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Chew On This: Running Nutrition

Give your run some gas! The newest fueling options will keep your motor running through the finish line and beyond.

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A girl can’t run on an empty stomach. But with the number of gels, powders and bars available, it’s a wonder we don’t need a course marshal to navigate the sports nutrition aisle.

Tracy Owens, owner of Triangle Nutrition Therapy, explains that when shopping for fueling supplements, runners should consider three scenarios: pre-, mid- and post-run. Before a workout, seek a snack that will curb your hunger without causing tummy upset. During a run, opt for easy-to-digest supplements containing electrolytes, sodium and carbohydrates. After you’re done, choose a treat that provides both protein and carbs to encourage proper recovery.

“It’s part science, part art,” says Owens. “How to fuel also depends on taste, stomach comfort and ease of use.” Try these new nutrition offerings and find a flavor that works for you.

Clif Bar Kit’s Organic Fruit + Nut Bars

The latest release from Clif Bar solves diet dilemmas for athletes with food allergies. Runners who prefer natural nourishment to processed eats will appreciate Kit’s short list of pronounceable ingredients.

*Pros: Dairy-free, gluten-free and soyfree deliciousness

*Cons: More difficult to digest during a workout than a chomp or gel

*Taste: Sweet and savory granola

*When: Pre- or post-run

ZICO Coconut Water in Chocolate

You don’t have to whack a coconut Survivor-style every time you want to reap the benefits of nature’s sports drink. Try the newest product from Zico and enjoy a full electrolyte profile with a cocoa kick.

*Pros: Low-sodium and low-cal, with as much potassium as a banana

*Cons: Flavor may be too strong for some to drink mid-run and the drink lacks sodium athletes need after a heavy sweat session

*Taste: Chocolate for sure—but not quite Nesquik creamy

*When: Pre-run

Ultima Replenisher Lemonade

Spike your H2O with Ultima and add a little zing to your daily hydration routine. The powder delivers vitamins and electrolytes without the sugar or chemicals found in some sports drinks.

*Pros: Great for Type 1 diabetics who need to count carbs for insulin management

*Cons: Low levels of sodium and carbs mean you may need another source of these nutrients for your long run

*Taste: Like you’re slurping a margarita

*When: Pre-, mid- or post-run

Gatorade G-Series 01 Prime Chews in Cool Blue

Reward yourself with little bursts of Gatorade flavor. While the B vitamin-packed chews are marketed as a pre-workout snack, we like to enjoy them mid-run as well—chomp away!

*Pros: Easy-to-carry dispenser that’s tidier than a gel

*Cons: Chewing and running at the same time

*Taste: Gummi Bears gone salty-sweet

*When: Pre- or mid-run

Honey Stinger Organic Waffles in Chocolate

Honey Stinger’s Dutch stroopwafel-inspired wafers melt into tasty sweetness in your mouth. The perfect mix of dessert and energy gel, these snacks are great if you crave more substance on the go.

*Pros: A sweet solid that’s easy to digest

*Cons: Prone to crumbling and making a mess of sweaty hands

*Taste: Chocolate-chip cookie dough

*When: Pre- or mid-run

GU Energy Gel in Peanut Butter 

One of the most popular mid-run treats, GU is often handed out at half and full marathons. Some flavors seem strange when consumed in gel form (orange, espresso, mint chocolate), but peanut butter flavor makes sense as a thick, gooey substance.

*Pros: Carbs, amino acids and electrolytes are perfectly balanced in an easy-access packet

*Cons: Tough to swallow without water and causes stomach upset for some runners

*Taste: Pass the bread and jelly

*When: Pre- or mid-run

Vitalyte Chia Surge High Performance Endurance Gel in Orange Pineapple

Thanks to Christopher McDougall’s bestseller Born to Run, athletes everywhere are touting the magical benefits of chia seeds. The long-distance-running Tarahumara tribe of Mexico munches on the seed en route and dissolves them in a drink called iskiate.

*Pros: Beta-alanine buffers lactic acid

*Cons: You might need to pack some floss in your fuel belt

*Taste: A bit nutty (like the chia craze)

*When: Pre- or mid-run

Hammer Recovery Bar in Peanut Butter-Chocolate

This bar is low on the glycemic index, which helps avoid blood sugar spikes followed by a crash. Beneficial glutamine repairs the immune system and stimulates the rebuilding of lean muscle tissue.

*Pros: Whey protein blend derived from grass-fed cows adds a healthy muscle-building boost

*Cons: The eight grams of  ber might send you running all over again

*Taste: PB plus chocolate equals a reason to run faster

*When: Post-run