One of the biggest struggles I have had as an ultra runner is caloric intake. As I get further into a race, I just have a hard time forcing myself to eat. While I don’t mind gels, I do have an upper limit to those (and similar products) before they too start causing stomach issues. After hearing positive feedback from several other runners, I decided to try and give Tailwind a try.
Tailwind’s tagline is “All you need, all day. Really.” They market their product as a complete replacement for gels, chews, and other foods. In other words, Tailwind can act as your sole source of nutrition for all of your endurance endeavors. Some of the key features of the products include:
- Organic, making it easier and more natural for your body.
- Easy to absorb by containing nutrients that are easy for your body to process.
- No GI distress. Tailwind references studies that show protein consumption DURING exercise has no performance benefit, but does have a direct correlation to GI issues due to the fact that protein is more difficult for the body to process. As a result, they eliminate protein from their product, which is a deviation from most other calorie supplements out there.
Tailwind is nice because it is basically no frills. You simply add it to your water and you are good to go. It is not bulky to carry in your pack for self-supported runs or to pick up at aid station drop bags. Each scoop offers 100 calories, with the recommended serving being 2 scoops for every 20oz bottle. During the couple races that I have used it at, the thing that worked best for me was to alternate drinks between Tailwind and plain water. I found that I was getting somewhere in the neighborhood of half of my calories from Tailwind, which worked well. This way, I could minimize gels and not eat as much solid food, both of which can wear on my stomach after time.
NOTE: Thanks to Tailwind for sending me a sampler pack. I have been buying the unflavored Tailwind for my use, but wanted to add a flavor component to my review and they were extremely accommodating.
I ordered the list of flavors according to my preference, with my favorite being at the top.
Naked (Unflavored) – This flavor (or lack there of) actually has a bit of a taste, which I imagine is hard to avoid completely, especially with the electrolytes. Still, the taste is extremely subtle and hardly noticeable. As an ultrarunner that gets fatigued from the sweet taste of gels and other sugary-tasting things as a race goes on, the unflavored Tailwind is by far my favorite because I don’t have to deal with that. This helps late in the race when my appetite is already questionable.
Raspberry Buzz (Caffeinated) – This flavor was a bit much for the first couple of sips, but ended up being one of my favorite flavors by the time I finished the bottle. The raspberry flavor is actually quite good. Add the fact that this is the only caffeinated option and it is probably my second favorite.
Lemon – This flavor was actually close to being my second favorite, but gave edge to the Raspberry because of the caffeine. The lemon is subtle, but is just enough to keep it interesting…plus I love lemon flavored stuff!
Berry – This is similar to Raspberry, but without the caffeine. It is probably a good alternative if you want a berry flavor, but prefer not to use caffeine.
Mandarin Orange – This was my least favorite flavor, mostly because it was so overpowering. I like orange flavors in principle, but I would like it the flavor was a bit more dull and less in your face.
Tailwind has become a permanent fixture for me in my races and on long trail runs since the first time I used it. It works well for me and has filled a longstanding gap in my nutrition plan. It’s combination of simple sugars and electrolytes is the perfect mix for energy when I need to go the distance.