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How to pick an energy gel

How to pick an energy gelI’ve tried many different running nutrition products and I’ll share my biggest piece of advice is to find something you like and stick with it. No matter what sport nutrition product you use, just don’t change your mind the day of the race and use a new product you found at the expo or the free products given away on the course. In this case, “If it’s free, it’s for me” does not apply. You will regret it…I promise.


For me, the GU Energy Gels work the best for in-race nutrition. I typically bring one gel for a half marathon and two for a full. The GU Energy Gel has sodium, amino acids and carbohydrates. My favorite flavor is chocolate outrage, but I also like the peanut butter flavor. When I use GU I don’t have stomach distress issues like I do with other products.



The Clif Shot Gels are a close second and they also work well. I also like the Clif Shot Blocks. I like to pop a shot block in and let it sit in my check when I’m running. I slowly chew it throughout the race, so it provides a steady stream of carbohydrates.


So, what should you look for in a nutrition product? Look for these top three things:


Electrolytes balance your hydration levels. You lose electrolytes, primarily sodium, when sweating, so it’s important to replace those electrolytes through a nutrition product when running.


Amino Acids

Amino acids help reduce your mental fatigue.



The carbohydrates in the product help provide you with energy to keep you going and help prevent hitting the wall.


I made the mistake of eating Tootsie Rolls (yes, the candy) during one of my races because I thought that the only important component was the sugar. I figured that Tootsie Rolls were cheaper and tasted better, and they would perform the same. Yikes! What a mistake. I still can’t eat a Tootsie Roll to this day!


You will find a plethora of gels, blocks, beans and waffles in your running store, so pick and choose the products that you think will work best for you. Just make sure you do this on your training runs and not the day of the race. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular products:

GU Energy Gel

Calories: 100

Carbs: 25g

Sodium: 50mg

Potassium: 40mg

Best Feature: Both maltodextrin and fructose and includes amino acids to reduce mental fatigue. Also tastes the best of any product.


Clif Shot

Calories: 110

Carbs: 22g

Sodium: 60mg

Potassium: 80mg

Best Feature: Shot blocks offer the ability to take in a little bit at a time.


Honey Stinger GelsCalories: 120

Carbs: 29

Sodium: 50mg

Potassium: 85mg

Best Feature: Includes vitamins and offers an organic option.


PowerBar Gel

Calories: 110

Carbs: 27g

Sodium: 200 mg

Potassium: 20mg

Best Feature: Offers both glucose and fructose, which allows you to consume more and stay fueled.


I am NOT paid or receive any free products from GU or Clif Bar…this is just my honest opinion.


What are your favorite race nutrition products?

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