If you’re new to distance running, you might be confused by the many fuel options on the shelves at your local running store. How do you figure out which one is right for you and your race? What’s really in those shiny packages? And what’s the nutritional breakdown?
When picking energy packs, remember that it’s important to take in 100-250 calories (about 25-60 grams of carbs) for every hour of running, depending on your size and fitness levels. And, don’t forget water!
The best way find out what running fuel works for you is to try it out during a training run. Before you do that, check out the stats on some of the most popular types of fuel.
Goos & Gels
Energy gels or goos contain a high concentration of sugar, carbs and electrolytes. They require no chewing—which can be pretty difficult when you’re trying to hit a new personal record. With flavors from chocolate cherry to key lime, there’s something for every runner.
GU Energy Gels
100 calories, 25g carbs, 20mg caffeine
Why It’s Good: GU has a lot of flavors like mint chocolate, strawberry banana, and espresso.
90 calories, 21g carbs, most flavors are caffeine-free
Why It’s Good: Hammer Gel has no added refined sugars or sweeteners and no artificial colors.
100 calories, 24g carbs, 0-50mg caffeine (depending on flavor)
Why It’s Good: It has the fewest ingredients of all the gels, and is 90% organic and vegan.
120 calories, 29g carbs, most flavors are caffeine-free
Why It’s Good: These honey-based gels are all-natural and they offer organic options.
Chews & Blocks
If you aren’t into the gooey world of energy gels, try energy chews instead. They’re pretty much just like eating candy! They do require chewing while you run, which can be challenging if you’re running hard.
Clif Shot Bloks
Three chews: 90 calories, 24g carbs, 0-50mg caffeine (depending on flavor)
Why It’s Good: Just like the Clif Shots, these chewy gummies have a short ingredient list.
For four chews: 90 calories, 23g carbs, 20mg caffeine
Why It’s Good: GU’s products have a longer ingredient list because they have added amino acids and antioxidants, which may help you stay focused during your run.
Jelly Belly Sport Beans
One packet of beans: 100 calories, 25g carbs, 0 -50mg caffeine (depending on flavor)
Why It’s Good: Want some candy? Well, here’s your energy chew! These are made by the jelly bean superstars at Jelly Belly.
Honey Stinger Chews
For one packet of chews: 160 calories, 39g carbs, most flavors are caffeine-free
Why It’s Good: These chews have multiple carbohydrate sources for optimal energy and are 95% organic.
What’s your favorite fuel for distance running or endurance sports?
Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Photo credit: Lululemon