The subconscious has an uncanny ability to “tune out” certain things. (My wife can attest to this fact.) Personally, there is nothing that makes me “tune out” faster than bogus claims of a miracle workout, diet, or health product. Ironically, here I am reviewing a supplement. Thankfully I am not claiming, nor is Wilderness Athlete claiming, that their products are miracle workers.
Before I dive into the specifics of each product, let me share some background with you.
I started using Wilderness Athlete (WA) products regularly around the first of the year. At that time I was roughly four months into a lifestyle change which had begun in September of 2011. I was eating right, working out regularly, and was full of energy. I had made great progress in the previous months, including dropping ~40 pounds, building some muscle, and dramatically improving my cardiovascular fitness. I went from struggling to run for 5 minutes straight, to routinely running for more than an hour at a time. I made all of that progress without taking a single supplement or other health product.
My “secrets” are hard work and a balanced diet.
I give you all of that background to tell you up front that I don’t believe in miracle products or shortcuts to success; this is the reason that I tune out so much of what I hear about health and fitness.
Everyone is over-promising and under-delivering. Shortcuts don’t exist.
I had the opportunity to try each of these products last year on a 14 hour dark-to-dark hunt. At the time I was impressed with each of them, but being the supplement skeptic that I am, I brushed the experience off and wondered about “the placebo effect” that my mind could have played. Fast forward to December of 2011. I decided to accelerate my training to the next level and sign up for a 25K (15.5 mile) trail run. As if training for the run wasn’t going to be tough enough, my wife and I were also about to have another baby, in addition to my three-year-old daughter at home. So, here I was…full time job, writing deadlines, side gigs, volunteer work, training, and most importantly my cherished roles as husband and daddy.
My schedule proved to be just as crazy as I thought it would be, and as the intensity of my training grew I routinely found myself putting in long runs after my family went to bed, or well before they got up. I am often up at 3:00 or 4:00 AM, out the door for a 2 or 3 hour run, and then back at home and showered before my family can get out of bed.
There is no doubt in my mind that using Wilderness Athlete products has helped me train at this level for an extended period of time.
What if you don’t train at that level? I think Wilderness Athlete products are aptly named. Not everyone is an “athlete”. Heck, even though I am training for this big trail run I wouldn’t call myself an athlete. Wilderness Athlete products are also for…you guessed it…those of us who head into the wilderness. Heading out into the wilderness for days at a time takes a toll on our body; we typically stress our bodies more than we normally do in everyday life, and at the same time we tend to neglect our nutrition and hydration on these trips. Wilderness Athlete products were developed with this specific problem in mind. The ingredients in these products are there for a reason, and while I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand the specific purpose of each one, I know that they were developed by someone with incredible nutrition experience who asked one simple question – “Why hasn’t the science of mainstream sports nutrition been applied to the specific needs of the outdoor athlete?”
Hydrate & Recover
There are a lot of “sports drinks” on the market, many of which are nothing more than some water, simple sugars, salts, and bad flavors. Many typical sports drinks upset my stomach or give me a bloating feeling when used during strenuous activity. These sports drinks are often up to 50% simple sugars, whereas 85% of the carbohydrates in Hydration & Recover come from complex carbohydrates. Hydrate & Recover does have a surprisingly sweet flavor, especially considering the lack of sugar, but it is a taste that I really like. One very practical benefit of H&R is that it has helped me hydrate better, simply because I like to drink it. The better the taste, the more you will drink. The more you drink, the better you will hydrate.
Hydrate & Recover also has a proper balance of Sodium and Potassium, which is essential for cell absorption and the prevention of cramping. I have tried many other sports drinks, including your standard Gatorade and Powerade, as well as other specialty drinks, all of which have given me some stomach trouble or cramping on long runs. Hydrate & Recover and straight water are the only drinks that I can tolerate during long periods of strenuous activity, and there is no doubt that the electrolytes in H&R give it an advantage over hydrating with water alone. Hydrate & Recover also includes other key ingredients, such as B vitamins, amino acids, and Glucosamine for joint repair.
In addition to utilizing Hydrate & Recover for training, it is also a great companion for hunting trips. We all know that we stress our bodies on such trips, often times operating on less than ideal sleep schedules and nutrition. Staying hydrated is essential, and there are definitely benefits to supplementing our nutrition with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and amino acids. I also use Hydrate & Recover to help mask the poor taste of water that is filtered or treated in the field. Once again, the flavor of Hydrate & Recover makes me want to drink more often. I don’t know about you, but when I head out hunting I often forget to eat or drink. Because I enjoy drinking it, H&R makes me want to hydrate more often.
Put simply, I love this stuff. And, about $.50 a serving it is something you can afford to use!
Energy & Focus
I have jokingly referred to E&F as my “secret sauce”. I don’t use the product nearly as much as I use the Hydrate & Recover, but that is simply because I need it less. That said, when I do need a boost, Energy & Focus definitely provides what I am looking for. Hydrate & Recover may not be one of those products that you “feel” immediately, but there is no denying the speedy effect of Energy & Focus. Most importantly, I get this boost without jitters or crashes.
When I am getting up a 3 or 4 in the morning, and heading out for a long training run or into the field to hunt, one of the first things I do is get a half-serving of Energy & Focus in my system. I then mix another half-serving in with a scoop of Hydrate & Recover for when I head out. This mix has become known as “the Superman”.
Energy & Focus is packed with key vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, B1 B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, Zinc, and others. Yeah, that is a lot of vitamins, so it is probably no coincidence that Energy & Focus has a taste that reminds me of those Flinstone vitamins I used to take when I was a kid. (Although, E&F tastes better!) In addition to key vitamins and minerals, E&F also contains amino acids L-Carnitine and L-Phenylalanine.
Energy & Focus does not contain any sugar, which like its cousin Hydrate & Recover, sets it apart from many others sports and energy drinks out there. I don’t know about you, but sugar does not sit well on my stomach early in the morning, so this is a BIG deal. Also, no sugar means no crash!
Energy & Focus does contain 120mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in most cups of coffee. In fact, I will often use E&F in place of my morning cup of coffee.
This is an excerpt from one of my e-mails that I sent Wilderness Athlete right before I started using their products regularly…
“I recently had the chance to try your Energy & Focus product, and much to my surprise it worked extremely well. I wasn’t surprised because I have heard anything bad about WA. (In fact, the opposite is true.) I was surprised simply because I tend to be a supplement skeptic.”
I am still a skeptic about many things, but Wilderness Athlete products aren’t one of them. I don’t think that their products work miracles, or replace hard work and smart nutrition. However, I do think that their products can help you train at a higher level, and hunt the wilderness more effectively. I think you can make great progress in your health and fitness without any supplements, but there comes a time when you are pushing your body to the limit and it needs all the help that it can get. If you are looking for something to help you go farther, whether that be in training, or in the wilderness, I would encourage you to take a look at Wilderness Athlete.
(If you are interested in Wilderness Athlete products, be sure to “Like” them on Facebook to receive an exclusive discount!)