We have all seen them on the shelves of running stores—the running gels and gummies that promise improved endurance and increases in performance. Find out what these gels are truly capable and use this comparative list to determine which of these popular boosts fit your needs best.
Clif Shot and Bloks
The Clif Shot offers up to 110 calorie gel packets that include 12g of sugar, caffeine, 80mg of potassium, 60mg of sodium and 22g of carbohydrates for fast digestion and glycogen replacement. Shots with 3x the caffeine are also available for that extra boost. They come in a variety of flavours. Unlike most gels this one does not use maltodextrin as their main ingredient and instead uses organic brown rice syrup.
The Clif Bloks are essentially they same as the gels but come in 33 calorie blocks that have a 3x the sodium concentration option for that extra electrolyte boost. Because they are chewable, the Bloks take a little longer to be used by your muscle as it is slower to digest.
GU Energy Gel and Chomps
GU Gels offer a 90 calorie blend of fructose and maltodextrin (Gulcose polymers) for fast carbohydrate digestion. With only 5g of sugar, 40mg of potassium, 50mg of sodium and 25g of total carbohydrates. They come in a variety of caffeinated or caffeine free options and flavours.
GU Chomps, (chewable version) are very similar to the gels in regards to ingredients with the added bonus of vitamin C and E. These pieces also come in variety of flavours that may or may not have caffeine added to them.
The PowerBar Gel has a similar blend to the GU Gel that combines fructose and maltodextrin which they call the C2Max. This gel has 110 calories, 10g of sugar, 20mg of potassium and packs a whooping 200mg of sodium and 27g of carbohydrates. It also contains caffeine. They add the extra sodium in for that electrolyte kick.
Carb BOOM is the only gel that has real fruit flavourings and does not have any artificial color or sweetener. It is a 103 calorie gel that only has 3g of sugar, 50mg of potassium, 51 mg of sodium and 26g of carbohydrates. There is also caffeine varieties like the vanilla orange and is vegan safe.
All of these gels and gummies suggest consuming one before exercise and then again every 30-45 minutes of continuous exercise, which is a great marketing tactic but not necessary. With a balanced diet, they are not needed unless you are exercising for at least an hour and a half to two hours. So I should not be seeing people sucking them back at the 2.5 km mark of a 5 km race!
It is also good to note that most gels come with a pretty thick consistency and if you are anything like me, you will get it all over your hands and shirt the first time you try one so be careful when opening them! Gels also need to be consumed with water so make sure you have water with you when you take one. What ever product you are using, make sure you are using it in practice before you try it on race day!
About the Author: Sarah McIntosh is a Personal Trainer at Elite Personal Training Studio in London, ON and a proud Kinesiology graduate of the University of Western Ontario. She has taken her love of running to a new level and is now training to compete in triathlons. She also enjoys rock climbing, camping and baking, not all at the same time.