There are many, many nutritional products coming out on the market on a daily basis ranging from sports drinks to energy gels to energy bars to electrolyte tablets. Take it as beneficial or not but the biggest mistake I see athletes make is not reading the ingredients. A products nutrient profile (carbs, protein, fat, sodium, etc.) is important but not as important as what's in the mix.

Why you may ask? Well, some ingredients can cause severe GI distress and hamper recovery following training and racing. I haven't been able to pinpoint a trend regarding which ingredients causes what in certain athletes since everyone is so different but I would highly caution the use of products that contain the following ingredients:

-A large amount of sugar alcohols (anything ending in -ol like mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol)
-Partially hydrogenated oils
-Low sodium (endurance athletes need sodium for proper hydration and rehydration)
-High fiber (I have to qualify that this only applies 1-3 days before an important competition. It's important to have a good amount of fiber in your daily eating program but some athletes compete better on a "clean gut" with low residue and fiber). You know who you are!

Remember, start reading not only the nutrition facts label but also the ingredients list. I am sure you have heard this before but if you cannot pronounce an ingredient, it's probably not the best thing to put in your body.

Until next time...