Gear Review: Lucozade Sport Body Fuel Energy Gel

lucozade body fuel energy gelThe trouble with writing a meaningful review of energy gels and the like is that you’re always going to be testing their properties under far from scientific conditions.

Sure, I could use these things on my standard 12 mile course and rave about them if I set a PB or slam them if I didn’t perform particularly well. But then, of course, I’d have to try to factor in lots of other variables, such as the ambient temperature on the day in question, and even how tight my muscles were feeling at the time…

Obviously, that isn’t going to happen. Though having committed myself to writing at least one post over the bank holiday weekend, and having acquired an assortment of gels to test against each other, I felt duty-bound to give these a go. Yet as is so often the way when I make rash promises to myself, the fates conspired to ensure that the Lucozade Energy Gels got a really serious workout.

How Not To Prepare For A Run In Hot weather

Despite the four-day weekend, I really only had Saturday morning available when I could go for a long run. So it was a tad unfortunate that, what with Friday offering such glorious weather, we set out for a walk between pubs along the canal-side with some friends, seeking frequent refreshment as we went.

And with the sun still shining, how could we possibly have refused their kind invitation to continue the afternoon with a barbie at their house?

Thus it was that when Saturday morning dawned, as bright and hot as the day before, I was feeling far from awesome, having imbibed significantly more units of alcohol than the recommended maximum and having had just four hours sleep. Breakfast, therefore, was completely out of the question, and it was all I could do to force down a Lucozade gel with half a pint of water before setting out: though that wasn’t too bad an option, as having tried a few of these things now, the orange taste isn’t half bad.

Yet despite all this, I felt reasonably OK by the time I’d loaded my Camelbak with iced water and set out to face a slow 10 miles in 25 degrees of windless hell.

They recommend that you take one of these every 30 minutes of exercise, so while running desperately slowly through the dunes and back along the beach, I took another one after 30 and 60 minutes respectively, together with a decent glug of water, and arrived home in a PW time, albeit in much better shape than I had any right to.

They tasted far better than I expected and weren’t at all harsh on my stomach; and as they were absolutely the only source of energy in my body (unless 8-hour-old Tesco Finest Chablis sloshing around in one’s bloodstream has life-giving properties that have so far gone unnoticed), they certainly delivered every single bit of the massive 68g per 100g of carbs promised on the label, getting me home and hosed despite the fragility of my condition.

The Not Even Remotely Smug Conclusion

I’m not usually a fan of gels, as I’ve found them hard on my stomach in more than one road race, and prefer to drink little and often, rather than having to take a big hit of water in order to wash down and activate a gel. However, having tested these things under the worst possible conditions, I may possibly have to reconsider my position.

They worked at least as well as the Lucozade Sport Jelly Beans I’m currently carrying in my back pocket on race days, and while they don’t taste quite as delicious, at least you can’t spill gels all over the trail like you can with the Jelly Beans.

And frankly, if they can help to keep me going when I’m as hot, sweaty and sleep-deprived as I was on Saturday (albeit that I arrived home looking like an old nag that had been ridden hard and put away wet),  I may have to consider these for some of the trail races I’ve got planned for the summer months.

While I prefer the taste of Jelly Babies, and even the Lucozade Jelly Beans, these things taste pretty good as energy gels go and also offer a serious carbohydrate hit, making them pretty good value for their 4.5 Jelly Baby Rating.

Ingredients:

Glucose Syrup (89%), Water, Citric Acid, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabiliser (Acacia Gum), Flavouring, Colour (Beta-carotene).

Nutrition:

Typical values per 100g: Energy 1164kJ (274kcal), Protein – Trace, Carbohydrate 68.1g (of which sugars 8.9g), Fat – Nil (of which saturates – Nil), Fibre – Nil, Sodium – Trace.

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Runner’s Nutrition: Lucozade Sport Jelly Beans

The nerve of these people! What on earth were they thinking? After all, yours truly has long been… wossname… synonymous with heavy consumption of Bertie Bassett’s finest confection; before, during and after races. Goodness, have they even read the title of this blog?

Apparently not, as just last week a few bags of new Lucozade Sport Jelly BEANS dropped onto the mat here at Jelly Baby Towers.

And while I’m always glad to try new things, this just seemed to be against the natural order of things. But I’m a fair-minded sort, and so, for a couple or three days, I eschewed Jelly Babies, bananas and Cranberry Taut in favour of Lucozade’s latest foray into range extension.

So do these things work?

Well, first off, I have to declare that I’m not a fan of Lucozade drinks, as I prefer the unsweetened alternative provided by Taut.

However, these things seem to be sugar and syrup-based, and pack an even heftier carb punch per 100g than jelly babies. So I followed the instructions and munched a bag, followed by a glass of water. They mix orange and raspberry flavour beans in every bag, and frankly, they taste very nice; though they might be a bit sickly without the H2O chaser.

I then set out for a slightly warm 10 miler, taking another bag and a small bottle of water with me. As is my wont, I waited for a few miles, then started munching and sipping as I went. I was very pleasantly surprised too, as not only were they easy on the stomach, I felt full of energy throughout and put in a fairly respectable performance.

However, at the end of the day, there’s no miracle ingredient that makes these things more than just a pretty pleasant way to get some carbohydrate energy into your system while you train.

They do seem to pack more carbs than standard jelly beans per gram, but then, you could always just eat more standard jelly beans. After all, at 99p for a 30g pack, these aren’t cheap.

Which is better, babies or beans?

The small problem these presented when running, was getting these slippery little suckers into my mouth. More than one of them bit the dust of the dunes as I ran.

Though through trial and error, I’ve worked out that the best way to take them is to tear a very small corner off the pack and try to ‘drink’ the beans from the small opening this creates.

Which is where Jelly Babies score a good bit higher, being considerably easier to get a grip of when you’re on the hoof.

Also, and this is crucial, as I am prone to accepting proffered sweets from strangers in the latter stages of marathons and half-marathons, I also like the tamper-proof nature of Jelly Babies.

You see, that light dusting of sugar would surely give the game away if someone had licked their Jelly Babies before handing them out to runners, whereas the shiny, Shellac finish of Jelly Beans offers no such comfort.

The entirely objective and fair-minded findings

While I was initially a bit sceptical, I actually like the Lucozade Jelly Beans quite a lot. They plainly deliver the goods in terms of energy and are gentle on your stomach too.

Though having said that, I’m still going to be paranoidly looking out for purveyors of free Jelly Babies the next time I run a marathon…