The best active nutrition 2024: bars, gels and drinks to fuel your outdoor adventures

Collage of the best active nutrition products
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to the best active nutrition, it's important to take a trial (or should that be trail) and error approach to find what propels you onwards best. With so many different endurance pursuits and adventure styles, it's hardly surprising that one person's perfect nutrition is another's downfall.

However, to bring you this guide, our contributors have tested a range of the best active nutrition products on their ultra marathons and backcountry adventures. We've considered factors like taste, packability, ease of consumption and the energy boost they gave us to arrive at our verdicts.

Of course, what works for you might – and probably will – differ from our testers. As mentioned, it's worth experimenting to find the fuel that suits you best. Here, we feature everything from bars, sweets and chews to nutrition drink mixes that'll make you fly along faster and longer in your best trail running shoes.

For more guidance on how to choose between the best active nutrition options, see our guide at the bottom of the page. The products we love the most are the Torq Explore Flapjack bars, the Clif Bloks Energy Chews and the Active Root Sports Drink. So, if you're unsure what to try first, give them a go.

The best active nutrition bars

Torq Explore Flapjack

Sweet, moist, moreish and sure to put a pep in your step (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

1. Torq Explore Flapjack

The best nutrition bars


List price (per bar): $2.24 (US) / £1.85 (UK)
Weight: 65g / 2.29oz
Flavors: Organic Apple Strudel / Organic Carrot Cake / Organic Ginger Cake / Organic Black Forest / Organic Bakewell Slice / Organic Banana Cake
Energy per bar: 263kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 43g
Salt per bar: 0.19g
Fat per bar: 8.1g
Protein per bar: 3.2g
Fiber per bar: 3.0g

Reasons to buy

High calorie

Reasons to avoid

Sticky fingers

Torq’s Explore range offers snacking and breakfast options that are held to the same high research-driven standards as their Energy, Hydration and Recovery ranges. Torq have outdone themselves with the Explore flapjack range. Their flapjacks deliver an incredible flavor profile in a handy, packable and dangerously moreish bar. We found that the syrup and raisins make for a satisfyingly chewy bar and a sweet hit. Torq’s Explore Flapjacks are vegan friendly and don’t contain any sweeteners or preservatives. 

We had our first bite of an Explore flapjack after a particularly gruelling long uphill training session in late October. The wind and rain had been battering the hillside for a two-mile climb. However, one bite and all was forgotten. That bite turned to two, then three. You get the picture. Before long, a warm sugary glow and replenished glycogen fuelled a more enjoyable downhill. 

These are high-calorie bars in small packages, designed to deliver energy quickly and efficiently. Packable and pocketable, they fit easily into a running vest, cycle jersey or belt pocket. 

It’s a treat you’ll look forward to before, during and after activity. We still can’t stop thinking about the Bakewell slice flapjack and a nice cup of tea.

Ingredients (Organic Apple Strudel): organic jumbo oats, organic Golden Syrup, organic dark brown sugar (organic dark brown sugar, organic molasses), organic sunflower oil, organic raisins (9%), organic maltodextrin, organic dried apple (6%), organic ground cinnamon (0.6%), sea salt

Maurten Solid C 225

A light and sweet cocoa oat bar with high carbs and low fiber (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

2. Maurten Solid C 225

The best bar that's easy to digest


List price (per bar): $3 (US) / £2.50 (UK)
Weight: 60g / 2.11oz
Flavors: Unflavored / Cocoa
Energy per bar: 225kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 44g
Sodium per bar: 0.68g
Fat per bar: 3.6g
Fiber per bar: 2.4g

Reasons to buy

Light flavor
Easy to digest
High carbohydrate

Reasons to avoid

Fairly chewy

Maurten has fast become known for its hydrogel drinks and gels. However, the Solid range is the first to stray away from that technology. But don’t be disheartened – what Maurten have created are two oat-based bars that are not only tasty but deliver a big energy hit. 

Science and performance driven, the Solid bars contain rice and oats and are light to eat with a hint of sweetness that’s easy on the digestion. Cereal bars these are not. They’re designed to complement Maurten’s gels and drink mixes, providing an alternative product to be consumed pre- and post- exercise. 

Maurten also suggest that ultra runners can consume Solid bars mid-race. So that’s what we did. Sure enough, the light sweetness and cocoa flavor of the Solid C 225 has a mild flavor and although chewy, not hard to get down. The Solid C 225 bar is wonderfully light on the stomach and easy to wrap back up if you want just a bite here and there. 

With 44g of carbohydrates this is an excellent option to fuel your exercise, whatever activity you choose. Maurten have created something really special with its Solid range.

Ingredients: (Cocoa): gluten-free oats, fructose-glucose syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, rice flour, sunflower oil, fat-reduced cocoa, rice bran, salt, emulsifier (lecithin), rice extract

Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar

A crunchy, nutty hit with a hint of sweetness to satisfy the taste buds (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

3. Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar

Best nutty energy bar


List price (per bar): $2.65 (US) / £2.50 (UK)
Weight: 50g / 1.76oz
Flavors: Peanut Butter & Strawberries / Raspberries & Lemons / Cherries & Pistachios / Chocolate Chips & Almonds
Energy per bar: 220kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 32g
Sodium: 210mg
Fat per bar: 8g
Protein per bar: 5g

Reasons to buy

Anytime energy

Reasons to avoid

Hard to eat just one

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Skratch Labs have firmly established themselves in the US nutrition market with some highly innovative and delicious products. With a full range of hydration, recovery, energy and nutrition offerings, founder Dr Allen Lim is filling a gap in the market for gut-friendly, real food options for athletes and hobbyists alike. 

Skratch’s tag line is, “Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not. Repeat if necessary.” We raided the box of Skratch Lab’s peanut butter and strawberries bars right after a lunchtime easy shakeout run. Lightly crispy with a hint of berries and just a touch of sweetness, the bar was easy to eat. A little too easy. That “repeat if necessary” line ringing in the ears, a second bar was gone in a couple of minutes. A reps training session followed a few hours later and one more bar (to really test the product, you see) went down nicely on the way to the meet point. 

Skratch Lab’s plant-based, gluten- and soy-free, non-GMO and kosher Anytime Energy bar packs in some serious calories for its size. Lim has hit on a recipe that’s tasty, moreish and delivers energy when you need it. 

Ingredients: nut butter blend (peanut butter, cashew butter [cashews, safflower or sunflower oil]), roasted peanuts, tapioca syrup solids, tapioca syrup, dried strawberries, coconut nectar, oats, quinoa crisps, brown rice crisps, vegetable glycerine, strawberry powder, oat flour, sorghum flakes, sea salt, tapioca soluble fiber, sunflower lecithin 

Science in Sport GO Energy Bake

A sweet little baked bar for a well-earned cake stop (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

4. Science in Sport GO Energy Bake

Best bar for lightweight packability


List price (per bar): $1.93 (US) / £1.75 (UK)
Weight: 50g / 1.76oz
Flavors: Strawberry / Lemon / Orange / Tiramisu
Energy per bar: 190kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 30g
Salt per bar: 0.25g
Fat per bar: 5g
Protein per bar: 3.5g

Reasons to buy

Light and packable
Huge carb hit
Sweet and tasty

Reasons to avoid

Easily squashable!

For the cake lovers among us, Science in Sport have it covered with the GO Energy Bake. Similar to a Nutrigrain (UK) bar in its soft casing with fruit filling, SIS’s Energy Bakes pack a lot of carbs into a small package. Cheaper than some other bars on the market, these bakes have 30g of carbs in one bar and 190 calories. 

We took the GO Energy Bakes out on a Sunday long run of 14 miles. The aim was to take a cake break at the halfway point of an out-and-back. In typical Scottish weather fashion, it was another wet and (head-)windy out leg and the cake stop couldn’t have come soon enough. With wet hands and a frozen face, the bars were easy to tear open and eat from the packaging. They’re a soft bar with minimal chewing making them ideal for chilled lips or to eat while moving. The center is full of sweet fruit so both texture and taste are pleasurable. The bake sat nicely in the stomach for the return leg. 

These are a “look forward to” nutritional product that’ll keep you going but also provide a welcome cake hit on any outing. 

Ingredients: Strawberry: wheat flour (wheat flour, calcium carbonate, iron, niacin, thiamin), fructose, strawberry-flavor filling (15%) (apple juice concentrate, fructose, gum acacia, vegetable glycerine, milk powder, olive oil, coconut oil, oat flour, flavoring, natural coloring (black carrot)), vegetable glycerine, olive oil, whole egg, gum acacia, milk protein, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate), flavoring, green tea extract

Human Food

Wholefood feel-good snacking for any time of the day (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

5. Human Food

Best bar for high calorie count


RRP (per bar): $5.21 (US) / £3.50 (UK)
Weight: 76g / 2.68oz
Flavors: Organic Mixed Nut Choc / Organic Banana Cocoa / Organic Goji Berry / Organic Orange Choc Cashew
Energy per bar: 309kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 18g
Salt per bar: 0.5g
Fat per bar: 18g
Protein per bar: 14g
Fiber per bar: 11g

Reasons to buy

Packed with nutrients
Compostable packaging

Reasons to avoid


Human Food Bars bring with them everything you’d need for a day (or multiple days) in the outdoors. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, Human Food provides a whole food alternative to active nutrition. 

The bars are larger than you’d usually get for on the go snacking, weighing in at 76g of high quality, organic, broad-spectrum nutrition. Human Food bars are fully plant-based – even the packaging, which is compostable. 

We took a few Human Food bars on a day hike in the Angus Glens for an active recovery day in early November. Tom at Human Food had suggested a bar as a recovery meal and “meal” was the right word. The silver foil-looking packaging feels so durable and premium, we couldn’t believe it’s made from plant fibers! 

The bars have a “cold-pressed” feel to them that makes them dense and filling, exactly the recovery meal Tom was talking about. As cocoa nibs gave way to dried banana pieces there was a hint of sweetness, maybe from the apple juice and rice syrup. 

Even a 76g bar doesn’t feel like sugar overload. In fact, it feels like a wellness kick and one very welcomed to restore the body.

Ingredients: (Organic Mixed Nut Choc): organic nuts (walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds)(23%), organic tapioca fiber, organic hemp seeds (14%), organic dried apricots, organic pea protein, organic oats, organic dried banana, organic apple juice concentrate, organic cacao powder (3%), organic rice starch, organic grape juice concentrate, organic cacao butter, algae extract, organic curry leaf extract, organic maca root (0.7%), organic quinoa sprout extract, organic acerola, Cornish sea salt, organic ascophyllum seaweed, organic mushroom extract, organic black peppercorns

The best active nutrition sweets and chews

Clif Bloks Energy Chews

A soft sweet pick-me-up designed to keep you moving (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

6. Clif Bloks Energy Chews

Best energy chews


List price (per pack): $3.79 (US) / £2.20 (UK)
Weight: 60g / 2.11oz
Flavors: Strawberry / Black Cherry / Mountain Berry / Tropical Punch / Margarita Citrus
Energy per serving: 128kcal per 4 pieces
Carbohydrates: 32g per 4 pieces
Sodium per 4 pieces: 0.17g
Fat per bar: 0g
Protein per 4 pieces : 0g

Reasons to buy

Easy to chew
Light and refreshing flavor

Reasons to avoid

A little sticky on the teeth

Having a sweet treat to keep you going is always something to look forward to and the folks at Clif Bar know a thing or two about putting tasty nutrition together. Clif Bloks Energy Chews are 60g bars consisting of six cubes. They look a little like jelly cubes (UK) but have a denser more satisfying texture as well as a very pleasing flavor. 

Clif recommend a serving of three to four Bloks, which will deliver you around 30g of carbohydrates, similar to some gels but oh so much nicer to eat.

We took these out as an addition to other nutrition while on a trail hike in the Angus Glens. If you’re doing a more strenuous activity, Clif say that taking a few Bloks before you set off will raise your game. The first thing to note is the ease of opening and consuming right from the package. Each Blok breaks off nicely and has a slight chew but is also easy to swallow. Moreover, it was easy to digest and gave us a real boost.

Although a little pricey, these little cubes pack in a lot of flavor and are an excellent addition to your energy needs while exercising.

Ingredients: Strawberry: tapioca syrup, cane sugar, maltodextrin, pectin, citric acid, natural flavor, black carrot juice concentrate (for color), potassium citrate, sea salt, sunflower oil, carnauba wax

Torq Performance Energy Chew

Organic, cold-pressed, maximum flavor and good to go when you are (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

7. Torq Performance Energy Chew

Tastiest energy chew


List price (per bar): $3 (US) / £1.85 (UK)
Weight: 39g / 1.37oz
Flavors: Mango / Pineapple
Energy per bar: 128kcal
Carbohydrates per bar: 30g
Salt per bar: 0g
Fat per bar: 0.4g
Protein per bar: 0.6g
Fiber per bar: 1.4g

Reasons to buy

Just four ingredients
Handy small bar size
Excellent flavor

Reasons to avoid

Super chewy

Torq’s Performance Energy Chews are a little different to those that have gone before. For a start, they’re cold pressed and comprise just four organic ingredients. They’re also in bars and very handily shaped as a long rectangle, ideal for pockets. They feel healthful. They’ve got a sweetness to them that tastes natural but they still bring that trademark Torq flavor hit. They are, however, very chewy. We had these out on a day hike and although an excellent source of natural energy with 30g of carbohydrate per bar, they definitely lived up to their “Chew” branding. 

But Torq say this is intentional. It provides variety, keeps the consumer interested in what they’re eating and allows the Chew to be consumed alongside other Torq products without a “same-y” feel. Now that’s some good thinking. 

If you’re looking for an all-natural, simple-ingredient bar, Torq Chew has it covered. It’s an excellent option and addition to the chews and sweets market that doesn’t compromise on energy delivery or quality. 

While satisfying, it can feel tricky to run or cycle hard (plus breathe) while eating these chews but they are ideal for those who want a cold-pressed whole foods alternative to energy sweets. 

Ingredients: (Mango Energy Chew): organic Mango, organic Dates, organic Maltodextrin, organic Agave Syrup |

Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews

Energy chews with a caffeine kick that’ll keep you focused on your goals (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

8. Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews

Best energy chew for a caffeine kick


List price (per pack): $2.45 (US) / £2.50 (UK)
Weight: 50g / 1.76oz
Flavors: Orange / Sour Cherry / Raspberry
Energy per serving: 70kcal
Carbohydrates per serving: 18g
Sodium per serving: 80mg
Fat per serving: 0g
Protein per serving: 0g
Caffeine per serving: 25mg

Reasons to buy

Handy portable pouch
Good size
Satisfying chew

Reasons to avoid

Packaging tricky to open

Skratch Labs have done it again with an outstanding nutrition product made from simple ingredients. They’re vegan and gluten free, and the “energy” in Sport Energy Chews comes from tapioca syrup and cane sugar. We tried the sour cherry flavor, which also has green tea extract for a caffeine kick. 

Skratch Labs suggest a portion size of five pieces – that’s half a pack of these small chewy delights – to deliver 18g of carbs and 25mg of caffeine in just 70 calories. We took these on a run / hike through some boggy moorland and steep inclines. Skratch Labs recommend eating one packet per hour of exercise and that dosing was just the right amount. Easy to pop in the mouth, chew and swallow, they aren’t too sweet, which makes it easy to want more. 

A good, clean energy source to fuel the morning outdoors, these were a great choice to pocket in a hip belt. The packaging is strong (and waterproof – that Scottish rain again) and the chews don’t squash too easily. They’re also not sticky on the fingers and they dissolve in the mouth nicely. Good work, Skratch Labs, another excellent nutrition option. 

Ingredients: cane sugar, tapioca syrup, water, pectin, cherry powder, citric acid, lactic acid, sea salt, green tea extract

The best active nutrition drink mixes

Active Root Sports Drink

A ginger-based sports drink designed to settle the stomach and hydrate the body (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

9. Active Root Sports Drink

The best sports drink


List price (per sachet): $1.49 (US) / £1.09 (UK)
Weight: 35g / 1.23oz
Flavors: Original Ginger / Peppermint & Ginger / Green Tea & Ginger
Energy per sachet: 133kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 33g
Salt per sachet: 0.40g
Fat per sachet: 0.035g
Salt per sachet: 0.40g
Fiber per sachet: 0.02g

Reasons to buy

Subtle sweetness
Ginger as a core ingredient
All natural

Reasons to avoid

Takes a good shake to dissolve

Active Root has fast become one of the most relied-on sports drinks on the market. Its unique ginger formula is ideal to keep stomachs settled even on the longest of training or race days. In addition, the 33g of carbohydrates per sachet means it’s a good source of fuel and, alongside 400mg of sea salt, is sure to keep you hydrated. 

Active Root uses all-natural ingredients so if you’re looking for something that’s easy on the stomach and tastes great, here is where it’s at. If ginger isn’t your thing, this might not be for you but the ginger taste isn’t overpowering. Neither is the sweetness. There’s a careful balance of flavor and if you opt for one of the Green Tea and Ginger sachets, you’ll notice a subtle tartness that tingles the taste buds and keeps any sickly sweetness far away. 

Active Root is now a staple in our hydration packs for any exercise over two hours. Easy to mix and light to carry, it’s a simple addition that delivers a great deal to keep the body in balance. 

Ingredients: (Original Ginger): cane sugar blend (natural disaccharide, 50% glucose, 50% fructose), citric acid, sea salt, ginger root extract

Tailwind Endurance Fuel

A top class product from Tailwind offering all-day energy and tasty flavors (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

10. Tailwind Endurance Fuel

Best drink mix with a variety of flavours


List price (per sachet): $2.50 (US) / £1.90 (UK)
Weight: 54g / 2oz
Flavors: Raspberry Buzz / Matcha Green Tea Buzz / Colorado Cola / Tropical Buzz / Mandarin Orange / Berry / Lemon / Naked
Energy per sachet: 200kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 50g
Sodium per sachet: 630mg
Fat per sachet: 0g
Protein per sachet:: 0g
Caffeine per sachet: 70mg

Reasons to buy

All-day nutrition
Great flavors
Mixes well

Reasons to avoid

Packaging can be hard to open in the elements

Tailwind is back with some wonderfully modernized packaging that looks and feels premium. What’s inside is the same Endurance Fuel loved and trusted by athletes to provide all-day energy. Vegan, gluten free, soy and dairy free, Tailwind’s Fuel is marketed as, “All you need. Really.” And they’re not wrong. With 200kcal a sachet, caffeinated and decaf options, 50g of carbohydrates per serving and more flavors than you could guzzle in a day, it’s easy to see why Tailwind Endurance Fuel is so popular. 

We took two sachets on a recovery hike hoping that the carbohydrates would boost tired muscles and the caffeine would provide some pep. And boy did it. We tried out Raspberry and Tropical. Both flavors had the right amount of subtlety, not too bold or too light. The sweetness is also subtle which means that if you were to drink Tailwind Endurance Fuel all day, it wouldn’t become sickening. 

It mixes easily with water and although the packaging is a little tough to get into with chilled fingers, it feels robust. A few sachets in a running pack over 30 miles would stay intact. This is an excellent on-the-go, high-quality Endurance Fuel.

Ingredients: (Raspberry Buzz): non-GMO dextrose (glucose), non-GMO sucrose, citric acid, sodium citrate, sea salt, raspberry flavor, potassium

Science in Sport Beta Fuel

A whole lot of power in one sachet (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

11. Science in Sport Beta Fuel

Best for huge carb delivery


List price (per sachet): $3.64 (US) / £2.30 (UK)
Weight: 82g / 2.89oz
Flavors: Strawberry & Lime / Orange / Red Berry
Energy per sachet: 320kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 80g
Salt per sachet: 0.01mg
Fat per sachet: 0g
Protein per sachet:: 0g

Reasons to buy

Huge carb delivery
Great flavors
Mixes well

Reasons to avoid

Consistency takes getting used to

Science in Sport’s Beta Fuel is perhaps the biggest carb delivery you’ll get in a single sachet. At a whopping 80g per serving you’re best getting a bottle made up before you set off to save weight but what an energy delivery you’re in for! 

Science in Sport are known for putting considerable effort into creating excellent solutions to sports nutrition and their Beta Fuel is no exception. With light flavors and a 1:0.8 ratio of maltodextrin to fructose, these powders are easy on the palette and the stomach. 

SIS’s recommendation is to sip little and often during exercise with one sachet used per hour. We took these on a high intensity hill run which spanned munros and a lot of bog. Energy requirements were high and with a soft bottle filled with Beta Fuel, so were expectations. Thankfully these were met. There were no energy dips, just valleys and streams to navigate! 

Beta Fuel delivered when it mattered and the light subtle flavoring made it very drinkable. The texture was strange to get used to, denser than water but not syrupy. It’s on the pricey side but if you’re doing high-intensity prolonged exercise, Beta Fuel might be a go-to.

Ingredients: maltodextrin (from maize) (57%), fructose (42%), flavorings

Maurten Hydrogel Sports Fuel Drink Mix 160

Hydrogel technology to give smooth and effective carbohydrate delivery in one easy sachet (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

12. Maurten Hydrogel Sports Fuel Drink Mix 160

Best for those who like a neutral taste


List price (per sachet): $2.70 (US) / £2.10 (UK)
Weight: 40g / 1.41oz
Flavors: Flavorless
Energy per sachet: 160kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 40g
Salt per sachet: 0.4g
Fat per sachet: 0g
Protein per sachet:: 0g

Reasons to buy

Easy-to-open sachet
Neutral taste
Not too sweet

Reasons to avoid

Neutral flavor can take some getting used to

If you’ve seen anything of the running world over the last few years you’ll have no doubt heard of Maurten. A leading sports nutrition manufacturer, Maurten have developed hydrogel technology that suspends high amounts of carbohydrates. When mixed with water and ingested, the drink converts to hydrogel as it hits the stomach acid. This allows careful delivery of carbohydrates as the gel moves to the intestine for the water, salt and carbs to be absorbed. 

Easy on the stomach and neutral on the palate, it’s no wonder Maurten’s sports drinks have gained a world class reputation. Maurten’s products are on the pricey side but for good reason. Performance-driven and research-led technology doesn’t come cheap but the results speak for themselves. 

Maurten’s Drink Mix 160 contains just five ingredients. The younger sibling of the Drink Mix 320, the Drink Mix 160 is for shorter periods of exercise where hydration is forefront and energy close behind. Having said that, the 160 sachet contains 40g of carbohydrates. 

Maurten say to “stick with it” and we stand by that. It’s revolutionary in its use of hydrogel and has excellent results for a range of athletes across many sports. Try it, you might be surprised.

Ingredients: maltodextrin, fructose, pectin, sodium alginate, sodium chloride

Mountain Fuel Xtreme Energy Fuel

 A complete fuel for energizing the body in a handy sachet (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

13. Mountain Fuel Xtreme Energy Fuel

Best for getting your vitamins


List price (per sachet): $1.49 (US) / £1.85 (UK)
Weight: 50g / 1.76oz
Flavors: Tropical / Blackcurrant / Raw
Energy per sachet: 179.5kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 39.75g
Sodium per sachet: 102.5g
Fat per sachet: 0.1g
Protein per sachet: 5.1g
Fiber per sachet: 0.35g

Reasons to buy

Includes vitamins
Has added creatine
For fuelling before and during exercise

Reasons to avoid

Flavor can take a few sips to get used to

Mountain Fuel are a small company doing big things in the world of sports nutrition. They have developed the Mountain Fuel System to deliver high quality, uncompromising nutrition for endurance and extreme sport. 

Mountain Fuel’s Xtreme Energy Fuel encapsulates the research and testing that has supported numerous athletes engaging in the toughest sports and races to compete at their best. With a blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes, amino acids, creatine and vitamins, this fuel sets itself apart from other sports drinks. 

Where better to take it for a spin than our last long run before the Tweed Valley 50k race in November 2022? Xtreme Energy Fuel is part of Mountain Fuel’s wider fuelling system. Guidance for the Xtreme Energy Fuel is to sip on it the day and morning before activity, as well as during. This keeps the muscles replenished, spares glycogen and staves off fatigue. And that’s exactly what we did. The result? An easy-to-drink all-day supplement that does what it says on the packaging. We felt fresh even after 18 miles and the Xtreme Energy Fuel sat nicely in the stomach. 

Mountain Fuel are breaking barriers. 

Ingredients: (Tropical): dextrose, maltodextrin, L-glutamine, L-threonine, creatine monohydrate, acidity regulator (citric acid), natural flavoring, vitamin and mineral blend (potassium phosphate, magnesium citrate, sodium chloride, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, nicotinamide, pantothenic acid, vitamin A (acetate), vitamin B12, vitamin D3, riboflavin, pyridoxine, vitamin B1 (thiamine), folic acid, biotin), L-carnitine, L- tartrate, natural color (beta carotean), sweetener (sucralose), natural flavoring

best active nutrition: BACX Performance Fuel

A completely plant-based, synthetic-nonsense-free, but energy packed syrup to mix with water before and during exercise (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Best plant based active nutrition


List price (per 10 sachets): £23.30 (UK)
Size per sachet: 70ml
Weight per sachet: 83g
Flavors: Orange / Berry
Energy per sachet: 387kj / 91kcal
Carbohydrates per sachet: 20g (15.4g of which = natural sugars)
Salt per sachet: 0.6g
Fat per sachet: 0.1g
Protein per sachet: 0.4g

Reasons to buy

Plant based (suitable for vegetarians & vegans) and planet friendly
Gentle on stomach
No artificial preservatives, colors or flavors
Caffeine- and maltodextrin free
Packaging is recyclable (in theory…)

Reasons to avoid

Polypropylene packaging tricky to recycle 
Limited flavors

This newly released plant-based performance fuel is available in 70ml sachets and is designed to be mixed with water and consumed prior and/or during exercise – including all sorts of outdoor and adventure activities. Containing a complex cocktail of mostly natural ingredients, each serving of the syrupy concoction imparts 20g of carbohydrates, along with 1200mg of vegan aminos and a 680mg burst of electrolytes.  

Suitable for vegetarian and vegans, it emanates from Oxford University and claims to have been subjected to thousands of hours of laboratory scrutiny. F1 driver Sebastian Vettel has certainly given it his approval. On test, we found BACX to be a tasty alternative to some of the more synthetic syrups and drink mixes, although it’s currently only available in orange and berry flavors (some more options would be good, and probably will be forthcoming at some point). Importantly, we found the drink to be soft on our stomachs, and we experienced no nasty side effects.

Having used BACX during a range of outdoor pursuits, from a demanding off-road marathon to hiking, biking and kayaking adventures, we can report that benefit from using the drink supplement was tangible, and our recovery was rapid. 

The packaging is proclaimed as recyclable, which it technically is, but being made of polypropylene, you can’t just chuck it in your green bin – you need to check with your local authority about how to recycle it. 


Water, Sweet Potato Juice Concentrate, Coconut Water Concentrate, Brown Rice Syrup, Agave Nectar, Carthamus (Safflower) Concentrate, Vegan Amino Acid Blend*, Natural Orange Flavouring, Natural Flavouring, Colour: Carotenes, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate.

* L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Arginine

Best active nutrition comparison table

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best active nutrition comparison table
Nutrition productTypePriceWeightEnergyCarbohydrates
Torq Explore FlapjackBar$2.24 (US) / £1.85 (UK)65g / 2.29oz263kcal43g
Maurten Solid C 225Bar$3 (US) / £2.50 (UK)60g / 2.11oz225kcal44g
Skratch Labs Anytime Energy BarBar$2.65 (US) / £2.50 (UK) 50g / 1.76oz220kcal32g
Science in Sport GO Energy BakeBar$1.93 (US) / £1.75 (UK) 50g / 1.76oz190kcal30g
Human FoodBar$5.21 (US) / £3.50 (UK)76g / 2.68oz309kcal18g
Clif Bloks Energy ChewsSweets / chews$3.79 (US) / £2.20 (UK)60g / 2.11oz128kcal per 4 pieces32g per 4 peices
Torq Performance Energy ChewSweets / chews$3 (US) / £1.85 (UK)39g / 1.37oz128kcal30g
Skratch Labs Sport Energy ChewsSweets / chews$2.45 (US) / £2.50 (UK) 50g / 1.76oz70kcal18g
Active Root Sports DrinkDrink$1.49 (US) / £1.09 (UK)35g / 1.23oz133kcal33g
Tailwind Endurance FuelDrink$2.50 (US) / £1.90 (UK)54g / 2oz200kcal50g
Science in Sport Beta FuelDrink$3.64 (US) / £2.30 (UK)82g / 2.89oz320kcal80g
Maurten Hydrogel Sports Fuel Drink Mix 160Drink$2.70 (US) / £2.10 (UK)40g / 1.41oz160kcal40g
Mountain Fuel Xtreme Energy FuelDrink$1.49 (US) / £1.85 (UK)50g / 1.76oz179.5kcal39.75g
BACX Performance FuelDrink10 sachets: £23.30 (UK)83g / 2.93oz387kj / 91kcal20g

How to choose the best active nutrition for you

Torq flapjack

Yummy Torq flapjack (Image credit: Eilidh Moir)

Should I use bars, sweets/chews or drinks?

Deciding on the best active nutrition for you is down to how your body responds to exercise and nourishment. A quick rule of thumb is that drink mixes can keep you hydrated and act as a source of calories through carbohydrates; sweets and chews are there for an energy boost and to stabilize glycogen; and bars put something in your stomach while providing carbohydrates, salt and sometimes fat and protein. If you’re someone who feels hunger pangs while exercising, a bar or two might be a good addition.

Why use active nutrition and not regular food?

Regular food is also great while on the move but most active nutrition is carefully developed to determine how much energy is required to perform at your best. Because of this, most products contain what’s been scientifically proven to support the body while under stress from activity. Active nutrition therefore aims, by and large, to provide energy, replace lost nutrients and support recovery.

It helps support the body’s glucose levels, which when ingested as carbohydrates, is stored as glycogen in the muscles. The more you move, the more glycogen you’re using. Active nutrition products balance that glycogen, keeping your energy levels from bottoming out. Most active nutrition also sometimes contains salt, fats, protein and even vitamins and minerals which are vital to replenish during and after exercise.

Are active nutrition products something you endure rather than enjoy?

A lot of offerings on the active nutrition market are not only tasty but a pleasure to eat and drink. You’ve already got yourself out there, why not dig into a few treats to keep energy and morale where it should be? Bear in mind, though, that what works for one person might not for another. This means that anything new should ideally be tested in training, just in case it causes any issues.

Zero waste sports nutrition

Sports nutrition can create a lot of waste, so you might also want to consider making your own to avoid adding plastic wrappers to landfill. You can buy soft reusable flasks for energy gels (like this GU one, available for $12.95 at Amazon), which can be filled from larger bulk containers or with your own home-made gels. We have three tried-and-tested recipes for home-made gels that will keep you going for long runs and hikes.

You can also make zero waste vegan protein bars using chickpeas and nut butter, and Marathon Handbook has a set of five recipes for homemade electrolyte drinks.

Eilidh Moir

Eilidh Moir is a runner and outdoor enthusiast who lives in the North East of Scotland. Having taken up running at the gentle persuasion of good friends four years ago, Eilidh entered her first ultramarathon in 2019. Since then she has completed numerous ultras, adventure, hill and road races. Often found in the hills of Perthshire or the Angus Glens, Eilidh’s happy places are trails and mountains. Even better when her Golden Retriever comes along for the adventure.