Just about anyone who’s ever participated in a triathlon has tried HEED from Hammer Nutrition. HEED is Hammer’s electrolyte drink and is a common feature at most well organized tris due to it’s performance and Hammer’s sponsorship efforts. The folks at Hammer sent us a few samples when we received the Recoverite for our previous review and they almost always include a few packets with your Hammer order. In addition, we purchased samples of HEED locally and have used HEED in nearly every race this year.
HEED is designed as a ‘step-up’ from your average beverage. Instead of containing glucose, fructose and sucrose, Heed uses complex carbohydrates to provide longer term energy, not short bursts from simple sugars. HEED also contains an array of electrolytes, not just salt and potassium.
The standard serving of HEED contains 105 calories and no fat. One serving contains 27g of carbs with only 3 g coming from sugars. That number drops to 2g for the Unflavored, the Melon, and the Strawberry versions. Each serving also contains 40mg of sodium.
Hammer suggests that you can use HEED as your primary energy source for any exercise lasting less than two hours. Beyond that two hour window, you can continue to use HEED, but you will want to add additional nutrition to your plan.
Flavor and Consistency:
HEED is highly dissolvable. Adding a single serving pack to a standard 16oz. water bottle, you probably won’t have to stir the product at all. We found this to be the case for every flavor we tried: Strawberry, Unflavored and Lemon Lime. There is absolutely no grit or residue when mixed according to the directions.
Strawberry and Lemon Lime HEED have a mild, slightly watered-down flavor that is not unpleasant. If you’re used to Gatorade or Powerade, you will be surprised at the muted flavor. This is a plus for most endurance athletes, as thick, sweet, heavily flavored drinks can be problematic during extended exertion.
Unflavored HEED is a interesting product. Though it lacks any real flavoring, there is a slightly sweet, slightly salty flavor that is hard to describe. Though not our favorite flavor, it’s not horrible. The upside is it won’t flavor your water bottle the same way Strawberry does. We recommend a dedicated Strawberry HEED bottle or suggest washing it out with soap, water, and a scrub brush after each use, otherwise you’ll have a bit of a Strawberry tint to your water.
Performance and Effects of HEED:
One result of the muted flavors of HEED is that it rarely upsets an athletes stomach. I think everyone has tasted Gatorade that was too strong and possibly upset your stomach. You won’t find that with HEED.
HEED is a very satisfying drink: we have completed Sprint and International distance races and half marathons using only HEED and water with no other nutrition or hydration. Though not recommended, we haven’t experienced any issues this this formula. We used HEED, both from our pack and from the aid station in our last Half Ironman distance race and were pleased with the results. HEED is not enough to stave off hunger by itself, but it certainly provides a great deal of nutrients and hydration during the race.
During training, we have used HEED in fast rides and long rides and in each case we felt fueled and didn’t get hungry.
Our first experience with HEED was at an international distance tri. The aid stations featured Unflavored HEED and we used it without issue, even though we had not included it in our training and hydration plans. We recommend sampling HEED or any other hydration product before using it in a race, but in a pinch, Unflavored HEED probably won’t cause any serious stomach issues.
We won’t be producing a final review for HEED since we have used it for quite some time without issue and we continue to use HEED. Though we generally prefer pure water during our training, choosing instead to get our carbs and electrolytes from nutrition that we can control a bit more, HEED is popular among our reviewers and most purchase and use it themselves. Using HEED in place of plain water, you will experience a bit more energy, you will feel more fueled and less hungry. We recommend Unflavored HEED, though personal preferences will dictate your final choice.