Water Bottle Pass off from a volunteer to an athlete during a race

Sports nutrition products for training and racing

The sport nutrition market has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. There are many different products available for pre, during and post workout nutrition. Most of these companies have grown from offering one product to offering a whole spectrum of products. Most of these products focus on one of three important areas- pre workout, during workout and post workout and each is formulated to specifically meet the needs of the body at those times. Most companies are also broadening their reach by offering bars, gels and drinks.

Some of the more common brand names are Clif Bar, PowerBar, GU and Gatorade. There are dozens of smaller companies breaking their way into the market as well; Honey stinger, eload, Vega and Lara Bar to name a few.

The best strategy for longer workouts is to eat small amounts frequently and preferably choose a product that is for during activity. Typically products labeled as “during” will be carbohydrate rich and lower in protein and fat which is harder to digest at effort.

Examples of food or energy products to eat during long training sessions

Energy bars

Energy bars are packaged and textured along the lines of a chocolate bar. They often contain between 40-50 grams of carbohydrate and are typically a mix of ingredients that are primarily carbohydrate rich with small amounts of protein and fat. Bars that target before or during activity tend to stay away from fat and carbohydrate as those macronutrients are harder to digest especially during effort when the digestive system is not overly active. Energy Bars that target post workout or race nutrition are often much higher in protein, perhaps some essential fatty acids and of course carbohydrate to replace what you may have lost during exercise. Energy bars usually cost $1.99-$3.99


Gels more typically focus on during activity nutrition. They are usually carbohydrate rich and provide little if any protein or fat content. Gels are very concentrated semi-liquid concoctions that have the consistency of runny icing sugar. Gels often come with the recommendation to consume with water and for good reason.  If the concentration of sugar is too high it can be hard for the gut to absorb. Gels typically contain 20-30 grams of carbohydrate per package and usually cost $1.50-$3.00


Energy drinks are often offered in before, during and after formulations. Energy drinks typically contain between 35-50 grams of carbohydrate per 700ml serving.  Energy drinks either come as ready to drink or in powder form that you mix with water. Mixing these energy drinks to the specifications identified is incredibly important because it usually correlates with a concentration that is most appropriate for optimal absorption. Energy drinks typically cost $1.99-$3.99 per serving. There are many main stream companies like Gatorade and Powerade but also dozens of smaller highly functional companies that offer great products like Infinit, Eload and GU.

Here are some examples of companies that offer before, during and after training or competition nutritional products:

Companies that offer “before” products: Clif Bar, PowerBar, Vega, GU, Infinit Nutrition, Eload,

Companies that offer “during activity” nutrition: Clif Bar, Vega, GU, Honey Stinger, Infinit Nutrition, Eload

Companies that offer “post activity” nutrition: Clif Bar, PowerBar, Vega, Honey Stinger, GU, Infinit Nutrition

In summary

Sport nutrition is incredibly important particularly for longer events. It’s crucial that you test products in training so there are no surprises on race day.

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