Tailwind Nutrition Rebuild review

Bottom line: We felt better, more rested — and faster

Nutrition
Very Handy Packets

The single serve packets are awesome.

What is it

Like many non-XC racers, I haven’t been a regular user of recovery drinks since my long ago relationship with Hammer Nutrition Recoverite. I mainly remember it to be nasty and chalky, but good for recovery ahead of subsequent training sessions. I’m now more an expert in recovery IPA’s and the proper sequencing of low-to-high alcohol post ride.

But after passing the age of 50, my body complains a lot more. Some days are good, while others I have low energy and soreness. Tailwind Rebuild is designed to address these issues with a recovery drink that has protein and carbs derived from rice, coconut milk, and electrolytes. It’s a conveniently designed packet that easily mixes in a water bottle, and touts help in rebuilding muscles and replenishing glycogen and electrolyte stores. Read on to see how it performed for this tester.

Pros
  • Easy on the stomach
  • Tastes good
  • Vegan, gluten free, non GMO
  • Reliable source of rebuilding calories after a hard workout
  • Dissolves easily in water
  • Works very well with Tailwind Endurance drink
  • Perfectly sized packets
Cons
  • Has slight odor
  • $3 a pop
  • Need more flavor choices
  • Protein count is not impressive, as is the sugar
Mtbr’s Take

These days, a lot of my rides are an hour-long so post ride supplements are not necessary. But when it’s a high intensity ride or 3-plus-hour weekend session, my body has become inconsistent with recovery.

The giveaway is when I’m not useful around the house post-ride and can barely keep my eyes open after dinner. All I want to do after cleaning up and eating is to take a nap. And that does wonders, as an hourlong nap after food seems to recharge my body. So I’ve felt like I needed something else as I tackle bigger rides during the prime riding season. The post-ride chips and Pliny The Elder double IPA just isn’t doing the trick.

Really Easy to Drink

Tastes great and not chalky at all.

Who is Tailwind Nutrition

Enter Tailwind Nutrition, a company I’ve come to love and respect since they seem to be born out of the same concerns I have with supplement drinks. I loved Cytomax and Hammer Nutrition back when I did 10,000-foot climb epic rides, but they’re so darn hard to digest and the flavors (at least back then) were questionable. And out on the trail, on a very hot day, my body’s tolerance for flavors and capacity to digest energy drinks was low.

Skratch Labs is on the right track with low-flavor trail drinks, but their drink doesn’t seem to do a lot for my energy level or caloric needs. Instead Tailwind Endurance Fuel has become my go to for any ride over a couple hours. My output is high and balanced and I don’t feel that hungry. I just bring some trail mix or dates to satisfy that sensation of chewing and I’m good to pedal. But then there’s that issue of energy level after big rides. I’ve tried to eat well after rides but even that seems to require digestive energy and makes me drowsy.

I’ve been using Tailwind Nutrition for a couple months now and have nothing but good things to say. The packets are convenient since I really don’t want to carry a ‘bodybuilder’ sized tub to the trail for the post-ride recovery. And the zip-lock bags my XC friends use require a bit of planning and preparation.

With Tailwind Rebuild, tap it to get the powder down the packet, open and pour into a bottle, and it’s a neat and simple operation even for the fatigued rider. Fill up the bottle with water, shake, and drink. This is actually a big deal that it dissolves easily since many recovery drinks require a special bottle with a wire steel ball and a lot of shaking just to dissolve it.

If you drink from an open glass (like you should an IPA), you’ll sense a slight aroma (think whey) that some won’t like. But the flavor (vanilla or chocolate) even with just water is highly palatable. This has been my routine for all my big and/or hard rides lately and it has paid dividends. I’m wide awake and refreshed for the drive home, that evening, and the next day.

Sure, $3 a packet seems a touch high at first. But in the grand scheme, and relative to the cost of similar products these days, it is a good deal. One is assured of a quality drink and recovery after a great day of riding.

Each packet has 245 calories and one can definitely feel its nourishing abilities. But the 39 grams of sugar seems high and 11g of protein a little low, but Tailwind research finds that is what the body needs to replenish the body after hard efforts. And we are believers. I’m hooked on both the Endurance Fuel and Rebuild products. Even if you don’t have XC or epic ride racing aspirations, these are worth a look (or swallow as it were).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $3 per packet
More Info: www.tailwindnutrition.com

Chocolate and Vanilla are the flavor options available today.

Chocolate and Vanilla are the current flavor options.

Q&A with Jenny Vierling

Since nutrition is very technical subject, Mtbr recruited the help of Tailwind co-founder Jenny Vierling to help us understand the science behind the product a little better.

Mtbr: What makes Tailwind Rebuild stand out from the competition? How does it compare to chocolate milk or the protein shakes fitness folks take after workouts?

Jenny Vierling: There are some key differences between Tailwind and other drinks on the market. Tailwind Rebuild contains the optimal amount of complete protein. What’s important to understand is that when you look at a nutrition label, the amount of protein listed is the amount of total protein – which represents both incomplete and complete protein. Only complete protein is used for recovery; the incomplete protein is not. When compared to other drinks on the market, Tailwind Rebuild contains 3x as much as most other recovery drinks, and about 2x as much as chocolate milk.

Tailwind’s complete protein is really efficient. What this means is that the amount of total protein required to get the complete protein you need is minimal compared to other drinks. Why is this important? The nitrogen fraction of any incomplete protein (which is included in that total protein number) must be processed as urea by your kidneys. Long, hard workouts can stress your kidneys, and that’s not a good time to increase their workload. Nearly 70% of Tailwind’s protein is complete whereas only about 30% of the protein contained in chocolate milk and other recovery drinks is complete.

Nutrition Label

Not a ton of protein and there’s a bit of sugar but for good reason

Tailwind Rebuild is 100% vegan. We start with an organic rice protein because allergies and intolerances to rice protein are extremely rare. Then we add individual amino acids until the protein is perfectly complete. Tailwind Rebuild is also non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains no soy or dairy.

Tailwind Rebuild replenishes your glycogen stores and rebalances your electrolytes. An often overlooked part of recovery is replenishing your glycogen stores and your electrolytes. Tailwind Rebuild contains an optimal amount of both to put you on a faster road to recovery.

Mtbr: For vegans and vegetarians, how is their recovery nutrition different from people on normal diets?

JV: What is most difficult for vegans and vegetarians is getting enough complete protein (which as discussed above is needed for recovery). Protein sources for vegans and vegetarians are typically rice, beans, and the like. Rice, for example, is low in some of the essential amino acids, so its protein is only partially complete. Beans are also low in some of the essential amino acids, but not the same ones as rice. That’s why you’ll see vegetarians and vegans combine different protein sources in order to get the nine essential amino acids.

Mtbr: At what point of a workout is Endurance Fuel or Recovery drink a good idea? Is it based on workout length? Level of effort?

JV: If you are riding for less than 1 hour, water is generally a good option. Your glycogen stores will typically have enough stored energy (assuming you have been eating during the day), and there is enough sodium in the average American diet that you’ll be just fine. The exception might be cyclocross where you are going full tilt for the entire time. In that case, drinking a carbohydrate-based sports drink with electrolytes up to your start would be a good idea (and during if you are accustomed to drinking during an event like this). For 1-2 hours, you’ll want to be taking in some carbs (100-200 calories/hour) and electrolytes as you’ll be getting closer to the threshold of running out of your glycogen stores. If going 2+ hours, then you’ll want to maximize your carbohydrate intake (and also take in electrolytes) and drink 200-250 calories per hour.

Easy to Pour

These convenient packets are the best invention since sliced bread since they allow minimal mess when pouring into a bottle.

Recovery drinks are designed for immediately after exercise. There is a “magical 30-60 minute window” when your body is in a special state, where insulin secretion is back to normal, but the body’s sensitivity to insulin is still increased which means that more glucose can be driven into your cells. It is also the time when you can start rebuilding damaged muscle tissue and mitochondrial proteins. You can certainly do this by eating “real food” in your kitchen, but if you find yourself at the end of a trail or far from home, a recovery drink is ideal to start you on the road to recovery. Or, if you are looking for plain convenience when you don’t have time to whip up something in the kitchen, a recovery drink is great for that too.

The old “time and convenience” benefit is certainly the main reason behind recovery drinks and ensuring that you are getting the optimal amount of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and fat after your workout.

There are a couple of times when taking a recovery drink is ideal. If you are training or competing more than once in a single day, a recovery drink is a great idea. For example, if you are riding on a team and taking turns doing laps at 24 Hours in Old Pueblo, for example, take a recovery drink during your downtime. If you are riding back-to-back days of long miles like during a bike tour, cycling camp, or stage race, then it’s a good idea as well. If you are doing a single hard ride (eg. 90-minute interval session), or one that lasts several hours, then it’s a good idea to take a recovery drink as well. In other words, if you are doing a workout that significantly reduces glycogen stores and damages muscle tissue. Again, recovery can be achieved by eating the right mix after your workout, but oftentimes a recovery drink is just more convenient and faster.

Dissolves Easily

Tailwind Rebuild dissolves easily and doesn’t require a ton of water or a special mixing bottle.

Mtbr: Does a person need to eat real food or bars during a 4-6 hour workout for optimum performance?

JV: The short answer is no, but it also comes down to personal preference. As a company, we believe in liquid calories, in the form of simple carbohydrates, because they are already in the form that your body uses (glucose and fructose), emptying immediately from the stomach and rapidly absorbed in the small intestine via the glucose and fructose pumps/transporters. If you are eating solids during your activity, they end up being broken down into primarily glucose anyway, so why make the body work harder when it is already under stress (which can lead to GI distress)?

Mtbr: What are the company’s core values and how does the consumer benefit from that?

JV: Our core values are pretty simple:

  1. We’re your support crew: providing great nutrition and pulling for you all the way
  2. We make it, we use it: made by athletes, for athletes
  3. We only use simple, straightforward ingredients proven to maximize endurance and performance
  4. We believe helping athletes succeed is also Tailwind’s path to success
  5. We are building a community asset: creating employment and investing in manufacturing, supporting trails, the places we recreate in, and youth development

In a nutshell, we want to help athletes achieve their personal goals, and we believe that by providing simple and proven nutrition coupled with education, encouragement, and unexpectedly delightful customer service they will.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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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  • eb1888 says:

    Complete protein from rice and beans, peas etc. Cook those up yourself for a months worth in the frig/freezer for $5. Eat some not powdered before a ride and you receive an ongoing supply and less recovery is necessary.

  • C says:

    ‘Real Food’ is the way to go. I finally learned this and now I only rely on actual, ‘real’ food in its ‘real’ and natural form. As for beans, rice, and peas : A LOT of people are actually totally allergic to nearly ALL beans without every knowing it. Brown rice, also, is actually NOT as good for you as ‘white’ rice. Lectins in nearly ALL beans actually cause all kinds of impacts on bodily immunity, as well as skin problems and joint soreness. Once I quite ALL beans, brown rice, and most fruit sugar, I finally can mountain bike like a madman, pain free, no soreness…day in and day out. A miracle I wish I had accessed decades ago.

    SCREW packaged nutrition. REAL FOOD is the answer.

    • jond63 says:

      Seriously correct — I feel like I have been eating rocket fuel! Wish I had known this decades ago as well…

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