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2016 Running Gear Guide: Nutrition

Every runner needs to find the right fuel.

$2 per packet,

The products are all made with glucose, the most readily usable energy source, so the theory is when your gut has less work to do to turn food into fuel, your body can give more elsewhere (hello, leg muscles), with less GI distress. It’s also the new official gel and gummie for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

$2.45 per packet,

These new chews were inspired by gumdrops. The more natural variations designed for athletes have less sugar and more water, they are made from real fruit with extra salt and they don’t have artificial flavors, colors and the like. Bottom line: Both the orange and raspberry flavors are quite tasty.

$3 per pouch,

This legacy brand has increased its organic and real-food options, a current trend in sports nutrition. Clif released new oatmeal-pouch flavors in apple cinnamon and banana maple this year. For pre-run oatmeal lovers, this makes it easy when traveling. You can eat straight from the pouch or put it in a bowl and nuke it.

$7 per 10-tablet tube,

This popular low-calorie drink tablet for electrolytes and hydration (the No. 1 sports drink sold by specialty sports retailers) has been reformulated for 2016. The new recipe includes non-GMO dextrose for better absorption and performance, and sweetened with monk fruit and stevia. The brand has also added mango orange to the flavor options in the caffeinated Energy line.

$3.55 per shake, $2 per fruit packet,

This 30-year-old brand continually comes up with new products other than bars. Earlier this year it released ready-to-drink Protein Shakes, and this month you’ll start seeing Simple Fruit Energy Food—basically a kind of jam/smoothie in a gel-sized packet. In terms of bar innovation, 2016 sees Reduced Sugar ProteinPlus Bars ($1.25 per bar) hitting shelves.

$18 for 12-pack,

Chews aren’t a new running fuel, but caffeinated gum is definitely a creative variation. Developed by Olympian Nick Symmonds, the sugar-free, zero-calorie gum originally came in mint and fruit flavors, but now cinnamon has hit the market for a quick delivery of legal stimulants including caffeine, taurine and B vitamins.

$2.25 per packet,

This brand was founded on the premise of designing an easily digestible gel for ultrarunners. Now it’s released a drink mix in cool lime, black cherry cola, ginger twist and tangerine cream. Creative and tasty-sounding flavors aside, this new formulation is made from dextrose and electrolytes to deliver 200 calories of tummy-pleasing, energizing hydration.

$3.25 per packet, $2.75 per bar,

The UCan Drink is a pre-run snack designed to keep your energy level steady for 90 minutes to two hours. The “SuperStarch” carbohydrate base is also used in medical foods for diabetics. Gluten-free and low in sugar, some flavors are sweetened with stevia while others use monk fruit or sucralose. The snack bar is the first uncoated bar to prevent melting.

$15 per bulk regular gel, $25 per bulk Roctane gel,

For those annoyed by the environmentally unfriendly nature of used gel packets littering race courses and roadsides, Gu has come out with 15-serving bulk packaging and a refillable five-serving flask ($12.99). Choose among the regular gel in salted caramel or strawberry banana, or the Roctane gel in blueberry pomegranate or sea salt chocolate.

$2.29 per bar,

Chia has been gaining popularity since appearing in Christopher McDougall’s bestseller “Born to Run.” That’s where the founders of Health Warrior found out about the little bursts of omega-3 that are a high source of fiber and help with hydration. These bars are perfect post-run and please various palates—including gluten-free ones (three of the bars are also vegan).

$1.49 per waffle, $2.49 per chews package,

Two thin waffles making a honey sandwich is go-to pre-run fuel for many, and now those who eschew gluten can enjoy them too. The company has also responded to customer requests with a variation of its Energy Chews: They deliver 5 grams of plant-based protein in raspberry, juneberry and cherry-lime flavors.

$2 per powder packet, $3 per shake, $2.49 per bar,

Essentially a DIY version of Gatorade’s Protein Shake that launched in 2014, the powder mixes with 12 ounces of water to deliver 20 grams of milk-based protein in chocolate or vanilla. If you like more creative flavors, the shake now also comes in cookies and crème or chocolate peanut butter. The Whey Protein Bars have two new flavors for 2016: chocolate pretzel and chocolate peanut butter.

$2.50 per pouch,

Huma originally came out with gels that are a combo of real fruit and chia seeds. Now the second generation of gels comes with added electrolytes from sea salt and coconut water. Choose between berries and pomegranate or strawberry lemonade, which has 25 milligrams of caffeine.

$2.79 per bar,

You’ve heard that protein bars are ideal for after a hard run. If you also grab an iced coffee to get you through the rest of the day, the new caffeinated flavors Chocolate Bliss and Coffee Crunch are designed for you. Gluten- and dairy-free, these bars have 55 milligrams of caffeine from yerba mate (equal to half a cup of coffee).

$27 for 30 servings,

The philosophy behind this brand is to provide all the fuel and hydration necessary on long runs and once it added a caffeinated flavor, it quickly became a top seller. This year, enter Green Tea Buzz and Tropical Buzz, two new options with caffeine. One 100-calorie serving has a blend of dextrose (aka glucose) and sucrose in proportions designed to maximize absorption and minimize stomach distress.