Gu. Sometimes it tastes exactly how its sounds. And even when it tastes like candy, that’s because, well, it is—many “energy” gels and chews pack upwards of 30 grams of sugar without the nutrients to back them up. You might as well run with a pack of Sour Patch Kids in your shorts. Instead, ditch the penny candy and pack these energy alternatives.
Vitalyte Chia Surge
Beta: 75 calories, 1g fat, 17g carbohydrate, 11g sugars, <1g protein
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an athlete who didn’t run out to buy a bag of chia seeds immediately after reading Born to Run. Heck, I even own a Tarahumara cookbook. But (surprise!) it’s gathering dust on my shelf—homemade chia water isn’t the most convenient snack to pack. Instead, Chia Surge offers a surprisingly yummy and sweet tasting gel packet, whole chia seeds, omega-3s and all.
Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
Beta: 200 calories, 17g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 3g sugars, 6g protein
A little salty, a little sweet this nut butter is just smooth enough to not get stuck to the roof of your mouth. And thankfully, it doesn’t come in a jar—Justin’s single-serving packets are much better suited to downing on the go than slathering over a sandwich. With a killer combo of sugar, fat and protein, you’ll get what you need—including maple sugar, nature’s rocket fuel—to sustain you through a hard workout.
Honey Stinger Organic Stinger Waffle
Beta: 160 calories, 7g fat, 21g carbohydrate, 14g sugars, 0g protein
Like all Honey Stinger products, this fist-friendly Belgian-inspired delight is sweetened with organic honey instead of the super processed stuff. Sitting surprisingly light in your stomach and flat in your pocket, it’s the energy snack for someone who craves solids on the go without heft. And what’s better, it just came out in a chocolate version.
Chocolate #9 Agave Slo-Burn Energy
Beta: 70 calories, 1g fat, 15g carbohydrate, 13g sugars, <1g protein
This agave-sweetened goo packs 13 grams of sugar per serving, but still ranks low on the glycemic index. That means—as the name Slo-Burn implies—it’s good for an energy boost that won’t make you peak and crash like you might downing sugary gummy bears (though it packs less of an energy punch than the competition). It’s a difference you can taste. Think decadent-bitter-dark-chocolate rather than super-sweet-brownie-batter.
Clif Shot Bloks, Margarita flavor
Beta: 180 calories, 0g fat, 48g carbohydrate, 24g sugars, 0g protein
Shot Bloks come in packets of six 30-calorie cubes, making it easy to control caloric and electrolyte intake during longer workouts. The (virgin) margarita flavor is surprisingly yummy. Like your margaritas with salt? Clif does, too—the cocktail-flavored bloks pack three times the sodium for an extra electrolyte boost.