You can get just about any flavor of sports nutrition these days, from sweet to savory. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose? We put dozens of drinks, gels, chews, and bars to the test and picked out best bets for every palate preference—from unflavored to “wow, that’s weird!” Use this guide to find your favorite flavor for long rides, race day, and more.
Flavor Intensity Key
Tailwind Endurance Fuel Naked (Unflavored)
$38 | 50 servings
100 calories, 25g carbs, 310mg sodium
$28, 30 servings, rei.com
Slightly sweet, slightly tart, but with no distinctly overwhelming flavor, this “naked” option for calories and electrolytes is well tolerated when syrupy-sweet formulas seem too much. Despite it being a powder, the product mixes cleanly into a standard water bottle without any grittiness or clumping. –M.K.
Nuun Sport Citrus Fruit
$7 | 10 servings
10 calories, 4g carbs, 300mg sodium
$8, 10 servings, rei.com
Plop-plop, fizz-fizz—this effervescent electrolyte drink comes in handy tablets you can dissolve in your water bottle. The citrus fruit flavor is especially popular for a light taste that is well tolerated during rides and runs. –K.J.
Skratch Sport Hydration Lemon & Lime
$20 | 20 servings
80 calories, 21g carbs, 380mg sodium
$20, 20 servings, rei.com
This not-too-sweet lemon-lime blend combats palate fatigue on long rides. With no fructose or maltodextrin, it can also help some triathletes combat GI distress, too. Bonus: Skratch offers single-serving packets for on-the-go replenishment, simply drop in a bottle of plain water and go. –S.K.
Gatorade Endurance Orange
$20 | 38 servings
90 calories, 22g carbs, 310mg sodium
$29, 38 servings, gatorade.com
If you’re racing an Ironman-branded event this year, chances are you’ll be served this high-sodium formula in tiny paper cups. The orange flavor is exactly the same as you remember it from the giant dispensers at youth baseball games or soccer matches, but the endurance formula packs two times the sodium and three times the potassium. –S.K.
Gnarly Fuel2O Cherry Cola
$35 | 25 servings
100 calories, 25g carbs, 250mg sodium
$35, 25 servings, gognarly.com
This sports drink powder with a flavor profile reminiscent of a certain popular soda supplies a quick hit of easily digested carbs—perfect for when you need to drink your energy instead of eating it. There’s even a shot of caffeine (from green tea extract) that may help perk up your run, ride, or swim. –M.K.
Red Bull Original
$10 | 4 servings
111 calories, 26g carbs, 101mg sodium
$3, 1 serving, supermarkets and convenience stories
The most-consumed energy drink on the planet can be a triathlete’s best friend—so long as it’s only consumed on special occasions. The caffeine, sugar, and mild carbonation can be quite nice in the middle of a five-hour ride, or better yet, in your special needs run bag at your next Ironman. –B.C.
Boa Blast Berry Infusion
$20 | 25 servings
0 calories, 0g carbs, 150mg sodium
$20, 50 sprays, boablast.com
Don’t sip, spray! A two-second “blast” of this berry-flavored liquid delivers 150mg of sodium, absorbed through your mouth’s lining. It’s not a replacement for calories or hydration, but a good boost for water-only hydration plans or in hot and humid climates when traditional sports drinks just won’t cut it. –S.K.Section divider
$43 | 12 servings
100 calories, 25g carbs, 34mg sodium
$44, box of 12, maurten.com
25g of sugar…yet no flavor whatsoever. This plain goo is designed to match your gut’s osmotic pressure, so the texture is more gelatin than gel. Weird? Yes. Effective? Also yes. –K.J.
Endurance Tap Classic
$18 | 6 servings
100 calories, 25g carbs, 50mg sodium
$18, pack of 6, endurancetap.com
This thin-consistency gel forgoes the engineered sugars in favor of good old-fashioned maple syrup. A hint of ginger adds a little bit of excitement without feeling too overwhelming. –M.K.
Honey Stinger Gold
$37 | 24 servings
110 calories, 26g carbs, 45mg sodium
$2, 1 serving, rei.com
It turns out Mother Nature’s original energy gel still slaps. Honey Stinger Gold is 95% high-quality honey, making it slightly thicker than most energy gels, so bring water. If you’re into simple and delicious fueling, this is it. –B.C.
Hammer Gel Peanut Butter Chocolate
$2 | 1 serving
90 calories, 20g carbs, 35mg sodium
$2, 1 serving, hammernutrition.com
Why wait until the finish line to treat yourself? This rich peanut butter chocolate gel feels like you’re eating dessert in the middle of your race. –K.J.
GU Espresso Love
$36 | 24 servings
100 calories, 25g carbs, 60mg sodium
$39, box of 24, guenergy.com
One of the oldest GU flavors is still the gel GOAT, packing a ton of coffee flavor to go with 40mg of caffeine. It’s the ultimate in-case-of-emergency item to keep in your jersey pocket for when you hit the dreaded bonk. –B.C.
Science in Sport Turbo+ Blueberry Freeze
$13 | 6 servings
89 calories, 22g carbs, 20mg sodium
$7, pack of 6, scienceinsport.com
A hit of menthol provides the cooling “freeze” flavor in these isotonic gels, which also serve up carbohydrates and a hefty wallop of caffeine (150mg to be precise!). –S.K.
RELATED: A Half-Ironman (70.3) Nutrition PlanSection divider
Clif Bloks Ginger Ale
$41 | 18 servings
100 calories, 24g carbs, 50mg sodium
$3, 1 serving, rei.com
Similar to fruit snacks or gummy bears, these chews contain extra sodium, carbs, and electrolytes to get you through a big training session or race. The mild ginger ale flavor is a great alternative to the sugary sweetness of typical berry- or chocolate-flavored endurance treats. –K.J.
Honey Stinger Cookies and Cream Waffle
$18 | 12 servings
140 calories, 21g carbs, 90mg sodium
$18, box of 12, honeystinger.com
You’ll feel like a kid again when fueling with this creamy vanilla center pressed between two chocolatey wafers. Don’t resist the temptation to dip it into a mid-ride Americano—it’s the best pit stop you can imagine. –M.K.
Bearded Brothers Lone Star Vanilla Pecan Bar
$27 | 12 servings
200 calories, 23g carbs, 25mg sodium
$3, 1 serving, rei.com
Did someone order a slice of pie? This real-food combo of vanilla bean, pecans, dates, and cinnamon is a tasty and filling jersey pocket option for long rides. –B.T.
Solely Pineapple Fruit Jerky
$20 | 12 servings
70 calories, 17g carbs, 5mg sodium
$20, pack of 12, solely.com
Real-food fuelers, rejoice! This dried-fruit option made from organic pineapple smells great, chews easily, and packs a big natural-sugar punch. –B.T.
Joje Pancake and Bacon Bar
$36 | 12 servings
290 calories, 39g carbs, 180mg sodium
$3, 1 serving, rei.com
Each bite of this bar tastes like a trip to IHOP: maple syrup-slathered flapjacks with a side of bacon, coming right up. The texture has a perfect chew, and there is a nice balance of carbs, fat, and protein to power long training days. –M.K.
Green Bite Raw Power Cocoa-Orange Cricket Bar
$27 | 8 servings
349 calories, 33g carbs, 10mg sodium
$3, 1 serving, greenbite.ee
You read that right: crickets. The little critters are consumed globally as a snack, and now you can fuel on them with these sport nutrition bars. You’d never guess they’re the secret ingredient in this rich, chocolatey bar—the taste and texture are surprisingly non-cricket-y. –K.J.
From March/April 2022