We know we need to “eat” on the run. While some endurance athletes do choose real food, most are fans of the various sports nutrition products on the market to help fuel us during exercise.
This includes energy chews and energy gels. But which one is really better?
We are putting the two against each other to weigh the pros and cons. While the choice is ultimately up to the athlete, it is recommended to try sports nutrition products out before the fay of their big events like an ultra run or triathlon.
Energy Chews vs. Energy Gels: The Real Difference
The real difference between these two comes down to consistency and texture. Think of energy chews as gummies that mimic candy.
Expect most to be, well, chewy.
This option requires the athlete to chew before swallowing. This might sound obvious, but this is how they need to be consumed. Do not just swallow them whole.
Energy gels, on the other hand, are best described as a thick liquid.
This means they are easier to consume in the sense that the athlete doesn’t need to physically chew. But the consistency is very thick so don’t expect just to swallow like water or a sports drink.
Some like being able to “slurp” it down, where others find the consistency unappetizing.
Energy Chews vs Energy Gels: The Taste
Besides the consistency, taste plays a huge role in which is better.
The taste of them really comes down to the flavors offered by various sports nutrition brands.
This is also a subjective preference. Some prefer sweet tasting options while others prefer salty.
Kramp Krusher energy chews in salty limon are the perfect option for those craving that lemon taste. These taste the most refreshing when running or cycling long miles in the hot summer sun.
These energy chews from Kramp Krusher have been described as tasting like a sour patch kids.
Brands sell flavors from simply fruit flavors to more experimental options like s’mores or caramel.
Pros And Cons Of Energy Chews
The major pro of energy chews is the ability to pop a few in (use as directed like five Kramp Krusher gummies at the start of exercise and each hour after) and continue the workout.
The act of chewing can distract the mind from any of the various thoughts athletes experience during a long endurance workout.
These are easy to store in a hydration belt, vest or pocket. However, those looking to pack smart might find that the larger size packing is a problem.
Another con is that once opened, the athlete has to use the entire package or risk the gummies getting stale If not properly stored. The athlete might only need five, but find themselves with another half of a bag.
Try to portion properly and store to avoid this.
Finally, a big pro is that energy chews like Kramp Krushers are packed with electrolytes to help with hydration. It also prevents muscle cramping by getting rid of lactic acid. It also aids in muscle recovery so soreness isn’t a problem after that endurance event.
This makes them a great option for fueling and staying hydrated during intense workouts.
Pros And Cons Of Energy Gels
Many prefer energy gels because of its ease to just gulp down. Some prefer not to chew and find is distracting or that they can’t actually “eat” during their endurance event. Gels are a great way to get glycogen stores replenished in order to be able to continue to perform.
Again, another major con here is the consistency. Many people do like how hard gels are to consume. It can be tough on the mouth because it is almost like a paste. This makes them harder to consume compared to chews, beans and gummies.
This is primarily up to personal preference.
However, another main concern is how harsh gels can be on the stomach. Many people experience GI issues including upset stomachs when consuming gels.
Firstly, during exercise blood is pulled away from the intestines and stomach to support the muscles. This leaves these organs in a more vulnerable state, especially for those with stomach sensitivities.
Some people are missing a protein that helps digest the fructose (commonly found in sports nutrition to fuel the body). This further leads to gas, bloating, and related digestion issues.
Kramp Krushers, for example, eliminates this problem because it features 300 mg of dextrose instead of fructose. This allows the muscles to have the energy it needs for endurance workouts without feeling gut rot or other common DI issues including that sloshing feeling in the stomach many other sports nutrition products have.
Gels tend to take up less space since they are small and are consumed at once. Simply consume and throw away the wrapper.
The problem here is that those going the longer distance need multiple gels. It might just make better sense to have one bag of chews on hand.
Both energy chews and gels are typically sold in bundles like a pack of 12. They can all be sold separately, which is a great way to try a new brand or flavor.
No matter which one the athlete prefers better, they are both great ways to refuel during an intense workout that spans over an hour.