Sports nutrition is a tough topic for me. On one hand, I’m doing something active outside almost everyday (skiing, biking, hiking, running) and I should know the optimal foods and drinks to consume at the right time. Heck, I’m an athlete, right? I should know this. But the flip side is that there are so many products, so many books, and so many friends that have their own opinion about the subject, that I’m usually lost on what I should do. So I’m always wandering, testing new things, and usually defaulting back to old favorites.
When it comes to hydration, I’m mostly a water guy. Sure, I see all the folks riding around on their fancy bikes with orange or red liquid in their water bottles and it makes me wonder what I’m missing. But generally I’ve been fine with water. Sometimes I’ll mix a little Gatorade in with my water, but I never drink it straight unless I’m craving sugar and immediate gratification after a long ride.
Since I’m a plain water guy, I jumped at the chance to test Nuun when their spokesperson contacted me a little while ago. Even though I hadn’t heard of it before, it’s apparently quite popular and comes in the form of a tablet which looks a lot like Alka-Seltzer, but in a colored form. Here’s the packaging:
My task was simple: try it out and write about the experience. Disclaimer: I did receive the product for free.
First, it is convenient. The hard plastic sleeves are small and fit in any tiny pocket in a back pack, so taking them with you is easy.
Second, were they effective? Honestly, I have no idea. I put one or two tablets in my water bottles (depending on the size of the bottle) during and after a few rides and hikes. I completed each activity just fine, but really couldn’t tell if I was faster, stronger, better hydrated, or recovered faster due to the added vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.
Third, did it taste good? Yes. Actually, too good. Since I generally stay away from sugary drinks or sugary foods, my taste buds are very keen to alert me if something is sweeter than I am used to. Despite the fact that Nuun has no sugar, it must have artificial sweetener because it tasted *too good*. The flavoring is a nice change from water, but I know that when I am craving something because it’s sweet, it’s probably too sweet. Being from Boulder, I’m required to be as natural as possible, so perhaps a bit of sugar is actually better than something artificial?
And last, could I process it OK? Actually, not really, but this might be my problem. I felt a little bloated after using the product, probably because of all the fizzing and bubbling that happens when the tablet dissolves into water. One of the rides I did while trying Nuun was the Ironhorse Classic from Durango to Silverton, which weighs in at around 50 miles and 6,000ft vertical, with a high point around 11,000ft. Two of my friends that also rode that day had tried Nuun (in addition to many other hydration products; both are competitive racers) and had split reactions. One liked it, and one said it upset their stomach (similar to me).
So what’s my final verdict on the product? I’ll stick with water for now. The convenience was nice, but the sweetness and fizziness of the product was too much for me. It left my stomach not feeling that well and my taste buds had an unhealthy craving for more. This product may work for some people as evidenced by my bike racing friends. But for now I’m back to looking for new products that one day might make my water bottles look a bit more colorful.