Essential Sports Nutrition


Did you hear the news? Three new CLIF BLOKS energy chew flavors!

Not too long ago, Clif Bar released 3 new flavors of CLIF BLOKS energy chews. These chews provide quick, chewable energy for athletes in training and on race day.

The new flavors include Salted Watermelon (2x sodium), Ginger Ale and Spearmint. This now brings the CLIF BLOKS collection to 11 flavors. Each chew still contains 30-33 calories and there are 6 BLOKS per sleeve of chews. One serving size is 3 chews. All of the CLIF BLOKS include 95% organic ingredients and depending on the flavor, contain between 50-100 mg sodium per serving and 0-25-50mg of caffeine.

Clif Bar sent me the new flavors to try out but I wanted to use this blog post as an opportunity to introduce you to the new flavors to help you decide on the best flavor for your fueling and tastebud needs.

Salted Watermelon - For the watermelon lovers, this tastes just like you would imagine - watermelonly delicious. It is sweet but it does have a subtle saltiness to it. Each serving (3 chews) contains 100 mg of sodium which is 2x the sodium found in the other BLOK flavors (except the Margarita flavor). 
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Watermelon Extract with Other Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Colored with Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

While I can imagine that athletes will crave and enjoy the salted watermelon flavor on a hot summer day of training/racing (along with a few gulps of ice cold water), there are actually some health benefits to watermelon. Now I'm not saying to chew on CLIF BLOKS to improve your overall health but I thought it would be good for you to know that watermelon, although high in natural sugar and water (making it oh-so-refreshing in the summer), has high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin A, B6 and vitamin C. It is also rich in lycopene so the redder the watermelon, the more lycopene. As for watermelon extract, found in the CLIF BLOK Salted Watermelon flavor, research has shown it to be helpful for blood pressure control.

Ginger Ale - For those who just love a nice cold glass of Ginger Ale, or remember drinking it when you had an upset tummy as a child, the CLIF BLOK Ginger Ale flavor is not super strong. So this may be a let-down for those who absolutely love the taste of ginger but great for those who want to receive some of the benefits of consuming ginger oil during training. While I can't promise that you are getting a large amount of ginger oil with every blok, research does show that ginger has great effectiveness in reducing GI complaints, also helping with nausea and vomiting. As a sport RD, I don't feel that a CLIF BLOK Ginger Ale flavor will prevent GI issues in training/racing (especially since a concentrated dose of sugar especially without adequate water to promote digestion will increase risk for GI issues when training/racing), I do believe that those who enjoy a subtle flavor of calories, will enjoy this blok option.
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ginger Oil, Natural Flavor, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

Spearmint - You may be cringing at the thought of chewing on a spearmint flavor energy chew but consider many times have you been out training during a long workout (or long distance race) and you find yourself wishing you could brush your teeth or cleanse your mouth with a mint or mouthwash? Well, believe me when I say that the spearmint flavor will do just that! Both me and Karel found it incredibly refreshing (Karel says this one is his fav). You almost want to try to blow a bubble with it, it tastes so cool and refreshing!
Here are the ingredients:
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Spearmint Oil with Other Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.
With some recent research on the benefits of peppermint oil and athletic performance, you may be surprised to see the flavor of spearmint instead, but it's important to recognize that spearmint does not contain menthol, which makes it a bit less "bold" of a flavor which may be a little more gentle on the taste buds. But who knows, maybe one day they will make a peppermint flavor to cool off the mouth?
Although I could not come across any recent well-documented research studies on the benefits of Spearmint oil, you have likely heard that Spearmint essential oil may reduce fatigue and pain, help with digestive issues, help with muscle aches and ease headaches.

Well, there you have it - my sport RD/endurance triathlete take on the three new CLIF BLOK flavors. I always enjoy trying out new sport nutrition products, specifically powders, chews and gels (I'm not a pill/tablet type of athlete).

As for my feelings on sport nutrition products, it's all about function and convenience. You don't need to love your engineered products but you have to like them enough to consistently use them during intense and long workouts to help you maximize fitness and to build confidence in your race day fueling and hydration strategy.

Sport nutrition products make fueling incredibly easy as they take the guessing and calculating away from how much you need to consume of calories, carbohydrates, water and sodium each hour and they make it easy to meet your metabolic needs as you can quantify the consumption of your nutrition, in frequent intervals, during training and on race day. Plus, with a little creativity, you can prevent taste bud fatigue by changing up the flavors and textures of your sport nutrition products as there are so many safe and well-formulated products available to athletes. Sport nutrition products are also formulated in a way to be easy to digest IF/WHEN consumed properly.

As for when you are not training? Real, whole foods should make up the majority of your diet. When your heart is pumping and blood is being diverted away from the gut and to the working muscles to support muscle contractions, your body prefers to digest and absorb engineered products as they are formulated in a way to meet your needs and to be consumed quickly. But when you aren't working out, reach for real food as mother Earth has a variety of great food options, rich in the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that keep your body functioning well on a day-to-day basis. A well-nourished body performs incredibly well during training/racing and with an organized, balanced and wholesome diet, it's much easier to better understand your fueling and hydration requirements during training and on race day.

Any questions about sport nutrition and fueling/hydration? Reach out to a sport dietitian for help.

Fuel Smart!
Your body will thank you.