Originally Published: on Triathlete.com
The definitive list of off-the-shelf fuel for on-the-go triathletes.
Bars & Bites
Whatever your diet, there’s a bar for that.
Certified organic and new to the Clif family, these Fruit Smoothie Filled Bars (Clifbar. com; $21/box of 12) are high in carbs (29g) but relatively low in protein (5g), making them a sweet pick during workouts.
Rise (Risebar.com; $28/box of 12) is a tasty choice for athletes seeking clean post-workout fuel. Depending on the flavor, Rise bars contain 5-20g of protein and 20-25g of carbs. Food allergies? Rise promises all of its products are peanut, soy, gluten, and preservative free.
Infuse hemp seeds and 10g of protein into your post-workout fuel plan with Hail Merry Bar Bites (Hailmerry.com; $36/per 12 pack). Or try Grain-Free Superfood Bars from Purely Elizabeth (Purelyelizabeth.com; $28/ box of 12) with hemp seeds and Reishi mushroom extract. Both options are gluten-free and non-GMO.
When strength training requires high-protein recovery, reach for a
One Bar (One1brands.com; $25/box of 12)–with 20g protein (the highest in our “Bars and Bites” category). Or grab one of these options, each with 15g of protein: Musclepharm Plant-Based Organic Protein Bar (Musclepharm.com: $30/ box of 12) or Bonk Breaker Premium Protein Bar (Bonkbreaker.com; $36/box of 12) with beef-based protein.
Simple, all-natural ingredients with high carbs and 12g of protein make these date-based, egg white and nut bars aces for workouts and recovery: Epic Performance Bar(Epicbar.com; $19/box of nine) and RXBar (Rxbar.com; $26/box of 12).
Or try an easy-to-eat date-based vegan bar: gluten-free non-GMO Picky Bars(Pickybars.com; $28/box of 10), with 24g of carbs, and 7g of protein. Mode Raw Energy Blocks (Myfitmode.com; $25/bag of 12) are another date-based option with only 180 calories, 10g of fat, 23g of carbs, and 6g of protein.
Huge fan of nut butters? Try Luna’s Creamy Dreamy Peanut Butter Bar (Clifbar.com; $21/box of 12) or a Honey Stinger Organic Cracker N’ Nut Butter Snack Bar(Honeystinger.com; $26/box of 12). Both rate high in deliciousness but are a little crumbly. Best to savor these tasty treats post workout.
Sis’s Energy + Protein Bar (Scienceinsport.com; $48/box of 24) is the highest-carb offering in our “Bars and Bites” list, topping out
at a whopping 36g. It also contains 10g of protein, along with 80mg of sodium and 238mg of potassium.
For Keto adherents, Dang (Dangfoods.com; $30/box of 12) offers a low-sugar, plant-based, gluten-free option with just 11g of Stevia-sweetened carbs. Ranging between 9-10g of protein, these 200-calorie bars are a light post-workout snack option.
Gels & Liquids
Designed to provide enegy during exercise, these fuel options are not created equal.
Coromega’s Max Ketogenic MCT Energy (Coromega.com; $6 per 4-ounce pouch/7 servings) is a high-fat/low-carb oil-based fuel designed to be ingested pre-workout. Each 60-calorie serving delivers 6g of fat and just 5g of slow-burning sugar.
SiS Go Isotonic Energy (Scienceinsport.com; $11/six-pack) gel provides 22g of carbs and 87 calories via maltodextrin, a complex carb that’s metabolized more slowly than simple sugars like fructose or dextrose. (It’s also less sweet in taste.) Try SiS’ Go Energy Electrolyte (Scienceinsport.com; $7/six-pack) formula for added magnesium, chloride, sodium, and potassium.
Looking for more natural ingredients? Try Huma Chia Energy Gel (Humagel.com; $8/ box of 8) with 27g of carbs from a mix of fruit, syrups, juices, and chia seeds. Honey Stinger’s Energy Gel (Honeystinger.com/$36 box of 24) gets much of its 27g of carbs via honey.
Accel Gel (Pacifichealthlabs.com; $31/box of 24) offers protein (5g) with carbs (20g) and is infused with 100 percent of the RDA of vitamins C and E—along with some sodium and potassium—making it a contender for both on-the-go and fast recovery fuel.
Carb Boom! (Boomnutrition.com; $10/six-pack), Gu Energy (Guenergy.com; $36/box of 24), and Hammer Nutrition (Hammernutrition.com; $8/six-pack) all offer easy-to-digest gels in a bevy of flavors for use during workouts and competitions. All three tout the complex carb maltodextrin in their respective products, which provides energy over a longer time period than simple sugars.
Powdered Drink Mixes
SiS Beta Fuel (Scienceinsport.com; $36/12-pack) delivers 320 calories, 80g of carbs, along with essential electrolytes. Floyd’s of Leadville Hydration Fuel(Floydsofleadville.com; $40/1-pound bag) has half the calories and carbs of SiS Beta Fuel(and 5mg of THC-free CBD).
Gatorade’s Endurance Formula bulks up on sodium and potassium (Gatorade.com; $29/32-ounce container), and Skratch Labs Hydration Mixes (Skratchlabs.com; $35/20-pack) have electrolytes and 90 calories or less.
Our favorite plant-based, high-protein recovery powders with vitamins and minerals: Amazing Grass Organic Protein & Kale (Amazininggrass.com; $33/17.5-ounce container); Hammer Nutrition’s Vegan Recoverite (Hammernutrition.com; $60/32 servings); Mode Plant-Based Protein Powder (Myfitmode.com; $38/16.5-ounce bag); Plantworks Plant-Protein Powder with Super Herbs (Myplantworks.com; $15/five-pack); Revere Post-Workout Cardio Recovery (Revere.co; $20/eight-pack); and the high-protein leader (30g) Vega Sport Premium Protein (Myvega.com; $50/20-serving tub).
For an all-natural hydration alternative, Untapped Ginger Mapleaid (Untapped.cc; $16/eight-pack); its only ingredients are organic maple sugar, ginger, and sea salt.
PaleoPro Protein Powder (Paleopro.com; $43/1-pound bag) delivers zero carbs with 26g of protein in a 120-calorie serving, and, as its name implies, this paleo-diet-friendly recovery powder derives its protein from beef and eggs.
Beyond Bars, Gels, & Mixes
Inspired by America’s favorite snack foods, these options target athletes looking for a boost beyond Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
A miniaturized breakfast favorite has landed in the sports nutrition category: The Organic Honey Stinger Waffle (Honeystinger.com; $22/box of 16) and the Gu Energy Stroopwafel (Guenergy; $24/16-pack) each come in at around 150 calories with between 21-23g of carbs. Like the original, these waffles are a blend of starch and sugar for quick, on-the-go energy hit.
Tired of sweet recovery fuel? Made In Nature Organic Veggie Pops Supersnacks(Madeinnature.com; $5/3-ounce bag) lists superfoods like kale, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and chickpeas among its top ingredients. At 140 calories and about 10g of protein with 270mg of sodium per serving, these crunchy treats are a fast, post-workout alternative. Another option is Vega’s Protein Crisps (Myvega.com; $30/box of 12 1.6-ounce bags), made with brown rice and delivering 15g of protein per serving. Or try Kodiak Cakes Jalapeno Cornbread (Kodiakcakes.com; $2.25 per cup) in a cup; prepare with milk instead of water for an extra protein boost.
There are a host of great nut butters—in single-serving pouches—for athletes who seek slow-burning fuel on the go: Fbomb (Dropanfbomb.com; $25/10-pack), which is made with macadamia nuts and other wholesome goodness; Muir Energy (Muirenergy.com; $20/six-pack)—almond, cashew, or hazelnut butters infused with ingredients like cacao and molasses for an extra carb boost; and Justin’s (Justins.com; $14/10-pack), a brand that mixes it up with cashew and almond butter offerings—some sweetened with maple sugar. Or try Justin’s butter cups covered in dark chocolate—better than Reese’s.
For a milkshake that pushes protein levels to new heights, try Fairlife’s Core Power Elite (Fairlife.com; check local retailer for pricing) for recovery. With 42g of complete protein, 11g of carbs, and 240 calories in a 14-ounce bottle, it’s also high in potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and D.
For lactose-intolerant or vegan athletes, Koia (Drinkkoia.com;
check local retailer for pricing) offers almond milk infused with plant-based proteins like brown rice, peas, and hemp, bringing total protein to 18g per 12-ounce bottle.
Instead of reaching for a high-carb drink after a light workout, consider Bru Bone Broth(Brubroth.com; $70/six-pack). A 16-ounce bottle is under 100 calories, offers about 5g of protein, and is high in several vitamins and sodium.
The world’s most popular–and legal, to a point*–performance–enhancing drug has found its way into the bars, tablets, and gels shown here.
Honey Stinger Energy Gel in Chocolate and Strawberry Kiwi Flavors(Honeystinger.com; $36/box of 24)—32mg caffeine (from green tea) per shot
Nuun Hydration Energy Ginger Lemonade Tablets
(Nuunlife.com; $7/ tube of 12 tablets)— 40mg caffeine per tab
Picky Bars Smooth Caffeinator Bar
(Pickybars.com; $20/10 bars)—11mg of caffeine
Vega Sport Energizer Plant-based drink mix
(Myvega.com; $40/tub of 25 servings)—100mg caffeine per serving
Verb Energy Co. Caffeinated Energy Bites
(Verbenergy.com; $22/bag of 12 bars)—65mg caffeine (from green tea) per 90-calorie bite
GU Roctane Energy Gel Chai Latte
(Guenergy.com; $60/ box of 24)—35mg caffeine per shot
Revere Pre-Workout Energy Drink Mix
(Revere.co; $40/16-packets)—100mg caffeine
*The World Anti-Doping Agency continues to monitor the use of caffeine in sport, and in 2019 the substance is once again on the agency’s watchlist. The NCAA frowns on too much caffeine during competition; somewhere in the neighborhood of 500mg taken two to three hours before competition is almost guaranteed to cause a positive drug test.