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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?

Join The Conversation
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Yup, sports gels/ drinks/ blocks/ chews are a way to fuel your body for longer workouts. I only drink water if I'm working out under 75 minutes ... more than that I'm taking in 100 calories/ hour on the run, and 250 calories/ hour on the bike.
iheartkerning iheartkerning 7 years
spacekatgal—as answered, yes, they have calories: generally around 100 calories per gel. I use them when bike riding—I can burn over 2000 calories in 3-4 100/cal every 45 minutes is really just a drop in the bucket, and it sure beats bonking if I run out of steam. If I am doing a longer hike I'll take some too. For running (if you can call my lame attempts running, haha) and other workouts I don't use them at all. My favorite flavors are the GU coffee (espresso? mocha? I can't remember) and GU vanilla. The fruit ones are all pretty good too. Some have more or less caffeine than others. I avoid the chocolate ones simply because for me they spur cravings for more chocolate—but they sure are good! I have tried the Clif and Hammer gels and I'm not a big fan of them. I have yet to try the Powerbar ones.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Spacekatgal - yes they have calories. People pretty much only use these when doing prolonged, strenuous physical activity. I use them in marathon training, where my goal is not to burn calories for weight loss, but rather to have the energy to cover a certain number of miles. So, as to whether you should use them, it really depends on what type of workout you're doing and for how long. Danni - The GU website says they're safe for kids but to avoid the ones with caffeine. Check the label carefully, because it can be hard to tell which ones have caffeine and which don't.
Danni99 Danni99 7 years
Are these safe for kids who are involved in high-activity sports? My 9 year old has spotted these at the sporting goods store and was asking for them. I told her no, but I'd reconsider if they're safe/healthy for kids. She's about 80 pounds and has 2 hour soccer practices a few times a week.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 7 years
It's a mix for me. I alternate between blocks and gels every other week - I am okay with either of them. The only thing I am picky about is the favor - I found out that chocolate favor does not work well for me. I almost throw up after having a chocolate gel before my swim. I am only stick with the vanilla favor now for the gel.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I still like the plain old Gu gels the best. But I recently tried the blueberry flavored Gu Chomps, and I really liked them as well. I didn't think I would, since I've never liked gummy candy, so it was a pleasant surprise.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Gels.. I burned out on the Shot Blocks ! --- most specifically: Hammer Apple Cinnamon, GU chocolate, GU tri berry, GU lime. I also LOVE Infinit -- fit, you should check it out - . it's a customizable sports drink.. you take a "quiz" -- how much you weigh, sweat, length of races/ workouts, etc. I'm planning on using Infinit ONLY on the bike for my Ironman .. it's GREAT stuff (and no I'm not sponsered nor do I work for them ;))
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