Monday, February 27, 2023

Article & Review: The Big Gnarly Nutrition Primer

Article by Peter Stuart

Gnarly Nutrition!


One of the highlights of the recent TRE (The Running Event) was getting a chance to get a deep dive on all of the tasty and functional products in the Gnarly Nutrition line. Having attended TRE for a few years, I’ve noticed that some companies are there to hand out a couple of free samples, or let you look at their upcoming shoes and other companies are there to really work with you and educate you about what they are doing and why. Gnarly was a terrific example of the latter.

 I sat down with Gnarly’s COO, Dr. Shannon O’Grady (her ph.D is in nutritional physiology). She’s a true believer in her product and her clear passion for Gnarly is palpable. 


I’ve used some of the Gnarly products in the last year, but if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that—up until I sat down with Dr. O’Grady I wasn’t clear where some of the products might fit in the equation for runners and other endurance athletes. Sure, the Gnarly Hydrate is easy. It’s a 30-calorie hydration mix that contains all of your basic electrolytes—and most importantly tastes terrific. It’s become my all-day everyday drink during the long hot Texas summers. Some of the other products took some education from Dr. O’Grady to understand. I’ll try to break down some of the line below as well as give some recommendations of specific uses for runners. 

Update: Take the 2 min quiz on the Gnarly site HERE to see which products Gnarly thinks you might benefit from. Then order a sample box for $9.99 (including free shipping).

Gnarly Hydrate 

Let’s start with my entry point to the world of Gnarly. Gnarly Hydrate is about as simple as it gets. What sets gnarly apart for me in the hydration game is the taste. Some hydration powders have an intensely salty flavor, some are on the chemical side. Still others have barely any flavor at all. Gnarly manages to serve up a taste that is reminiscent of Gatorade or other old-school hydration drinks, but in a much healthier way. What do they use for this flavor? Sugar! Yep, that old scoundrel sugar. Dr. O’Grady tells me that the sugar actually encourages an active diffusion of the electrolytes. Great. If it tastes good--I’ll drink more of it. Period. The breakdown of the ingredients is 

Generally (for one scoop): 

30 calories

250 mg Sodium

100 mg Potassium

80 mg Magnesium

100 mg Calcium

135 mg Chloride


More specifically

7g carbs

4g sugar

100%  RDA of Folic Acid

118% RDA amount of Vitamin B6

43% RDA of Niacin

131% RDA of Riboflavin

And 417% RDA of B12

That’s a lot of information. But the overall picture is that it’s tasty and I’ve never had any GI issues with Gnarly. 


Fuel 2.0 

Fuel 2.0 is Gnarly’s answer to a more calorie dense drink to take you through longer endurance workouts. 30 calories may be fine for daily hydration, but you’ll wind up in a deficit on longer work. Fuel 2.0 has 100 calories for a scoop (and obviously you can mix it heavier if you want to). With those calories comes 250 mg of Sodium and HMB. HMB is a metabolite of the branch chain amino acid Leucine which Gnarly says is helpful to minimize muscle protein breakdown. They mix a little Vitamin D in there as well. Limeade flavor is excellent. 


Fuel 2.0 Ingredients:

Calories 100

Sodium 250 mg

HMB 280 mg

25g carbs

25g sugar 

Moderate amounts of:

Calcium 10% of RDA

Chloride 6% RDA

Magnesium 21% of RDA

Vitamin D3 25% of RDA

Potassium 2 % of RDA


Pure 2.0 is a good choice for longer efforts when you need to get (tasty) calories in. 


Gnarly Performance Greens

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been inundated with podcast and social media ads for a certain brand of daily greens in the past two years. Well, Gnarly makes a daily Performance Greens too. So what sets them apart? According to Dr. O’Grady, one major difference between Gnarly and some of the other Greens out there is that Gnarly doesn’t rely on “proprietary blends” of ingredients. So why does this matter? I’m glad you asked. According to Dr. O’Grady, when companies have ‘proprietary blends’, they don’t disclose the amounts of the various ingredients—thus allowing them to put trace amounts of more expensive ingredients and more of the less expensive ingredients. They are also not held to the same testing that would help them prove that the ingredients are in the products at the right amounts. So, Gnarly tells you the precise amount of each ingredient. Performance Greens are a whole-food based multi-vitamin. 

The ingredients are too vast to list here. There’s a lot of stuff in here. I don’t find it to be quite as easy to get down as Athletic Greens, but they are less than half the price. I’ve tried both the lemon mint (don’t mix with a chocolate smoothie. Ever!) and the Blueberry Acai. They both have pretty big personalities, and might go down easier in combination with something other than water. That said, I like the Greens and they are free of artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. 


Gnarly Collagen Pro

What is Collagen and why? Those were my questions for Dr. O’Grady. Simple version is that Collagen is a structural protein that helps build structure and strength in joints. 

Gnarly’s pitch is that taking Collagen Peptides “kickstarts collagen synthesis and may make tendons, ligaments and joints healthier”. If true, then this is a no-brainer for the runner. While it contains 14g of protein, it is best used prior to going out on a run. I’ve been mixing a scoop of Collagen in my morning coffee and it’s been great. No new things to make and it is flavorless, so just disappears into the coffee. 


One of the great things about Gnarly’s site is the wealth of information about each product. There’s a good “why Collagen” article here that cites some studies regarding Collagen’s efficacy. 


In addition to 15g of Hydrolized Collagen the supplement contains

50 calories

14g protein

100% RDA of Vitamin C

136% RDA Zinc


Collagen is recommended as a pre-workout supplement. 


Gnarly Creatine

Creatine? For Runners? Really? “Yes” says Dr. Shannon O’Grady, “Creatine is great for endurance athletes”. She adds that it aids in ‘hyper-hydration and buffering of acid production as well as aiding general strength. 

The powder is fine grained and tasteless and dissolves easily into any beverage. 

This article is worth checking out regarding Creatine.


And this one debunking some common Creatine myths.



Gnarly BCAA’s

Gnarly’s Branch Chain Amino Acids are a tasty, caffeinated way to get your pre-workout on. BCAA’s are meant to ward off muscle breakdown during workouts and aid recovery. The flavor of the BCAA’s is intense (in a good way) and can be a little bitter. I’ve definitely noticed a buzz when I drink the BCAA’s before a run. 


Gnarly Pre-Workout

So if you really want to put some giddy-up in your step, Gnarly Pre-Workout is the mix for you! In addition to 4g of BCAA’s, there’s 180 mg of caffeine, 150mg of Asian Ginseng to naturally boost energy, and 5g of Citrulline Malate to increase blood flow to working muscles, 2.5g of Beta Alanine and 100mg of Ginger. 

Between the Caffeine and the Ginseng, there’s a lot of zip to the pre-workout. The Gnarly article here  gets into the differences between BCAAs on their own and as part of the pre-workout. Short answer is that BCAA’s are good for most days, but pre-workout may be good for your big efforts. 


Gnarly Baseline series

The baseline series are pretty simple straight supplements of D3, Magnesium and Iron. It’s clear that Gnarly goes to great care to source clean, vegan products. 

D3 (vegan)

Magnesium Glycinate


Iron B12

Protein Powders

Protein powder. There are tons of them. I’ve used many. Some taste terrible. Some cause GI issues. Some taste terrible and cause GI issues!.

Gnarly Whey

I’m most familiar with Gnarly’s Whey protein. I’ve been using this as my go-to recovery drink for a couple of months now. Gnarly is the first Whey protein I’ve used that doesn’t give me any GI issues. Gnarly includes pre and probiotics as well as enzymes to aid in lactose digestion. 


Gnarly’s Whey protein is derived  from antibiotic-free, non-rBGH grass-fed cow’s milk, as well as  healthy fats and omega-3 acids. 


One scoop is 160 Calories (30 from Fat) and 25g of protein and 150 mg of sodium. Specifics on the pre and probiotics can be found here:  


Gnarly Vegan


Gnarly Vegan combines a plant-based protein blend with 14 essential vitamins and minerals. It’s got 20g of protein, 200 calories and 7g of fat. 


Gnarly is mindfully crafting great supplements for total wraparound health support for many different kinds of athletes. I know there’s a lot of information in here (there’s so much more on their site—there’s no shortage of deep dives on products, uses and ingredients there), but anywhere you start you’re likely to enjoy the product. It’s nice to see a company with a COO so deeply invested in the science and in educating the athletes about their various products. 


I’d highly recommend the “Hydrate” and the “Whey Protein” as good places to start. 


I asked Dr. O’Grady what she thought the appropriate ‘starter pack’ would be for runners. I was relieved that she didn’t say “buy them all, you need everything”. Her recommendation was that a really good runner’s starter kit would include:

Collagen for pre-workout

Hydrate during workout (Fuel 2.0 for longer efforts)


Protein for recovery. 

Pretty simple!

Big Gnarly update: 


Hi. Gnarly just reached out to us to let us know that they are launching a series of customized sample boxes. 

It’s a great way to give some Gnarly products a try. 


Here’s the deets:


Take the 2 min quiz on the Gnarly site HERE to see which products Gnarly thinks you’d benefit from.

Then order a sample box for $9.99 (including free shipping).

  • Each box contains 4 single-serve stick packs of Gnarly supplements, with options to customize for diet + lifestyle
  • Boxes priced at $9.99, includes free shipping
  • Sample Box Quiz live is accessible via the "Quiz" tab on Gnarly's homepage to help new customers determine which box is the best fit for their diet and activities. The quick (2-minute) quiz will feature questions about sport(s) of choice, frequency and type of workouts, fitness goals, etc. Using the quiz results, Gnarly will provide a customized and curated box sample box.


There’s a lot of Gnarly product out there, so this is a really good way to try some out and see what works for you!


Tester Profile

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:21 half marathoner in recent years.

Gnarly Nutrition Products are available from 



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