What’s New in Performance Sports Nutrition – Our Favorites.
Outdoors Foodies, rejoice.
Performance sports nutrition has evolved beyond the sugar-loaded Gatorade, Tiger’s Milk bars, salty Slim Jims, and gritty Power Bars of our 1990s youth.
More than ever, product lines have expanded to appeal to a variety of taste preferences (e.g. sweet or savory), activities (e.g. meal replacements), and recommended uses (e.g. sports recovery drinks).
From organic savory seeds to CBD products, performance sports nutrition boasting gourmet flavors and constructed from thoughtfully sourced ingredients (e.g. plant-based, non-GMO, grass-fed bison, etc.) line the snack shelves in grocery stores and outdoor recreation stores.
Being faced with such a plethora of choices can be daunting. Whether it is updated packaging or entirely new products, the Engearment team has the latest on your (and our) favorite performance sports nutrition.
Clif Bar is constantly changing up its product line. From the short-lived savory and sweet squeezable organic energy food, to Clif Energy granola, the 27-year-old company is constantly finding new ways to diversify its offerings beyond the basic energy bar that it is most known for.
New to the Clif Bar line up is non-GMO Whole Lotta Clif Bar. Available in four flavors (Tart Cherry Almond, Salted Dark Chocolate, Roasted Peanut Chocolate, and Spiced Almond Ginger), the certified USDA organic fruit, nut, and seed bar is made for snacking (MSRP $1.99 each). Not sure which flavor you want to try? Buy a sampler four pack (MSRP $9.96)
“People seem to either love or hate Clif Bars, I personally love them. They’re reliable, they taste good and they have lots of options. From flavors to amount of protein to texture, I can select my bars based on what I need them for,”- Eliza
Another addition to the Clif Bar family are Clif Cubes.
If you prefer your nutrition in handy bite sizes, Clif Cubes could be your go-to. Filled with nut butter and all natural ingredients, they provide sustained energy throughout the day. Flavors include Double Peanut, Strawberry Banana, and Tart Cherry (MSRP $2.50 each)
“I have consumed more mint chocolate Cliff bars than I could ever keep track of and will continue to do so. Their nut butter filled products have revived the classic Cliff bar lineup and I’ve found the filling keeps them from turning into a hard to chew brick when dealing with freezing temps while backcountry skiing.” – Evan
After suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, former pro cyclist Floyd Landis created Floyd’s of Leadville premium CBD products to offer an alternative to prescription opioids.
Introduced in July, the Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Recovery Bar is the latest addition to the premium CBD line up. Boasting 25 mg of THC-free CBD isolate, 10 grams of plant protein, and 6 grams of sugar, the bar is intended for post-workout refueling and helping athletes cope with pain.
Two years in development, the recovery bar is comprised of 100 percent non-GMO ingredients such as organic honey, organic chocolate, flax seeds, chia seeds and more. MSRP is $4.99 each, or $59.88 for a box of twelve.
As of publishing time, the Engearment team is still testing the CBD Recovery Bar in different environments. Full review to come in our upcoming review of CBD products.
GU Energy Labs was one of the first companies to embrace a full spectrum of flavors for their energy gels. Now offered in 29 flavors, each gel has been assigned to one of five flavor profiles (sweet, sour, salty, savory, bitter).
Coming off the success of their hop-flavored gel Hoppy Trails (MSRP $1.50) introduced this spring, GU Energy is jumping on the coffee trend with the August 1 release of their newest and most caffeinated (70 mg, double the caffeine of other other ROCTANE energy gels) energy gel yet, ROCTANE Cold Brew Coffee (MSRP $2.50).
Energy Gels are a favorite among our Engearment team.
“I use GU Energy Gels and Honey Stinger Energy Gels on long, high-output cardio endeavors like long mountain bike rides, alpine rock climbs, and ski mountaineering. They are easily digestible, and are just enough calories to provide a nice bit of physical and mental re-charging without making your stomach feel like it’s digesting anything. The caffeine options are especially nice for any event with an alpine start; in fact on skimo races these packs are the only thing my body can digest after a couple hours; I consume one an hour and that keeps me from bonking. Both brands offer really good flavors.” – Drew
“I’m not really into overly sweet flavors. I love the bitterness of GU’s Hoppy Trails Energy Gel when I go hiking. Introduced earlier this month, the ROCTANE Cold Brew Coffee Energy Gel is now my go-to for long morning bike rides. I love the coffee-flavor and the energy. It helped me when I rode the Copper Triangle Alpine sportfif last weekend.” – Kate
Their most recent launches are a veritable gourmet flavorfest that outdoor foodies will appreciate:
- A 3-pack sampler of Smoked, Lemon Herb, and Savory Sofrito Mussels (MSRP $20 for 3 cans).
- Organic Savory Seeds available in Classic Barbecue, Chipotle Lime, and Mellow Curry flavors, are unlike any other snack. A unique combination of roasted whole seeds, buckwheat, lentils, and hemp provide a crunchy and tasty snack that you won’t be able to stop noshing on. Savory Seeds are sold in 12 packs (a 12 package variety pack is also available), MSRP $30.
- Made from 100% grass-fed free roaming American bison, Spicy Buffalo Jerky is packed with protein and offers a subtle spice from Aji Molido peppers. MSRP $10 for a single package. A ten package variety pack (MSRP $100) of original and spicy flavors is also available.
- Organic Spicy Red Bean Chili (MSRP $7 for a single pack) is the latest addition to the organic soup and chili line. Made from the same Aji Molido pepper used in the Spicy Buffalo Jerky, the spicy chili is made from red and pinto beans, veggies, and is packed with 13 grams of fiber and 13 grams of plant-based protein per serving. MSRP is $35 for 6 packages, and $65 for 12.
Tinned Mackerel will be launched in October.
“I have enjoyed the Savory Seeds on many splitboarding missions. They make an easy to share skin track snack. Offering a salty and savory flavor that seems to really appease my senses. I don’t care for sweet or bitter flavors. Nor do I care for sugar. The mix of lentils, seeds and complex flavors really satisfy. Once at the top of the mountain, I LOVE sharing a can of smoked mussels or salmon. It beats the usual PB&J.” – Sean
“The BBQ- flavored Savory Seeds and wild salmon are so good I’d splurge on these for those long-haul missions where I have a hard time getting food down at the end of the day, especially at high altitude.” – Aaron
Utah-based PROBAR has some new additions to their Meal Bar and Organic Nut Butter lines.
This July, PROBAR Meal Bar added two new flavors -Blueberry Muffin and S’mores- to its already impressive lineup of 12.
“Pro Bar meal is pricer than some other options but the higher calorie count makes it a great choice for backpacking or longer trips into the backcountry.” – Evan
Gluten-free, the PROBAR Meals Bars pack at least 9g of protein per serving and are naturally flavored. Requiring less hydration to break down and sometimes serving as a meal replacement, Meal Bars are intended to be taken before an activity in order to provide sustained energy throughout the day. MSRP $3 for individual bars and $41-$42 for a 12-pack.
New to PROBAR’s Organic Nut Butter line are some unusual but delicious flavors including Sriracha and Peanut Butter blend, Almond Butter blend, Koka Moka Almond Butter blend, and Peanut Butter blend. MSRP $2 for individual organic nut butter packets. MSRP for packs range in price from $9.99 (single flavor) to $24.99 (variety pack).
This summer, Skratch topped itself with new product flavors to their drink lines –Horchata Sports Recovery Drink Mix (MSRP $32.50), Fruit Punch Sport Hydration Drink Mix (MSRP $19.50)-, and new energy bars (MSRP $2.65) in sweet and savory flavors including: Raspberry & Lemons, Peanut Butter & Strawberry, and perhaps one of its most unconventional flavors yet, Parmesan, Sundried Tomatoes and Black Pepper. More from Skratch at Backcountry.com
“I use Skratch hydration, bars and chews. The hydration is the only one I have found that I can handle after 5+ hours on the bike and doesn’t make me gag when it gets warm. The bars and chews I use for my daily riding and training because they are vegan and taste really good. For racing I use hammer gel because similar to the skratch I can handle it for 5+ hours as my only source of fuel and it doesn’t make me sick. I have been testing different methods of nutrition for a few years now and the Skratch – Hammer combo has been the best so far. If only Skratch made gel too!!!”- Erin
“I agree with the love for Boulder-based Skratch Labs! I keep a pouch of their hydration mix in the back of my car during mountain bike season and love the caffeine boost of the matcha green tea flavor on long rides. Also as a fan of savory flavors I find their bars to have the most unique and enjoyable taste that I actually look forward to eating, only downside is that they can be hard to find,” – Evan
Some of our favorite outdoor brands (Honey Stinger, Lorissa’s Kitchen, and PROBAR) have undergone a brand refresh, while others (Taos Bakes, formerly Taos Mountain Energy) went big and did an entire rebrand.
For the first time in 17 years (with the exception of pro cyclist Lance Armstrong’s image briefly gracing product packaging before he was dropped as spokesperson in 2012), Steamboat Springs-based Honey Stinger has updated its brand identity.
With a new “Sweeten the Burn” tagline emphasizing its organic honey origins, Honey Stinger’s updated brand identity includes a modernized logo, color and minimalist font, brand statement and tagline on all its products. “Buzz” the honey bee mascot has been replaced with a cleaner, and bolder outline of a honeycomb.
“My favorite Honey Stinger product are the Organic Cracker Bars. Yeah, they’re kind of messy to eat because the cracker easily breaks apart and the chocolate melts (don’t leave them in your car), but they are the perfect treat.”- Kate
Introduced as snack bars in April 2018, Organic Cracker Bars are constructed of two multi grain crackers, nut butter, honey, and covered in chocolate and packed with 5g of protein and just 9 – 12g of sugar. Available in Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate, Almond Butter Dark Chocolate, and Cashew Butter Milk Chocolate flavors, MSRP is $26/40 box of 12, or $2.20/bar).
A favorite among some members of the Engearment team, Lorissa’s Kitchen is known particularly for their creative flavors such as Korean Barbecue Beef and Ginger Teriyaki Chicken.
Gluten-free and keto-friendly, Lorissa’s jerky and meat stick snacks are 100 percent grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, nitrates, or MSG.
The updated Lorissa’s Kitchen logo has removed the fork and includes new font. MSRP for strips and cuts 2.25 oz packages is $7. The 1 oz. beef sticks offer 6 g of protein and have an MSRP of $2. Entire line up here on Amazon.
“Lorissa’s Jerky, particularly their Korean BBQ, is really good and smooth. It’s one of my go-to brands for when I feel like ignoring the cost per ounce,”- Aaron
“ My favorite flavors are the Korean Barbecue Beef and the Szechuan Peppercorn strips and cuts. Every piece is consistent- packed with the same amount of delicious flavor, and is not overpowering, salty, tough, or stringy. It is pricey, but definitely worth it.” – Kate
Formerly known as Taos Mountain Energy Bars, the new Taos Bakes brand design features emoji-style faces, haikus, cleverly inserted New Mexico area code, and a capital T for “Taos” and “(big) Taste”.
The New-Mexico based company’s gluten-free, hand baked energy bars offer some of the most delectable combinations, such as Pinon Coffee and Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Butterscotch, and Almond Agave and Cinnamon (MSRP $2.90/ per individual bar).
“I discovered these while I was standing in line at REI. Pinon reminds me of all the trips to the New Mexico my family took when I was younger, so nostalgia prompted me to make the purchase and I’m glad I did. These are so flavorful. Basically a leveled up energy bar whose flavors blow the rest away.”- Kate