Test by Coy Starnes
Tailwind Nutrition was developed by ultra endurance racer Jeff Vierling as an all-in-one formula to combine hydration, caloric and electrolyte replacement during ultra race events. He was frustrated with the available drinks, gels, and bars that caused stomach issues to the point of hurling in a trash can at the end of his first Leadville 100. After testing several combinations he came up with the current formula with the intention of using it as his secret weapon, only other athletes saw his results and wanted in on the action. He was handing out his formula in ziplock bags in the parking lots. In his own words he said it looked a little suspicious… I wonder if he had several cell-phones on him….you know, more cell phones than a crack dealer.
The official motto of Tailwind Nutrition is “All you need, all day. Really.” Since Tailwind does not contain any protein or fat it is not a meal replacement and does not claim to be. Therefore I would not recommend it as the only nutrition for a hike of several days or more. However, I think it would work as my day to day hydration needs while underway, complemented with solid foods for breakfast and supper.
Speaking of nutrition, a single 1.9 oz packet of Tailwind provides 200 calories which is considered 2 servings. The packets have a mark in the middle in case I want to only mix half a pack but the full packet is designed to mix with 20 – 24 oz of water. This provides 50 grams of carbohydrates, 606 mg sodium, 176 mg potassium, 52 mg calcium and 28 mg magnesium. The caffeinated varieties provide 35 mg of caffeine per 100 calories or 70 mg per packet. According to the website Tailwind Nutrition is made with all natural and organic ingredients and contains no wheat, gluten, soy or dairy. The website recommends consuming 200 to 300 calories for events lasting 2 hours or longer and 100 to 200 calories per hour for events lasting less than 2 hours.
Tailwind Nutrition is available in several flavors and in the packets I just mentioned or in bulk packaging up to the large which is good for 50 servings. The packets are more convenient for using in water bottles, especially if they will need refilled during the day like a hiker would do or a race with aid stations. The bulk packs would work great for filling a hydration bladder and is cheaper than the individual packets. I’ll be testing 7 individual packets sold as the Stick Pack Bundle. The 7-pack assortment includes all 7 available flavors including the caffeinated varieties. The regular flavors are Berry, Mandarin Orange, Lemon and Naked (unflavored). The caffeinated flavored are Rasberry Buzz, Green Tea Buzz, and Tropical Buzz. Tailwind Nutrition is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. See website for complete details.
I’m certainly not an ultra endurance athlete, but I do ride a bike, recumbent, and an ElliptiGo fairly regularly for exercise. I generally only ride a couple of hours at max and often just an hour. I also like to hike and one thing I’ve always wanted was an easy way to keep my body fueled on an all day hike. Of course hiking is a lot less strenuous than racing but humping a 30 lb pack up and down hills over tough terrain over and over all day long does burn a lot of calories and I will be sweating like a race horse. Stay tuned for my update to see how the Tailwind Nutrition products work for me.
Final Update: January 15, 2018
I used the Tailwind Nutrition for several long day hikes, and a couple of overnight hikes. I only used it on one long ElliptiGo ride, I kept busting spokes on what seemed like every other ride and finally sold it. So while not an ultra runner or athlete by any stretch of the imagination, my goal was to find out how well it helped me maintain my energy and if it would keep me from having cramps afterwards. I am pleased to say it did a very good job for both.
I used the product over a pretty stretched out time period and should have kept better notes about which flavors I liked best but I did not. I liked them all but the berry and raspberry flavors were my favorite. They all tasted slightly salty to me but I like that. Before getting this product I would add some lemon juice and salt to my water for long hikes and bike rides.
I was slightly concerned the caffeinated variety’s would keep me awake at night but I never drank those late in the afternoon and never had any problem sleeping on the nights I drank those that were caffeinated.
I did have one concern, I have been trying Keto dieting and was concerned that having this many carbs would kick me out of Ketosis. And honestly, it may have. I’m no scientist or even a nutritionist but I read that I should keep my carbohydrates under 50 grams a day and some even recommended keeping it under 20 grams. Since one packet contains 50 grams of carbohydrates this would mean any other carbs would put me over the so called limit. However, I read conflicting advice for Keto athletes. Seems that if highly active you could get away with a lot more than a sedentary individual. But again, I’m not here to promote the Keto diet. I also read that it was very important to keep a good electrolyte balance to avoid the Keto flu. The Tailwind Nutrition certainly could help in that regard.
Tailwind Nutrition touts that it is very easy on the gut and a great way to refuel without having any digestive issues. I’m probably not the best person to test this claim since my wife claims I have a cast iron stomach. I did however like how I felt while hiking hard using it. Turns out that if you go for a long hike for exercise it’s called rucking. I have been doing this for years, just wasn’t aware it had a name. Anyways, I used it on a couple of 3 hour hikes with a 26 lb backpack. I sweated a ton, even on the day I hiked when it was about 30 degrees. I would fill one smart-water bottle with water and a full packet of Tailwind Nutrition and another with just water. I would drink the water first but save a little for later. During the last half of my hike I would switch to drinking mostly the Tailwind Nutrition.
So to summarize,Tailwind Nutrition appears to live up to its claim as the only fuel needed for extended workouts.