This is a guide to various endurance nutrition products available. The objective is to help you choose the right products for your needs, and to understand the differences between the various brands and what’s available.
I’ll try the products myself and give my most objective review possible. Sometimes I buy them myself and other times they may be sent to me, but either way all of these reviews are unpaid and honest.
Also, I will ask each brand the same questions:
What is it? 1-2 short, succinct sentences summarizing the brand or the specific product.
How is it different? What’s the unique selling point? Why should we buy this one over a competitor?
Who is it best for or what applications is it at its best? Longer races (70.3s to fulls)? Recovery? Fat-adapted athletes? Vegans?
What forms does it come in and why? (Mix, tablet, bar, gel, chew, etc) It could be individually-wrapped blister tablets for ease of carrying during running, powders to mix in your drink on the bike, etc.
A link to buy it with a discount code
PH has been a favourite product of mine for a few years now and it’s the one that really helped me dial in my sodium. It’s the most popular sodium or electrolyte product among my friends, but it’s expensive. That may be a good thing, though, especially in this sport. Anyway, who uses cheap equipment?
Following are the answers to questions I’ve asked PH:
What it is
Precision Hydration provide multi-strength electrolyte supplements that match how you sweat.
How it’s different
The main electrolyte lost in sweat is sodium and everyone loses a different amount of sodium when they sweat – from as little as 200mg per litre to as much as 2,000mg per litre – so a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hydration simply doesn’t work.
The focus of Precision Hydration is to provide a personalised service for athletes, which is why their electrolytes come in four different strengths – PH 250, PH 500, PH 1000, PH 1500, with the strongest PH 1500 containing 3 times more sodium than typical sports drinks.
Who it’s best for
PH is ideal for athletes who are looking to optimise their hydration strategy. Whether you’re an athlete who suffers with cramps, struggles in the heat, loses plenty of sodium in your sweat or you sweat profusely, PH provide Sweat Tests, supplements and advice to help you refine your hydration plan.
Who it isn’t ideal for
An athlete who isn’t a particularly salty or heavy sweater, or perhaps isn’t putting in huge amounts of hours in training or races, might not see the greatest benefit, compared with athletes who accumulate large sweat losses.
But if you think you could do with tweaking your hydration strategy, then PH provide the solutions you need.
On that note, feel free to email Hello@PrecisionHydration.com with any hydration-related questions you might have.
What forms it comes in and why (mix, tablet, bar, gel, chew, etc).
PH electrolyte supplements come in three formats – all-natural drink mixes, low-calorie effervescent tablets, blister-packed salt capsules – because all athletes and sports are different, and so they have different needs.
Many athletes will make use of each of the different forms in different scenarios or at different times before, during and after events.
For more information on the differences between the PH supplements, check out this blog.
Use the discount code IRONMANHACKS at the PrecisionHydration.com checkout to get 15% off your entire first order of PH electrolytes.
Following are the answers to questions I’ve asked UCAN:
What it is
What underlies UCAN’s products is SuperStarch, a unique complex carbohydrate that gives you energy without the spike and crash of sugar. Non-GMO corn starch is cooked through a patented 40 hour all-natural heating process to create SuperStarch, initially discovered for kids with a rare metabolic disorder. The breakthrough in carbohydrate technology has found applications in endurance sports through The UCAN Company.
How it’s different
SuperStarch provides steady, long-lasting energy rather than the spike and crash profile of simple sugars and maltodextrin, which are the two high glycemic carbohydrates that underlie nearly every product in the endurance sports nutrition marketplace.
Steady energy leads to many athletes finishing their workouts and races stronger, and without bonking. Due to the low osmolality of SuperStarch, it clears the stomach very quickly reducing the chances of sloshing, bellyaches, nausea, unplanned porta-potty stops and other forms of GI distress.
UCAN’s powders have no sugar in them for a healthier way to fuel. There is also evidence from peer-reviewed double-blinded studies to show that blood sugar remains more stable as compared to maltodextrin, insulin remains muted, and may therefore improve the body’s ability to burn fat.
Who it’s best for
UCAN is really for any athlete looking to finish stronger. It’s a clear choice for any triathlete who has experienced GI distress or has hit the wall in a workout or race, or for any athlete looking for a healthier way to fuel rather than chronically ingesting sugar.
Athletes in the fat-adapted and diabetic communities have latched onto SuperStarch’s ability to stabilize blood sugar and improve fat oxidation.
Men and women of all levels have found UCAN to be ultra-compelling including 17 hour IRONMAN finishers all the way up to Tim O’Donnell who placed 2nd in Kona 2019 in sub-8 hours.
UCAN has a number of products in its line up that are vegan-friendly (anything without whey protein listed in the ingredients).
Who it isn’t ideal for
Since SuperStarch is a form of cornstarch, anyone with a corn allergy should not use UCAN.
And if you’ve already bonked, simple sugars will be more effective to bring you back than SuperStarch due to the steadier nature of the carbohydrate.
What forms it comes in and why (mix, tablet, bar, gel, chew, etc)
UCAN has three main product lines with plans to expand that in the future. Currently, UCAN offers SuperStarch powders, UCAN Anytime Energy Bars and UCAN Hydrate.
The SuperStarch powders are labeled UCAN Performance Energy, which is a powder that is mixed in fluid (typically water) to form a shake that is consumed pre, during or post-exercise to fuel your activity and help you recover quickly.
UCAN Bars are great anytime as snacks or pre/during training to fuel your effort.
UCAN Hydrate has no fuel and is solely for hydration purposes since it is simply composed of electrolytes and delicious natural flavors.
Sign up for the UCAN mailing list at www.generationucan.com to learn about future product launches coming in the first half of 2020.
The above link will provide 15% off on the person’s first order (US only)
I’ve seen PURE for years at races and have heard of friends who used it. I’ve tried it a few times and was immediately impressed with the taste of the drink – very mild and not overwhelming. But I have not tried all of the products.
But now, here’s an overview.
What it is
The PURE Sports Nutrition range is proudly produced in New Zealand and has been designed with sports science in mind. Our brand stands for high quality, natural products that work, containing no artificial ingredients or colours. The range has grown to provide high-quality products before, during and after your workouts.
How it’s different
All ingredients are carefully selected for quality & performance.
No artificial colours, flavours or ingredients.
High quality, real fruit & vegetable freeze-dried powders are used – creating a flavour unlike any other sports nutrition brand out there.
Who it’s best for
Products across the range are primarily designed for those engaging in regular exercise – anyone from beginners training for their first 5k run to elite athletes to competitors in ultra-marathon, multi-sport, Triathlon, Ironman, Spartan et
We also have Whey Protein and other recovery products with multiple health benefits
Who it isn’t ideal for
Some products are not suitable for pregnant women or children under 15 (those containing caffeine)
Some products are not suitable for those with lactose intolerance
What forms it comes in and why
Maltodextrin based. Maltodextrin is a short chain carbohydrate that is made up of glucose molecules. Compared to other sugars (such as fructose), many people find this base to be gentler on the stomach.
Natural fruit & fruit juices. The fruit flavourings reduce the harsh chemicals that come with artificial or flavouring, while giving the gels a very appealing & light taste which won’t leave a nasty aftertaste.
Sodium. This helps replace sodium lost through sweating and aids in the absorption of carbohydrates.
Filtered Water. The addition of water to this gel range makes the consistency extremely light (not thick & sticky) and very easy to consume while exercising.
PURE has two types of Gel :
The main difference in our gel ranges is the consistency. The Fluid Gel Range is liquid in consistency whereas the Energy Gel Range is closer to a traditional gel thickness (although not as thick as most other gels).
This means the Fluid Gel Range is slightly larger at 50g vs. the Energy gel range at 35g. We designed the Fluid Gel Range to be very easy to swallow, as we said it’s liquid in consistency so there is no need to struggle to ingest it while exercising.
Which one suits you? It really comes down to personal preference and what you are using it for. Many of our athletes use the Fluid Gel Range during higher intensity parts of their training/ racing or when it is harder to swallow i.e. running.
The Energy Gel Range is popular over longer distances, times where hunger sets in or to combat flavour fatigue (feedback is they look forward to these as a tasty treat while exercising).
Both also contain caffeinated and non-caffeinated flavours. Don’t be afraid to mix and match during training and racing to discover which combination of Fluid and Energy Gel Ranges meets your fuelling needs and excites the taste buds.
PURE Electrolyte Hydration is a natural isotonic electrolyte sports drink base, in powder form.
Made with a specific blend of sucrose and glucose which helps with rapid replacement of energy, PURE Electrolyte Hydration is designed to promote the availability of energy during exercise.
It’s not sickly sweet so you can easily drink it at full strength.
Contains the electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
When mixed with water to the correct amounts, PURE Electrolyte Hydration will assist with ensuring adequate fluid intake during exercise and to prevent or treat mild dehydration that may occur as a result of sustained strenuous exercise.
PURE Electrolyte Replacement Capsules are formulated to help maintain your body’s electrolyte levels and to help replace minerals lost during sustained strenuous exercise. They are also great in hot conditions when extra electrolytes are needed.
Contains the electrolytes sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium
80 capsules per bottle
Tasteless vegan capsules
No added carbohydrates
PURE Endurance Formula is a premium drink base specifically formulated with real fruit, carbohydrates, mineral salts and whey protein isolate
Perfect for strenuous exercise of 2 hours and over
Contains the electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium
4.2% carbohydrate content
1% protein content
PURE Beet Endurance is a powder made from concentrated beetroot juice with no additives or preservatives, and contains naturally occurring nitrates
Ideal for nitrate loading before big events
369mg nitrates in every 30g serving
Slightly sweet non-earthy taste profile
Convenient & easy to consume
Each pouch is equivalent to 1.6kg fresh beetroot juice
Recovery and Lifestyle products
PURE Blackcurrant Recovery is a concentrated powder made from real New Zealand blackcurrants.
100% New Zealand blackcurrants
The equivalent of over 30 blackcurrants in every serving
150mg of anthocyanins per serve
Good source of Vitamin C
200g pouch is equivalent to over 1kg of fresh blackcurrants
PURE Exercise Recovery powder makes a premium, natural post-exercise drink containing a delicious blend of raw organic cacao powder, milk proteins and New Zealand honey powder. Designed for post-endurance exercise recovery.
Contains 15g of milk proteins per serve and naturally occurring nutrients including the essential minerals calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium
Contains real New Zealand honey
16g proteins per serve
Whey Protein is a premium natural protein powder using New Zealand-made whey protein.
Formulated to provide your body with protein for optimum muscle tissue building and repair, PURE Whey Protein will also assist with supporting energy levels and weight control as part of a balanced lifestyle. PURE Whey Protein mixes easily and has a great natural taste profile.
WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE: PURE Whey Protein range uses only a premium quality New Zealand whey protein concentrate (82% protein), made with the milk from grass-fed cows. Whey protein contains one of the richest sources of branch chain amino acids, which has the benefit of assisting muscle recovery and health.
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