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If you struggle with GI issues after using sports nutrition products, investigate the ingredients. The culprit could be maltodextrin, a white powder derived from starchy foods such as corn, potato, wheat, tapioca, or rice.
It’s often used in sports nutrition because it provides a slower-burning complex carbohydrate to provide lasting energy during workouts. Although it’s a “generally recognized as safe” food additive by the FDA (it’s found in everything from pasta and baked goods to salad dressings and frozen meals), evidence suggests that maltodextrin can affect the balance of gut bacteria, potentially leading to intestine damage and increased risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases.
Best Sports Nutrition Products for a Sensitive Stomach
If your body has trouble processing traditional sports nutrition products, consider these maltodextrin-free options.
Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews | $2.45 per pouch
Available in sour cherry, orange, raspberry, matcha green tea, and lemon, these tasty chews utilize tapioca syrup and evaporated cane juice to fuel your workouts.
Vega Sport Protein | $39.99
This plant-based (meaning no risk of lactose problems) protein drink mix—with 30 grams of plant-based protein per serving from pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds, and alfalfa—comes in vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter flavors.
Osmo Active Hydration Optimized for Women | $20
This hydration mix provides an optimal ratio of sucrose, glucose, and electrolytes for women, accounting for hormonal fluctuations. Available in mango and lemon-lime flavors.
Honey Stinger Gold Energy Gel | $36/24 pack
If gels are more your style than chews for mid-run energy, this classic from Honey Stinger is maltodextrin-free and is 95% honey, with some extra electrolytes and B vitamins.
Nuun Podium Series Prime | $35
For when you need a little extra boost to get you out the door, a preworkout is a good option. This one, from Nuun, is made with endurance athletes in mind. If you’re not a caffeine fan, the Fresh Berry flavor is caffeine-free with all the same electrolytes and branch-chain amino acids.
Tailwind Endurance Fuel | $36
For a little bit of all sports nutrition in one, grab this powder from Tailwind, which promises “no gut bombs.” It includes calories, electrolytes, and hydration (mix it with water). Its natural, non-GMO, vegan, and dairy-free ingredient list will work for the most of discerning of runners.