Energy chews are a quick source of energy that come extremely useful for long endurance races or even for just a long exercise regime. When I did my first trail marathon in 2020 I was looking for the best energy chews to take in during the long and painful run.
When you’re doing a very long race you’re going to be burning through extremely large amounts of calories (energy) and as such, you’ll need to adequately refuel your body’s supply so that you can keep going to eventually reach the finish line.
If you’re a Sub two-hour-thirty-minute Olympic Marathoner then you might not need to use them at all. But if you’re an average joe like me that takes between four and five hours to finish a trail marathon then you’re going to need the energy to keep going.
At the same time, you don’t want to stop in the middle of your race and eat a burger or a pizza (Even though people like Dean Karnazes have done just that). You’re going to get stitches in your stomach and possibly upset your stomach. Energy chews are a great alternative to actually eating and it can help you get to that finish line by providing some much needed extra calories.
I’ve used energy gels as well, but I’ve found energy chews to be a lot tastier as well as giving me more of a “real food” like feeling. A lot of gels seem to get stuck in your teeth as well. Below is the list of the best energy chews for runners which I’ve come up with after doing extensive research on what’s available online, and loved by many other runners.
Best Energy Chews for Runners Compared and Reviewed
|Top||Clif BLOKS - Energy Chews||Clif BLOKS||Check Price on Amazon|
|Gatorade Prime Energy Chews||Gatorade||Check Price on Amazon|
|GU Energy Chews||GU||Check Price on Amazon|
|PROBAR - Bolt Organic Energy Chews||PROBAR||Check Price on Amazon|
|Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews||Honey Stinger||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - Clif BLOKS - Energy Chews
The Clif Bloks energy chews are packed with 24 grams of carbohydrates with 100 calories on each serving. The good option for the Clif chews is that you have the option of choosing them with or without caffeine (0-50mg per serving, depending on which flavor you choose).
These energy chews have a higher glycemic index due to the punch that it provides in just 100 calories.
You’ll be pleased to know that these energy chews are made completely from plant-based ingredients and is best used after the first 45 minutes of exercise. Each Clif Bloks energy chews for runners should be followed up with some water to help with digestion and to clear any extra residue in your mouth to ensure you get the full contents.
They’re extremely easy to peel and are widely popular, used by many athletes as well as recreational marathon runners. The one downside to them is that if you’re looking for an energy chew with a low glycemic index then they’re not the best choice.
There are many different flavors to choose from and just to name a few are: Tropical Punch, Black Cherry, Citrus, Strawberry and Orange. You can see the full list on Amazon.
What have other runners said about the Clif BLOKS – Energy Chews?
“These are amazing, simply for the fact that they don’t cause a mess on your hands, mouth or any equipment when you’re finished such as energy gels. They’re very easy to digest with a bit of water and taste amazing. I’ve opted for the caffeine option myself as I like the punch that it packs and as a cyclist that usually rides at night it keeps me alert” Henry B
#2 - Gatorade Prime Energy Chews
Gatorade has been a prominent brand in the sports nutrition industry for quite a long time, and it would be extremely rare if you haven’t heard of their name. The Gatorade energy chews pack a powerful punch containing 24 grams of carbohydrates as well as 20% of Vitamin B6 content which helps the breakdown of the chews. It also contains a little bit of vitamins B3 and B5 as well as a little sodium which is a source of electrolytes.
These come with six chews per sleeve in a pack of sixteen sleeves which provides a great value. Although these don’t have as many flavor options as the Clif BLOK’s, they do come in Fruit Punch, Cool Blue, Strawberry, and Green Apple.
Something I touch further on in the energy chew for runners’ guide at the bottom of the page is that not everyone wants caffeine hit. These energy chews from Gatorade contain no caffeine and rely purely on energy through the nutrients that they contain.
What do other users say about these energy chews?
“I’ve been using these for my long-runs that I do on weekends and they are exceptionally easy on the stomach. You might need a bit of water to chew them through though when your mouth gets dry in the summer but they’re affordable to buy in bulk so I’m happy.” James Q
#3 - GU Energy Chews
The GU energy chews contain 80 calories per serving with 20 grams of carbohydrates which is a little less than the previous two competitors. They do contain 400mg of amino acids which is further-beneficial during training and are gluten-free as well as vegan friendly.
The only downside that I have with the GU energy chews is the fact that one serving equals four pieces. This means you’ll need to unwrap four pieces every 45 to 60 minutes which can be rather tedious when you’re going for a long-run. However, some have found this beneficial as it gives time for their stomach to work through it and also easier for them to consume while they’re on the run. However, in my opinion, I find it quite unnecessary. Everyone’s different though!
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that contains amino acids, electrolytes and carbohydrates then GU can be a choice worth considering. There’s also caffeine and non-caffeine options, same as the Clif Blok’s.
There are multiple flavors to choose from including Strawberry, Watermelon, Blueberry-Pomegranate and more. You can see the entire flavor list on Amazon.
How have others rated the GU Energy Chews?
“I’ve been a fan of GU for a long time so I might sound bias but I love their range of energy chews. I’ve given the Clif Bloks a go but I think they’re a lot heavier and I prefer the ability to work through them slower by using the smaller servings that GU provides. For the record, I’m a triathlete so they’ve just been easier for me to use on the bike.” Aimee A
#4 - PROBAR - Bolt Organic Energy Chews
If you’re looking for a completely organic energy chew then the PROBAR could be an excellent choice. The Probar’s are made from USDA organic materials which means that you’ll be feeding your body with safe ingredients.
The Probar boasts an arsenal of vitamins with each serving. These include Vitamins B6, B12, C as well as electrolytes. They contain 20mg of caffeine to boost focus and concentration from Yerba Mate which is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink. The Probar’s are soy-free if you’re on such a diet and are looking for the best energy chew for yourself.
You have five different options to choose from which are Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Raspberry, Orange, and Strawberry. These energy chews are the best for people that love to go organic because they contain no: GMO’s(Genetically modified organisms), Gluten, Animal Proteins, Artificial Ingredients or Dairy. The only downside of this product compared to others on the list is that it’s more pricy and you can’t choose a non-caffeinated option.
How are other people reviewing the PROBAR – Bolt Organic Energy Chews?
“My girlfriend and I are both vegans and we swear by these. These are by far the best energy chews for runners and we’ve been using them on all our long runs. They’re a bit sticky but with some water, they go down without any issues.” Curtis M
#5 - Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews
The Honey Stinger’s are also USDA organic and gluten-free energy chews which are perfect for when you’re on the go. Another good thing about these energy chews is that they also contain Vitamin C and contain natural energy which is made from honey.
These are the black sheep of the five products reviewed as they contain the most calories at 160 per packet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though if you’re a runner or an athlete that requires more energy constantly then you could benefit more from these energy chews.
Because the energy source is honey, it has a lower glycemic index and has been scientifically proven to sustain energy lowers better than simple sugars. This will prevent a “crash” from happening and will be more aware of when your next intake should be. These are also Dairy Free, Soy Free as well as being Nut Free. Be careful to not keep these around your kids though, because the way that they’re designed can pose a choking problem.
For reference, those that prefer a caffeine hit will be disappointed as these don’t contain any. Flavors you can choose from are: Cherry Blossom, Cherry Cola, Fruit Smoothie, Grapefruit and more. You can see the entire list of flavors on Amazon.
How have other people reviewed the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews?
“These are great chews however I don’t consider them an alternative to the GU chews. Perhaps this is because they don’t contain caffeine or it could be something else but they just don’t feel the same. I consider them more of a snack and a craving satisfier than a hit of energy.” Sarah C
My Number One Pick
Finding The Best Energy Chews For Runners - Complete Guide
When you’re looking for the best energy chews for runners there are a few features that you should consider. If you’ve ever run with an energy chew or gel then you know that they can upset your stomach if they’re packed with too many simple sugars.
As your stomach will be running on an empty tank it will use most of its digestive processing power on working through the energy chews contents. The most important thing that you’ll need out of your energy chew is for your stomach to be able to handle it.
Of course, other factors such as having a flavor that you enjoy will need to be considered. The timing of energy chews is even more important. Below are some of the key facts you should consider before buying an energy chew and on how/when to use them. After that, it’s all about the trial, error and finding what works best for you.
When you’re working out, or in this case running your stomach will get easily upset if you’re trying to consume a lot of nutrients. Have you ever tried running or working out directly after dinner? More than likely you’ve experienced some esophageal discomfort such as acidic burps. This is basically indigestion.
You’ll want to find an energy chew that is easy to chug down and is easily digestible. No one can tell you which one works best for your body but picking an energy chew that has been used by many other people flawlessly is usually a good place to start.
Take a look at the ingredients as well and if you notice anything that’s caused you discomfort in the past then you should steer clear from it as it’ll only be worse if you intake it during strenuous exercise such as running.
This touches further on digestibility, ingredients inside the energy chews are just as important. Take a look at the ingredients, first of all, to make sure that there’s not anything in there that you’re prone to get sick from when consuming.
Once you’ve done that, take a look at its glycemic properties and how much sugar that contains. Too much sugar is never a good thing because you’ll likely use more than one energy chew during this run. A well-balanced energy chew should have more than just sugar in it.
Also, be advised that many energy chews have caffeine in them. A lot of people can’t stomach caffeine unless they’re a coffee drinker. If you’re not a coffee drinker this may upset your stomach during a run and lead you in the direction of the toilet!
Don’t be afraid though – caffeine in energy chews for runners is not a bad thing. Caffeine will provide you with a focus that can help boost your concentration. If you have a problem digesting caffeine try going for an energy chew that has a lot of natural products in it, some contain organic for example which can also be used to boost concentration and awareness.
This is very important if you’re running a marathon and you’re eating your energy chews on-the-go. A high-quality energy chew will contain easy to rip packaging which will allow you to easily access your source of energy on the go. It will also be easily foldable after so that you can dispose of it and put it back in one of your pockets. Please don’t throw them on the ground, and look after our planet.
Most energy chews will have over 25 grams of carbohydrates. Most runners will run on carbohydrates and it’ll usually come in the form of simple sugars (Though not always). If you’re however on a keto-based diet which is basically all fat then you may need to consider doing your research on an energy chew that contains fat properties instead.
Frequently Asked Questions About Energy Chews For Runners
Q: How often do I need to eat energy chews while running?
A: You should refuel every 45-60 minutes during your run to ensure you’re getting adequate energy to maintain your pace.
Q: What do I do if I have an upset stomach while eating energy chews?
A: If you have an upset stomach, don’t eat the entire energy chew at once. Eat it in slow increments so that you have one-third (1/3) of it every 20 minutes.
Q: Do I need to take water with my energy chews?
A: If you feel your mouth is dry or you’re having trouble swallowing it then consume some water with it. Don’t have it with an electrolyte drink such as Gatorade as the energy chew will already contain similar properties such as simple sugars. It will also take longer for your body to digest it in a time you need it most.
Q: How do I know which energy chew is right for me?
A: Simple answer: You don’t. First of all, try to go for a reputable brand used by many people. Secondly, choose a flavor you might think that you’ll like. After that trial, and if you don’t like it then you can try another one. It’s basically all trial and error until you find what suits you. I don’t recommend you go through this trial and error phase during a race. Always test your nutrients during a training run before you take it to an actual race.
Q: How long will it take for the energy chews to work?
A: Everyone’s body digests food differently. A general rule of thumb is that it can take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes depending on your body’s absorption rate.
If there’s one thing you should’ve got from this article is that there is no energy chew that will work for everyone. Everyone has different tastes, diet types and so on. However, I’ve rated the Clif BLOKS Energy Chews as the highest as it tastes the best and provides the energy that I need to complete my long-runs.
Do you have any alternatives that you use? Or do you prefer gels? Feel free to comment below.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.