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Alternatives to Energy Gels

Posted by: on October, 13 2015

Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S, R.D.

Need a little variety in your mid-race fuel?  Compare and try these energy powerhouses.

As the number of days until race day dwindle, long runs get longer, and for good reason. During this weekend’s long workout, it was clear to me that fall racing season is just around the corner: The local running trail was simply packed with sweat-soaked, hydration-pack-wearing, long-distance runners. I was happy to see that almost every runner came equipped with some sort of high-octane fuel, knowing that the longer they were out on the trail, the more fuel and hydration they would need. Yet some of us can only tolerate so much fuel, regardless of how much we need, and for many, it helps to have some options in the fuel asenal. After all, variety is the spice of life–in order to prevent taste fatigue or gel gag reflex, sometimes something a bit more chewy and palatable is in order.

Luckily, options abound. From scientifically engineered high-octane fuel to grassroots natural options, there are many ways to get you from start to finish feeling energized. Like gels, chews (or blocks or beans or what have you) require a water chaser to dilute the carbohydrates they provide and assist your system in absorbing the good stuff. Products on the market vary in taste, texture, and cost, and your level of acceptability and tolerance will vary too. So be open to trying new brands, forms, and flavors, and try them out during training so you’ll know what to expect on race day.

As for transportation, chewy options are notoriously more bulky than gels, but that shouldn’t make these energy powerhouses off-limits. I’ve had great success with opening a pouch and dividing the chews between pockets of my running shorts, or in colder or windy conditions, using a pocket-packed running vest. What about you? I’d love to hear how you transport your fuel along the route.

The options listed below are often seen out on the race course and can be found online or at select sporting goods stores, running stores, race expos, and even your neighborhood grocer. Bon Appetit!

Item: Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Chews
Portion: 1 sleeve (4 chews)
Calories: 120
Carbs: 31
Other Notable Features: Sodium, potassium (Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Chews formulation contains more electrolytes and carbs per chew compared to G Series Prime formulation)

Item: Jelly Belly Sport Beans
Portion: 1 pouch (~13beans)
Calories: 100
Carbs: 25
Other Notable Features: Electrolytes, vitamins, Extreme Beans contain 50mg caffeine

Item: PowerBar Performance Energy Blasts
Portion: 1 pouch (~9chews)
Calories: 200
Carbs: 46
Other Notable Features: Sodium, +/- caffeine

Item: Clif Shot Bloks
Portion: 1 sleeve (2 servings of 3 cubes/svg)
Calories: 100
Carbs: 23
Other Notable Features: Sodium, +/- 50mg caffeine

Item: Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews
Portion: 1 packet
Calories: 160
Carbs: 39
Other Notable Features: Sodium, potassium, 1 gram each protein and fiber, gluten free, +/- 32mg caffeine

Item: Perpetuem Solids
Portion: 3 Tablets (available in 6 tab canister or 90 tab tub)
Calories: 100
Carbs: 20
Other Notable Features: Various electrolytes, 3 grams protein, carnosine, +/- 10mg caffeine

Item: CytoMax
Portion: 1 pouch
Calories: n/a
Carbs: n/c
Other Notable Features: +/- 50mg caffeine

Item: GU Chomps
Portion: 1 packet (2 servings of 4 chews/svg)
Calories: 90
Carbs: 23
Other Notable Features: Various electrolytes, amino acids, vitamins, +/- caffeine, gluten free

Item: Sharkies
Portion: 1 Pouch
Calories: 140
Carbs: 36
Other Notable Features: Electrolytes, gluten free

Item: Raisins
Portion: ¼ cup packed / 1 small box
Calories: 123
Carbs: 33
Other Notable Features: Rich in potassium (but with little sodium), 1 gram each protein and fiber, +/- organic, gluten free

Item: Dried apricots
Portion: 15 halves
Calories: 127
Carbs: 33
Other Notable Features: Rich in potassium (but with little sodium), 2 grams protein (a bit high in fiber with 4g), +/- organic, gluten free

Item: Pretzels, hard, salted
Portion: 1 oz
Calories: 108
Carbs: 23
Other Notable Features: Sodium, potassium, and iron, 2 grams of protein