Best Energy Gels
Energy gels are an excellent tool to help athletes get the most out of their workouts and to help them push just a little further than they thought possible. When purchasing gels to supplement your goals, it is essential to take into consideration your personal needs and sensitivities.
Many other quality brands offer different options for athletes. Additionally, if you have any dietary restrictions, a sensitive stomach, or a dedication for a clean diet, there are different formulas to accommodate those needs.
If you are looking for something to help boost your endurance just a little longer an energy gel or chew may be the thing that you need to conquer that obstacle.
Below we have compiled the top ten of the best energy gels that are currently on the market and why they made our list.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
Excellent caffeine boost
Top 10 Picks
1. CLIF Shot
Excellent caffeine boost
Some find gel too sticky
CLIF is a long trusted brand in the outdoor supplements market, and it is no surprise that these gels packets are the favorite of cyclists, runners, and hikers. These gels provide athletes with all of the supplements needed to help push them past the dreaded ‘wall’, such as carbohydrates for energy, and electrolytes to send moisture to tired muscles. Unlike other gels on this list, CLIF Shot Energy gel offers a fantastic balance between boost energy and sustained energy.Read more
CLIF was founded in 1986 when a hiker found the need for compact energy to bring along with him on a 175 mile hike. Since then, the brand had grown to be one of the most trusted brands in endurance energy supplements.
90% of the ingredients found in this energy gel are organic. Ingredients found in this gel include products such as organic evaporated cane juice, sea salt, and green tea extract. This gel also contains small amounts of caffeine.
Flavors and Taste
CLIF Energy Gel is available in three different flavors: Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry, and Strawberry. The gel is not too thick, and although it is recommended to consume this gels with plenty of water, many athletes find that the gel is smooth enough that excess water is not necessary to get it down.
No complaints on performance here. We love the versatility of single packs or a variety. Some of the packs contain caffeine and others do not. Depending on your daily exercise or caffeine tolerance, there is an energy gel here for you.
If you are in the market to improve your distance, these are the very best energy gels that one could currently buy on the market. They offer plenty of caffeine to give athletes that extra boost, they are thin enough to easily fit in a pocket or backpack, and tastes great.
2. HUMA Plus Chia
Unique and tasty flavors
Some users claim you need to take 2 packets at a time
Unlike the CLIF energy gels, HUMA is a gel that is comprised of blended chia seeds in addition to other performance-enhancing ingredients that offer the same effects, while adding the many health benefits of chia seeds.Read more
HUMA was the brainchild of a US Army 1st Lieutenant stationed in Iraq who was looking for a healthy energy boost for the grueling missions in harsh climates. Many athletes prefer this brand over CLIF due in part to it’s added benefits of chia seeds.
In addition to the iron, calcium, protein and antioxidants found naturally in chia seeds, HUMA energy gel packets also contain natural ingredients such as lemon juice, grape juice concentrate, Powdered Chia Seeds, strawberry puree, and coconut water powder, The caffeine that is found in these gels is derived from natural means as well.
Flavors and Taste
A package of HUMA Energy Gels come with 8 different flavors, with unique flavors such as Berries and Pomegranate and Strawberry Lemonade. The texture is smooth and not too sticky, and doesn’t leave a gritty aftertaste they way some energy gels can.
HUMA Plus provides additional electrolytes in addition to caffeine to provide a substantial and even boost to long distance outdoor adventures. The addition of the chia seeds also makes the user feel fuller and more satisfied without being weighed down. Some users feel, however, that the supplements used with this product do not carry as much of a punch and kick as some of the more potent energy gels.
These energy gels are one of the best gels on the market for athletes looking for both persistent performance and added health benefits from chia seeds. They cost a little bit more than other gels to make this list, but many athletes are willing to pay a little bit more to receive a great energy boost for their long outdoor treks.
3. GU Energy Original
Addition of BCAA’s
Six different flavors available
Caffeine-free options available
GU is a industry tested and approved energy gel that provides athletes with the reliable energy needed to go that extra mile, as well as provide branched chain amino acids (also known as BCAAs) to help aid the repair and growth of muscle groups. The gels are available in many flavors and at a reasonable price.Read more
GU is well known within the energy gel world. It was established in 1993 by a doctor that was looking to give his daughter a unique performance formula to help her perform at her best during ultra-marathons. Since then, it has become a trusted brand for all endurance athletes that are looking to push themselves father than they thought possible.
In addition to the BCAA’s, GU also contains great ingredients such as L-Leucine and L-Valine, Sea Salt, and sunflower oil. It also contains natural vegetable and fruit juices to provide healthy energy levels from natural sources.
Flavors and Taste
A 24 pack of gels offer six different and unique flavors that include: salted caramel, chocolate outrage, vanilla bean, strawberry banana, tri-berry, and jet-blackberry. The gel is a bit thicker than previous gels posted on this list, so it is advisable to chase the gel with ample water.
The BCAA’s in this energy gel are what really set them apart from other gels on this list. Often, when traveling long distances, the body begins to borrow fuel from muscles and many endurance athletes struggle with decreased muscle mass. However, the BCAA’s found in this gel help fuel and repair muscles, and at the same time offer caffeine and energy to push athletes farther without sacrificing muscle mass.
GU energy gel is an excellent option for athletes looking to boost their performance who are unwilling to sacrifice muscle mass in the process. It is one of the most trusted brands you will find in the energy gel market.
4. GU Roctane Ultra
Used for higher-intensity training
Users report being less sore after training when using this product
Higher price than other gels
GU makes the lists yet again due to positive brand recognition, variety of flavors, BCAA’s, and overall users were satisfied with their performance. The Roctane Ultra Endurance provides users with more ingredients that allow for that needed burst of energy on long journeys.Read more
As listed before, GU was originally formulated to supplement ultra-marathons, and has become a trusted brand among users that participate in endurance training. It is one of the highest rated and trusted companies currently on the market, and buyers know when they buy a GU product, that they are receiving the highest in quality in terms of ingredients, safety, and reliability.
In addition to the coveted BCAA’s found in this gel, other ingredients that pack a punch in this gel include L-Leucine, L-Valine, and Beta-Alanine. One great thing about these gels is that the caffeine found in this product is derived naturally from a green tea extract.
Flavors and Taste
A 24-pack of gels include five fruit flavors that include: blue pomegranate, strawberry kiwi, cherry lime, vanilla orange, and lemonade. Similarly to other GU gels, many users find that it is a tad thicker than other gels on the market, so be sure to have plenty of water to chase it down with.
The 100-calorie packets provide enough carbohydrates to propel you past your distance goals, and the addition of BCAA’s will ensure that users will not sacrifice muscle mass for distance. Also, added electrolytes aid in the movement of fluids throughout your body and muscles.
Users cannot go wrong with purchasing a GU product to supplement their workouts. However, at a slightly higher price point, athletes may want to decide if the added boost that this product provides over other GU products is really worth the higher price tag.
5. Honey Stinger Organic
Organic, all natural ingredients
Great taste< Electrolytes
Not ideal for high impact, long distance training
This gel is perfect for the user that has concerns over the ingredients listed on packages of energy gel. When deciding on what energy gel is right for your particular needs, it can be overwhelming when faced with a list of ingredients that you don’t understand. Honey Stinger prides itself on using all natural, USDA organic ingredients to help push you to exceed your goals.Read more
Unlike some of the other brands making this list, Honey Stinger tends to fly under the radar. The company is designed to fulfill a very specific need within the energy gel community: natural and organic energy sources.
As stated above, all of the ingredients in Honey Stinger Organic Gel are 100% USDA organic and natural. It is certified gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, and is also a kosher food. It is made from a blend of organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, and electrolytes.
Flavors and Taste
This gel is available in three different flavors that include: acai pomegranate, chocolate, and fruit smoothie. The consistency is smooth and has been described to resemble eating chocolate syrup. Of all of the gels on this list, Honey Stinger is perhaps the best tasting of all of the other gels.
For users looking for a simple and organic kick to boost their workouts, Honey Stinger offers an excellent all-natural energy boost. For lower impact training, this gel is a perfect addition. It provides an excellent natural boost before training. However, because it doesn’t have as many of the hard-hitting ingredients, it is not ideal for athletes looking for the very best in terms of energy boosts.
If you are health-conscious and looking for an all natural, organic product to increase your stamina for a simple workout, this is for you. We love the ingredient list and taste.
6. Science in Sport Go
Low viscosity; able to consume without water
Light flavor; no aftertaste
Can upset stomach
Science in Sport Go Isotonic Gel is formulated a bit differently than other gels on the market. It has a lower viscosity which makes it the only gel on that market that doesn’t require that you drink water with this product. Its primary fuel source is derived from an isotonic blend that provides long-term and consistent energy for extended training sessions.Read more
Science in Sport (also referred to as SiS) is a trusted brand within the energy supplements industry. They were founded in 1992 and their products have been used by athletes in the 2012 London Olympic games. Users of this gel know that they are using a safe and trusted product that offers desired results.
Ingredients found in this gel pack quite a punch. Some of the more potent ingredients found in this gel are composed of isotonic blends. Unlike other gels, this product does not contain caffeine, and the ingredients that are used are for long-term effects instead of a short burst.
Flavors and Taste
SiS Go offers three different fruit flavors that are available in packs of 30. Flavors include: apple, berry, and citrus. The consistency of the gel is thinner than most of the other gels on this list, and users report the lower viscosity makes it easy to take and leaves little to no after-taste.
The isotonic blend provides extended energy for long bouts of training. However, this gel is more for sustained energy and doesn’t provide the typical boost that many gels on this list provide. This feature is purely subjective- some athletes prefer long sustained energy rather than a boost. Before purchasing, be sure that this type of energy gel offers the type of energy that you suits your training needs and preferences.
Science in Sport is a trusted brand in the sports supplement industry. You know that when you purchase a SiS product, that you are obtaining a quality product. This particular gel doesn’t offer BCAA’s, electrolytes, or caffeine-like many of the other gels on this list. Rather, this gel promotes a sustained energy to take you from the beginning to the end of your training.
Great energy boost
Not too thick; goes down easy
Doesn’t taste great
Not ideal for long distances
PowerBar is a trusted name in the supplements industry for their popular power bars, and now have entered the field of power gel. What makes this gel stand out from the others is the special C2MAX blend that is found in their energy gel that fuels workouts using both glucose and fructose if efforts to propel you farther.Read more
PowerBar was launched in 1986 by a Canadian athlete looking to make an energy bar to supplement long distance runs. It has since become a household name and a trusted company for athletes looking to supplement their training. Now, they have entered the energy gel arena bringing a proprietary blend called C2MAX.
This energy gel is composed of a special blend that is made only by PowerBar. Some of the ingredients that make this blend so unique are ingredients such as an amino acid blend that contains leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The booster blend offers trusted and natural ingredients such as ginseng, antioxidant vitamins (such as vitamin C and vitamin E), and also contains caffeine to offer a powerful punch.
Flavors and Taste:
Available flavors include: chocolate, double latte, and strawberry banana. Users find that the flavors do not tastes as good as some of the other gels on the market; the double latte being the least favorite of the three. However, users like that the gel isn’t as thick as some of the other gels on the market- making it easier to swallow without the need of much water.
The C2MAX blend offers sustained energy, and the caffeine content offers that extra boost that athletes loves. This product offers more of a boost than most of the gels making this list, however users find that this gel is not ideal for long distances.
PowerBar ProGel offers a boost to energy that rivals even some of the best gels found on this list, however it does not offer sustained energy needed for longer distances. This gel would be a better fit for new runners that can’t yet reach the distances of marathon runners. Before purchasing this product, be sure its effects match your specific needs for an energy gel.
8. Pacific Health Food
Great TastePowerful Boost
Some users claim the high caffeine content makes them jittery
This energy gel is perfect for the athlete looking for a huge caffeine boost to propel them across that finish line. Packed with 100mg of caffeine, it will give your mind the kick it needs to focus, and a proprietary blend of fast absorbing carbohydrates and proteins will fuel your muscles to help you reach your goals.Read more
Pacific Health Food is not a widely known brand in the performance supplements market. However, users find that their products deliver exactly what they say they will do and are generally a highly regarded company. For users looking to try something different, this product has received excellent reviews.
In addition to a whopping 100mg of caffeine, these energy gels also contain a proprietary blend of antioxidants, carbohydrates, and special proteins.
Flavors and Taste
The Double Espresso flavor has a strong coffee flavor and isn’t overly sweet. They are a thinner consistency than most other gels, which makes them easier to swallow. Additionally, chocolate and strawberry flavors are available, however, they do not contain the caffeine content of the double espresso. If you are not a huge coffee lover, this energy gel may not be for you. There are other flavors of this gel available, however, they do not carry the same caffeine levels at the double espresso.
For the athletes looking for a simple caffeine boost at the end of a long training session, this is the perfect gel. It doesn’t contain many of the other features such as BCAA’s or electrolytes as some of the other gels located higher on this list, but it is a perfect match for the user looking for a simple gel to give them a significant boost.
Pacific Health Food 2nd Surge is an excellent addition for the athlete looking for a powerful caffeine boost that tastes good and goes down easy, but outside of that, they do not offer much else. This product may be more suited to athletes looking to travel a shorter distance, or for weightlifters and bodybuilders that would like a significant boost in the middle of their workout sessions.
9. Gatorade Prime Chews
Goes down easy
Won't melt in the heat
Can be overly sweet
Difficult to open package
First two ingredients are sugar
This chew offers the flavors that users have come to expect and love with Gatorade, and the chew provides an excellent sustained energy for athletes looking to extend their distances and times. Loved by both, children and adults, these chews could be perfect for the whole family.Read more
This brand needs no introduction- everyone is familiar with the type of products that Gatorade has produced over the year. Founded in 1965, Gatorade is a company that has been dominating the sports supplements market before any other company on this list. For users afraid to try one of the more fringe companies, you can’t go wrong with Gatorade.
The first two ingredients in these chews are Corn Syrup and Sugar. These sugars can be beneficial when levels have become depleted on long runs. However, if you are diabetic or sugar sensitive, these may not be right for you.
Flavors and Taste
There are three flavors available: Fruit Punch, Cool Blue, Strawberry, and Green Apple. There are mixed reviews on the taste of these chews. The most common gripe and praise are actually the same; the chews are sweet. Could be perfect for children or an adult with a sweet tooth.
This chew doesn’t offer the caffeine boost that most gels or chews offer. Instead, sustained energy comes from the 24 grams of carbs and the 70mg of sodium. Thus, replenishing levels and offering a sustainable energy boost for long training sessions. This is a great energy chew for those that want constant and consistent energy without the jittery feelings that comes from gels or chews with caffeine.
Gatorade is a trusted company that has consistently made reliable products. For athletes who have never tried energy chews before- these would be a perfect chew to try to gauge exactly what your energy chew needs are. Furthermore, for athletes that are looking for a simple, caffeine-free, burst of energy, these energy chews would be a perfect fit.
10. Skratch Labs Energy Chews
Easy to chew and digest
Don't stick together
Increase energy & stamina
Skratch Labs sports energy chews are easily digestible and a great source of energy. They are made with real fruit and are a convenient source of carbohydrates helping maintain your blood sugar and increasing your stamina during your performance.Read more
Skratch Labs was designed from Dr. Allen Lee who was a cyclist tired of pre-packaged sports bars and energy drinks with artificial ingredients. Skratch Labs began making all-natural drink mixes to help give endurance to athletes. He opened a company in Boulder, Colorado making a secret drink mix using less sugar, more sodium and no artificial colours or sweeteners. For athletes interested in trying something different with great results, this product has received excellent reviews.
A single pouch contains ten drops of two 80 calories per serving. With natural ingredients including carbohydrates and 6mg of naturally occurring caffeine.
Flavors and Taste
Orange flavor does not have a strong taste but a good balance of freshness and sweetness. Raspberry flavor is very tasty and not overpowering with the flavor. They are recently selling two new flavors including Matcha Green Tea Leaf and Lemon which are said to be very good in taste.
This is a great match for any athlete looking for a good gel to give them a significant boost. With natural ingredients and great views, this is a good choice for athletes interested in a simple caffeine boost or in need of a faster absorption of quicker energy for their body.
Scratch Labs sport energy chews are a simple ingredient product flavored with natural ingredients. They are not coated in a wax so they do not have that sticky aftermath taste and give you a clean bite each time. They have recently used two new fuel sources including cane sugar and tapioca which help absorb the energy to your body faster and last for a longer period. This is a great energy gel for all athletes, cyclist, and runners.
11. Carb Boom!
Low in sugar
Vegan and gluten-free
A semi-new brand to the exercise world, Carb Boom! is making quite a boom in the exercise world. People love these low sugar, high energy gel packs. Each gel packs 3 grams of simple sugars and 24 grams of complex carbohydrates.Read more
Carb Boom! has been growing in popularity since 2014. They are a Cleveland based company and are just beginning to branch out internationally.
Each gel pack has nine ingredients with 24 grams of complex carbohydrates from maltodextrin. There are no added flavors, sugars, colors, or sweeteners. Even better, the packs are all vegan and gluten-free.
Flavors and Taste
There are six flavors available: Apple Cinnamon, Banana Peach, Grape Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry Kiwi, and Vanilla Orange.
The most popular proves to be the Strawberry Kiwi flavor. These gels taste great but can be slightly thick.
Following the instructions of one gel every thirty minutes for endurance athletes, reviewers claim these gel work wonderfully. However, they do not contain caffeine which may be a downfall for some. Because of this, most people do not experience stomach aches while or after taking Carb Boom! energy gels.
If you are looking to try something new in an array of different flavors, Carb Boom! gel packs may be for you. With no caffeine and low sugar, you are unlikely to get a stomach ache, allowing you to continue your exercise for even longer.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
What’s inside was the most important thing that we looked at when gauging what makes a great energy gel. Ideally, athletes want to have that little boost to help them bust through that dreaded wall, but also needed sustained energy to help them persevere.
Additionally, things like electrolytes help push fluids through to essential muscles, and branched-chain amino acids help in repairing damaged tissues. Energy gels that sported all of these ingredients, as well as taste good, were the gels that topped this list.
These sugars in a lot of these energy gels can be beneficial when levels have become depleted on long runs. Read each ingredient to make sure you can ingest it, especially if you have health problems, including diabetes, heart issues, or liver issues.
There are the brands that everyone knows: PowerBar and Gatorade, but those brands don’t necessarily mean they have the best energy gels. Within the endurance community, gels such as GU, CLIF, and HUMA top this list because they have the entire industry backing their product as something of quality.
When researching off-brand energy gels, they were always compared to GU or CLIF. In short, if you are looking for the best gel that offers the best results, GU and CLIF are considered to the best of the best and are used by many athletes that compete in marathons and triathlons. Some brands forgo any energy boost altogether, whereas others gain energy boosts from organic methods such as honey.
Furthermore, if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are just reluctant to try any new supplements, it never hurts to consult your doctor first. All of the energy gels on this list have been tried and tested and are safe to use for endurance athletes. Consulting with your doctor about the use of supplements and training will ensure that you are being safe and looking out for your health.
Sure, it’s essential to ensure that an energy gel has all of the proper nutrients and ingredients to aid you on your run. However, before all those things can travel to your muscles and to your brain, they must first be accepted by an essential part of your body: your stomach. If the consistency is too thick, or too sweet, or has too much caffeine, your stomach might reject it.
There is nothing worse when trying to train your hardest than when you have an upset stomach. Before settling on an energy gel, take into consideration any sensitivities your stomach may have to sugar, thicker gels, and caffeine.
For athletes who have never tried energy chews before many of these would be a perfect chew to try to gauge what your energy chew needs are. Furthermore, for athletes that are looking for a simple, caffeine-free, burst of energy, many of these energy chews would be a perfect fit.
If you are about to compete in a race or a marathon and you are looking for something to push you over the top, don’t wait until race day to give energy gels a whirl.
Everyone is different, and if your body isn’t used to these types of energy supplements, your stomach may give you kickback before you even make it to the finish line. To make sure that you get the very best performance of you, make energy gels a part of your everyday training.
If one type of gel produces adverse effects on your time or doesn’t sit right in your stomach, be sure to try a different kind. Many runners don’t consume coffee daily, so when they use an energy gel with a lot of caffeine, it has a tendency to make them jittery and feel generally unwell.
The most important thing when selecting the right energy gel for you is how well it will improve your performance. There are a lot of different gels on the market, and many are available at local supermarkets or sporting goods stores.
It may benefit you to try different types to gauge how your body will react to each brand. If you tend to have a sensitivity to caffeine, it may be in your best interest to opt for the caffeine-free energy gels. Individual gels are relatively inexpensive, so you won’t be out a lot of money as you shop around for the right energy gel for you.
As you run, your body uses resources and energy that is stored in your body to propel you forward. For athletes training for long distances, their internal energy resources become depleted, and they hit what is referred to as ‘the wall.’
Some call it hilling the wall, others call in bonking. What is happening is that your body had run out of glycogen to burn as a fuel source. For help crashing through that threshold, the use of energy gels serves to replenish one’s body of depleted glycogen to bust through the wall.
Other Factors to Consider
Everyone is different, and therefore, not everyone needs the same type of energy gel. If you are looking to gain energy from plant-based and organic substances, then a gel such as Honey Stinger or Vega would be perfect for you.
Some athletes aren’t looking for that sustainable energy for training; they want an excellent old-fashioned caffeine boost to push them over the edge. In that case, something like Pacific Health Food 2nd Surge Double Espresso would be a more suited fit. Think about how you would like to improve your training sessions, and then pick an energy gel that suits those needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is an energy gel?
An energy gel is typically packaged in thin plastic sleeves for easy access and contains a gel of maltodextrin that replenishes lost glucose levels from endurance sports. Gels are a perfect fix for athletes because they can consume them without stopping or slowing down. Energy bars are often dense and can sit heavy in one’s stomach, whereas gel provides the missing nutrients without sitting heavy in the athlete’s stomach.
q: How much energy gel should I use?
Each package of energy gels constitutes as one serving, ranging from 80-110 calories. The dosing instructions vary from pack to pack. Some advise that you take one before your exercise and another thirty minutes in.
It is always important to listen to your body. If you still have high energy levels and aren’t ready for another burst, wait. Take the next pack when you feel you are running low on energy. Energy gels typically come in a thin, plastic container which makes them easy to carry a couple along in a pocket or backpack.
q: Can I use energy gels for cycling?
Of course! Energy gels are not just for runners. They are excellent support for any long-distance activity, whether it be cycling, cross-country skiing, mountain climbing, or backpacking. They serve as an excellent fuel source for the times you need to recharge but can’t stop mid-workout for a nice well-balanced meal.
q: Are energy gels safe to take?
If used correctly and following the directions on the packaging, energy gels are safe to take. However, if you have any concerns about supplements and your health, it is best to confer with your doctor before use. Some energy gels contain substantial amounts of caffeine that can negatively affect users not accustomed to consuming caffeine daily.
q: Will energy gels upset my stomach?
In some cases, they have been known to upset stomachs if the user isn’t accustomed to using them or if they have any particular sensitivities to caffeine. Be sure that before participating in any race or marathon that you sample the energy gel during training before the big day.
Also, you should never switch to a new brand of energy gel before a big race because you don’t know how your stomach will react. If you are apprehensive about trying any new energy gel, perhaps consume a packet in small doses. You should take over an hour to gauge how your body responds, and from there you can up the dosage until you feel you feel confident to eat the entire packet.
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