Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Energy Chew Review

Reposted from SportsBistro.com
By Michael Donikian, USA Triathlon Certified Coach, NASM-CPT

It seems like energy chews are all the rage for sports nutrition these days.  They are a welcome alternative to energy gels, especially for those who don’t like the consistency of the gels but still want something easily digestible (i.e. not bars) for workout and race nutrition.  In terms of effectiveness / performance there really isn’t much of a difference between the two – personal preference for taste and consistency are the primary differences.

That being said, energy chews have some benefits in terms of “convenience.”  Firstly, the semi-solid chews prevent the messy “goopy” packet problem of regular gels.  Secondly, the small bite size servings (usually 20-33 calories each) give you finer control over your nutrition intake.

The big question now is… which energy chew should you take?  Today I’ll try and provide some insight by reviewing and comparing the three most popular energy chews out there: Gu Chomps, Clif Shot Bloks, and PowerBar Gel Blasts.  In addition I’ll compare it to your standard fare Gu Energy Gel

Gu has four flavors of Chomps out made primarily from Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar and Maltodextrin. In addition each serving has a Gu proprietary blend of amino acids similar to Gu Gel.  The Strawberry and Cranberry Apple flavors have caffeine while the Blueberry Pomegranate and Orange flavors do not.  Strawberry is by far our best selling flavor.  Personally I like the Cranberry Apple a little better in taste.  The Blueberry Pomegranate was also quite tasty but I was unhappy it had no caffeine.
Selling points: Amino Acid Blend; 100% Daily Value of Vitamin C & E and good amount of electrolytes (55mg sodium and 40mg potassium) per 30g serving.
Cons:  Not much caffeine per serving (only 20mg per 30g serving).  I would have liked a high caffeine option.

Clif Shot Bloks
Clif has 9 flavors of Shot Bloks out made primarily from Brown Rice Syrup, Cane Juice and Brown Rice Syrup Solids.  The ingredients are largely organic.
Selling points: So many flavors with different combinations of sodium (70 or 210mg) and/or caffeine (0, 25, 50mg) per 30g serving.  Made with organic ingredients too!
Cons:  No amino acids or antioxidants.  Not enough studies out there to say if this is good or bad but it definitely differentiates it from the Gu Chomps.

PowerBar Gel Blasts
PowerBar has two flavors of its energy chew (Gel Blasts) and takes a slightly different approach.  They’re a little harder (more chewy) on the outside but have a gooey liquidy center.  They’re made from sugar, glucose syrup from wheat, and invert sugar.
Selling points:  Made with Powerbar’s C2MAX carbohydrate blend (2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose), which may result in higher performance.  They also come in a resealable packet!

Cons:  No amino acids but again there aren’t enough studies to confirm the benefits.
Comparison Table
Energy Chew Comparison Chart


As far as taste goes… no complaints.  I liked all of them especially the weird tasting Margarita Shot Bloks (yum!).  The triple sodium is also a definite plus with that one too.  On the whole, I actually like the taste and convenience of chews a whole lot better than gels but yet I’m still going to stick with gels… why?  This may be weird but I found that I constantly had to burp while taking these, especially the Gu Chomps.  The gels just seem to sit better with me.  Most people seem to have no issues whatsoever though – in fact most seem to have more issues with gels and thus turn to the chews.  Only goes to show that you need to train with these (under race conditions) before you race with them.

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