GSSI Lab Visit & New Product Alert

Last month I was invited to attend the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI)’s Sports Fuel Expert Summit at their laboratory on the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, FL. It was a great chance to reconnect with colleagues I had met at conferences and through volunteer work for professional organizations, to meet other RDs and PhDs who work in the sports/wellness/fitness nutrition field for the first time, as well as to learn about new and exciting happenings at Gatorade/GSSI!

The GSSI lab, located right off of the weight room at IMG Academy

You may still think of Gatorade as a US-based sports drink company focused on hydration. This is no longer an accurate description of the company, which has made moves to transform itself in to a world-wide sports nutrition brand. Research, through GSSI and the GSSI Expert Panel (if you missed my recap of the GSSI Sports Fuel Pre-Symposium at the ACSM Annual Meeting, be sure to check that out) is now one of the number one priorities of the company, along with education and outreach to athletes. Gatorade has also shifted its marketing/advertising from being broad to now having a narrow focus on advertising specifically to athletes.

GSSI Sports Scientist and Registered Dietitian, Lisa Heaton, walked us through the new Gatorade product portfolio, informing us of the science behind each item along the way. In addition to the well-known Gatorade sports drink, the company now offers a variety of products for preparing for training/competition (01 – Prime), for during athletic activities (02 – Perform), and following completion of workouts/events (03 – Recover). Now there are different “Series” of “G” offered as well. The original “G Series“, unveiled in 2010, contains products grounded in the latest sports fueling science and was developed in collaboration with top athletes to make sure they were convenient to use and palatable. This line contains, the 01- Prime liquid pouches and Energy Chews, the traditional 02 – Perform Gatorade drink, as well as the lower calorie G2 option, and two 03 – Recovery options, one is a light, fruity tasting recovery beverage, and the other is a more typical recovery shake, available in chocolate and vanilla flavors. I personally, LOVE the G Series Prime 01 Energy Chews. The narrow pouch is convenient to transport and the chews are a manageable size. I have always been very fond of the Cliff Shot Blocks for use during long training sessions or games, but they are quite large and can be hard to chew and swallow while on the run. Sometimes I was worried I would choke! The new G Energy Chews are much easier to get down!

Next came the G Series Pro (which will actually soon be called the Endurance line, I believe) which is specifically formulated for the needs of elite endurance athletes. You probably haven’t seen these products on the shelves of your supermarket since they are only sold in sports specialty stores. This line also contains 01 – Prime pouches and Energy Chews, which contain more calories (carbohydrates) and electrolytes, 02 – Endurance Formula drink and powder as well as the Gatorade Electrolyte Mix (I remember our athletic trainers handing these out during pre-season training in college. We would usually mix them with about 1 oz of water or Gatorade and put it back like a shot since we didn’t like the taste, rather than mixing it in the 20 oz as suggested), and 03 – Recover Beverages.

The final G Series is “G Series Fit“. Not everyone is an elite or invested-recreational athlete and therefore, not everyone needs the previous two G Series. G Series Fit is designed for fitness-minded individuals who want to get the most out of their training. The product line does include 01 – Prime Energy Bites, 02 – Perform, lightly flavored electrolyte drink (only 10 calories per serving), and 03 – Recover fruit-flavored smoothies. I had tried out the G Series Fit 01 Prime Energy Bites about 18 months ago at a conference and remember thinking they were kind of odd. They are small, individually packaged, wafery-type things, containing 50 calories each. I tried them again while in FL and decided I like the taste and the packaging innovation as well. They are small, prepackaged bites so that individuals can customize how much they want/need. Most folks don’t need to eat entire bars containing upwards of 200 calories prior to workouts, but with other companies products that ends up happening because the product is already opened. And who stops 1/4 way through a bar. Not me! The wafer-type coating is also a genius design feature. No sticky, melty, goey bar mess on your hands. Admit it – you have made a mess before trying to eat other bars which have sat in your bag/car!

After being brought up to speed on these products it was time to check out the GSSI satellite lab! It contains your typical nutrition/exercise science lab equipment: scale, DXA, bod pod, bike/treadmill, and metabolic cart. Then there are two “new” and interesting pieces of equipment used. One is the D2 Sports Vision Trainer.  I got to try out my hand at this test. I had to call out numbers that flash up in the center, while using my peripheral vision to hit lights that went off on other areas of the board. I did, AWESOME. “Best performance to date”  is what the lab staff said, I think. Kidding. I did awful!

The other new (to me) piece of equipment is called the iSPAN trainer. It is essentially a series of lights on 3 poles (2 vertical, 1 horizontal) which can be adjusted to various sizes from a standard distance based off on height and arm span, to the exact measurements of a soccer net, etc. There is a main starting point and as the lights go off, athletes need to move quickly and use their hands to jump up/ reach down and turn it off, return to the start, and go after the next light as fast as possible. In this video, Robert Griffin III goes through this test as well as others at the GSSI lab.

We had various other meetings/discussions throughout the short time we were there on different sports/exercise nutrition topics and an educational session on social media utilization!

Fear not, it wasn’t all jam-packed with meetings and tours. There was time for a run after arriving on Monday night,

Watching the sunset over the water from my (AWESOME) hotel room,

Relaxing by the pool on Tuesday morning,

And a workout with the Head of Strength and Conditioning at IMG Academy on Wednesday.

All in all,  great trip. I was glad to learn more about Gatorade/GSSI and the future of this great company! (P.S. – If anyone from GSSI reads this, please hire me when I graduate. Thanks!)

Do you use Gatorade products as part of your training regimen? Ever tried out any of these newer ones? What do you think?

Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip by Gatorade/GSSI and their PR Firm, Fleishman-Hillard. I was not asked to post about it. Views/opinions are my own.

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10 thoughts on “GSSI Lab Visit & New Product Alert

  1. David H. says:

    Very cool to get an inside look at what they do. I’m surprised they let you take photos of anything! I’m a big fan of Gatorade, but haven’t tried any of their newer stuff. The price just doesn’t make sense to me for what I get.

  2. Min says:

    Wow!! What a neat experience!! Seriously, can I be hired too when I graduate?!? haha
    I drank A LOT of G2 low calorie drink when I did Bikram yoga. It def prevented me from passing out. Those prepackaged bites are def a great idea! One of the area that interests me the most is food development, and this post reaffirmed that! All those equipments are so fascinating! I’ve done the bodpod training and can’t wait to become exposed to other equipments as well!

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