End Trail Hanger! A Taste-Tester's Guide to Sports Nutrition from Interbike 2017 5

In search of the best trail food available, Vital MTB unleashed a 'food snob' on an entire trade show of free-sample tables. These are her findings.

End Trail Hanger! A Taste-Tester's Guide to Sports Nutrition from Interbike 2017

Whether you’re heading out for a quick-rip or an all-day epic, giving your body the fuel and hydration it needs is paramount. We’ve all experienced bonking, hanger, and the dehydration hangover to some degree. They can turn a ripping good time into a struggle when your mind won’t work and is focused on food that’s miles away rather than enjoying the ride. Fueling before, during, after, and even throughout the day is one sure way to keep the good times rolling. 

While exploring the halls of Interbike in Las Vegas, Nevada, we "took lunch" by pinballing between the nutrition booths to see what they had to offer. Here are some of the goodies we found from easily available brands. Consider throwing them into your pockets and packs for that next ride...


Skratch Labs

Skratch Labs is focused on using clean ingredients, and you can taste it. No artificial flavors, sweeteners, additives, or binding agents. They have been on our radar and in our shopping carts since Interbike last year after giving their coffee flavored recovery drink a try. Super yummy. They were one of our first stops this year to see what was happening and have some mid-show refreshments.

Skratch Labs Drinks

Two new flavors of their Sport hydration drink mix, Strawberry and Passion Fruit, kept us trolling by for refills. Flavored with real dehydrated fruit and reformulated to have more electrolytes than before, these are not the super-sweet drink flavors that leave you wanting a water chaser. They are clean, delicious flavors you want to drink all day.

Skratch Labs is focused on using clean ingredients, and you can taste it.

Turns out you actually can drink them all day with Skratch Labs’ new Anytime hydration drink mixes. Available in Lemon Lime and Passion Fruit flavors, this mix has fewer calories, less electrolytes, and less sugar than the Sport hydration drink mix. You can can stay hydrated throughout the day with less guilt, and your body will be primed to hit the trail.

Skratch Labs Sport and Anytime Hydration Drink FAQ

  • 40% less sugar than leading traditional sports drinks
  • Low calorie
  • New Strawberry and Passion Fruit flavors
  • Sport Hydration nutrition: 80 calories, 380mg sodium, 54mg potassium, 45mg calcium, 40-49mg magnesium, 20g total carbohydrate, 19g sugar per 16 oz drink
  • Anytime Hydration nutrition: 50 calories, 100mg sodium, and 11g sugar per 16 oz drink
  • Non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, kosher, and vegan

Skratch Labs Bars

Expanding out from their known drink mixes and fruit drops, Skratch Labs has entered the realm of energy bars. Once they worked out a good binding ingredient that adhered to their standards for clean eating, they were ready to start creating. Made with easily digestible and fast absorbing real ingredients including fruits, nuts, and quinoa, they pack enough fuel to power you through your workouts or to use as a quick bite throughout the day. To start, Skratch Labs energy bars will be available in three flavors: Chocolate Chips & Almonds, Cherries & Pistachios, and Ginger and Miso.

Yes, you read that right. Ginger and Miso. That caught our attention too.

Giving it a try, the ginger is definitely the forward flavor followed by the slightly salty umami flavor that is indeed found in that bowl of soup accompanying a meal of sushi. While on trail, we can feel like we can’t stomach another energy bar that tastes like a Snickers. This might not be the burger we fantasize about but is definitely a break from the bars that are debatable whether or not they came from the candy isle.

Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bars FAQ

  • Less sugar than traditional leading energy bars
  • Three new flavors: Chocolate Chips & Almonds, Cherries & Pistachios, and Ginger & Miso
  • Nutrition per serving: 200-210 calories, 120-210mg sodium, 3-7g sugar, 4-5g protein
  • Non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, kosher, and vegan

Keep an eye out for these Skratch made Sport drinks. They're available now. Everyday drinks and bars will be available mid-October.

Shop for Skratch Labs products | www.skratchlabs.com


CLIF Bar

Like a Vegas buffet, CLIF had a smorgasbord of snacks laid out in rows grouped in categories for before, during, after, and on-the-go. Where to start? Might as well do the buffet routine and have a taste of everything.

CLIF BLOKS Energy Chews

One of the first standouts to us were the new CLIF BLOKS energy chew flavors: Ginger Ale, Salted Watermelon, and Spearmint. None were grossly sweet and as they always do, the flavor and a bit of the BLOK sticks to your teeth for a lasting flavor. The Ginger Ale and Salted Watermelon are good additions to the BLOKS flavor collection. The Spearmint, contrary to our initial concerns, was not entirely like eating a squishy dinner mint or swallowing your gum. This is a flavor that could be refreshing on trail. Especially when you get that dirty mouth feel from mouth breathing.

The Spearmint, contrary to our initial concerns, was not entirely like eating a squishy dinner mint or swallowing your gum. This is a flavor that could be refreshing on trail.

CLIF BLOKS FAQ

  • Provide quick, chewable, energy during activity
  • 33 calories per cube
  • Made with organic brown rice syrup, a minimally refined source of carbohydrate with naturally occurring sodium, potassium, and magnesium
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Made with organic ingredients and sea salt
  • Available flavors: Ginger Ale (new), Salted Watermelon (new), Spearmint (new), Black Cherry with Caffeine, Citrus, Cran-razz, Margarita with 3x Sodium, Mountain Berry, Orange with caffeine, Strawberry, and Tropical Punch with Caffeine

CLIF Organic Energy

Resuming our browsing of the CLIF buffet... protein bars, trail mix bars, SHOT gels, Nut Butter-filled bars, and astronaut food. Sure, it’s not our first space rodeo. We would pack the Organic Energy Food Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal and Sweet Potato with Sea Salt flavors for a trip to the moon. These are a fast shot of calories and flavor that are as on-the-go as any snack could be. Designed to provide endurance athletes with energy and nutrients from real food ingredients. No wrapper. No crumbs. Babies may give you dirty looks because they think you stole their food, however. 

No wrapper. No crumbs. Babies may give you dirty looks because they think you stole their food, however.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal truly tastes like a bowl of oatmeal. Breakfast on the run, in the car, and totally not late for a morning ride meet-up. Then on that long trail ride when we would be longing for a savory meal, the Sweet Potato with Sea Salt would be our go-to. Of course there are nuts and jerky, but some Thanksgiving comfort food in a tube could sure hit the spot. We enjoyed the salty flavor with the sweet potato sweetness. We’ll take a second taster cup with us for our continued exploration of what Interbike has to offer.

Of course there are nuts and jerky, but some Thanksgiving comfort food in a tube could sure hit the spot.

CLIF Organic Energy Food Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal FAQ

  • 140 calories, 150mg sodium, 180mg potassium, 13g sugar, and 3g protein per pouch
  • Made with Organic Oatmeal, Organic Apple Puree, Organic Apple Juice Concentrate, Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, Organic Quinoa, Organic Maple Syrup, Sea Salt, Organic Cinnamon, and Citric Acid
  • Consume 2-3 hours before activity
  • USDA organic, non-GMO, kosher

CLIF Organic Energy Food Sweet Potato with Sea Salt FAQ

  • 200 calories, 550mg sodium, 540mg potassium, 9g sugar, and 4g protein per pouch
  • Made with Organic Sweet Potato Puree, Organic Carrot Puree, Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, Organic Potato Powder, Organic Apple Juice Concentrate, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Quinoa, Sea Salt, and Citric Acid
  • For long distance activity
  • USDA organic, non-GMO, gluten free, kosher

These flavors of CLIF BLOKS and Organic Energy Food are available now.

Shop for CLIF Bar products | www.clifbar.com


GU

Everyone knows GU for their ooey-gooey energy gels, but they also have a broad collection of hydration drink mixes, recovery drink mixes, and energy chews. All these products contain complex and simple carbohydrates for energy, as well as essential amino acids for mental and muscular support. GU’s product formulation means your body doesn’t work overtime to digest these components. They are pretty much the equivalent of an adrenaline shot to the heart to pick you up out of the dirt when you are otherwise ready to tap out. There are even Roctane formulas and for those who love hammering for hours with even more sodium (aiding in hydration) and branched-chain amino acids. 

GU Stroopwafels

That’s all well and good, but what really caught our eye at GU was their Stroopwafels. Inspired by the 18th century Netherlands, we can imagine our little Norwegian grandmother getting all excited about this Dutch-style syrup waffle like she did for lingonberry crepes at IHOP. (Miss you, Grandma.) After our first taste, we could definitely see how these would be a good accompaniment to a cup of coffee – black, no sugar. The texture was like a pizzelle sandwich with a thin GU gel center. There were four flavors out for tasting: Coconut, Gingerade, Campfire S’mores, and Hot Chocolate. Coconut and Gingerade might have been our two favorites. Keeping to their focus on performance, the GU Stroopwafels also contain the electrolytes and amino acids needed to fuel you for exercise. As we munched on one in the Interbike Press Room, we did discover that they can be quite messy. Our advice: you should probably bite through your Stroopwafels. Don’t try breaking them into bite-size pieces.

After our first taste, we could definitely see how these would be a good accompaniment to a cup of coffee – black, no sugar.

GU Stroopwafel FAQ

  • Gluten free flavors: Coconut, Wild Berries, and Salted Chocolate
  • Caffeinated flavors: Wild Berries and Caramel Coffee
  • 140-150 calories, 75-150mg sodium, and 10g sugar per waffle depending on the flavor
  • 450mg branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine, valine, and isoleucine
  • Created for daily use before and during training and competition
  • Made with organic ingredients (55% to 95% organic depending on flavor)

Stroopwafels are on shelves now.

Shop for GU products | www.guenergy.com


Nuun

Nuun is a brand we became familiar with in college when their little fizzing electrolyte drink tablets pulled double duty by fueling our rides and nursing our hangovers. Compared to then-popular, artificially colored, bottled electrolyte drinks, Nuun’s light flavor was refreshing on trail and palatable after too mucho margaritas. Now that we are older and wiser (maybe), we thought we would pay them a visit at Interbike and see what was new.

We discovered that Nuun not only offers electrolyte drink tablets, but they also have vitamin drink tablets for everyday drinking and a new performance drink mix for longer or more intense workouts.

Nuun Vitamins

The Nuun Vitamins is the more flavorful of the three drink lines and contains eleven vitamins and minerals plus a balance of electrolytes for everyday activity. The concentration of these per drink is less than taking a multi-vitamin pill. At just 10 calories per drink it allows you to enjoy more cups, which means you'll hydrate more throughout the day.

At just 10 calories per drink it allows you to enjoy more cups, which means you'll hydrate more throughout the day. 

Nuun Vitamins FAQ

  • Intended use: all day to stay healthy
  • One tube contains 12 tablets; each makes one 16-oz drink
  • Non-GMO sourced dextrose
  • Plant based sweeteners and ingredients to increase health benefits
  • Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free
  • One tablet is 10 calories with 2g of sugar
  • Vitamin content per tablet by daily recommended value: vitamin A (25%), vitamin C (11%), vitamin D (25%), vitamin E (13%), vitamin B6 (15%), and folic acid (34%) 
  • Electrolyte content per tablet: 100mg sodium, 150mg potassium, 15mg magnesium, 15mg calcium, and chloride 75mg
  • Caffeinated flavors contain 40mg of caffeine from green tea extract
  • Available in six flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate, Tangerine Lime, Grapefruit Orange, Strawberry Melon, Blackberry Citrus (with caffeine), and Ginger Lemonade (with caffeine)

Nuun Electrolytes

Since our college days, the Nuun Electrolytes line has been updated for better performance. This includes using non-GMO sourced dextrose and plant-based sweeteners and ingredients. Flavor wise there are thirteen to choose from with less intensity than in the Vitamins drink. Also only 10 calories per drink, this drink is full of electrolytes. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium help maintain fluid balance, prevent muscle cramps, relax muscles, and are required for normal muscle functions.

Nuun Electrolytes FAQ

  • Intended use: pre, during, and post workout
  • One tube contains 10 tablets; each makes one 16oz sports drink
  • Non-GMO sourced dextrose
  • Plant based sweeteners and ingredients to increase health benefits
  • Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free
  • One tablet is 10 calories with 1g of sugar
  • Vitamin content per tablet by daily recommended value: vitamin C (63%)
  • Electrolyte content per tablet: 360mg sodium, 100mg potassium, 25mg magnesium, and 13mg calcium 
  • Caffeinated flavors contain 40mg of caffeine from green tea extract
  • Available in thirteen flavors: Orange, Lemon and Lime, Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Tri-Berry, Grape, Tropical, Citrus Fruit, Watermelon, Cherry Limeade (with caffeine), Mango Orange (with caffeine), Fresh Lime (with caffeine), and Wild Berry (with caffeine)

Nuun Performance

The last of Nuun’s drink lineup is their new Performance drink. The Vitamin line has the most flavor intensity, followed by Electrolytes and finally Performance. Less sweet and available in two flavors, this drink is formulated to meet your body's needs while pushing yourself hard. A precise ratio of electrolytes and carbohydrates to fluid helps your system absorb the combination and put it to work. Ingredients – like dried fruit powder instead of flavoring and fillers – are easily digestible. Additionally, by being in a powder form rather than a tablet, Nuun cut out some of the extra ingredients needed to bind and dissolve a tablet.

Nuun Performance FAQ

  • Intended use: intense or long workouts
  • Available as a large pouch with 16 servings of 16oz drinks or as individually wrapped sachets
  • All certified non-GMO ingredients
  • Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free
  • Each 18g serving is 60 calories with 15g of carbs and 13g of sugars
  • Vitamin content per tablet by daily recommended value: vitamin C (6% dv)
  • Electrolyte content per tablet: 380mg sodium, 210mg potassium, 20mg magnesium, 17mg calcium, and 80mg chloride
  • Available in two flavors: Orange Mango and Blueberry Strawberry
  • No flavors contain caffeine

With three levels of drinks for vitamins, electrolytes, or mega electrolytes and so many flavors to choose from, there's no way we could try them all. Anyone could probably find a personal favorite among them. These are all made with quality ingredients – even the colors are natural, created from beet juice powder and riboflavin. Seems like a win, win, win.

Shop for Nuun products | www.nuunlife.com


Honey Stinger

The last stop on our self-guided Taste of Interbike was Honey Stinger. They make honey-based foods including energy bars, protein bars, energy gels, waffles, chews, kid-specific snacks, and even their own organic wildflower honey. Honey is rich in carbohydrates and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Not just a pet-name for your sweetie, honey is also a great source of fuel for your body. We're most familiar with the chews and waffles, and with some new flavors being added to their menu we definitely wanted to give those a try. 

Honey Stinger Organic Waffles

“In the morning, I’m making waffles.” Or at least that’s why we started at Honey Stinger. Honey Stinger waffle flavors have been delicious in the past, and the new gluten-free Chocolate Mint and Vanilla Chocolate flavors are on par. These thin waffles sandwich a thin layer of honey infused with flavor. They aren’t overly sweet which we again appreciate in a trail food option. Revisiting other waffle flavors out for sampling, gluten-free cinnamon or gingersnap were probably our favorites.

Honey Stinger waffle flavors have been delicious in the past, and the new gluten-free Chocolate Mint and Vanilla Chocolate flavors are on par. These thin waffles sandwich a thin layer of honey infused with flavor.

Honey Stinger Organic Waffles FAQ

  • USDA organic
  • Nutrition per waffle depending on flavor: 140-160 calories, 9-11g sugar, 19-21g carbohydrate, and 60-90mg sodium (150mg in Salted Carmel flavor)
  • Twelve flavors of waffles including 5 certified gluten-free (GF) flavors: GF Chocolate Mint Waffle, GF Vanilla Chocolate Waffle, GF Wildflower Honey Waffle, GF Cinnamon Waffle, GF Salted Caramel Flavored Waffle, Organic Strawberry Waffle, Organic Caramel Waffle, Organic Gingersnap Waffle, Organic Honey Waffle, Organic Chocolate Waffle, Organic Vanilla Waffle, and Organic Lemon Waffle

Honey Stinger Energy Chews

Honey Stinger Energy Chews are pretty much fruit snacks (or at least it’s hard to not eat them like fruit snacks). We haven’t met a Honey Stinger Energy Chew we didn’t like yet, including the new Strawberry flavor. These chews aren’t too sweet, are a perfect bite size, and don’t stick to your teeth. Sweetened with organic honey and tapioca syrup, they provide a natural and sustainable source of energy before or during exercise.

Honey Stinger Energy Chews are pretty much fruit snacks (or at least it’s hard to not eat them like fruit snacks).

Honey Stinger Energy Chews FAQ

  • 95% organic ingredients
  • Certified organic, certified gluten free, and fortified with 100% recommended daily value of vitamin C (except for caffeinated chews)
  • Caffeinated chews contain 32mg of white tea extract per package
  • 160 calories, 39g carbohydrate, 27g sugar, 80mg sodium, 40mg potassium, 1g of dietary fiber, and 1g of protein per packet
  • Available in nine flavors: Cherry Blossom, Pomegranate Passionfruit, Orange Blossom, Pink Lemonade, Grapefruit, Strawberry, Limeade (Caffeinated), Cherry Cola (Caffeinated), and Fruit Smoothie (a mixed bag of Cherry Blossom, Orange Blossom, and Mixed Berry flavors)

All of these delicious Honey Stinger Waffle and Energy Chew flavors are available now.

Shop for Honey Stinger products | www.honeystinger.com


Editor's Choice

What would our ideal trail ride include after taste-testing samples from these five nutrition brands that are easily available?

  • While gearing up in the parking lot, a Honey Stinger Waffle with some coffee would be a nice pick-me-up before striking out. No need to rush. This is a great time to catch up with your buds.
  • Our drink of choice for on the trail would be the Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink. The flavors are clean and refreshing while also providing good electrolyte content.
  • And for trail snacks, tucked in the pack will be Honey Stinger Energy Chews and a CLIF Organic Energy Food Sweet Potato with Sea Salt. The Honey Stinger Chews are delicious and easy to pop one or two in your mouth during short breaks to help sustain your energy. Then should we need something more savory, the CLIF Sweet Potato with Sea Salt will have us covered.
"May you never know trail hanger again."

- Courtney Steen, Vital MTB Women's Editor and Boyfriend-Proclaimed Food Snob

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