Gear Lab: Nuun Hydration

Nuun LineupI haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to fueling and hydration. I’ve had energy gels cause stomach cramps and derail a PR-pace marathon, and I frequently suffer from post-workout migraines brought on by dehydration and electrolyte deficiency.

Several friends, including some members of Team Shenanigans, recommended I try nuun. The five varieties of nuun products come in effervescent tablet form, like Alka-Seltzer. Just drop them into water, and they fizz and dissolve, releasing electrolytes, carbohydrates and, for some varieties, caffeine.

For this review, nuun sent me some complimentary product to sample. I chose the Strawberry Lemonade flavor of nuun active, which contains primarily electrolytes, and only 1g carbs per tablet. To boost the carbohydrate content, I added two tablets of their new unflavored plus for nuun . The combination of one tablet of nuun active and two tablets of plus for nuun in 16 ounces of water contains:

  • One nuun active and two nuun plus tablets provide electrolytes and carbs.sodium: 410 mg
  • potassium: 201 mg
  • magnesium: 75 mg
  • calcium: 63 mg
  • carbs: 11g
  • calories: 48

I dropped the three tablets into a glass with 16 oz of tap water, and a couple of minutes later came back to give them a stir. They dissolved completely without any grit in the bottom of the glass.

nuun active comes in many great flavors

I took a sip and loved the lightly sweetened flavor. It was incredibly refreshing without the heavy, sticky sweet flavor of other sports drinks. The drink has a tiny bit of carbonation, just enough for it to sort of “sparkle” in my mouth, but not enough to cause any bloating. This is not like drinking soda.

I divided the prepared nuun into my two 8 oz. running belt water bottles, and accidentally spilled some on my hands. I expected a big sticky mess, but it wasn’t sticky at all. Again, nothing like what would have happened with other sports drinks.

My water bottles have a gasket at the opening which allow you to squeeze water out, while preventing water from splashing out while running. I noticed that the carbonation was causing pressure to build up in the bottle, so I drank about half from each bottle. Still, the pressure continued to build and after about a quarter-mile, the bottles started “spitting” a little, releasing the gas and spraying a little on my back. I drank the rest and refilled the bottles with plain water. I don’t think this would have been a problem with any other type of bottle.

For the first six miles of my ten-mile run, I didn’t take any additional fuel or supplements, just plain water. The 16 ounces of nuun active that I drank before my run provided everything I needed. For longer workouts, nuun suggests supplementing your carb needs as follows:

plus for nuun usage guidelines

Each tube of nuun active contains 12 tablets, each tablet good for one 16 ounce serving. Each tube costs $7 on the nuun website, which compares favorably to other sports drinks, and you can find them for closer to $5/tube on Amazon in multi-packs.

Each tube of plus for nuun contains 12 tablets, enough for six 16 ounce servings, and costs $6.99 on the nuun website. The cost of one nuun active tablet and two plus for nuun tablets is pretty comparable to most other sports drinks, so the price seems reasonable.

While not reviewed here, nuun offers three additional varieties:

  • nuun energy – includes vitamins, minerals and 40mg of caffeine per tablet
  • nuun all day – includes vitamins and minerals
  • u natural – includes vitamins and minerals for less intense activities

I’d strongly recommend nuun active if you’re looking for a different kind of sports drink. It’s delicious, highly portable and may be easier on your stomach.

nuun active pros:

  • highly portable – carry the tablets and drop into water when needed
  • lightly sweetened
  • low in calories (less than 8 calories per nuun active tablet)
  • twelve flavors to choose from (orange, lemon lime, strawberry lemonade, fruit punch, kona cola, lemon tea, tri-berry, grape, tropical, citrus fruit, watermelon, and lemonade)
  • favorably priced compared to other sports drinks
  • no artificial colors
  • many varieties are vegan

nuun active cons:

  • didn’t work great in my gasket-topped water bottles

Laura CalloutTo provide a little more background from a long-time nuun user, I asked our very own Laura Bailey a few questions about her experience with nuun.

When did you start using nuun and why?

The first summer I ran consistently I quickly realized that I needed water, water and more water.  But drinking just plain water was really boring and if I was bored, I wasn’t drinking water.  My local running store recommended nuun.

What products did you use before (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)?

Gatorade was my “go-to” for many years while working out. I’ve never really tried any other hydration drinks or tablets

What do you like better about nuun than Gatorade?

Gatorade is just too sweet and too heavy for me.  I found that I always ended up with either an upset stomach or that I had to water it down before I could drink it.  With nuun I don’t ever have an upset stomach and the taste isn’t over whelming.

I love being able to get creative with it. I’m not a huge fan of cola but I put Kona Cola and Lemon Lime together and it reminds me of a diet soda that I gave up when I started running.  Or I’ll mix some Lemonade with Grape for a not too sweet afternoon drink. Yum!

Do you supplement nuun with things like gels or chomps?

I do carry Nuun in my water when I run longer distances.  I also carry a variety of gels or chomps for these runs.

Would you recommend it?

Absolutely.  My husband has the same kind of reaction to Gatorade and I bought him some of his own Nuun tablets to try.  He now has a stash at work, in his lunch bag and at home.  Energy is his favorite.

[disclosure]

 

Chris Smith

About Author:

Chris Smith, a.k.a. @DopeyRunr, started running in 2013. He has since completed the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 Dopey Challenges, and dozens of other marathons and half marathons around the country.

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