If you are a distance runner like me, you have probably toyed with the idea of energy gels before. When running, you can’t exactly ingest solid foods so you need an alternate source. The most popular brand is Gu so that’s probably where you would start. I have a whole box and they are delicious but then I started thinking about the ingredients (I know, I’m so predictable) and got concerned. I found a couple packs at a local bike shop yesterday made by Clif and got excited and decided to do this blog! You see, I always like to try a few before purchasing online in bulk (usually at vitacost.com because its cheap!). I decided I would compare a few brand here instead of just 2. Here we go!
Gu Energy Gels Ingredients: Maltodextrin (glucose polymers), filtered water, fructose, unsweetened Belgian chocolate, GU amino blend (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), GU antioxidant blend (natural vitamin E and vitamin C),potassium and sodium citrate, calcium carbonate, sea salt, citric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, fumeric acid, GU herbal blend (chamomile, cola nut [has caffeine], ginger), malic acid, calcium chloride, pectin.
PowerBar Energy Gels Ingredients: Other Ingredients: C2 MAX Carbohydrate Blend (maltodextrin, fructose), filtered water, chocolate (contains milk), glycerin, PowerBar Electrolyte Blend (sodium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium chloride), phosphoric acid, natural flavor (contains soy lecithin), PowerBar Booster Blend (caffeine, ginseng, kola nut extract), sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (to retard spoilage). Contains Milk and Soy.
Overall, looking at the ingredients, none of them are very bad! Honestly, most of the things in the Gu and PowerBar are nothing but vitamins and minerals. Even the “extra” ingredients I had to look up were all plant based. I didn’t find anything bad! Of course, I like the look of the last two ingredients lists the best. Especially the honey since it is packed with natural nutrients. Even if they have the same nutrients, you will probably absorb it better from the honey verses the man made stuff simply because its meant to be eaten that way. Make sense? Its like the milk thing how vitmain D needs to be bound to a fat to be absorbed. I believe the same thing about vitamins, you probably need it in a certain combination to absorb it. But in a natural way, not just two things together. Its confusing and I don’t know if its 100% true. Anyway!
Looking at the calories, they are all pretty much the same too. They can be sneaky because I don’t know how big a packet is. For example, is the Gu 1 ounce while the PowerBar is 1.2 ounces? That would mean that they are equal calories per ounce. But I don’t have that information. Notice that the honey has no fat. I wonder if the fat would help with runs? Maybe keep you fuller longer? Also, the honey is packed with potassium which will help with soreness! It is moderate on the sodium end which you need to refuel electrolytes. Its got the most sugar though for a quick energy boost. The PowerBar has the most sodium so if you sweat a lot, maybe that would be your best choice. The Clif Shots seem to lay somewhere in the middle of everything.
I have tried both Gu and PowerBar and have to say I prefer the texture of the Gu. The PowerBar gels are more liquidy/runny. And the taste of the Gu is better (for chocolate anyway). The chocolate Gu tastes like straight brownie batter. The vanilla flavor tastes like vanilla pudding. There is something seriously wrong about eating a brownie batter type food after running 10 miles! Love it! I have yet to try the Clif Shots I bought but will let you know when I get around to it. Has anyone tried the Honey Stinger? I heard they are delicious. They also make these vanilla waffle things that I am curious about (from my google searches). Maybe they would be good for long bike rides??
Do you use energy gels? What is you favorite kind? Would you consider using them now for long endurance workouts? I only use these for long runs and rides. They are pure energy (aka carbs). Its definitely smart to refuel with some protein after that long hard workout though! Oh, and there are also these nifty little guys
Which DO contain a little big of protein (4g). I’ve heard that they are a much better option compared to GU and such because they keep you fuller longer, even while performing endurance events. Stats: 90 calories, 0 fat, 90 sodium, 70 potassium, 16 carb, 7 sugar, 4 protein. A little low on the carb side of things. I have a packet that I’ve never tried yet. Maybe soon! I would assume it would help muscle recovery better with the protein too? Hm, but can your body digest the protein while all its energy is being diverted? I’ll get back to you on that one!