2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Nutrition

Zico Coconut Water $1.99

Best for: Before or after a workout

With endorsements from a growing list of Hollywood A-listers, coconut water is all the rage. Gleaned from young green coconuts, the tangy water (not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk) is full of the electrolyte potassium and only 60 calories. It lacks the carbs needed to sustain prolonged exercise, but afterward no drink is more refreshing. Zico.com

CalNaturale Svelte $2.99

Best for: After a workout

The best post-workout drinks provide a mix of protein and carbohydrates, a dynamic duo shown to improve muscle recovery. With a 2-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio, these grab-and-go dairy-free tetra pack drinks deliver what athletes need to recharge quickly. Each sip is also fortified with vitamins and minerals, including bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Available in four rich flavors, with spiced chai particularly rousing the taste buds. Sveltebrand.com

First Endurance Ultragen Recovery Supplement $44.95

Best for: After a workout

Research indicates that within the first 60 minutes after a workout, muscle cells are particularly primed to absorb recovery nutrients. Loaded with fast-digesting whey protein and dextrose carbohydrate along with a collection of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, this drink by First Endurance is formulated to relieve tired bodies following a long, arduous exercise session. The powder lives up to its promise of mixing perfectly with just water and a spoon, but combine the caffeine-free cappuccino flavor with milk in a blender for a tasty milkshake-like drink. Firstendurance.com

Cytosport Vanilla Muscle Milk Naturals $48.49

Best for: After a workout

Not just for bull-necks, this stevia-sweetened powder with a blend of fast- and slow-acting proteins, maltodextrin carbohydrate, and vitamins and minerals can help triathletes recharge their engines. Just as important is what’s left out: no lactose, gluten or artificial flavors. It’s also guaranteed to be free of any banned substances that could land tested athletes in hot water. Use one scoop of vanilla or chocolate flavor after shorter workouts or up to two scoops following prolonged, hard exercise. Combine with liquid in a blender for best results. Muscle Milk is also available in ready-to-drink beverage forms. Musclemilk.com

Gu Recovery Brew $2.70

Best for: After a workout

Each 250-calorie serving dissolved in water provides a savvy mixture of whey protein, maltodextrin carbohydrate, immune-boosting glutamine, electrolytes, and vitamins C and E. Gu uses whey protein isolate as opposed to inferior whey concentrate, plus real fruit and vegetable juice for color instead of artificial stuff. Strawberry watermelon is the most pleasing flavor and has neither the medicine-like taste nor the grainy texture that befalls some fruit-flavored recovery powders. It’s also available in orange pineapple and chocolate smoothie. Guenergy.com

For more from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide purchase the digital issue.