• Liz

Fuel and Hydration Product Review (part 2)

Part 2 of my fuel and hydration review! Today we'll be focusing on gels. Gels are my preferred way of fueling during a race. Gels like chews are designed to replenish you glycogen stores that get depleted when you're racing. They are generally made of simple sugars, which are your body's preferred energy source. I've found that gels are a little more consistent when it comes to packaging size and calories per gel (about 100 calories per gel), so unlike the chew review, I will not be considering the "racing logistics" for these gels.

I'll be considering the following:

  • Taste

  • Texture

  • Packaging (Most gels have similar packaging, so I will only mention the packaging if something is different or stands out)

For people with dietary restrictions I'll also mention it is:

• Vegan/Vegetarian

• Gluten-Free

• Dairy-Free

Honey Stinger (Gold)

Honey Stinger gels are honey-based gels that come in both caffeinated and non-caffeinated flavors. There are a total of 8 flavors, 3 of those are caffeinated and 5 are non-caffeinated.

Taste: Honey Stinger gels are great because of their simplicity. The Gold flavor is their original flavor which is just an unflavored honey-based gel, so it tasted exactly like honey. Because Honey Stinger is honey based, it was one of the sweeter gels I reviewed on this list.

Texture: Because there are primarily made of honey and water, they have an easy to eat consistency and are not grainy at all. The gels are a little runnier than plain honey you would find in a jar due to the addition of water, similar to the textured of slightly warmed honey.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegetarian not vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

GU (Gingerade)

GU is probably the most well-known brand of gels. They are known for having tons of different flavors to choose from including flavors such as "Hoppy Trails" and "Salted Watermelon".

Taste: The Gingerade flavor leaned more towards ginger rather than lemonade, which makes the gel taste almost like a lemon-ginger cookie. Overall, the gels aren't overwhelmingly sweet and have a good flavor.

Texture: GU gels are more viscous than some of the more whole food based gels. Some people compare the texture to frosting, but I would compare it more to a corn syrup. The texture is smooth and easy to eat on the run.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

Clif Shot (Citrus)

Clif Shots are also another classic energy gel. They're the official gel of the Boston Marathon, so you know they're reliable. Clif Shots offer 9 total flavors with 5 caffeinated flavors.

Taste: The Citrus flavor has a very similar flavor to lemon curd, the kind you would find in a jelly filled donut. Similar amounts of sweetness found in the GU brand gels.

Texture: The texture of these are very similar to the GU gels, with a more thick and viscous, but still smooth texture.

Packaging: I think the Clif Shots have the best packaging. One issue that gels have is the tear off tab at the top creates small and hard to find trash. A lot of runners will just toss this on the ground at a race, which leaves behind an aftermath of small plastic litter. Clif Shots have what they call a "litter leash" which is a little strip that keeps the tear tab attached to the rest of the packaging, reducing the littering issue that comes with gels.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

Hammer (Orange)

Hammer gels are made with a blend of long-chain complex carbohydrates rather than relying on simple carbohydrates.

Taste: The orange flavor had a very orange juice flavor rather than an artificial orange flavor. Hammer gels are less sweet than GU or Clif shots and tend to have a more natural flavor.

Texture: Hammer gels are a little runnier than other gels on this list, similar to the texture of warmed pancake syrup.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

V-Fuel (Caramel Apple)

V-Fuel is the only energy gel on the market containing MCT oil which they say is used for smooth energy and better mental clarity.

Taste: Do you remember those caramel apple lollipops you would get as a kid? They taste almost exactly like that, personally I loved those things as a kid, so I enjoyed this flavor quite a bit. Though there is a noticeable oiliness to the gel due to the MTC oil, which could be off-putting to people that aren't used to this in a gel.

Texture: The oiliness actually makes the gel easy to swallow, so it goes down very quickly. It is the thinnest of the gels on the list.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian

○ Gluten-Free

○ Dairy-Free

Spring Energy (Wholesome Peanut Butter)

Spring energy is a brand that uses all whole foods in their products. They focus on using a blend of complex carbs, fats, and proteins in their gels.

Taste: The whole peanut butter flavor is a mixture of peanut butter, bananas, and orange juice. The dominate flavor is definitely the peanut and the orange. I enjoy the nuttiness of these gels.

Texture: Because Spring is made from real food, it has a very different texture than the other gels. I would say it has a consistency that is similar to baby food, which makes it easy to swallow.

Packaging: Spring has similar packaging to Clif Shots, which helps reduce littering.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

Endurance Tap

Endurance Tap is a very simple maple syrup based gel. They only ingredients are maple syrup, sea salt, and ginger

○ Taste: Because Endurance Tap is a maple syrup based gel, it taste exactly like maple syrup with a hint of ginger. This is a very sweet gel, which may be difficult to consume for some.

○ Texture: Also it has the texture of a real maple syrup, so it is runnier than most gels.

Packaging: This packaging is very unique. They have a resealable cap on their packaging, so it would be easier to consume to gels in parts rather than all at once.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

Muir (Red Raspberry)

Muir Energy is a brand root in using real foods in their products. They state that "We use exclusively real food, mineral rich ingredients, which are easy to metabolize and super easy on the stomach."

○ Taste: It red raspberry flavor is very tart, it is the most aggressively flavored gel on this list. It has a very similar flavor to dried berries.

○ Texture: This is the thickest of all the gels, it has the consistency of a jam or spread. Also because it is made of whole foods it is very seedy and dark in color.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

Huma (Apple Cinnamon)

Huma's core ingredient is chia seeds which provide fiber which holds onto liquid carbohydrates during digestion to reduce or remove altogether that sugar spike.

○ Taste: The Apple Cinnamon flavor taste just like apple pie filling. They aren't so sweet that they are overwhelming and has a good overall flavor.

○ Texture: Like Muir and Spring, they have more of a real food texture. Like the Spring gels, they have a baby food like consistency, but is a little thicker than Spring.

○ Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan

○ Gluten-Free: Yes

○ Dairy-Free: Yes

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