Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To love or not to love: Ultra Fuel Review

Ultra Fuel.  I want to love this stuff.  I really do.  My Hubby seems to like it well enough, and I have heard from others that it is an awesome fueling option for long runs.  Unfortunately, after testing it out this past weekend, I am left with the conclusion that it is really disgusting.

Okay, I would be happier if all the ingredients looked
like they came straight from Mother Nature, but for a
once-in-a-while concoction, I can trade in my purity standards
for the few ingredients it has.
So, before this past weekend's long run, I took a long, hard look at the calories that I take in during my miles.  After doing a little math on the issue, Hubby and I came to the conclusion that I may need a few more calories per hour of running than I am getting.  So, looking at options, I asked if adding some Ultra Fuel by Twinlab to my nutritional rotation would make sense.  Normally, I only drink a diluted solution of Gatorade and eat some Clif Blocks and maybe a gel or two.  (And I am trying to phase out the gels, because I really don't like them.)  I was attracted to the Ultra Fuel, because it is really made with very few ingredients, which I like, and it packs a more caloric punch.  (Trust me, if it weren't for the running, I would not be looking to take in more calories!)  The directions on the jar say to mix in 4 scoops of Ultra Fuel to 16 ounces of water for a whopping 400 calories.  Now, I don't need that much, and even Hubby doesn't use this stuff full strength, so we decided I should only mix in 2 scoops to the same amount of water for 200 calories, give or take.

Hubby had warned me to try a taste before taking off on my run, because, as he said, it is a bit... well, ... different tasting.  If I didn't like it, I was supposed to put the mix in the fridge and he would drink it later when he went for his run.

So, what did I think?  Well, in the morning, I dutifully mixed up a bottle of the Ultra Fuel Fruit Punch flavor we have, shook it well, took a sip, and...gurgle, blegh, gack, gulp....oh my.  Once I uncrossed my eyes, unpursed my lips, waggled the bitterness off of my tongue, I was left thinking .... this stuff is really gross tasting.  I took another sip...gurgle, blegh, gack, gulp.  Yep, still gross tasting, but strangely compelling, too - the gustatory equivalent of not being able to take your eyes off of something because it is so ugly.

So, I have decided that Ultra Fuel is complicated.  

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided that despite my initial reaction I was going to run with it anyway.  (Frankly, I am getting a little tired of Gatorade and if Ultra Fuel is all that and a bag of chips, I wanted to experience it for myself.)  It wasn't easy, but I managed to choke down the entire 16 ounces.  I mean, I am serious when I said I thought is was really disgusting tasting.  I hate to say it, but I couldn't get past how bitter it was.  I had to think back to all the times I have heard that nature tells you by taste if something is good for you to eat or not.  I.e., if it is really bitter, it's poisonous.  Seriously, I was worried I had gotten a bad batch.  If it weren't for the fact that I knew Hubby had successfully been drinking it and lived to tell the tale, I might have dumped it out after that first sip.  I mean, people wouldn't actually choose to drink this, would they?  

I am pretty sure I continued to make a face with every slug I drank, and I am equally as sure that made a ridiculous sight to any and all passersby.  After a while, I could almost convince myself that it was its grapefruit-like undertones that made it bitter.  That made it easier to palate, but not by much. At least then, however, I was able to get past the thought that I was being poisoned.  

So, to be fair, it wasn't all bad.  There were a couple of positive things to report about the Ultra Fuel.  One was that because of its taste, I was fairly judicious in how I spaced out my sips. I didn't suck down the 16 ounces shamelessly fast and without conscious thought.  I was aware of every gag-evoking taste.  My bottle lasted way past the six miles I can usually count on.  The other thing that was positive was that despite the taste, it was really easy on the stomach.  I had no stomach issues at all, and really I felt pretty adequately hydrated and fueled for the entire run.  And that is enough to make me look beyond my criticism of the taste and try it again.

Honestly, for me to keep drinking this stuff it is going to take some serious mind-bending thought gymnastics to wrap my brain around why this is such a good thing for me, but I am going to give it another try.  I may try mixing it full strength once to see if that helps improve the taste.  Or, as I have heard from online reviews the orange flavor is better, I might give that a go once instead.  As I said, I have heard so much positive about this stuff, I really do want to love it.  How about you?

Do you run with Ultra Fuel?  Like it?  Can't stand it?  

What other nutritional supplementation do you use during your runs?

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