Food

Reviewed: Nuun Podium Series

Nuun has gone all in with a start-to-finish line of nutrition that is basically made for the long/intense workouts that athletes love. But is it any good?

Basics

Nuun’s Podium Series is a line of products that includes their new Prime pre-workout powder, their existing Endurance hydration supplement, and the new Recovery post-workout mix.


Pros

All non-GMO, super well-sourced ingredients with a very light taste and simple, straightforward use; well priced

Cons

Very very low calories on all three products mean you need to be aware of what each does and doesn’t do, in case you need to supplement with other products/food


We’ve always had a soft spot for Nuun. We love their “tubed” products like Sport (for electrolyte replenishment) and Immunity (for helping keep us healthy): The fantastically sourced ingredients are super clean and meet a staggeringly high bar of purity/nutritional responsibility. Both products (along with Rest, which is supposed to help with sleep) are great supplements, in the way that you can take them to replace water and give you a vitamin/electrolyte boost, but none of them really have enough “oomph” for long/hard workouts. In response, Nuun has also expanded their line slowly with the introduction of Endurance, an electrolyte-heavy product that not only has a endurance athlete–level of sodium for long/hot sessions, but also some carbs and calories (something their tubes do not have) to help with actual fueling. After a few revisions, the formula has finally been tweaked to something very usable for athletes’ training, rather than just being a water replacement like the tubes. With the introduction of Prime and Recovery, Nuun has bookended Endurance with pre-workout and post-workout products and rolled them into the new Podium Series.

Price:

Nuun Prime: $35 for 20 servings
Nuun Endurance: $20 for 16 servings
Nuun Recover: $35 for 20 servings

Nuun Podium Series Review: What’s It All About?

While we’ll likely dig into each product on a deep dive later on, here’s the quick rundown of what you need to know about each:

Prime

Nuun’s new Prime is intended to be a preworkout supplement that helps prepare you for a longer/more intense training session. With a unique mixture of BCAAs intended to help prep your muscles, prebiotics to help minimize gut issues (we love this), ginseng to help with alertness (there is also a caffeine and non-caffeine version), and assorted electrolytes and amino acids to help with “hydration loading,” this is more than just something to pep you up before you head out, but its low-calorie content (35 per serving) means it’s not a pre-meal.

Endurance

Though this product has been on the market for a little while at this point, for those who aren’t familiar, Nuun’s Endurance is a blend of their already-excellent electrolytes in a sodium-heavy mix (380mg per serving!) with a small handful of calories (60 per serving) and carbs (16g per serving). The big news here is that Nuun uses cane sugar as its primary source of calories and carbs, in case you have a touchy gut that doesn’t respond well to dextrose.

Recover

Another new addition to the Nuun line, Recover acts as a post-workout drink powder that helps with rehydration and muscle building after long and/or intense workouts. While we’ll get into it more later, the interesting thing about Recover is that even though it has an incredibly light 50 calories and a published 6g of protein per serving, Nuun claims that by using a vegan BCAA blend that the powder “carries the same weight as 30g of protein.” If accurate, this is a huge boon, as one serving is only one small 17-gram scoop.

Nuun Podium Series Review: What We Love

For sure we’ve always liked a lot about Nuun: From their voluntary focus on clean sport, to their stance on women in sports, even to their overall ethos; but in terms of products, we really like that everything in this line is non-GMO, vegan, non dairy, gluten free, kosher, and soy free. Ingredients matter, and Nuun spends a lot of time and resources making sure that what goes into their product is the very best. 

The practical upside of that is Nuun’s products are often very light tasting, and this line (we tried the orange Prime, citrus mango Endurance, and blackberry lemon Recover) is no exception. We love the very subtle taste of these three products, and similarly all three had absolutely no gut impact on my admittedly sensitive stomach—even when using all three before, during, and after a very hot, hard 20-mile run.

I also liked the fact that nothing in the Podium Series is prohibitively expensive. The three products all fall in the $1.25-2.75/serving range when purchased by the carton, so you’ll be more likely to use this stuff more often. Of course, there are cheaper products out there, but not with features like BCAAs and cane sugar in the ingredients (instead, think: dextrose, etc.). On that same note, you’re not going to be heaping piles of this stuff into your drinks, as all serving sizes begin at a very low 13-19g (think a tiny scoop). We really really loved not having to endure a thick recovery shake moments after a long, tough effort—and all three mixed very well and easily.

Nuun Podium Series Review: Concerns

Before I get into this section, it’s super important to note that I call them “concerns,” not because I think there’s something wrong with this product, but rather that I think people who use this line might need to be “re-educated” on the role of supplements like this. For triathletes who think that cramming 400 calories per serving into their “hydration choice” is the way to go, you’ll be confused by the low calorie/carb/protein content on all three of these products. Even for me it took some getting used to. Much like how people still struggle to understand that the Nuun Sport tubes are in no way whatsoever adequate calorie replenishment for a long training session/race, it’s important to know that none of these products are meal replacements. Prime is a great way to get your body from breakfast or lunch to the workout by preloading your system and calming your gut for the workout. Endurance is a great way to get some carbs and lots of electrolytes into your body as you train, but you still may need a bar or some other solid. Recover is a great thing to drink down in the 30 minutes after your workout before you get some real food (carbs, protein, fat, calories, etc.). If you accept that as a given, this line of products will do you wonders; if you try to make it do what it wasn’t designed for, you’ll have issues.

Nuun Podium Series Review: Conclusions Abound!

I used all three extensively before, during, and after some very abusive workouts, and I always felt stable and good—which is really the best you can ask for. I never had any GI issues, I never felt any big spikes or valleys in energy, and I never got that “chemically hyped” feeling that you can sometimes get with pre- or post-workout supplements. I was as tired as I should have been, but my muscles felt taken care of.  

So assuming triathletes understand what Nuun’s Podium line does (help with electrolyte uptake, absorption, intake, give some energy, and repair when you’re done) and doesn’t do (act as a meal replacement, be your only source of calories, etc.), this is a fantastic line that has been long overdue for athletes. If you’ve loved Nuun for years like we have but have been forced to choose other options when it comes to harder/longer swim, bikes, and runs, finally you can use Nuun for (almost) everything. And while it might take a little bit of a mind shift to implement these into your nutrition program, it’s worth the effort.