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THAT is the question. Here, we’re taking a deep dive to examine the lingering, ever-present uncertainty: when, where, and why would I consume a chew instead of a gel or a gel instead of a chew?
The world of performance nutrition revolves around carbohydrate intake. The human body has a limited capacity to store carbohydrates to be used for fuel. Therefore, carbohydrate stores need to be constantly replaced.
Prior to activity, carbohydrate intake helps maintain optimal levels of energy for working muscles. When we consume a carbohydrate rich food, blood glucose is formed from the sugar molecules in the food. The blood glucose is then delivered to our muscles that are working hard during activity. It’s also delivered to our organs. This allows us train, race, and perform daily activities.
One critical point we sometimes overlook is the importance of hydrating with water while consuming carbohydrates for exercise. Water is needed to aid in the absorption of carbohydrates. Adding water will not only keep us hydrated, but it will also decrease the incidence of potential GI distress during activity when consuming sports nutrition products.
Let’s look at the composition of the Honey Stinger Energy Chews. These chews contain a mixture of organic tapioca syrup, honey, and sugar plus a compilation of other ingredients such as black carrot juice or grape juice depending on the flavor. Honey Stinger Chews contain 160 calories per pack and provide 39g of carbohydrates. The advantage of chews is that you can eat them slowly over time or devour and enjoy them all at once. If it’s hard for you to take in more calories during a longer event, slowly consuming a few chews every few minutes can be a better strategy than eating a whole pack in one serving.
Shop Pink Lemonade Energy Chews here
As a guideline, we typically say to consume 40-60g of carbohydrates an hour during any activity that lasts longer than 60-90 minutes. A pack of chews fits perfectly into this window. Chews are a fabulous base energy food to carry and they fit in pockets or hydration packs. Chews are also a food young athletes tend to prefer. This appeal allows parents and coaches to get kids to eat between games and activities, and it helps us teach them that fueling is part of playing. For older or more focused athletes who do interval sessions or track workouts, chews are the perfect product to pop into your mouth between laps.
Honey Stinger Performance Chews go a step further by providing 155 calories per pack and 37g of carbohydrates plus electrolytes in the form of 160mg of sodium and 50mg of potassium. These electrolytes are critical over longer endurance activities or when the weather produces a greater need. Performance chews also have 75mg of caffeine, a natural stimulant that enhances performance. Their sleek packaging can also lend well to a slim back pocket or small space in your pack.
Shop Stingerita Lime Performance Chews here
Both chews and gels both fall squarely into Honey Stinger’s Perform category but can also be used to Prepare. Both products fill the same need during activity, but they do have some subtle differences. IMPORTANT: personal preference always trumps any decision—so experiment and find what you like!
Consider Honey Stinger Gels your go-to when you need a quick hit. While the absorption rates of chews and gels are very similar, a gel will give you the quickest fix when competing and training.
The gel packaging is super streamlined and small. A gel easily slips into any pocket, pack, or even sports bra. Honey Stinger Gels provide 90 calories and 24g of rapidly digestible carbohydrates. They have no fiber content at all compared to the chews at 1g per pack. They contain trace amounts of B vitamins and electrolytes for added energy. Not surprisingly, the main energy source is pure honey, a wonderful source of natural, unrefined sugar also praised for its antioxidant and antiseptic properties.
Gold Energy Gels here
Whether you’re combining a mixture of chews and gels during your activity or sticking with just one product, the bottom line is that carbohydrates fuel your body during workouts. Carbohydrates are the most easily metabolized form of energy in the human body. Having options makes it easier and more fun to keep our bodies going, but ultimately… trust your gut!
Content provided by Cara Marrs. Cara has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2008 and has operated a thriving private practice for 15 years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Cara earned her BS in Nutrition from Colorado State University before attending Central Michigan University for graduate school. In 2007, Cara completed her training and internship at the Mayo Clinic. In 2010, she became a certified LEAP therapist trained to work with food sensitivities and is currently working towards her Certificate of Training in Functional Medicine. Cara is a mom to an active Steamboat kid, and she is a runner, skier, and yoga enthusiast who has been racing on the trails for 25+ years. She has been running ultras (50k to 100+ miles) for more than a decade.
Cara’s top trick: Gels are so portable and easy to digest during endurance activities. Purchase a gel flask and load it up with a few Honey Stinger gels mixed with water. This is great for sipping during exercise and works well when your appetite starts to wane or you’re having a hard time taking in fuel.