
Though I’ve never been a huge fan of flavored beverages, I’ve come to understand the importance of hydration during exercise – especially when training longer distances. All of the mixes tested below are developed by remarkable companies that care about our environment, sustained health and success in sport. They’re all made with quality and primarily natural ingredients. With this in mind, I rated the hydration options below mostly on taste. In the end, that’s what matters most, right? You have to want to drink it!
- Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
Flavor: lemon lime
Special claims: non-GMO, gluten free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher
This was hands-down my favorite in taste. Bright, zesty citrus flavor. It was refreshing and bolder than the other mixes – perhaps due to the use of real fruit in the flavoring. It was also the highest in sugar by far (20g). Very delicious and my top pick!
- Superieur Electrolytes
Flavor: fresh citrus
Special claims: zero sugar
With just 10 calories, this little packet was still full of flavor. Fruity, as you’d expect, with a slight aftertaste of stevia. An interesting mix of ingredients – including acerola berry extract, pink Himalayan salt and bamboo stem extract – reflect the little family-run company’s emphasis on high-quality, natural nutrition. I’d definitely drink it again.
- Nuun Hydration Performance Drink Mix
Flavor: orange mango
Special claims: non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan
Nuun takes the cake for mild flavor. It’s pleasant overall, but definitely not overwhelming. If you can drink it cold, it’s a great option. I do not think it would be as refreshing at room temperature or warm (aka, halfway through a summer long run). Again, this mix is made with real dried fruit powder and is comparatively low in sugar (13g). It’s intended for long, intense workouts – as opposed to Nuun’s regular electrolyte mix, which is intended for the everyday pre-, during and post- workout (see below).
- Nuun Hydration Endurance Electrolytes
Flavor: mango orange
Special claims: non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, caffeine
The addition of caffeine (from green tea extract) makes this mix a little different than the rest. Again, it’s mild in flavor and is sweetened with stevia, which gives it a slight aftertaste. At only 10 calories, it’s low in sugar and high in vitamin C, B12 and B6. The effervescent tablet adds a fun, bubbly sensation. I’d pick this over the Nuun Performance, but not over the Skratch Labs or Superieur mixes.
Overall, these are all great hydration options! With any of the mixes above, you can feel good about what you’re putting into your body and about the companies you’re supporting. Your taste buds may prefer a different option that mine, but if you can’t decide which to try, start the Skratch Labs Hydration Mix.
Happy running and fueling!