We’re right in the midst of race season! That means lots of faster training sessions lately, and a little more structure in the training plan than all the fun powder days on skis this past winter held. For me, this means less yummy baked goods in training, and more super fast-absorbing carbohydrates consumed during my training sessions. Baked goods are amazing during long slow training sessions, but when I’m hammering up a mountain at full gas, hand me a gel. I mean, cookies are still my all-time favourite, so I try to incorporate them when I can, but lately I’ve been taking a lot more gels, gummies and drink mix. Below are a few of my favourites!
FYI, NONE of this content is sponsored. I do not have a nutrition sponsor, so all these products are legitimately just my favourites that I spend full-price money on regularly.
I made a recent post about my race nutrition strategy - what I ate during an FKT effort and a few races. It’s a lot! You can check that out to see what my fueling plan and consumption during a race looks like. For daily training, I try to eat about 250-300 calories an hour… thanks to wearing a continuous glucose monitor (SuperSapiens), I’ve been able to get my nutrition pretty dialed so that I don’t have energy dips, and can get the most out of my training sessions.
Here are some of my current favourite sports nutrition products
I discovered these when a co-worker showed them to me this past winter. I found the price to be actually quite good, so I thought I’d order some to try! Honey or maple gels are typically at least $4-5, and these were only $2 per gel.
I love these! They have so many yummy flavours, but Key Lime is my favourite. So so so good, like honey with a little limey tanginess. I don’t mean this to come off in a bad way, because it’s only a good thing, but these have a slightly medicinal flavour. Really good quality honey has many medicinal properties. While I find Honey Stinger gels taste a little processed (mainly the flavoured ones), you can tell these Sun River Honey gels are really good quality. They make my tummy feel nice; I think they’d be great for a really long race!
Hold my beer, and just give me these instead. Like, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The strawberry or maple, please. Everyone we’ve had try these falls pretty hard for them, so I feel confident in recommending them that you won’t be disappointed. They have this sugar coating that gives them a kind of crispy exterior, and then a chewy yummy inside. Just the right kind of chewy, that doesn’t glue your mouth shut while exercising!
This drink mix has now been re-named "Super High Carb Sport Drink Mix." I've never heard of anyone getting a sore stomach while drinking this mix, and I know a lot of people who use it! Ryan ran his whole Canyons 100-mile Ultra race this spring, and used ONLY this drink mix as his fuel. He consumed an entire bag of it! It gives you awesome energy, and isn't too sweet. If you read my Race Nutrition Strategy blog, I talk about how during a race, I take a gel every 30 minutes, but I offset this by drinking a few sips this drink mix every 15 minutes. This keeps my glucose levels (and therefore energy levels) optimal all race long.
My friend Johnny Luna-Lima introduced these to me on our recent trip to Austria. They’re so tasty! He bought them from Costco in the USA. I have yet to check at a Canadian Costco to see if they’re available, but I plan to order a bag from Amazon. He had strawberry and cherry… it’s always a worry with cherry flavours that it might taste like cough medicine, but cherry was actually my favourite flavour. Definitely going to order a big bag! For racing, I like to use the Scratch Labs high-calorie drink mix in my bottles, but these are fantastic for daily training and motivation to stay hydrated by making your water taste delicious ;)
My recipe ;) Still eating lots of these during slower sessions! Here is the recipe!
I’ll admit I was verryyy skeptical about how effective these products would be when Spartan introduced their nutrition lineup, but the Energy tabs have become a staple for me during races and FKT efforts! They’re a slow-release, natural source of caffeine. I find when I use these, I don’t get crazy highs that make me go way too hard and then burn out. They just give me great focus and pull me out of the fatigue/sleepy zone that I can hit some days after a few hours of hard training. I’ll carry a packet of them in my running pack, and take as needed.
BRIX waffles and Untapped Maple waffles
My friends and I did a waffle test recently. We had five different brands of waffles between all of us, and these tied for first place. All flavours are great, but nothing beats the classic maple, in my opinion.
BRIX and Untapped Maple Gels
Both these brands also make maple gels. I get a lot of questions from people on instagram who say they get upset stomachs during races from all the over processed products. An easy way to take a gel and still get all the fast glucose you need, without an upset stomach, is using maple or honey gels. I love honey gels in training, but they're a bit thicker than maple syrup; during races, I prefer to use maple gels.
Untapped makes some fun gel flavours. Pure maple is still my favourite, but they're all good, and I do enjoy their coffee maple gel for a good caffeine kick!
BRIX has a little sea salt added to their gel, which is nice during hard sessions when you're sweating and need to replenish sodium stores.
Isotonic gels means that the gel has already been mixed to the correct water/electrolyte balance. With gels like Gu, you're actually supposed to drink a bit of water when you take the gel, but with isotonic gels you don't have to worry about that. This also means they won't glue your mouth shut when you take them, which is great when you're breathing hard during a race. Neversecond was another recommendation by my friend Johnny (also mentioned above!). I was taking another brand of Isotonic gel, which admittedly tasted not great, and occasionally Maurten, which I actually find too sweet and make my stomach feel like it has a brick in it. Neversecond gels are delicious. I love the Cola flavour if I want a caffeinated one. My other favourite flavour is Passionfruit... Johnny likes Fruit Punch and Citrus best. Really, they're all delicious and you can't go wrong.
Photo by Brian Sharp
Fuel your workouts, and happy snacking!