We get a lot of questions from readers, gym owners and trainers about the validity of “performance” claims on various products – energy bars, protein shakes and electrolyte replacement drinks. If you’ve been reading our articles or have attended our workshops, you’ll know our stance on this – you will always look, feel and perform better with real food. And despite the good sales pitch that some of these products make, understand that it is always a sales pitch, designed to do one thing and one thing only – not make you healthier, but influence you to buy their product. (When was the last time you saw an NBA athlete starring in a multimillion dollar ad campaign for kale?)
We recently reviewed several electrolyte supplements that are currently being marketed to CrossFitters. Their aim is to replenish essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) they claim your body needs during exercise, and they say their drinks will help you recover faster. They label themselves as “sugar free”, despite containing processed starches like maltodextrin and non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia. They also claim to provide more effective hydration than plain old water. But here’s our take: they’re all just sweetened, flavored, unnecessary supplements that contain smaller amounts of valuable vitamins and minerals than any number of vegetables. Now, granted, a sweetened, flavored beverage is way more fun than a cup of broccoli… but that doesn’t make it healthier.
On hydration: Unless you’re doing long, nonstop competitions like triathlons or marathons (where you certainly need to rehydrate during the event), there’s simply no justification for substituting a supplement for real food and water. Trust us on this – you do not need to provide electrolytes to your body during a typical CrossFit workout. Shoot, during a high intensity Fran or Grace, you don’t need to stop to provide water to your body. And your body doesn’t need minerals like molybdenum or copper during (or immediately following) your exercise session. As long as your regular, day-to-day dietary intake of essential minerals from fruits and vegetables is adequate (fill your plate!), you won’t need to jam selenium or manganese or even potassium into you in the form of fruit punch-flavoured electrolyte drinks. Plus, the way your body assimilates and uses those minerals for their physiological functions isn’t fast enough to make any difference for “hydration” – despite the manufacturer’s claims.
On vitamins and minerals: The mineral content of one serving of your typical electrolyte replenishment drink doesn’t hold a candle to just one cup of sweet potato (our recommendation for your post-workout carbohydrate source). In comparison with one popular “recovery” drink, one cup of sweet potato contained twice as much vitamin C and calcium, three times as much manganese and magnesium, eight times as much phosporus and sodium, and TEN (10!) times as much potasssium, all in a phytonutrient-rich package that also supplies athletes with necessary recovery carbohydrates. (Plus, sweet potato won’t provoke those Sugar Tantrums with the intensely sweet and artificial flavors found in all of those replenishment drinks.)
To summarize, in stark contrast to what some companies say (and sell!), we don’t believe that exercising hard should preclude you from getting your nutrition – both macronutrients AND micronutrients – from real, fresh food. Resist the (sales) pressure to down processed sources of isolated nutrients that you could and should obtain from healthier sources. This holds especially true if those supplements contain stuff that has real, significant downsides (such as non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia and super-processed corn starches like maltodextrin), and no upsides that can’t also be found in real food like vegetables and fruits.
We welcome all comments… but if you’re commenting in order to defend a product you are, in fact, selling, please make that clear. And to our readers, remember that here at Whole9, we don’t sell any supplement. (But if kale ever wants to sponsor our page, we’d jump at the chance.)
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Nicole V. says
the only ‘recovery’ drink i really find any value in is coconut water. it has only one ingredient–coconut water–has a ton of potassium, and has the same electrolyte balance as found in the human body. especially good for endurance athletes or anyone prone to dehydration. any thoughts?
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Nicole: Oh boy… Coconut water has a SLICK marketing campaign these days, huh? We hear this a lot, and while there’s nothing wrong with coconut water, we really don’t see anything super extra right about it either. We’re big fans of plain old WATER, and in trying to mitigate as much added sugar as possible, don’t see the purported up sides of coconut water outweighing the extra liquid sugar in our diets.
Karyn M. says
Great article! With our busy lifestyles, sometimes I justify the occasional protein bar or drink, and then they slowly start creeping onto my weekly grocery lists. It’s good to have a gut check from time to time!
What are your thoughts on coconut water? I used it a couple times in June while on 2x days prepping for a local competition. I also used it after the 2nd and 3rd wod WITH some yams/appleasauce, felt really good(omitting tmi about frequent bathroom trips, but that’s nerves too, as I was one of 80 others lining up constantly.) I had good results, tying for first in my division and shared a couple carton withs some buddies who were dry. I have used it on a couple of occasions since then. Mostly on heat wave days where I’m training clients and myself outside and was feeling pretty dehyrdated. THe potassium content is up arond 700 per serving and the sugar is about 21-25. It’s not an everyday thing in my opinion, but a good tool to use on multi wod days or days when a sweet potato just isn’t going to happen.
sorry, the other coco water ? didn’t show up until I posted mine!
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Robbie: I’ll edit my response to say on multi-WOD event days, I’ll take coconut water (and the small amount of sugar) in between events over another “replenishment” drink. But those are few and far between, and we’re not sure why there would EVER be normal training days when a sweet potato REALLY “just couldn’t happen”. We’ve been doing organic baby food as our PWO carb – a jar of sweet potato (where the ONLY ingredient is sweet potato) provides about 18g of good, clean, portable, no-refrigeration-needed carbs. No more excuses, yay! :)
Nice one. I pride myself on being the excuse squasher and here I am scrambling for an excuse for not eating my yams…here it is…I don’t particulary care for them! But the jars of baby food is an excellent idea, no prep and already portioned! Going on the grocery list. You rule.
Two weeks in to nothing but sweet potato and egg whites pwo and I’m 3 for 3 on PRs. Works for me.
nicole v. says
Melissa Urban is my favorite Paleo nazi.
“On hydration: Unless you’re doing long, nonstop competitions like triathlons or marathons (where you certainly need to rehydrate during the event), there’s simply no justification for substituting a supplement for real food and water.” — the race i did this weekend sprint triathlon, had water stations in it and you could just grab a cup and go of water, or have water on your bike.
the funny thing was at the same stations they had “food” some type of packet thing i am guessing a carb gel that they handed out, I passed on that and noticed something interesting at the end of the race a number of racers and the shakes and were stuffing there faces with food and gels, whereas i didn’t feel any of that. i was chill and although sweating once i cooled off was ready to go again…the only post race thing i ate was a banana, couldn’t resist. then went home had a huge paleo lunch and was ready for the next thing…Keep it simple you all, this just works…it seems like the fitness community wants to make diets and nutrition complicated….it’s just food people, simple food and you’ll get results beyond what you expect.
Mike H says
What about supplements for training in a fasted state? The leangains guy says there are some benefits to training in a fasted state but he recommends some branch chain amino acids pre-wo. He prefers supplements to food b/c the the supplement doesn’t cause a calorie hit so all the benefits to fasted training remain. But I wonder if I really need BCAAs on board during an hour or so worth of activity… plus the sucralose they put in the powder just about makes me vomit; one whole 30 was all it took to make me highly sensitive to that crap. That said, I do think maybe possibly that I might perform better with the BCAAs on board.
Generally I agree with being a supplement nazi. I don’t even take much fish oil anymore b/c I pretty much only eat grassfed meat and fish (for proteins) now and not too many nuts.
What about a whey protein supplement and some dextrose or something of the like PWO? Doesn’t this hit the muscles faster than food?
Do you have any quick, post-workouty ideas for prepping a sweet potato? Do you bake them in bulk and then just ration them out? I see that you eat them with egg whites: do you hard boil your eggs to make them more portable? Or just fry/scramble them on the spot?
I’ve been doing Crossfit-like workouts consistently for about 4 months and I’m trying to incorporate post workout meals into my routine. I’ve been finding it hard to come up with ideas…
microwave works for cooking both sweet potatoes and eggs…wrap potato in saran wrap and zap it for a couple of minutes and good to go… add some meat and you have a good pwo, for eggs if you take 3 eggs and butter a glass pie pan mix the eggs in a bowl and dump in the pie pan 3 minutes and then flip it 1 more minute and you have an omelette…
Melissa – I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at Crossfit Boston over the weekend. I switched to a hard boiled egg and macadamia nuts as you suggested before my 5:00 a.m. workout and pwo to a sweet potato and egg whites. Is 3 egg whites sufficient? How much protein is suggested? I have noticed a difference in my energy levels both during and after a wod in just 3 days.
@AllieNic – to keep it quick I do bake the sweet potato in bulk and hard boil the eggs. When I need to keep super portable, I make deviled eggs using the sweet potato instead of the yolks, smush the halves together and throw in my bag. Easy to get to the gym and easy to eat in the car on the way to work.
Dave in Dallas says
this is my take…
I was never a real pwo eater until this spring when i prepped for sectionals, regionals and then the games. during this time i tried everything under the sun and this is what i found.
powders (whey and “muscle juice” – upset tummy and didn’t fill me up, left me wanting something sweet
g-aid – tasted great but didn’t quench me. left me sore and stiff, didn’t help DOMS
milk – hated it before, and still hate it. way to thick and caused “belly aches and bathroom breaks.” (im about to copyright that phrase :)
sweet potato/chicken/egg whites – this was a huge adjustment, but because my passport into PR Country. Not to say i didn’t hit PR’s before, but never 6 in a row. Met-cons and lifts included! soreness isn’t bad. ROM is great the following day, little nagging tweeks are gone, swollen knees and joins magically disappeared. talk about saying good by to “belly aches and bathroom breaks”. now half of my gym brings their pwo meals.
coconut water+pineapple concentrate+sea salt – i really like this for a different drink throughout the day. I live in Texas and its blazin’ hot out here. Running my box with no a/c combined with all my outside sports training, this was a great thirst quencher. I’m still working on the proper ratio to make it taste good. but I’ve given up on taste as long as it helps me. i don’t use this a regular beverage, just a replenisher if i have been out in the sun for a long time.
now on to a different note, but yet kinda the same note.
W9L deserves some props for all their hard work while they were on the road. My affiliate team and I (CrossFit Denton County) had several consultations with them during our training for the CF Games 2010. We finished 4th in the South Central Region and 31st in the Games. Our 31st finish was a miscalculation on our behalf, and had NOTHING to do with our fitness, which is something that will eat at me for another year….moving on. I can’t speak for the whole team, but I was able to travel with 10 pounds of cooked chicken breast, several bags of shredded coconut, and a bag of sweet potatoes. Airport security thought I was weird, but they let me through. I was amazed at how many athletes were downing mixes, powders, fruit drinks, pb/j sandwiches, fruit ALL post workout! I was floored at some of the nutritional things I saw and heard about. I don’t claim to be perfect in the nutrition, nor do I claim to be the best athlete out there, but honestly if it wasn’t for W9L advice and close mentoring our team wouldn’t have enjoyed that experience the way we did. I did over 30 reps of 155# thrusters (bw 165) plus pull-ups and a buddy carry, 3 hours later…not sore. I was then able to knock out 26-28 dl’s at 263#, 34 pistols, 31 calories on the rower, during a 60 on/60 off wod. Immediately after was able to easily jerk 225#, well under max, but we won’t get into that wod :). Next day we were thrown through a gautlet of 2 rounds of 300m sprint, 15 reps of box jumps, dumbbell squat cleans, 30 double-unders, push-ups, ghd sit-ups, 30m of lunges. all this said not to give me any props but to point out the fact I WAS NEVER SORE OR BEAT UP!! i attribute this to my diet. I was able to surf for several hours the next day and still wasn’t sore or feeling any effect from the weekends workouts.
since the games I took 2 weeks off the nutrition and have battled sore knees and shoulders, and haven’t felt good during and post workout. needless to say, im back on.
thanks mel and dallas! CrossFit Denton County is very thankful for yalls help!
Dallas @ Whole9 says
I LOVE that you’re hitting PRs again. Rock on, sister! Now, go lift something over your head… carefully ;)
If you really want to try training fasted, go for it, but I’ve not had very good success with it in terms of performance. If you DO take a BCAA supplement, take JUST the BCAAs, not any additional sweeteners/additives. And look out for soy/rice/corn ingredients in the capsules and fillers.
Dude, it sounds like you need to read more of what we’ve written. Like… the Dairy Manifesto and Sugar=Sugar=Sugar. Whoa. Whey + dextrose = not healthy. Have you been reading/watching the CrossFit Journal again?
3 egg whites is about 9-10 grams of protein, so you’ll want to double that amount (or even a smidge more, depending on how big you are and how hard you’re working).
David @ CFDC,
Dude, that’s an AWESOME testimonial! We’re stoked you guys did well at the Games, and that our input helped you feel and perform better. Looking forward to doing a gig (or two!) at your place sometime soon!
How much protien and carbs do you recommend for pwo meal? And do you have a problem finding sweet potatos year around? One more dumb question, is a yam the exact same thing as a sweet potato?
thanks for your input
Dallas @ Whole9 says
We don’t make gram or block recommendations (we don’t think it’s necessary or as important as 100% food quality), but here’s the guideline: eat a meal-sized hunk of protein PWO, and add some carb-dense veggies like sweet potato, beets, pumpkin or acorn squash. It’s that simple. Really. Yams and sweet potatoes are related tubers but often are used interchangeably. We prefer the deep orange ones, but the yellowish ones are nice for a change sometimes.
Adam Kayce says
For those looking for an easy way to do sweet potatoes: make fries.
Slice ’em up matchstick style (I like ’em kinda thick), lightly coat/spray with e.v.o.o & salt/pepper, bake for 30 min @ 400 °F, flipping ’em over halfway through. Super easy, super yum, super portable, and super easy to portion out.
Aaron Blaisdell says
According to Wikipedia, a true yam is from a completely different taxanomic group than a sweet potato. Yams grow in Africa and sweet potatoes are from South America. Everything sold in the US that is labeled as either “yam” or “sweet potato” is actually just a sweet potato. I don’t think you can find true yams in US supermarkets.
@Adam, the sweet-potato fries recipe you give sounds just like the one in Don and Rachel’s book. I can attest to how delicious they are and they’re on regular rotation in my meal plan (I made them again last night, in fact). I can’t for the life of me, however, understand why my 2 and 5 year old kids don’t like them! Maybe they’re spoiled by In-n-Out fries.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Excellent use of your Wikipedia-fu. Thanks for the clarification!
…And then there’s the rest of us. Those who want to enjoy the benefits of things like Crossfit and even like to do so at a reasonably high level, but value many of the comforts of modern life that may stand in the way of reaching our specific Crossfit-related potential. Note, I did not say potential in general, because everything we do comes at the expense of something else. It appears not subsiding on a diet of sweet potatoes and egg whites comes at the expense of a sub 2 minute Fran time. However, one could argue that subsisting on said diet comes at the expense of enjoying some of the delicious, albeit, non-paleo delights that have been discovered and created over the centuries.
Mind you, I am a chef by trade, so I have a particular attachment to these things. I should also note that my wife and I grow an extensive garden and eat real food, so it’s not like I’m referring to total crap. She, by the way, has an advanced degree in nutrition and it’s simply nice to know the rules even if you don’t always follow them.
At any rate, I do not doubt that strictly following the diet referenced above is a better solution to fueling elite performances than not doing so. However, kind of sort of following said diet and then solely relying on water during sustained exercise is likely a recipe for disaster. There’s a guy I ride with who is younger than I and, I think, a better natural athlete. But I used to always kick his ass at the end of every ride. Then I noticed he was just carrying water. I hipped him to some of the products used by cyclists and that was the end of my reign.
I am not an advocate for Gatorade and do think they are way behind the times in terms of sports nutrition. In fact, funny I came across this topic this morning because I was just laughing at a Gatorade commercial last night where they pimp some of the performance drinks and gels that have been common place in endurance sports for years and claim to be, once again, “Changing the game”.
However, I was a cyclist before I started Crossfit and have learned to love Accelerade, Accelgel, and other such products because, quite simply, they work. Now, perhaps I’d be better off not going out to dinner the night before a long ride and enjoying a bottle of wine, and rather resting up at home with a sweet potato and chicken breast. However, it just so happens that I like both dining out and cycling at a reasonably high level and sticking a few Accelgels in my jersey pocket and snapping one about every hour allows me to do both.
And, this routine does not equal being a total wreck afterwards as was claimed by someone above. Do I feel fresh as a daisy after a gel-propelled 5 hour century that came after a night where I had a few beers? Well, no. However, on more than one occasion, I’ve followed said effort with another quick century the next day. At, for instance, an MS ride. Which, if you’ve ever been to one, you’ll know typically includes a banquet with plenty of beer on the night between the rides.
Now, I freely admit that, as a cyclist, I’m likely selling myself short by approaching nutrition in this manner. But that’s the thing, I’m not a cyclist, I’m a guy who happens to include cycling among those things he enjoys and just happens to be pretty good at it.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Charlie: If I may summarize, I think you’re saying, “I make the choice to include some foods in my life that I know aren’t optimally healthy. However, I choose to include them because they’re delicious/convenient/satisfying, and I accept the fact that I may not attain my absolute best health and fitness as the result of some of these choices. And I’m totally okay with that.”
Did I get it right? If so, while I may not live by the same guidelines that you do, I can certainly understand your position, and your sentiment. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
@Melissa. To be frank, I think your summary sort over simplified my stance and sort of makes my point. It seems as if you see my approach as a resignation of sorts. That I choose certain foods because I like them and am willing to accept that I will fall short of my absolute best health and fitness.
I guess that all depends on how you define health and also may push diminishing returns thresholds. Take this for example. There are steps that we can take to, for instance, make airline travel truly safe from terrorists. Unfortunately, they would include things like cavity searches of each and every person that has anything to do with that plane, crew, passengers, technicians, etc. But we’ve done the research and learned that there are ways that we can drastically reduce the threat (even if not entirely eliminate it) without resorting to such extreme measures. In other words, beyond that point, the juice is just not worth the squeeze. Now, sure, one could see that as a resignation (and often times politicians pander to that sentiment when they say things like, “we’ll do everything in our power to stop terrorism”) but it simply a matter of deciding what is truly important and realizing that the cost of optimizing one thing interferes too much with other things we value.
In the context of this conversation, that means devoting ourselves to physical fitness at the expense of other ways that enrich our lives. It’s ironic, actually, because one of the major talking points of CrossFit is the holistic approach to fitness. That a CrossFit athlete may not be able to run as fast as a runner or row as fast as a rower, or lift as much as weightlifter, but they could certainly smoke all of the above in a challenge that included all three. So why should this holistic approach end there? Why the cult-like approach to building one’s life around being the best you can be at tossing around barbells and doing muscle-ups?
Again, I continue to use things like Acel Gel in spite of the fact that I understand that pounding high sugar, high caffeine “supplements” is not optimal nutrition, but because of the simple fact that it works. And honestly, the same could be said for CrossFit. I continue to use it as a tool to maintain a high level of fitness despite the fact that the culture can be downright annoying and overbearing. Surely you’ve seen the videos mocking it, and they’re bloody true.
So this driven nature has it’s own side effect, that being, social retardation. Whether it’s boring your co-workers and Facebook friends by describing your workout or being a tiring dinner companion by fixating on how many blocks are in your meal rather than simply enjoying a nice dinner out. Now, I certainly don’t know you well enough to say that I’m describing you specifically, so please understand that. But you have to admit that this person absolutely exists and in numbers enough to inspire satire.
So, what is health? Is it simply making sure our plumbing and skeleton and muscles are working well? Or is it balancing an approach to physical health with a lifestyle that takes advantage of the other gifts of this planet. See, we’re not talking about caveman food vs McDonalds. We’re talking about caveman food vs artisanal delights; fine pastries, wines, craft beers… Expressions of love through food and drink, and if you let it happen, you can feel that love. And love is good. And love doesn’t care if your Fran time could be faster. Love is pretty damned impressed that you can knock out 45 thrusters and 45 pull-ups regardless of how long it takes you. And love can see it in your strong shoulders and doesn’t care if you’ve only got a 4 pack rather than a sixer. Because love knows that’s a whole lot better than most.
And love has got a nice IPA waiting for you when you’re done and a good friend as well, ready to clink glasses and reflect on a great workout.
Mike H says
Wow Charlie, you’re working way too hard to make point that everyone already knows. It’s funny how any time there’s a group that promotes some kind of hypercompliant mentality with regards to a given discipline, invariably you’ll find some kind of champion of moderation that swoops in to save everyone.
We don’t need saving man. Enjoy your gels, we’ll enjoy our sweet potatoes.
Now I gotta go get my “social retard” on and post my wods on FB.
You’re totally right Mike. This whole “cult” and social retardation thing must be in my imagination.
Listen, I only went into detail because I felt Melissa’s summary sort of short-changed my perspective. That as long as I was happy with the notion that I was essentially selling myself short, there should be no reason why I shouldn’t continue to enjoy the simple pleasures of certain foods.
Oh, and btw, I love sweet potatoes. I just have a hard time stuffing them into my cycling jersey.
Yawn, both of you are happy, healthy people I would guess. Stop splitting hairs over this. You’re filling up my inbox with your tit for tat.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Suggestion: sweet potato baby food, blended with coconut milk and (optionally) some applesauce, put into reusable Gu flasks (which fit into cycling jerseys just fine). Eating spot-on clean is completely possible – it just requires some effort. Best,
Hi Dallas and Melissa,
I was searching through your site looking for info about stevia because I have a question about Natural Calm. I started taking the stuff per yours and Robb Wolf’s recommendation about a month ago a love it! However, I am currently living abroad in Asia, and so have to have my mom send it to me as it isn’t available here. In this last shipment, my mom went crazy and bought the flavored varieties of natural calm, which I have discovered have stevia in them!! How bad is this? If I take about 3 tsp a night, would this upset my insulin sensitivity? Or is it not a big enough dose to matter? Please let me know what you think!
Thanks a million,
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Short answer: if you’ve got it, use it, and just buy the unsweetened kind next time. No worries.
Sorry for doing a necro on a 2 year old post, but I’ve hit a sticking point and need advice.
Okay, so I’m all in for starting Whole30 on Monday (since I get groceries on Sunday afternoon).
But I do use coconut water to rehydrate at work. I’ve tried using plain water, but I don’t have one of those “pretty girl” jobs. I work a sweaty job in the desert, it’s currently monsoon season (so 110F plus humidity) and I can literally drink 2 or 3 gallons of water even if I’m only drinking when I’m thirsty and to bring down my body temperature. I can’t just grab a sweet potato.
I’ve been using Smartwater, and that does seem to help some, but without coconut water I’m worried I’ll end up with the migraines I had last summer before I discovered coconut water.
I don’t want to just say “Oh well, I guess I’m just choosing to eat bad food” and let it go at that. I’d like to know if there’s a reasonable alternative or if I’m the one freak of nature that should be drinking it.
If it makes any difference, I am very active, age 47, currently about 20 pounds overweight and have been making attempts at eating Primal, successful for about 6 months and then failing miserably ever since a couple of concussions seriously compromised my ability to say “Yeah, that’s probably not good for me”.
Thanks in advance for any ideas.
Melissa @Whole9 says
Next time, post this in our forum! You’ll get a faster response there, and probably some good ideas from other folks. (http://forum.whole9life.com)
Coconut water is fine for your Whole30, as long as they don’t add extra sugar. (Most do not.) We recommend against using it a your main source of drinking water for everyday use because it is a bit sugary, but because you’re in the desert, sweating your tail off, go ahead and use it to keep you hydrated. I will say, however, that under your conditions, you’re not losing potassium anywhere near as fast as you’re losing sodium – so coconut water may not be the best choice. Plain old water with some salt may be a better choice, so perhaps try rotating that in with your coconut water and see how that works… or drink your slightly salted water and eat a banana for the potassium.
Hope that helps,
Interesting about the potassium. I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll be heading over to the forums very soon. Oh, and I finished “It Starts With Food” yesterday and absolutely love it! Thanks!
We should be getting fructose from real foods like fruits and raw honey. There’s lots of money to be made in food and selling processed foods. That being the case a lot of things we believe about healthy eating is dilated to use by the food industry. Just because there’s tons of research on some protein powder didn’t mean it’s better for us then real food. Who funded the research? Most likely it was from the very company that is selling you the protein powder.
Kim Byrd says
Hello! I am an avid crossfiter who just started my first whole 9 program and am a bit nervous because I had to stop my BCAA/electrolyte mix. I remember seeing a recipe on your website for an electrolyte mix, but I cannot find it anywhere. Could you help me out with this and maybe provide another solution for my mid-workout crash.
Mike Hollister says
You could just go to http://www.truenutrion.com and make a custom BCAA mix w/ no sweeteners or fillers. It’ll taste like ass but the effect’ll be the same. You can get instantized stuff to mix better and there’s an option at the end to add in electrolytes.
Or you could do real food preworkout nutrition, tuna or chicken and some mashed sweet potato + applesauce 1.5 hours pre-workout might do the trick.
BCAAs are gonna be easier, but disgusting w/o the additives. Could mix it w/ juice I suppose.