Every year, run specialty retailers, media, and brands come together at The Running Event (TRE) in Austin, Texas to show off their current & new products for the upcoming year. At it’s inception, this was the place for run shop owners to come and place orders for products to sell at their stores in the upcoming year. 

I clearly don’t own a running store so what was a sports dietitian doing at TRE? Over the years, this event has evolved to include ‘media,’ which to the best of my understanding means running influencers. This is the category I landed in. My podcast counterparts, Believe in the Run, have been attending for years to cover current & future running shoes from all the brands. When I looked at the vendor list last year, I noticed it wasn’t just run shoes & apparel – there were also a ton of sports nutrition brands. So I made a mental note to add this to the calendar in 2023. 

So here I was – feeling a lot like a goldfish in a shark tank for a hot second. But, as I walked through those doors into what can only be described as the largest race expo ever, on steriods, times a milion, I was a giddy little school girl bouncing around from sports nutrition booth to sports nutrition booth. It’s possible I consumed more sports nutrition in this 8 hour day than in any marathon yet.

Before TRE, I reached out to all of the nutrition brands on social media, made notes on who I wanted to stop and see, made those a priority, then bopped around to anything else that looked interesting. There were many sports nutrition companies who did not attend TRE, so this review is certainly not inclusive of all products. But, of the available brands, I can bucket my excitement into a few categories: different & new products, new flavors of our old favorites, and protein or energy bar options.

Note: I may have gotten free samples from these companies at TRE, but I am not receiving any financial kickback from this post. And the product information & reviews below are all my own thoughts and opinions. 

Different or New Sports Nutrition Products

The first thing on my radar was finding new, or new to me, sports nutrition brands and products that fill a need or gap for runners nutrition.

First up, RNWY. A very new company that is creating a wellness drink to help keep runners healthy in the long haul. 

What is it: A powdered drink mix that contains collagen + Vitamin C for joint & soft tissue health, B vitamins to support energy production, & electrolytes for hydration.

What Meghann likes about it: An easy, tasty way to consume your 10 gm collagen + Vitamin C pre-run. This product is the most palatable way to consume collagen yet.

Who may need it: If you are looking to prevent or help heal tendon, ligament, or joint damage – you may benefit from a collagen supplement. Collagen is best taken 45 – 60 minutes pre-run. This product makes it super easy to slug back your collagen in this time frame no matter when you are running. 

Bonus: They will be getting their product third party tested in the new year.

Then, I found Up2U, a native whey protein isolate powder and ready-made protein drinks. Native whey protein isolate is created through cold filtration, and their products add lactase so they are suitable for runners with lactose intolerance. Their drinks & powders contain 15 – 17 gm protein, which is lower than I recommend. When asked, they stated their product is higher in leucine therefore we don’t need as much total protein. I found research that supports the claim of higher leucine levels, but I still believe we need to adjust protein needs for age, body size, & training goals. Many runners will need more than one serving to meet their needs – or add another protein source. 

What is it: A clear whey protein drink – blood orange & mango peach or an unflavored protein powder 

What Meghann likes about it: It’s an option for getting protein in post run that is not a creamy, milky base. The ready-to-drink option is nice for someone who is looking for that clear liquid, fruity protein drink vs creamy. The protein powder is unflavored and a great option to mix into baked goods, oatmeal, and other foods to increase protein intake. I still prefer a vanilla, creamy whey protein isolate – but this is by far the best tasting clear protein drink on the market.

Who may need it: Anyone who is looking for a whey protein recovery drink that is a clear, fruit flavor instead of a creamy, milky drink. The powder is good for anyone looking for a high quality protein powder without added artificial sweeteners. 

As I viewed and tasted products, I was trying to share them in real time via my instagram stories at TRE – you all were the most engaged in the Xact Energy fruit bars. These were new to me but not to a lot of you. This is a company based in Canada so flavor options vary for us in the US. 

What is it: A 100 calorie, 25 gm carbohydrate gummy fruit bar meant to be taken during exercise like a gel or chews. 

What Meghann likes about it: The texture was amazing – much softer than our typical sports chews. It reminded me of Chuckles Jelly candy but less sticky inside. It’s also very easy to underfuel with chews. For a runner looking for a chew vs a gel, this product could be quite magical. The texture & flavor of this product make it incredibly unique.

Who may need it: Runners who like chews vs gels but want to make sure they are consuming enough total fuel. 

Another product that caught my attention was by Seattle Gummy Company. They make many different gummies but the high sodium, HydraFuel chews were the most intriguing. 

What is it: A pack of 4 gummies that contain 37 gm carbohydrates & 270 mg sodium. The gummies themselves were a little sticky, but the Sour Patch Margarita flavor was good. As expected, they tasted slightly salty.

What Meghann likes about it: You’ve all made it very clear that you are looking for higher sodium fuel options, so this fits that bill. 

Who may need it: Runners looking for a higher sodium option. I also think a pack of these could have a place in addition to your normal fueling to give you that extra sodium and carbs throughout your training runs & races. 

While not a new product, newish packaging put this Cheribundi back on the map for me. 

What is it: A tart cherry juice concentrate available in single serving 2.5 oz pouches. They also make a sleep product that adds melatonin & magnesium.

What Meghann likes about it: We have plenty of research to support the anti-inflammatory, improved recovery, better sleep properties of tart cherry juice. These supplements make it easy & portable to add in tart cherry to your routine. 

Who may need it: Runners looking for help speeding up recovery, decreasing muscle soreness, and improved sleep may want to give tart cherry a try. I particularly support this because it is considered a food product so there is minimal risk involved. 

New Flavors of our Old Favorites

Nearly every brand was highlighting a new flavor of an existing product. If there’s one thing we know, runners are particular about their nutrition flavors. Our favorite sports nutrition companies clearly caught onto this and are tossing us some new options.

Clif Bloks added 2 sour flavors to their existing line, sour green apple & sour strawberry lemonade. Each pack has 2 servings. One serving contains 21 gm carbohydrates & 107 mg sodium. These were not available to try yet, but I can see these being particularly attractive for people who get ‘sweet fatigue’ during races. That sour punch would be a nice change up.

Spring Energy added an orange flavor option to their 100 calorie gel – Power Snack. And, there are 2 more flavors coming soon – tbd on what those flavors will be.

Honeystinger added a flavor Stingerita Lime Chews to their robost flavor options. It contains 50 mg caffeine, 130 mg sodium & 40 gm carbohydrates per package. My first sub-3 hour marathon was fueled by Honeystinger chews, so they do have a special place in my heart and this new flavor did not disappoint. 

UnTapped has 3 new liquid drink mix flavors coming out in 2024. These include Mapleaid, Grape Mapleaid, and Lime Mapleaid. Each of these contains 250 – 300 mg sodium. To me, these tasted exactly like you’d expect – like watered down maple syrup. 

Pickle Juice added a chili lime flavor for all the dill haters out there. It tasted just like Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning in liquid form. I’m still not sold, personally, on drinking pickle juice during runs – but if this is your thing, you may enjoy this. 

Different Protein and Energy Bar Options

We certainly don’t have a shortage of protein and energy bar options at our finger tips. But for some reason, I am constantly on the look out for new options that are delicious & make sense nutritionally. If you have followed along, you know that I don’t like added fibers, sugar alcohols, or anything funky in my nutrition bars. These bars below fit the bill and tasted quite lovely. 

Eat Jam Bar was a new brand to me, and I was surprised to learn that their founder was the former cofounder of Powerbar. The Malt Nut Melody flavor was hands down my favorite. I put this bar in the same category as Picky Bars. But, to be honestly, they were tastier! I would use this as a snack, as it has a nice balance of carbs & protein. And, they are available in plant based & whey protein options. The Malt Nut Melody bar has 240 calories, 7 gm fat, 34 gm carbs, and 10 gm protein. 

Bonk Breaker has been on my radar, but this was my first experience with them. Not only were the employees particularly rad humans, these bars were so delicious. Nutritionally, this is very similar to the Jam Bar – but all of these bars are plant based. The peanut butter & jelly was my favorite flavor & it had a layer of ‘jelly’ through the center. No worries, it was the same consistency as the rest of the bar so it’s not messy but did add to the whole flavor ambiance. I will absolutely be adding these into my snack repertoire. The PB&J bar has 260 calories, 11 gm fat, 33 gm carbs, and 11 gm protein. 

Naak is a Canadian company that makes many sports nutrition products, but I was particularly intrigued by their Ultra Energy bar with cricket protein. They also have plant based protein bars as well. Their bars contain 200 calories, 7 gm fat, 27 gm carbs, & 7 gm protein. These are marketed to use during ultra endurance activities, which I totally support, but I also love the idea of these for a snack for all runners. 

Honeystinger gave me a small sample of their new protein bar that they said tasted like a PayDay, the Peanut Sunflower Seed protein bar. Swap the peanuts for sunflower seeds and they aren’t wrong – very PayDay-esque. It was good enough that I went back and they gave me a full size bar to take home. It would also be considered a good snack with 260 calories, 15 gm fat, 21 gm carbs & 14 gm protein. 

Skratch energy bars are not new to me, but they deserve their own shoutout here for being delicious as well. I love the Raspberry + Lemon option, but you can never go wrong with the Peanut Butter + Chocolate either. I love these for a snack or a long, slow bike ride. They have 270 calories, 14 gm fat, 30 gm carbs, and 5 gm protein. 

One thing is true – we will never be at a loss for products to try. Let us know in the comments what you are enjoying!

Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.