Nutrition is fundamental to any type of exercise, but it’s even more crucial for endurance activities because you’re not just worried about pre- and post-workout foods. You have to factor in mid-effort fuel—what’s going to keep your fire burning as a long-distance runner, cyclist, or triathlete. That’s where energy gels and chews come into play.
These goos and gummies offer quick hits of carbohydrates and electrolytes to replenish depleted stores and keep your energy levels up.
“I recommend using chews or other fuel during exercise over 60 minutes,” says Eliza Savage, R.D., a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. “Aim to consume 30-60g of carbs per hour.”
If you’re into gels, consume an entire packet every hour. And if you prefer gummies, pop one or two every 15 minutes (after that first hour) for sustained energy.
Now some goos and chews on the market are packed with artificial ingredients—like high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, sodium benzoate, and the like—making them about as healthy as a gummy bear. You don’t want to just shock your body with sugar; you want quality fuel that’ll maximize your performance.
“The simpler the ingredients—a.k.a. the less artificial junk you put into your body—the better you’ll be able to absorb and convert energy,” Savage says.
Sometimes the artificial ingredients used to bind or preserve more processed chews or gels can cause digestive issues, too. And who wants to risk bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or nausea on a run or ride?
Savage recommends making your own portable nutrition from whole foods, but if that’s wholly undesirable to you, don’t sweat it.
There are tasty options you can buy that’ll fuel your body naturally. Here are 7 of the healthiest chews and gels for endurance exercise.