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2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Nutrition

  • By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D.
  • Published Apr 24, 2012
  • Updated Apr 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM UTC
Photo: Jon Davis

PowerBar Ironman Perform $17.99

Best for: During a workout

The different sugars in Ironman Perform can increase the total rate of fluid and carbohydrate absorption, leading to more oxygen and energy available to working muscles. The high sodium levels will pay off in hot, humid conditions when you need to replenish what’s lost in sweat to prevent cramping. When you don’t feel like mixing your own drink, Perform also comes in ready-to-drink bottles. The 70 calories listed on the nutrition label is for an 8-ounce serving, but the bottles are 20 ounces or closer to 200 sugary calories. The upshot? Use for sustained, intense exercise lasting longer than one hour, not for sipping at your office desk. Powerbar.com

Cytomax Sports Performance Drink Stick Packs $0.89

Best for: During a workout

Available in pomegranate berry, cool citrus, tropical fruit and tangy orange flavors, each stick contains 22g of carbs from multiple sources to hasten absorption. Because you never know when you’ll need fuel for a supercharged workout, stash a few in your luggage, gym bag and glove compartment. Stevia replaces the artificial sweeteners, and the sticks contain more sodium than many of its counterparts—120mg per stick pack—making it especially useful for hot, sweaty conditions. With a few good shakes the powder blends easily. Cytosport.com

Nuun Hydration Tablets $6.50

Best for: During a workout

When you want to replenish electrolytes such as sodium and potassium without the sugary calories, drop one of these tablets in your water bottle or hydration pack and watch it fizzle. It won’t leave a messy residue behind like some energy drink powders can. The 12-tablet tubes are available in 11 flavors ranging from Kona cola to lemon tea. Water never tasted so good. Nuun.com

Accelerade Sports Drink $30

Best for: Before or during a workout

Carbohydrate and protein in a 4-to-1 ratio team up to create an energy drink proven by sound research to boost hydration and extend endurance. Protein may encourage muscle cells to take up more sugar at a faster rate to help prevent your legs from fighting back. A generous 190mg of sodium per serving makes it a good addition to a water bottle when battling the heat. Available in orange, fruit punch, lemon lime, lemonade and mountain berry flavors, it’s a bit tough to mix and may leave a film behind, so be
forewarned if adding to hydration bladders. Pacifichealthlabs.com

Hammer HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink) $28

Best for: During a workout

Easily digested maltodextrin, a short-chain starch sugar, helps you go longer
and harder. Unlike several other sports drinks, you’ll find the mild-tasting offerings from HEED to be less cloyingly sweet. A full electrolyte profile helps bid adieu to performance-sapping cramps while the addition of L-carnosine may buffer lactic acid. For best mixing, combine powder with less water than suggested, shake well and then add your remaining water. Available in four flavors as well as unflavored. Hammernutrition.com

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