*Update – I recently tried Muir’s cashew vanilla flavor which tasted incredible! No rush of energy, but again, it’s labeled as a slow burner. It helped keep me going on my long run. Muir announced September 9th that they are discontinuing the sweet potato and oregano flavor, so apparently I’m not the only one who disliked it.*
As a runner and outdoor enthusiast, I am always on the hunt for great products that help support my active lifestyle. Much to the chagrin of my friends with MLM businesses, I am not a devotee of any one brand. Rather, I find myself liking various products from all sorts of companies. (See previous post on My Favorite Things).
I recently took a chance with a social media ad for completely clean energy gels made by Muir Energy. According to their website, Muir exclusively uses “real food, mineral rich ingredients, which are easy to metabolize and super easy on the stomach – no GI issues. Vegan, organic, non-GMO, paleo and gluten-free.” This appealed to me as I am training for an ultramarathon, and looking for fuel options that are effective, yet easy on the stomach.
I purchased a customized pack of 12, with yummy-sounded flavors including cacao almond, sweet potato oregano, passion fruit pineapple banana, and cashew vanilla. Price was $2.50 per pack, which is slightly higher than what I’d pay for a gel from Hammer Nutrition, my usual go-to gel brand, and on-par with Huma, which I’ve also used (and find the consistency to be an issue. Runny with gelatinous chia seed balls).
Forty-five minutes into my long run this week, I popped open the sweet potato oregano flavor. While I expected it to be different, I wasn’t prepared for the spicy punch in the face this gel delivered. The consistency was very thick, as I would expect from smashed sweet potato. But, the oregano was so over-the-top, it was very difficult to finish it. It was like upending a spice jar from my kitchen cabinet. I did choke it down with a lot of water. I recognize that oregano oil is known to help with inflammation, but is it necessary to use so much?
I can’t say that the sweet potato oregano flavor gave me a burst of energy, but the carbs supported me for another hour at which point I broke out the cacao almond. Much better! Again, a very thick consistency which may be a problem for some people. I appreciated that it felt like eating real food. The flavor reminded me of brownie batter, and it settled OK on my stomach. As with the sweet potato flavor, I didn’t feel a surge of energy, even with its added caffeine. I did feel sustained to complete my run.
In all, I have to say, the jury’s still out for me on MUIR. I have 10 more gels (2-3 new flavors) to get through, before coming to a final conclusion. In researching for this article, I did find that MUIR classifies their gels into two types – slow burning and fast burning. Apparently, the two that I’ve tried thus far as considered slow burning, which likely accounts for the lack of energy burst. I look forward to trying the pineapple banana, which is considered fast burning, and comparing it to the energy burst from Hammer, Gu, etc.
One note to gel manufacturers: please improve the opening mechanism! The pouches need to be easy to open, and not so easy to drop the tiny tab on the trail. I find tab trash (and pick it up) all over the trails when I’m out. Hammer has tried to address this issue by selling tubs of gel and refillable bottles. While I appreciate the effort, it didn’t work for me. I struggled to find the right gel-to-water ratio, and the refillable bottle is too bulky for my vest and can quickly turn gross. Clif shots have a “litter leash” tab that is supposed to help to keep the tab attached. I’ll use them in a pinch, but with tons of added sugar, they’re not my favorite.
Do you use energy gels? If so, drop a note below to let me know your go-to and why. Not a geller? How do you fuel on long runs?