Get a sneak peek at the entire nutrition section from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer's Guide, which is on newsstands now.

Get a sneak peek at the entire nutrition section from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide, which is on newsstands now. Also, check out the digital edition.

Clif Shot Bloks Citrus Energy Chews $1.99

Best for: During a workout

These tangy, chewable shots of sugary energy are perfect for gummy bear lovers, for those who can’t stand the sticky mess gels can leave behind or those who don’t like the tough chew of many bars. The convenient 33-calorie cubes make it a breeze to customize your energy and sodium intake while training and racing. Environmentally conscious triathletes will also appreciate that most of the ingredients are organically sourced. Pop three to six for each hour of activity and consume with fluids. Clifbar.com

Gatorade G Series Pro Prime Pouch $2.29

Best for: Before a workout

Its package is as sexy as they come, but the real prize of this pre-workout fuel from the stalwart of the energy food gang is a 30g mixture of fast and slow-burning carbohydrates to keep energy levels up. A dose of B vitamins may improve energy metabolism, making it a potential game-changer. Because of its liquid form, it’s easy on the stomach—a lot easier to get down than most gels. Gatorade.com

Vega Sport Pre-workout Energizer $2.49

Best for: Before a workout

Designed by former professional Ironman athlete (and vegan) Brendan Brazier, this blend of plant-based ingredients in powder form is designed to give you a long-lasting boost. Brown rice syrup provides immediate energy for a fast start while slower burning organic palm nectar helps keep you in the zone. Natural stimulants such as yerba maté and green tea may add a mental boost. Blend a packet with 8 ounces of water and drink about 30 minutes before exercise. Vegasport.com

Honey Stinger Organic Honey Waffles $1.39

Best for: Before or during a workout

Waffles on a run? Who knew? These addictive energy parcels are inspired by the stroopwafel, a similar bakery item eaten by cyclists throughout Europe for many years as an anti-bonking fuel. The texture of each 160-calorie waffle is similar to a soft Pop Tart or freshly baked cookie. You can actually taste the honey, making them a flavorful alternative to energy bars (also available in vanilla and strawberry). And they’re good enough for a certain athlete named Lance Armstrong (a co-owner of the company). Honeystinger.com

Gu Energy Gels $1.25

Best for: During a workout

Each gel provides a shot of 100 calories to help keep you ahead of the pack. The amino acid and antioxidant blend may also slow the rate of muscle damage during exercise. We recommend the new peanut butter flavor—take it with water to speed the delivery of the ingredients into your system. For more demanding pursuits, try the Roctane series of Gu gels, which have extra sodium and provide a caffeine jolt. Guenergy.com

Kind Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters $6

Best for: Before or after a workout

A wholesome blend of gluten-free whole grains including brown rice, amaranth and salubrious quinoa is gussied up with a shot of peanut butter. Grab a few handfuls for a pre-workout snack or pour them into a bowl with some milk and dried fruit for a smart post-workout meal. Other stellar flavors include oats and honey, and chocolate and cranberry. Kindsnacks.com

Navitas Naturals Blueberry Hemp Power Snacks $9

Best for: Before or during a workout

Navitas has blended a handful of healthy superfood ingredients including dates, cashews, chia seeds, macqui powder, dried blueberries and hemp powder into convenient and chewy bundles of nutritional goodness. Pop two or three of these organic, raw squares (other flavors include cacao goji and citrus chia) before a workout or once every hour of exercise. Navitasnaturals.com

Probar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip $3.25

Best for: During or after a workout

A nice collection of healthy, mostly organic ingredients such as oats, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter, along with 393 calories to prevent your stomach from thundering, make this the ideal bar for the long haul or lunch on the fly. Epic exercise sessions give your body more time to digest and benefit from extra protein and fat calories. Theprobar.com

LaraBar Blueberry Muffin Bars $1.69

Best for: Before or during a workout

Larabar leads the crusade for wholesome bars made only with real food ingredients that even your grandma would recognize. Dates, cashews and blueberries make for a moderate glycemic bar, meaning it’ll provide sustained endurance instead of sending your blood sugar into a tizzy followed by a mid-run energy crash. At a reasonable 190 calories, it’s a perfect whole-food afternoon snack as well. Larabar.com

Earnest Eats Almond Trail Mix Bars $1.59

Best for: Before, during or after a workout

Oats, almond butter, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and walnuts team up to create a whole-food bar that is not only easy on the taste buds, but also impossibly moist. A healthy amount of carbohydrates—60 percent of total calories—can fuel you during training, but it also makes a satisfying on-the-go snack as the good balance of protein and fat will keep you feeling full. Earnesteats.com

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

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.

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Photo: Jon Davis
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Photo: Jon Davis
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Photo: Jon Davis
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Photo: Jon Davis