Last Updated: May 2, 2014
I will update this page whenever I try a new type/brand of gel.
Like with gear, I also like to experiment on the energy source front in my constant quest to find the most optimal nutrition plan. I am not one that can run a race solely on gels, but I have made them a key part of most of my races and long runs, if not for the simple fact that they are easy to consume on the move. Thus far, I have tried the following:
- Honey Stinger
Below, I have provided a graphical representation of where I rate each product on a number of key categories as well as a quick write-up on my general thoughts for each category. All ratings are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the highest. As usual, these are based on my own personal experiences and opinions. Everyone is different, especially with nutrition, so use this information to whatever extent you would like. The five categories I have decided to base my reviews on include:
- Taste: I have never seen a gel that has caused me to say, “man, give me another”, but some are more tolerable than others. This will rate from disgusting to surprisingly good.
- Effectiveness: This is how quickly I feel the effects after consuming a gel. As I am not a nutritional scientist, this could most likely all be in my head, but I will rate based on my perception.
- Digestibility: Just because you can tolerate the taste of a gel enough to swallow it, it doesn’t mean it will stay down. This rating speaks to the effects on the stomach/GI.
- Tolerance: Almost an extension of digestibility, this speaks to how many gels you can tolerate in a given run.
- Overall: This rating is based on a combination and can be used to gauge my opinion of each gel based on the bigger picture.
I like the Honey Stingers, but mostly because I LOVE honey. After awhile though, they get overly sweet. I would say on the taste front, I give VFuel the edge. They have a good variety of flavors, all of which I have actually enjoyed, especially the Maple Bacon!
I think most of these seem to have similar enough ingredients that make them relatively close on this rating. The exception is Honey Stinger with its use of honey as its primary ingredient. Honey is known to be easily digested by the body and I usually feel the effects of these rather quickly.
NO NO NO on the Powerbar gels! My use of these coincided with stomach ulcers on not one, but two occasions. While that could be a coincidence, I have never had these issues otherwise, so it is enough to convince me to never use them again. Gu is another one that doesn’t settle well with me. They tend to make me quesy after 2-3.
The only ones I have had significant problems with over the long haul are Powerbar and Gu. I have come to the conclusion that these only work for me on runs that require one gel. In fact, I have just stopped using them in general (unless I get one for free). Honey Stinger are difficult here from a taste perspective because they are so sweet, but that can be easily overcome by eating something else along with the gel.
At the top of my rating are Honey Stinger and VFuel. I give higher weighting for digestibility and effectiveness and these two are top notch. I haven’t had a bit of stomach nausea with either of these and they both seem to be very effective. That makes these the two to beat in my book. In fact, I often use a combination of both of these on most of my runs lately.