Review: Clif Quench Sport Drink

by Tom Markiewicz on July 13, 2009

Clif Quench Sport Drink

While grocery shopping the other day, I saw a large display for the new Clif Quench sport drinks. I vaguely remembered hearing about these, so I decided to buy one of each flavor and try them out.

Let me start off by saying that my primary sports drinks are massive quantities of coffee in the morning, followed by as much water as I can consume the rest of the day. That said, I occasionally buy a Gatorade or Powerade and throw it in my climbing pack for a long day.

The selling points of Clif’s new drink line is the list of ingredients and its recycled bottle. The Clif Quench is 88% organic with no high fructose corn syrup. From the company:

CLIF Quench offers the optimal balance of ingredients your thirsty body needs, including electrolytes and carbohydrates to move water where your body needs it most. CLIF Quench is all-natural and contains no artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives used in many beverages today.

Continuing on the company??s journey toward sustainability, the CLIF Quench bottle and label are the most planet-friendly options on the market. The bottle is made of 40 percent post-consumer recycled PET plastic??the highest percentage of any U.S. bottled beverage??and the bottle and label are fully recyclable.

Unfortunately, the drink tastes like a big gulp of ocean water. Seriously, the Quench has such a strong salty taste that I almost couldn’t drink a full bottle. And I love Clif’s other products, so this was a real disappointment.

My initial thought was that the taste was due to a much higher sodium content which is common in sports drinks. So yesterday, I picked up a bottle of Gatorade (Frost Glacier Freeze if you must know) and guzzled it down. Just as I remembered, I did not feel like I was drowning in the Pacific Ocean.

Next obvious step – check the ingredient labels. Here is the surprising result of my quick research:

Gatorade (8 fl. oz)
Calories – 50
Sodium – 110 mg
Potassium – 30 mg
Total Carbs – 14 g
Sugars – 14 g

Clif Quench (8 fl. oz)
Calories – 45
Sodium – 130 mg
Potassium – 35 mg
Total Carbs – 11 g
Sugars – 10 g

These drinks are quite similar except for the real sugar in Clif versus the high fructose corn syrup in the Gatorade. You can also see that there is 18% more sodium in the Clif. From the taste though, I was estimating there would be twice the sodium.

Unless you absolutely refuse to use products with high fructose corn syrup and have to have a sports drink, I can’t recommend this product in its current form. Hopefully, with enough feedback, maybe they’ll revisit the taste factor on the Quench.

Has anyone else tried these yet? What was your opinion, especially on the taste?

  • stacy

    Which flavor did you try? And are you partial to sweet drinks? I believe the goal of the Quench was to supply a less sugary drink with a bit more sodium to actually hydrate; not cause weight gain and insulin responses to a drink.

  • Tom Markiewicz

    Stacy, I tried all of them, one of each. And no, not partial to sweet drinks. If I drink soda, it’s always a diet version. I was just surprised by distinct salty taste, much more so than its competitors.

  • Nick

    I just tried the Lime-Ade today. Some people were handing them out on the street, now I can see why, because they can’t sell it. This is, without a doubt, one of the nastiest tasting drinks I have had in a long time. Sorry Clif, Gatorade owns the sports drink market! Big Fail.

  • John

    My son and I have tried several of the flavors and really like them. I like that it is not as sweet tasting as Gatorade. My son actually grabs this out of the frig instead of gatorade – he is drinking them faster than I can buy them. I also really like that it does not have HFCS which I try to avoid if possible.

  • Tom Markiewicz

    Thanks John, good to see another perspective on this.

  • grnibld

    I agree with John. I like the subtle flavouring and the fact that it is low sugar – not to mention it isn’t HFCS. I’m not sure why there are comments about it being “seawater-like”, I didn’t find them salty at all. Maybe being cold is the best way to go?? I use them also after hot yoga-fabulous as the Quench doesn’t make me feel like I’ve eaten a large amount of cotton-candy (unlike Gatorade!!)

  • Jon

    The key to this drink is to actually work out and sweat prior to drinking. This is not a sit on your couch drink like Gatorade is, it is a sports drink and tastes and works best after actually working out.

  • Jae`

    My initial thought when I took my first gulp of clif was “oh, how disgusting”. I was going to throw it out but I put it in the refrigerator and a couple of hours later I figured I would try it again. For some reason it tasted different. I drank the whole bottle and plan to buy more when I go back to the grocery store. I think we are so accustomed to that high fructose corn syrup that when we taste something different our taste buds don’t know what to think. I say give it another try on a cleansed palate. BTW, I have CLIF QUENCH FRUIT PUNCH.

  • christina

    Interesting. I didn’t feel that it tasted too salty, though it was very chilled when I drank it, and I liked it over Gatorade because it wasn’t as sweet and didn’t need to be diluted.

  • Lauren

    I tried the Clif quench fruit punch..I was very impressed with the nutrious aspects of the product, but I couldn’t get passed the “ocean water taste”. I’d definitely keep buying the product if they’d fix this problem..but i cant force myself to drink any more than a few gulps.

  • Anna

    I am so happy to serve my children drinks without the high fructose corn syrup and the dyes like Gatorade. We don’t have any problem with the taste and we drink Clif Quench at room temperature. I will, however, try it cold. I do think that this is a drink that you should consume when working out or playing sports.

  • Christine

    I was also interested in a sports drink that wasn’t Gatorade or Powerade since I don’t consume HFCS or artificial chemical sugars. I bought both the Strawberry-Citrus and Fruit Punch flavors and enjoyed them both. I didn’t try them warm, or just to drink, but rather cold and after working out. I can say that Quench doesn’t give me a think sugary after taste, and I actually enjoy them. I will be buying lots of these in the future!

  • Jill

    I just saw these in the sports drink area of the grocery store. I saw these way up high. I’m actually going to drink them during my long runs. Now I’m a little nervous about them! :-) I haven’t tried one yet. I can’t do anything corn, so most all of the energy drinks are out the window. I need to replentish my electrolytes as my runs are over an hour and I sweat like crazy. Right now it’s my only over the counter option with my current food restrictions. If I can swing it then I can use it to train for my 1/2 Marathon in June!

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