Review: Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel

Nutrition Pro Reviews

Energy drinks are a necessary evil sometimes. If you don’t take them and you go on a long or hard ride, you can bonk or cramp and have a miserable time. If you take them, you can get bad flavors, suffer from up and down spikes in energy and get the dreaded gut bomb where just feel sick and bloated.

This is the landscape where Tailwind Nutrition aimed to find a solution. They sought out to deliver an energy drink that was pleasant, effective and could last all day.

We’ve used it for a couple months and we think they have succeeded. This small Durango, CO company started mixing drinks in their kitchen for their own personal use so they could survive the rigors of the Leadville 100 race. What they came up with is a formula that is natural, dissolves easily in water and is easy for the body to digest.

One Scoop or More

One scoop per water bottle is the easy formula and it delivers 100 calories. It also has the same electrolyte make-up as human sweat since it aims to replace what you lose during heavy physical activity. Sodium, potassium percentages… check. Protein, zero since they don’t believe that helps the athlete’s performance at all. It all dissolves very easily too so one can double up or triple up on the concentration and still manage to mix it in with the water. And since it’s light and easy to mix and digest at one scoop, one can go two scoops or even three and this drink is still manageable.

Flavor

If it tastes bad, you’re not going to drink it right? And if the taste is too strong, you are done after one bottle. Tailwind has a pleasant sweet taste up front and then thin in the middle with no aftertaste. It’s pleasant and slightly sweet and it doesn’t overpower you. That means you can drink it in minute 10 of your workout and keep doing it until hour 10 and beyond.

Easy to Digest

This is what Tailwind Nutrition worked hard at as they developed a light drink with a composition that is easiest for the body to digest. Its combination of glucose and sucrose are modeled so they can be digested by the small intestine easily and converted to energy efficiently. Other drinks have a sticky sweet composition that take a lot of time and energy to digest and this can cause a traffic jam in the stomach otherwise known as the ‘gut bomb’. The rider can’t get enough energy, tries to drink more energy drink to no avail and performance spirals down.

On all our rides, digesting Tailwind Nutrition was always easy and effective. And by mixing more concentrated versions, we were able to get all our calories just from the energy drink. This was actually way easier than packing and eating gels, bananas, granola, gummies and waffles. The only downside of relying on just Tailwind Nutrition is we sometimes found ourselves longing for the texture and the effort of chewing food.

Hydration Pack Friendly

Most energy powders are difficult to dissolve in a hydration pack. One has to shake the heck out of the reservoir to get the powder to mix in properly with the water. And it seems mold starts to form very quickly if the energy drink is left in the pack. Cleaning the reservoir and the hose of the mold and slimy film that develops is always an unwelcome exercise.

Tailwind Nutrition seems to perform a lot better here. It dissolves quickly with a couple shakes of the hydration pack. And leaving the drink solution in the reservoir doesn’t develop into the usual mess. We just rinsed it off even after a few days of leaving it in and the reservoir cleaned out quite easily.

Nutrition Simplified

We like simple as we have a much better chance of doing it right. It’s very difficult to pack 6 different foods on every ride and take then at the perfect intervals during a long ride. We like that there’s no pre-ride drink, short ride power, long-term fuel, pills, post ride drink, gels bars and gummies. With the Tailwind Nutrition system, we just have one drink. Drink at regular intervals and that’s it. We pack almonds for texture and that satisfaction of chewing.

Strengths
  • Lightly sweet flavor that’s pleasant on short and long rides
  • Dissolves easily in water and thus can be doubled in dose or put in a hydration pack easily
  • No stomach traffic jam or gut bomb
  • Provides easily digested calories that can replace all those bars, gels and gummies
  • Actually a good value when one looks at the calories and electrolytes per dollar.
  • Caffeinated flavors are now available
Weaknesses
  • No color so it’s not easy to distinguish from plain water.
  • It’s a meal replacement but it’s not as fun or as satisfying as regular food.

The Details

Price: 50-serving size (3 pounds): $34.99; three-pack of single-use packets: $10.50
Flavors: Organic Lemon, Berry, Mandarin Orange, Naked (no flavor)
Contents (per one scoop serving):
Calories—100
Sodium—303 mg
Potassium—88 mg
Carbs—25 g
Calcium—26 mg
Magnesium—14 mg
Protein: None

Usage Instructions

Each scoop (27g) delivers 100 calories. Under 2 hour rides mix with water at a rate of 1-2 scoops per 24 oz bottle (about 710ml) or in a hydration pack. For 2+ hours, you can use as a sole fuel by mixing 2- 2.5 scoops per 24 ounces (710ml), aiming for 250 calories per hour as a starting point. Adjust up or down to personal calorie needs and taste preference.

For more information visit www.tailwindnutrition.com.

Review: Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel Gallery
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Tailwind Nutrition Flavors

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Tailwind Nutrition Info Card

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Tailwind Nutrition Powder Texture

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Tailwind Nutrition Nutrition Label

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Tailwind Nutrition Packaging

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • LiquidSpin says:

    The 3 top main ingredients are sugar. Which means it’s basically more sugar then any other ingredient. Simple carbs is great for quick energy but it can also make you crash afterwards if you don’t provide yourself with a good amount of protein and complex carbs soon afterwards.

    How is this going to sustain energy all day? By drinking it through out the day. Over loading your body with sugar. I think I’ll pass.

    I prefer water with sugar free electrolytes a few snack bars with plenty of protein for a long 3-4 hour ride.

    • Jennyv says:

      LiquidSpin, thanks for your comments. You’re right – Tailwind’s first two ingredients, dextrose (glucose) and sucrose, are simple sugars/carbohydrates and were chosen because that is what your body uses to fuel itself. Your body runs on glucose. Maltodextrin, a complex sugar/carbohydrate is a manufactured chain of dextrose molecules, which get broken down into…glucose. From our standpoint, you are running a calorie deficit from the get go (expending 600+ calories/hour but only able to physiologically process between 200-300 calories/hour) so it makes sense to give you the simple carbs for immediate gastric emptying and absorption into your system. It takes both time (and energy) to break down the maltodextrin into a usable fuel that Tailwind already provides (ie. dextrose/glucose).

      Spikes and crashes typically occur because you are ingesting a lot of calories all at once creating a “sugar high” followed by the crash. But, by sipping your fuel you are metering you intake so you avoid these peaks and valleys. As for protein, the most recent research shows that although protein is important for recovery and as part of your overall diet, it is linked to a high incidence of GI distress during your activity and doesn’t measurably improve performance. That’s why we don’t include it. Joe Friel has an excellent post here: http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2011/09/should-you-use-carbohydrate-protein-sports-drinks.html

      To us, the proof is in our customers’ stories – some of whom have never been able finish a 50 or 100 miler before due to GI issues, or because their fueling strategy just wasn’t working. You can see what our customers are saying on our website (we post everything) or on our Facebook page.

      • LiquidSpin says:

        Thank you for replying Jenny! I’ve learned some new stuff from you :) However, if one has the time before the ride to eat (not over eat, mind you) a good meal to sustain the energy needed to do a long strenuous activity say biking with time for the food to digest wouldn’t water with electrolytes and some snack bars (also loaded with protein and carbs) be enough as well?

        I can see the pro’s of sipping this, though. No need to get off the bike to eat. Also if you don’t have time to eat a proper meal before with time for the food to digest then the simple carbs would be used immediately for energy.

        I’ll give Tailwind a try. I didn’t know studies have shown that protein during a long stressful activity could cause GI distress.

        Thanks again for the helpful info!

        • Jennyv says:

          Hi LiquidSpin,

          For shorter rides a good meal before your ride (giving it enough time to digest) should sustain you for a couple of hours in combination with your glycogen stores. The goal with any fueling strategy is to stave off the depletion of those glycogen stores (which leads to the dreaded bonk).

          The problem is, the longer you go, the more stress is placed on your GI system to process those calories and deliver fuel to your muscles. And, with your level of effort, your body will actually divert blood from the digestive system to your muscles which can lead to further GI complications. Tailwind’s approach is to give you those calories in the most efficient form possible. Feel free to email us at info@tailwindnutrition.com for more details…we love talking about this stuff! Your body is truly an incredible machine.

      • Roger says:

        Look into Carbo-Pro…they’ve been around longer. GI issues…I get them sometimes. It’s never a guarranty, something no one can predict, that’s why I carry butt wipes :)

    • Brian says:

      Depending on your effort level at an event, most people won’t easily tolerate protein or solid food. There are lots of companies making liquid nutrition that’s a mix of simple and complex carbs for endurance and Ironman events cause electrolyte waters (nuun etc) and high protein bars lead to a puke fest for a lot of people (especially if running is involved) if you need to take in 300-400 cal/hr for an event. Formulas/nutrition like this are used very successfully by lots of Ironman, TdF, Leadville and other endurance athletes.

  • Marc says:

    This is a nice idea, however, it isn’t very revolutionary or proprietary. It’s more or less an expensive “Whole Foods” gatorade: sugar and electrolytes. Unlike Cytomax, it has no amino acids and no lacate buffers. Market yourself as a high end, organic/all natural sport drink, rather than a “gamer changer” cycling/high endurance nutritional supplement. You’ll have a larger market, an easier sell and more reasonable expectations of the product. Okay, the MBA in me is done talking…

    • Jennyv says:

      Hi Marc,

      I’m happy to hear that you have found something that works for you! That’s really the goal here. As for lactate buffers, there is quite a bit of controversy in this area, and we choose not to put anything in Tailwind unless it is proven to be effective. Amino acids we view as being important for recovery but not while you are actively riding (and Tailwind is formulated for while you are riding).

      The International Society of Sports Nutrition came out with a position paper last year on sports drinks stating that “The ergogenic value of caffeine on mental and physical performance has been well-established but the potential additive benefits of other nutrients contained in Energy Drinks and Energy Shots remains to be determined”. You can read the article here: http://www.jissn.com/content/pdf/1550-2783-10-1.pdf

  • Roger says:

    CARBO-PRO is cheaper at $28 and it’s the same endurance fuel if not better. No taste…put it in water, taste like water. You can mix with other endurance fuels. Carbo load the night before without the weight the next day, take 2 scoops with 1-scoop BCAA as pre-ride, you’ll be going like superman!

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