Guest Post by my husband and Boston Qualifying Marathoner, Jim.
We've sampled energy gels, drinks, gummy chews, and just about every type of food and drink products that runners use. None of them have ever struck me as a must have for training and racing...until recently! In fact I have found my go-to fuel for training and racing and don't know if I'll be able to find one better! And I put it to the ultimate test, using them to fuel my most recent marathon.
Huma Gel sent us a sample pack of their fuel gels to try, with a few of each flavor. If you've never heard of them, it's because they're relatively new! I'd never heard of them either until we received the sample pack. I saw the words "chia" on the package and instantly knew this one may be different! You probably know how much chia seeds are promoted on this website. We use them in a lot of our food dishes. In fact the company started because one of the founding partners--Ian McCollum--was serving in Iraq (Thanks for your service Ian!) and was reading about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico and how a diet heavy in chia powered them through 100 mile races. (I'm guessing he was reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall!) He used that same method to fuel his fellow soldiers in the grueling Iraq desert.
They are also all natural, with just 7 simple ingredients of which I recognized all of them. Take a look at the strawberry:
Then take a look at GU ingredients and you may never want a GU again.
If you've never been to their website, I recommend checking it out. It's simple and easy to follow without a bunch of clutter. You can quickly read on the history of the small company, see the flavors, and order their products, and read up on the science behind their product.
So yeah, it's natural and healthy. And made in the USA too! But does it taste good and does it work? Absolutely!! In fact one of the best things about the Huma Gels is the texture, or consistency. Gels like GU, and Honey Stingers are too thick for me. When running a marathon and breathing is becoming difficult, it's hard to swallow down the GU gels, at least for me. I swallow a bit, but some of it sticks to my mouth. I have to keep forcing it down in multiple tries. Other Gels I've sampled were too thin, almost pure liquid consistency and they almost spilled out as I tried to open them. The Huma Gels are the best middle ground, thin enough to go down quicker than GU or Honey Stingers, and thick enough not to spill out when opening. Also, I really love the consistency that the chia seeds add, little bitty "bumps" to break up the pure gel consistency. The best part about the chia seeds is that they absorb liquid, so each water/drink station is even more valuable!
The top tears off really easy, even with sweaty hands I had no problems opening the top. Most energy gels don't have that problem, but a few brands with the "handle" feature on the top I always wonder where to start tearing, and other times with sweaty hands I've had problems trying to open the gummy bite packages. (However see down below, the only con I found about these had to do with another aspect of the packaging).
They have four flavors right now, and my favorite is the apple cinnamon, but I really like them all though. In fact if my personal stash was down to any of the flavors, I'd have no problem using any of them for a race, as they are all better than any other energy gel I've ever used! You can tell they are all natural, and don't have a "chemical" taste that I've found the GU brand gels to have.
After trying a couple on training runs, I put them to the test by using them for a marathon, the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February. I started by having a blueberry Huma Gel right before the start gun, since it is the strongest flavor in my mind of the 4 they offer and I don't like too strong of a flavor when I'm really tired (although as I mentioned earlier, I'd have no problems using just blueberry Huma Gels for an entire race!) I then had one of each flavor during the race, I went: blueberry at mile 5, strawberry at Mile 10, mango at mile 13, and apple cinnamon at mile 16. I went in order of what I consider the strongest to the weakest flavor, which also coincidentally was the order of my increasing favorite flavors, saving my favorite for last: the apple cinnamon! I was then unhappy that I only had a Honey Stinger left on my fuel belt and GUs left on the course. (I skipped the GUs and finished a little hungry, I just couldn't take one of them) I was really upset with myself that I didn't pack more Huma Gels!
I never once felt any digestive issues, never once felt an upset stomach, in fact I only felt my stomach when I got hungry the last 3 miles (because I was out of Huma Gels) and I was thinking how wonderful one would be at that moment!
I crossed the finish line of a 7-minute PR, a 3:02:13! That's a BQ with almost 8 minutes to spare for me. Powered by Huma Gels! Thanks Huma Gel for sending me to Boston next year!
They are now available at some stores, check their store locater to see where you can buy them in person. If there aren't any locations by you, you can order directly from their website.
Cons: The one, and only one, downside I ran into was the width of the top. I placed a GU gel packet on top of the Huma Gel packet and notice the width of the Huma underneath and the wider package? Also note the sharper corner, especially on the upper right side of the wider part?
It's not so much a problem of it being too large to fit it into my pocket, but the location of where the top rips off I had to put the Huma gel into my mouth such that the corners/edge of the wider part of the Huma Gel packet rubbed against the corners of my lips (where the top and bottom lip come together) and slightly irritated them. Perhaps the sides of the package could have a bit more tapered shaped to them if the overall width stayed the same?
Oh yeah, there is one more con: they aren't used at every marathon as the course fuel! :) But hopefully they'll grow large enough that soon they will be there for a race I run!
Note that Huma Gel provided the sample package free of charge but there was no payment or compensation in any way for writing such a positive review. They left it up to the reviewers to write however they feel