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Modern Elixirs: New Recovery and Sports Drinks

by Mackenzie Lobby
September 17, 2009

Some of the newest outdoor nutritional products were unveiled at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer trade show. We’ve rounded up the latest, up-and-coming drinks, energy bars, chews, gels, beans, and bites to help you fuel and hydrate on and off the trail. First up are reviews and information on the most recent drink offerings to hit shelves.

The newest drinks on the market tend to fall into one of two categories: recovery drinks with a punch of protein and/or whole grains to be consumed after exercise, and lightly flavored drinks with fewer calories than traditional sports drinks.

Protein-Rich Recovery Drinks

Lighter Sports Drinks


Protein-Rich Recovery Drinks

While carbohydrates provide energy, protein maintains and repairs muscles, making it important for post-exercise recovery. On the market are a number of new recovery drinks, to be consumed after exercise, that contain protein and/or whole grains.

Odwalla Protein Monster Shakes

Along with a slew of other new products, Odwalla recently announced two additions to its Protein Monster line: Vanilla Protein and Chocolate Protein. While both require some heavy shaking before consumption, they make for excellent post-workout recovery drinks. Real vanilla extract is added to the Vanilla Protein drink for a sweeter flavor. The Chocolate Protein shake is a vast improvement over the previous Super Protein Chocolate. The new version tastes a lot like chocolate milk with an added kick.

Both contain 33 grams of soy and dairy protein powder per bottle, which is significant. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily allowance of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or slightly over 7 grams per 20 pounds.

Chocolate Protein Monster

Bottle: 450mL (15.2 fl oz), contains about two 8-fluid-ounce servings
Calories per serving: 220
Fat: 4g
Total Carbohydrate: 27g
Protein: 18g
Calcium: 50% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamins and Minerals: 100% DV of B6 and B12; 30% DV of Zinc; 20% DV of Copper, 15% DV of Iron; 9 amino acids
MSRP: $3.29


Hammer Whey Protein Drink Mix

Hammer Whey is becoming one of the most preferred protein supplements on the market for endurance athletes. This glutamine-fortified drink mix is made to assist in boosting the immune system as well as enhancing recovery after a long day of hiking, biking, running, or whatever you may be doing out and about. The mixture contains recovery-specific amino acids for added benefit and is 100 percent whey isolate, which means it has more protein per serving and less lactose and fat than most of the other whey protein mixes on the market.

Flavors include Chai, Unflavored, Vanilla, and the newly released Chocolate. Mixing a scoop of Chocolate Hammer Whey with a glass of chocolate soy milk makes for a smooth and rich post-workout refreshment.

Chocolate Hammer Whey
Serving: 26g (1 scoop = 4.2 tbsp)
Calories per serving: 80
Total Carbohydrate: 1g
Protein: 17g
Glutamine: 6g
MSRP: $32.95 (contains 24 servings)


Naked Juice Protein Zone

This summer Naked Juice introduced two new flavors to their Protein Zone line: Mango and Double Berry. The unique blend of soy and whey protein makes these beverages ideal post-exercise. Not only will the 30 grams of protein in each bottle help speed recovery, you’ll also receive three servings of fruit in each bottle. As with all Naked products, there are no added sugars or preservatives. Mango has a lighter, sweeter flavor while Double Berry, which contains strawberries and blueberries, packs a bit more intensity and zing.

Protein Zone Double Berry
Bottle: 450ml (15.2 fl oz), contains about two 8-fluid-ounce servings
Calories per serving: 220
Fat: 2g
Sodium: 130mg
Potassium: 450mg
Total Carbohydrate: 35g
Protein: 16g
Vitamins and Minerals: 100% DV of C; 8% DV of Iron
MSRP: $3.99

Odwalla Wholly Grain! Tropical Medley

Odwalla also has just released a new smoothie: Wholly Grain! Tropical Medley, which fittingly is packed with 32 grams of whole grains per bottle. Since whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than refined grains, they are a great way for active people to get in their carbs for the day. Like most smoothies, the Wholly Grain! smoothie is sweet and fruity without a hint of grittiness.

Wholly Grain! Tropical Medley
Bottle: 450mL (15.2 fl oz), contains about two 8-fluid-ounce servings
Calories per serving: 200
Fat: 1g
Whole grains: 16g
Total Carbohydrate: 45g
Protein: 3g
Vitamins: 10% DV of A, E, and C
MSRP: $3.29


The Lighter Side of Sports Drinks

Lightly flavored drinks with less or no sugar and fewer calories are an increasing alternative to traditional sports drinks. Below are sports drinks, as well as a juice, for hydrating before, during, and after exercise.


nuun, offering one of the newest hydration solutions, believes that the one-size-fits-all fueling plans of the other sports drink companies don’t work for everyone. Rather than a liquid or powder, nuun comes in tablets housed in a tough plastic tube (12 tablets per bottle). Each tablet is quickly absorbed in water à la Alka Seltzer, but less fizzy. While drinks like Powerade and Gatorade contain sugar (carbs), nuun is sugar-free, seeking to hydrate, not to fuel. The company suggests hydrating with nuun and accompanying it with a fuel such as energy gel during exercise.

This unique beverage comes in five flavors (citrus fruit, kona cola, lemon+lime, orange ginger, and tri-berry) and is surprisingly tasty for having virtually no calories or sugar. The easily transportable tube will especially appeal to trail buffs. No more messy bags of powder all over your pack. Look for the soon-to-be-released flavor, banananuun.

citrus fruit nuun
Tube: contains 12 tablets, 8 oz per tablet, 2 servings per tablet
Calories per half tablet (4 oz): 3
Sodium: 180mg
Potassium: 50mg
MSRP: $6.50 (12 tablets)

Accelerade Hydro

All Accelerade products contain the “4:1 Advantage,” which is a 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein formula. The company offers a considerable amount of scientific literature that backs up why they believe this formula is optimal for not only hydrating, but also encouraging peak exercise performance.

Accelerade Hydro differs from the original Accelerade because it has fewer calories and less sugar. In comparison to “regular sports drinks,” it contains 30 percent fewer calories and 55 percent less sugar. This powder mix is to be used before, during, and after exercise. Hydro has a unique flavor compared to regular sports drinks because of the lack of sugar. It tastes best when served cold.

Lemonade Accelerade Hydro
Container: 50 servings, 16g per serving
Calories per serving: 60
Sodium: 180mg
Potassium: 55mg
Total Carbohydrate: 10g; Sugars: 8g
Protein: 2.5g
MSRP: $39.99 (50 servings)


CLIF Quench Sport Drink

After years of success in the energy bar industry, CLIF has thrown its hat into the sports drink ring. Without any high fructose corn syrup, CLIF Quench has a lighter flavor than some of the existing sports drinks and fruit juices. While many of the traditional Powerades and Gatorades of grocery store shelves taste fairly similar to one another, this 88 percent organic electrolyte drink is, to say the least, different and likely to have its fair share of lovers and haters.

CLIF Quench comes in Fruit Punch, Lime-Ade, Orange, and Strawberry Citrus. Earth-conscious consumers also will be glad to know that CLIF is the first company to employ the use of recycled PET plastic for its CLIF Quench bottles.

CLIF Quench Fruit Punch
Bottle: 480mL (16 fl oz), contains two 8-fluid-ounce servings
Calories per serving: 45
Sodium: 130mg
Potassium: 35mg
Total Carbohydrate: 11g; Sugars: 10g
MSRP: $1.49



Ola Loa offers an alternative to the ultra-sweet sports drinks with its low-sugar, high-nutrient Ola Loa SPORT. Still an electrolyte formula, this drink contains carbohydrate-metabolizing B-vitamins and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C.

This is a great option if you are looking for a low-calorie vitamin drink, however, for higher intensity, sweat-inducing workouts, a drink with more sugar is advantageous. Ola Loa SPORT is available in Mixed Berry, Mango-Tangerine, and Lemon-Lime. The drink comes in individual powder packets for ease-of-use and transport.

Packet: 7g, 30 individual packets per box
Calories per serving: 5
Total Carbohydrate: 1g; Sugars: 1g
Vitamins and Minerals: C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc
MSRP: $34.99 (30 packets, 7g each)

Odwalla Light Lemonade and Light Limeade

For the calorie-conscious, Odwalla has created a new line of juices for post-exercise refreshment: Light Lemonade and Light Limeade. The Truvia non-caloric sweetener, made from an extract of the stevia leaf, makes the juices taste just like the lemonade you remember from your childhood, but with half the calories. As with all Odwalla products, these light drinks contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Light Limeade:
Bottle: 450mL (15.2 fl oz), contains about two 8-fluid-ounce servings
Calories per serving: 50
Sodium: 15mg
Total Carbohydrate: 14g
Vitamins: 50% DV of C and E
MSRP: $3.29

Nutrition facts above are per serving, not container.


Next up, we’ll cover the newest energy bars, chews, gels, beans, and bites.