Whether you are looking for something to help refuel, re-energize or recover, there are tons of nutrition options available for athletes. Most are easy to carry, easy to digest and easy to eat. You can choose between bars, gels, chews, liquids and more; not to mention the varieties in taste and texture. In fact, with so many choices it can be a little overwhelming, but don’t worry -- I've tried, tasted and tested a plethora of sports nutrition options for you.


It’s billed as “almond butter with kick” and that is exactly what it tastes like. (Seriously, I think this could actually work on a sandwich.) Each PocketFuel pouch is two servings (complete with 9 grams of protein and 15% of your daily fiber requirements) and luckily the top is resealable and not messy, making your second serving easy to store in your running pack or pocket.
Taste. I really like almond butter so I liked the taste of PocketFuel overall. My favorite was the Chia, Goji & Honey. It was well balanced and not overpowering. Next, I tried the Chocolate Espresso. I like chocolate and I like coffee, so I thought I would love it. I didn't. The first bite tasted like burnt coffee, but by the third bite, the burnt taste faded and the flavors became smoother and I ended up enjoying it (although not nearly as much as the Chia, Goji & Honey). However, if you need an extra bit of go-go you should know that the Chocolate Espresso flavor has 80 mg of caffeine per serving. PocketFuels are vegan and gluten free.
Texture. The texture is like almond butter. If you've had almond butter than you know what I'm talking about, if you haven’t, then think about all natural peanut butter (not as smooth as processed peanut butter with just the right amount of grit). In short, I liked it.
Energy. With B-complex vitamins and a ton of minerals, this is a great source of natural energy. Unlike other nutrition supplements, PocketFuel is real food, and, as such, it gives you a quick shot of energy, just like real food does. It’s easy to digest and absorbs quickly into your bloodstream so you don’t have long to wait before the kick kicks in. In short, it works exactly the way it’s supposed to.
Ease of use. This is the one area where PocketFuel performs a little less than stellar. It’s a bit difficult to get the “butter” out of the package. You are supposed to squish and squeeze to blend, however, due to the thickness of the contents, this isn't actually as easy as it sounds. Luckily, it is worth the effort.
Bottom line. Pocketfuel actually feels and tastes like real food, earning them a solid A.

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These totally remind me of Fla-Vor-Ice®. You freeze them, and then when you’re ready to partake you simply tear open and eat. However, these aren't frozen just for fun. According to PowerIce, there are definite reasons for eating frozen treats nutrition:

  1. Before activity it allowed runners to run 19% further before exhaustion sets in

  2. During activity it cools your core temperature

  3. After activity it speeds your recovery

One word of warning: These will melt if you take them with you on a hot day. (Yes, I might have put one in my running pack and completely forgotten about it.)
Taste. I tried both the Orange Blast and Lemon Lime, and they taste just like an orange or lemon-lime Fla-Vor-Ice. Seriously, these are awesome. If I was blindfolded and someone handed me a PowerIce and a Fla-Vor-Ice I wouldn't know the difference. They’re just that good.
Texture. Frozen icy goodness. How many times can I compare this to a Fla-Vor-Ice? Okay, once more.
Energy. PowerIce does not contain caffeine and it doesn't need it. The natural sugars and over 100% of RDA for Vitamin C give you a natural boost. They also contain a healthy electrolyte balance, including 17 mg of potassium working together with 25 mg of sodium to help your body maintain its necessary fluid balance. Do they work? Yes. I ate one before a run and didn't really think about it until I came back home and realized I wasn't tired at all.
Ease of Use. Super simple. You tear the top and eat. You can even do this one-handed while you are running, well, with one hand and your teeth.
Bottom Line. Good tasting, good texture, easy to use and good for you. Plus, each PowerIce is only 30 calories. They are gluten free and Kosher with no caffeine, no fruit juice and no high fructose corn syrup. Overall, PowerIce earns an A+.

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PowerBar Energy Blasts

Do you remember those coca-cola gummies? The ones shaped like tiny old-fashioned coke bottles? That’s what these reminded me of... the taste, the smell, the consistency. It feels like you’re eating candy.
Taste. I tried both the cola flavor and the strawberry banana. The cola ones did taste like those cola gummy candies. I liked both flavors but I prefer the cola, probably because I was expecting them to taste like cola gummies.
Texture. The texture is good. They have the right amount of “bounce” to them and the inside is full of liquid center... like Tidal Wave or Freshen-up Gum. (Does anyone remember Freshen-up: The gum that goes “squirt?”)
Energy. These are gel-filled chews which promise “maximum energy delivery” and they are not lying. Of course, they recommend eating 1 – 3 pieces (spaced out) for activities that last an hour or more. I ate an entire package. I spaced them out over a few hours but they taste good so if you’re not paying attention, it’s really easy to keep eating them. The cola has 2x the caffeine and I felt seriously energized.
Ease of Use. The package is easy to open and you can reseal the pouch, making it easy to store your chews for later. I noticed that these chews don’t stick together which makes it super easy to get just one: You don’t have to stop what you’re doing to pull these apart.
Bottom Line. These work really, really well. They’re easy to eat and the taste and texture is good. I prefer things that are a bit less artificial so I’m giving these an A. However, if I was rating these based on energy alone, they would definitely get an A+.

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Jelly Belly Protein Recovery Crisps

These protein recovery crisps offer 12 grams of protein per serving, are an excellent source of calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B. They’re certified Kosher, gluten free and peanut free.
Taste. These weren't bad but they definitely aren't my favorite. I tried both the vanilla and chocolate and while both were okay, they weren't something I would eat because of the taste. They each had a slight aftertaste to them.
Texture. The texture is good, like malted milk balls. They have a “pea protein center” surrounded by a whey protein coating.
Energy. These do give you an extra get up and go. I actually found myself more mentally focused (in addition to more energy in general) after eating a handful.
Ease of use. Very easy: easy to open, easy to pop in your mouth and easy to eat.
Bottom line. Everything is great but the taste leaves a bit to be desired. You definitely need to have water on hand. Overall: B+

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Jelly Belly Energizing Sport Beans

These are essentially unique jelly beans. Sport Beans jelly beans offer a distinct delivery system to help you manage optimal intake of carbohydrates and nutrients. Jelly Belly’s clinical research “showed athletes achieved 32-38 second faster times in a series of four 10K time trials than with other carbohydrate supplements or water alone.” They contain 25 grams of an easily digestible carbohydrate blend, perfect for fueling your body during intense exercise; a balanced supply of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) vital for maintaining fluid balance; vitamin C and a combination of B vitamins (B1, B2 & B3).
Taste. Yum! These taste like jelly beans. You can’t go wrong with jelly beans.
Texture. These have the texture of… you guessed it… jelly beans.
Energy. Do they work? Yes. I definitely felt more focused, alert and energized after eating only three beans.
Easy to use. With resealable pouches these are super easy to pop in your mouth.
Bottom Line. Think of these as super charged jellybeans, in other words, they earn an A.

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Clif Shot Energy Gels & GU Energy Gels

I'm normally not a big fan of food in gel form. However, in the interest of research, I put aside all former gel biases and started tasting. Here are two good thing about gels: they are easy to digest and they act fast.

I tried a variety of flavors:

  • Clif Shot Gel – Vanilla, Mocha, Razz, Strawberry and Double Expresso

  • GU – Vanilla, Chocolate Outrage, Mint Chocolate, Tri-Berry, Strawberry Banana, Espresso Love, Lemon Sublime, Mandarin Orange

Taste. I’m not going through each flavor. There wasn't a single flavor that stood out as I-can't-live-without good or I-never-want-taste-again bad. However, I did a side-by-side taste test of GU Vanilla and Clif Shot Vanilla. They both had kind of an instant vanilla pudding taste to them. The GU had less of the pudding taste both at the beginning and after. The Clif Shot totally tasted like vanilla pudding but it did have a slightly weird aftertaste, although it didn't last long. All of the fruit ones are pretty good; however, the taste wasn't as strong as either the chocolate or vanillas.
Texture. It's gel. I won’t lie, the gel freaks me out a bit; however, it helps me to think of them as pudding.
Energy. YES! YES! YES! These give you an almost immediate burst of energy, which lasts a surprisingly long time.
Ease of use. Extremely easy. I found the Clif Shots a bit easier to tear open but both are easy to open and it’s easy to get the gel out of the package.
Bottom line. The variety of flavor options are a plus, there is truly something for everyone. The energy factor is fantastic. These weren't my favorites in the taste department but the taste does grow on you. Each earns a B+.

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Do you have a favorite nutrition or energy product? I'd love to hear about it.