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Sports Energy Products Explained: Gels and Chews

When you need energy for long workouts, there are many choices. Sport drinks, powders, and tablets offer fuel with hydration, but many just provide electrolytes to prevent dehydration. If you're working out for over an hour, you need to provide your muscles with some fuel, aka glycogen, and that's where gels and chew come into the mix. Conveniently packaged in single-serving packets, full of carbs and sometimes electrolytes, you can easily carry one in your pocket or pack. Gels like GU, Clif Shot, and Hammer Head contain sugars that provide super concentrated, fast-acting fuel. Just squirt a pack in your mouth every 30 to 40 minutes of intense exercise, down some water, and you're good to go. You can easily consume the entire serving while on the move, provided you have water to help wash it down.

Bite-sized energy chews such as GU Chomps, Clif Shot Blocks, and Luna Sport Moons offer the same quick energy, but they're less sticky and messy than gels. Since they are more like gummy candies, some folks find them more pleasing to eat, making them great for hikes and longer, slower runs or rides. They can also be easier to digest for some people (although that has not been my experience), but remember that you need to take them with water just like gels. Consume six chews per hour of running, and what's nice is you don't have to take them all at once. Both gels and chews are fairly inexpensive, about $1.30 per packet. Tell me which do you prefer — gels or chews?

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