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Run Oregon Test Kitchen: Skratch Labs

 

I love the play on words with Skratch Labs, a company that strives to keep their items as close to scratch as possible with no preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, colorings or flavoring agents. I’ve seen their logo for years and finally decided to give it a try when they were kind enough to send us some samples.

First thing I love about Skratch Labs is you that can go to actual stores to purchase it. REI, Portland Running Company, and many bike and running specialty shops are a few of the places you can stop in and grab some to try. I hate having to order large quantities online when I have no idea if I’m going to like it and I get annoyed with a product I have to order through someone else. I love Amazon and I guess I’m greedy because I want both options. It’s nice to be able to just go buy a couple to test out and see if it’s even a product you like. It’s even better when a product offers both, which is the case with Skratch Labs.

 

 


I am a big energy bar guy. I am on the road a lot for work, so having something simple and nutritional to grab is essential when I am running between meetings. While some may scoff, I need a little flavor in my bars to assist me in both feeling full and wanting to actually put it in my body in the first place. Brown and bland bars may have nutritional density, but if it tastes like cardboard I am not going to eat it. Also, while I realize “sugar” is a 4-letter word sometimes, if bars are just replacing refined sugars with stevia I am also not going to consume. So trying out Energy Bars from Skratch was really up my alley.

Skratch bars look like real food. While there claims to be 50% less sugar than other bars, I didn’t get the feeling that it was just replacing it with other weird sweeteners. The ingredient list pretty straightforward so the sweetness in the bars felt natural and ideal. I immediately noticed this in the Raspberries and Lemon bar (which I loved) that tasted, weirdly enough, like raspberries and lemons. They even added in some candied lemon peel! I also tried Peanut Butter & Strawberries, Cherries & Pistachios, Chocolate Chips & Almond, and a savory Parmesan, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Black Pepper. They all tasted great!

Some people may still be against a bar with 11g of sugar, but honestly I think it’s a give and take when it comes to sugars. Just energize wisely, keep things as natural as possible, and ENJOY what you are putting in your body and you can’t go wrong. I think Skratch knocks these out of the park.


For runners who are looking to get a little energy in something other than a gel, Skratch also makes Energy Chews. Thyey have three flavors – raspberry, orange, and matcha green tea. As someone who can easily get overwhelmed and over-analyze with too many options, limited flavors are just fine with me, especially if they taste good and do their job. The flavor doesn’t taste artificial, and they aren’t waxy and didn’t leave a film in your mouth, like some of the popular gummy chews on the market. It’s like a candy gumdrop – but one that fuels you up on your run instead of crashing you.

Each packet has 10 fruit chews and 160 calories and are quick energy and super convenient. They are coated in a sugar, which may sound wired, but it seems to prevent them from sticking together during long runs – which happens ALL the time to me. There is nothing worse than running with sticky fingers (well, quite a few things worse, but I digress). While it sounds ridiculous, I love that these felt like a “cleaner” fuel in a few senses.

While I enjoy the sweet and salty taste of Gatorade as a standalone beverage, I don’t particularly care for it while running. It’s also hard for me to justify drinking a lot of calories when I’m trying to burn them off with a run, so I’m not a big sports drink sort of guy. With that said, there is definitely a need for hydration and keeping electrolytes balanced with each and every work out. Made with real fruit for flavor, simple sugars and electrolytes, their Hydration Mix is ideal for anyone who works out. Non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free and vegan, their mixes have no artificial coloring agents, sweeteners or synthetic flavoring agents.

They offer more flavors in the hydration mix, including:

  • Matcha Green Tea + Lemons
  • Lemons + Limes
  • Raspberries
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples
  • Apples + Cinnamon (Hot)

I tested the Lemon & Lime, Match Green Tea & Lemon, and Oranges. I’m not a huge Matcha or tea person, but I kind of think this one would fit the bill chilled on a hot run. My palate preferred the Lemon & Lime and Oranges, as both are very mellow with just a hint of flavor. These are not the syrupy, artificial flavored sports drinks most of us think of when we think of electrolyte mixes. These taste like mostly water with just enough flavor to keep it interesting. As a result, I feel I would be able to drink more without upsetting my stomach and do a better job keeping my body in balance during serious sweat sessions.

I waited way too long to give these a try. The hydration mix is a great find and ideal for anyone who sweats.

Lastly, Skratch’s Recovery Drink Mix is designed to “rapidly refuel, rehydrate, and rebuild you when you’re completely empty after your longest and hardest workouts.” I loved the fact that it was available in single-serving packs as opposed to only a large bag. As someone who runs from work or while on the road, I am much more likely to utilize single-shot packs when on the go then having to either wait until I get home or lug a larger container around with me.

The mix is a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein with is designed this way:

[D]esigned to bring your blood sugar up fast. This causes the hormone insulin to spike, which is key to getting the sugar, electrolytes, fat, and protein in our Sport Recovery Drink Mix back into muscle fast. Basically, our Sport Recovery Drink Mix is really sweet milk – like chocolate milk, but without a tongue-twisting list of excess ingredients and with a more optimized macronutrient profile for restoring muscle glycogen (aka, refueling).

But, as I have mentioned before, no matter how beneficial an energy or refueling product is, I won’t use it if it doesn’t taste good. And, once again, I think Skratch knocked it out of the park. It tastes so chocolately that I would actually look forward to this instead of dreading it. I won’t lie though – there is quite a bit of added sugar to make this happen. Though there is some scientific reasoning for this, you are probably gonna have to earn it – which is not always a bad thing.

Overall, I was very impressed with Skratch Labs and all their products!


Company: Skratch Labs (Facebook)
Products and Price:

More about Skratch Labs:

While working as a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team, Dr. Allen Lim started making his own training food and sports drinks from scratch for the cyclists because too many of the pre-packaged sports bars and drinks that were marketed or given to them were laden with artificial ingredients and literally making them sick to their stomach.

He also started diluting their sports drinks to lower the sugar concentration while adding back extra salt and electrolytes to replace what was actually being lost in their sweat. Eventually, he started making a “secret drink mix” in his kitchen using a recipe with less sugar, more sodium, and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, with a simple and clean taste created by using real fruit.

Soon, word of the “Secret Drink Mix” was spreading fast and it was clear that the demand for our all natural drink mixes extended far beyond cyclists or endurance athletes. Race car drivers, rock climbers, concerned parents, Peace Corps workers, and normal active people looking for healthy food and drink alternatives were buying the product and hungry for more knowledge and ideas.

To meet that demand, Allen put together a team of close friends and they decided to let the secret out by opening a little company in Boulder, Colorado called Skratch Labs. Our mission is simple – to develop and sell food and drinks that taste great, that are made from real ingredients and that solve problems for active people. Most importantly, we intend to educate and to continue to learn and grow ourselves – to help our customers improve and thrive as they help us to do the same.  We know we have a lot of work to do to fulfill this mission and we are the first to acknowledge that we are a work in progress – that things won’t always be perfect. But there’s no better time to start than now.

Thanks for supporting our small and independently owned business as we work to support you and your active life.


Thank you to Skratch Labs for providing us with samples. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Matt Rasmussen (1437 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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