Saturday, August 15, 2009

ShotBloks, Gu, Chomps, Sport Beans: Which one is right for you?

Have you ever wondered what electrolyte supplement was best for running, cycling or general exercise? I have and I’ve tried many. The short answer is it depends on what you like and what works for you. The long answer? Here is what I have found out, hope it helps you find what is best for your exercise routine.

First let me say that before last year, I had never heard of Shot Bloks, Gu, Chomps or energy Sport Beans. I started with Shot Bloks and Gu when I was training for my first century ride. Chomps is made by Gu so that was a natural progression and Sport Beans was only after a fellow Team in Training runner had some and liked them. During my Team in Training experience while training for my first marathon I mostly used Shot Bloks. In general I use Shot Bloks and Sport Beans for running and cycling now. Chomps seem just like Shot Bloks and the package is harder to stuff in a fuel belt or pocket and Gu is a little messy.

Here is a run down of my opinions of each product.

Shot Bloks
Shot Bloks recently changed their packaging from a square package to a tube like package which makes it perfect for a fuel belt, pocket or pouch. Six Bloks come in each package, three is a 100 calorie single serving. You can take as many or as few as you would like but a standard serving is three blocks. When I put them in a pocket I squeeze the tube, separating the package into three and three and fold it in half. It is now a perfect size to go in a pouch or a cycle shirt. The package might “pop” and break a seal but it should be ok, if you exercise long enough to need two servings a broken seal shouldn’t matter. If you have some left over, you can put then in a zip lock bag or if you have a Food Saver sealer, you can seal the end. I love this because it saves the other blocks and they don’t get hard and dried out. You can cut a tiny slit in the seam the next time you exercise to make it easier to open.

Gu comes in a single 100 calorie serving. It is perfect if you are only plan on taking one serving of electrolytes. You basically rip off the top and suck out the gooey substance. You can roll the package as you suck in the Gu to squeeze out all the product. One negative is you have to use the entire product at one time; you can’t just have half a serving. As long as you need the full serving this is fine but the other products give more flexibility to use as much or as little as you need. I also don’t like the fact that the piece you ripped off and the rest of the packaging are separate, inevitably one ends up on the ground and I hate that. The good thing is if you accidentally leave it in your shirt and wash it, they was fine and are still usable, not so much with Sport Beans.

Chomps are made by Gu. The package is a small rectangular bag that holds two 100 90 calorie servings. I have had these before but like I said, they are similar to Shot Bloks and I find Shot Bloks easier to manage. I get the same energy out of them so I am sticking with Shot Bloks for now.

Sport Beans
Sport Beans are made by Jelly Belly and are pretty tasty which goes against everything anyone had ever told me prior to me trying them. (One reason it took me until this year to try them.) Each single serving package is 100 calories. I like these because you can “snack” on the beans and eat one or two or a whole handful. One downside I found out is when they heat up, they tend to melt together and stuck to the package. I had some beans in my cycle shirt and either I was heating up or the sun melted them. Also, unlike Gu, Sport Beans do not wash well, the package lets in water and the beans just gel together. Of course, I could just remember to take them out of your shirt but then what would be the fun in that?

All the products come in a variety of flavors with some containing caffeine for an added boost. Shot Bloks has margarita flavored ones with extra salt. I like to use these for my long runs or rides, helps replenish the salt I loose from excessive sweating. (Yes, I sweat a lot!)

I hope my trial and error in finding the right energy supplement helps you narrow down what is right for you. Here are links to the various products.

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