Both Hammer HEED and e-Fuel are primarily complex carbohydrate drinks, that’s a good thing as discussed in this video. Beyond that, e-Fuel has several distinct differences: 1) electrolyte replacement in the drink, Hammer sells electrolyte supplants separately, 2) e-Fuel has citrates and antioxidants not found in HEED (see discussion below) and 3) HEED contains Xylitol, Stevia and Taurine that we don’t use in e-Fuel or any of our products (see discussion below).
calories (8 oz)
Hammer HEED’s usage instructions on their website indicate to “mix 1 scoop to 16-28 ounces of water”. Following their guidelines, the strongest mix would be one scoop for 16 ounces of water, and that is what we have used in determining the values (calories, electrolytes, etc.) for this comparison. If you were to mix it weaker, obviously the numbers would be proportionally lower. At the weakest recommended strength 8 ounces of HEED would have approximately 32 calories instead of 55.
Maltodextrin is a long chain complex carbohydrate. As we explained in this video, the advantages of complex carbs are significant. Both Hammer HEED and e-Fuel use maltodextrin as the primary ingredient – that’s a good thing!
e-Fuel also uses some Fructose which is a sugar, but it’s very different than all other forms of sugar and we use it in all of our products for a very good reason.
Fructose sometimes gets a bad rap for endurance athletes because it is thought to cause stomach and GI discomfort. Like anything else, if you take too much fructose it can be a problem. But if you use it properly it can actually significantly improve performance … without stomach issues. Here’s why:
Most of the energy that we use during endurance sports comes from consumed carbohydrates that are converted into glycogen and stored in our muscles. Glycogen can then be quickly broken down into glucose and used to fuel the muscles. The liver also stores glycogen which has been converted from fructose and serves as an additional “fuel tank” to power your muscles.
Here’s where it gets interesting …
The main route for glucose absorption from the gut is through a transporter called SGLT1 – a protein that acts like a door, helping glucose go from the gut to the bloodstream. SGLT1 has a maximum capacity and can only transport around one gram of glucose per minute (240 calories/hour). Fructose, however, is absorbed with a different transporter, called GLUT5. By using both transporters you can increase the amount of carbohydrate the body can use during exercise up to approximately 300 calories/hour.
GLUT5’s sole job in life is to transport fructose, so if you’re not consuming fructose then you’re not using the GLUT5 transporter … it’s like having an additional fuel line and not using it, why would you do that? In addition, your secondary fuel tank (your liver) will be under utilized as well.
The rapid absorption of fructose mixtures and special handling of fructose in the liver are the two main reasons that fructose can also also help to speed up recovery after exercise. A recent study found that when athletes drank sports drinks containing both fructose and complex carbohydrates after exercise, they accelerated the recovery of their liver glycogen stores. It almost doubled this rate of recovery compared with drinks that didn’t have fructose, when the same total amount of carbohydrate was consumed.
Bottom line … if you want to “be your best”, incorporate some fructose into your training and competition nutrition program.
sodium (8 oz)
Ironically HEED stands for “High Energy Electrolyte Drink” and yet the product has extremely low levels of electrolytes. The company also sells electrolyte supplements (Endurolytes) that they recommend using to replenish your electrolytes. We have a completely different approach to electrolyte replacement – we put them right in the product, whether you are using e-Fuel or e-Gel (our energy gel).
Electrolytes are critical to help maintain hydration and to avoid cramping and injuries. In many ways this is the most important component of a good sports drink.
In developing e-Fuel we relied heavily on the decades of independent research performed by the American College of Sports Medicine. They are a non-profit with no “skin in the game”, they just try to figure out how to make athletes better, stronger and faster. Electrolyte replacement is an area that they have studied extensively, and e-Fuel’s electrolyte levels are designed to meet their recommendations.
Potassium is the other electrolyte that is important to replace during your training and competition, along with sodium. The level of potassium in e-Fuel is designed to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation for replacement during athletic activity.
vitamin C 60%
vitamin E 60%
Sodium Citrate, Potassium Citrate and Citric Acid
Taurine is the ingredient is another ingredient that we do not use in any of our products due to the fact that potential side effects include diarrhea and constipation. We also don’t use caffeine as discussed here.
If you’re looking for a sports drink with stimulants then HEED or Roctane would be a better choices for you. We don’t put stimulants in any of our products.
e-Fuel is all natural with no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, sugar substitutes or stimulants – it’s just cleans energy!
If you’re not familiar with xylitol, take a moment to do your own research on this sugar substitute. You will quickly find that xylitol is well documented to cause intestinal gas and diarrhea.
That alone should be enough to concern any athlete, but it gets worse. According to WebMD there are concerns that long term use (more than 3 years) may cause tumors and they recommend that pregnant or breast-feeding women not use xylitol beyond normal food amounts. Additional warning, even in small amounts xylitol is thought to be extremely toxic to dogs.
Hammer does not disclose how much xylitol is in HEED, but if you look at the ingredients, xylitol is the second ingredient on the list. Furthermore, if you’re like most athletes, you use more than one bottle during each workout or competition. If you’re having any stomach discomfort it may be the xylitol.
According to WebMD, Stevia and chemicals contained in stevia, including stevioside and rebaudioside A, can cause bloating or nausea. Other people have reported feelings of dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness. Using ingredients that cause stomach distress is the last thing that an athlete would want to deal with, so none of these ingredients are found in e-Fuel or e-Gel.
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NOTE: All Hammer HEED nutrition values shown are for Lemon-Lime flavor as published on their website as of April 2021, other flavors may vary. e-Fuel nutrition values are the same for all flavors, read why