With hundreds of sports nutrition products on the market, the once simple process of choosing a gel or sports drink now requires a degree in sports nutrition. Follow this guide to simplify the selection process.
What you need: Your specific pre-training/racing needs depend on your body weight and the amount of time you have between ingestion and start time. However, whether you have 15 minutes or two hours until you start exercising, focusing on adequate fluids plus carbohydrates that go down easily and digest quickly will leave you feeling energized when you begin your effort.
What to look for: 25-45g of carbohydrate, up to 12g of protein. Bonus points for 100–200mg of sodium.
My favorites: If you have more than two hours before your workout and a high training volume, choose ProBar. With 42g of carbs, 11g of protein and an organic ingredient list of real foods, it merges healthy snack and sports fueling perfectly. My favorite is cocoa pistachio, with oats, seeds, pistachios, cacao nibs and 760mg of omega-3 fats per bar. If you have one hour, try Hammer Ultimate Energy Bar. With 26g of carbs and 9g of protein, this gluten-free, vegetarian bar is easy to both chew and digest. If you have just 15 minutes, eat Gatorade Prime Energy Chews. Each pack of four tasty, fast-acting chews contains 31g of carbohydrates and vitamins B3, B5 and B6. These chews have saved me many times when I needed quick fuel for a last-minute workout. Keep a pack in your desk and gym bag to ensure you can work out whenever and wherever the chance arises.