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gnarly pump and whey sample packets

Want to get gnarly? Then Gnarly Nutrition might be right up your alley!

Gnarly Nutrition offers a full line of all-natural sports drinks and recovery formulas, collectively called The Gnarly Stack, which I just finished testing out. Here’s a quick look at each part:

Gnarly Pump is “a Nitric Oxide booster with Creatine to feed your muscles.”

It’s got caffeine, too, of course. Outside of bodybuilding and powerlifting, you don’t hear a whole lot about these pre-workout drinks, but they keep getting more and more popular.

Gnarly Boost “gives you the electrolytes you need plus 72 trace minerals and B vitamins for energy and focus, leaving you free to choose how you get your calories and protein.”

So if you follow the strategy of separating your hydration from your nutrition, this sports drink might work for you. I’m very interested in seeing if the B vitamins delivered during exercise are helpful.

Whey Gnarly is “a recovery protein that not only gives you New Zealand Whey, it also delivers our Digestive Blend as well as Pro and Prebiotics to help you recover to a faster, stronger you.”

Normally I buy my protein as plain as possible, but this is an all-in-one post-workout recovery mix, and with the whey coming from the beautiful countryside of New Zealand, how could I say no?!

Now let’s look at each of these in greater detail…

Health and Nutrition Inspection

Gnarly is all about using high-quality, clean ingredients, and no artificial junk (which means flavors, colors, and sweeteners.) That’s my kind of philosophy!

It’s also a vital philosophy if you’re participating in any sanctioned events where you could be subject to drug testing – tainted supplements are both a common cover up for doping and a true cause of positive drug tests!

After looking through the ingredients lists for all three products, it’s clear Gnarly is talking the talk and walking the walk. I’m not going to classify these as health foods, but when it comes to sports drinks and supplements, these are top notch.

Let’s talk sweeteners first. It’s impossible to make drinks like these without sweeteners (and still get people to buy them,) so they’re a necessary evil. Fortunately, Gnarly uses Erythritol, Stevia Leaf Extract, and Wild Blue Agave Nectar. Again, these aren’t health foods, but it seems they’re a much better option than artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame.

I also have to highlight the prebiotics and probiotics in the Whey Gnarly. Digestive health is starting to get hyped up this year, but I believe there’s good reason for it!

Speaking of which, the New Zealand Whey is awesome stuff! All the expensive protein drinks are based on this powder because it’s hormone-free, antibiotic-free, gluten-free, and processed for the best absorption.

For the rest of the main ingredients (at least the ones in Pump,) I’m not sure what to say. There’s stuff like Bamboo Shoot Powder and Beet Root Powder and Grape Skin Powder that sounds neat, but I can’t tell you exactly how that’s going to improve your workout. For me, it’s a “test it out and see” situation.

So, let’s move on to that testing…

gnarly pump cranberry

The Gnarly Taste Test

First, the results of the taste test! Here are my thoughts on each flavor I tried:

Crankin Cranberry (Pump)

A very potent flavor, even when diluted in 12oz water (it says one scoop per 8-12oz water.) I guess it tastes like cranberry. It’s pretty tart, but there’s also some sweetness (which I believe was from some type of stevia, although it could have been the erithrytol.)

It’s a bit chalky. Just a bit though. It’s like, you take a sip and swallow, and at the very end, you notice the powdery part that doesn’t dissolve. Basically, you can tell it has the creatine and BCAAs in there.

I wouldn’t drink this just for enjoyment, but when it comes to workout drinks like this, it’s pretty good.

Citrus Blast (Boost)


Vicious Vanilla (Whey)

This is very sweet, and it has a strong vanilla bean flavor. Most vanilla powders might as well be “unflavored,” but not this one! It’s the best vanilla protein powder I’ve ever tasted!

Of course, not everyone will want something this sweet. At first I thought I could drink a gallon of it, but after a few minutes, I realized that would be a bad idea.

The problem I found is that there’s a little bit of an aftertaste. Likely from the erythritol, since it wasn’t as bitter as stevia can be. Not terrible, but not enjoyable.

Now, I also tried this vanilla protein mixed with vanilla almond milk, and a raw egg mixed in. Again, it just hits you with how freaking sweet and strong the taste is! It’s delicious. And the good news, I didn’t notice any aftertaste this time!

Chiseled Chocolate (Whey)

It smells incredible. But then it tastes like Cytogainer’s chocolate flavor, which I’m not a huge fan of. There’s not a nasty aftertaste like with that product just mentioned, which is nice, assuming you like the initial chocolate flavor.

When I tried it a second time, mixed with two eggs as well as the almond milk, it was much better. I like it with more substance like that. I’d probably like it even more in a banana smoothie.

For straight up shakes, though, I’ll stick with the vanilla.

whey gnarly protein drink

Gnarly Trials, Experience, and Results

Since Gnarly PUMP is the pre-workout drink, let’s start with that. I mixed this up in my old Blender Bottle so I could measure out exactly 12oz of water. It mixes very easily with a few shakes (no Blender Ball needed.) It probably stirs easily too, but I’d rather just shake it up in a water bottle.

I first used this before a Sunday morning bike ride. I had some peanut butter and bacon for breakfast when I woke up, then drank the Pump a couple hours later (right before the ride.) Note that I used the Pump in place of my regular cup of coffee.

During the ride? I felt great for 50 miles (of the 55,) but that’s potentially due to my Larabars and Stretch Island fruit chews. I was not necessarily any more energized than with a cup of coffee. However, completing 50 miles like that after only a handful of 20-30 mile rides so far this year, is impressive!

The second time I used Pump was before a gym workout, which was a better testing protocol for this type of supplement. I had oatmeal, bacon, and my coffee for breakfast, then drank the Pump a few hours later right before I went to the fitness center.

On top of the coffee, holy crap! After just a few minutes, it had me pumped up and ready to go!! Once I got lifting, it was awesome – I could feel that extra oomph to squeeze out an extra rep or add another 5lb to the bar.

Unfortunately, once my heart rate was up from the workout, this pumped it up too much on top of that, and I’d have to take a breather. As in, a “holy sh*t I hope I’m not having a heart attack” break.

I’d lift some more, take another break to calm down, and repeat. Eventually I had to call it quits though. It was too intense!

Post-workout I was still too energized, and I was going crazy! I became super irritable, like I get when I’m on a bunch of appetite suppressants (like PAGG, for example.)

I had to eat quite a bit of food and go for a walk to calm myself down. Still, into the freaking evening I could tell I had an elevated heart rate. It was ridiculous and kinda scary. (Scary enough I gave the last two packets to my stunt double!)

Maybe if I had eaten a bigger breakfast or skipped the coffee, the effect wouldn’t have been so pronounced. Maybe I need to exercise for at least four hours if I take it. But after that experience, I couldn’t risk taking it anymore.

Moving on, I used the Whey Gnarly after each of these workouts and another two the next week.

I mixed one scoop into about 16oz of unsweetened almond milk, like I’d do with any other protein powder. It mixed up very very easily in the Blender Bottle – much easier than the stuff I get from True Nutrition. It’s so smooth and creamy! There’s no evidence it used to be a powder!!

And with no chunks of caked up powder left over in the bottle, no money is wasted down the drain!

I was drained post-ride (after that 55 miler) and this whey perked me up quite a bit. That’s great! I enjoyed it each time, but I can’t comment on effectiveness after a short trial period.

My Pumped Up Stunt Double

Since the Pump was just too much for me to handle, I had to call in Rusty, a powerlifting client of mine who also volunteered to be my stunt double in cases such as this!

He had some interesting results on his first day. He felt super pumped up and lifted like crazy… then didn’t sleep at night. So he fared better than I had, but the Pump still didn’t wear off in time.

His second day of testing, it was like it didn’t do anything. He considered he may have been getting sick and the Pump made him feel like normal, rather than sickly, but that’s just a guess.

Rusty liked the flavor even more than I did, but in the end, he wouldn’t use it again or recommend it.

My final verdict is…

I don’t like any pre-workout drinks like “Pump” because they almost always make me jittery and irritable. And the “Boost,” well, I haven’t sampled it yet.

The Whey Gnarly is amazing for a post-workout drink though! It’s not cheap, but if you can justify the price, it’s healthy, natural, convenient, and delicious! (As I said, the best vanilla protein I’ve ever tasted!)

Official website: GoGnarly.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Blue Earth Nutrition
Product: Gnarly Stack
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2013-08-07
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: Yes; paid affiliate.

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  1. Levi,
    Thanks for the review. Your Gnarly Pump review is interesting. Most people have quite the opposite experience because we only use Green tea with 60 mg of caffeine. That’s usually not enough to make some one jittery, crazy and an increased heart rate. Also most customers burn right through our Pre and move on to bed with out a problem. However I have seen a lot of people react differently to pre workouts. I’m glad you liked the protein and we have put a ton of effort into this line to make it clean, delicious and effective. Thanks again for the review.

  2. @Eli

    Occasionally I get these exaggerated reactions when trying something new. It’s usually an “all or nothing” thing where it’s either crazy or no effect whatsoever. There’s definitely more to it than the 60mg caffeine, I’m just not sure what it is yet!

    I may do some further testing in the future…

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