Deciding which product to consume while exercising is not an easy decision. The number of products is extremely impressive, and the differences between products can be significant.
Clif Bars (Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip)
First, though we didn't eat this during actual exercise, I wanted to start with this product. I've eaten this many times BEFORE working out to give me a bit of energy to start. My stomach is notoriously volatile and I typically need to be very careful about what I eat before running, and this product has never caused any issues.
It is a little dense, which is why I don't suggest it for in-activity consumption, though I know a few people that do. It is an awesome way to start though, and if you are looking for a pre-race food, it's not a bad option.
Clif Shot Bloks (Black Cherry, Lemon Lime, Mountain Berry)
This was the first product that we tried during what was supposed to be a ten-mile run. The run was cut short, but we still had enough time to use these. Overall I liked the taste of the mountain berry, and Ellie liked the black cherry. They were fairly easy to chew and eat, but water is needed to wash them down, per product instructions. Each blok was actually pretty large.
I'd recommend these as a good place to start, and I like the brand behind them.
Note: I really did NOT like the lemon-lime flavor, it left a bad after taste.
Gu Chomps (Watermelon)
I've heard good things about Gu Chomps, and from my understanding it is a pretty popular choice for a lot of people. We picked up the watermelon variety (which I don't think was intentional) and it was pretty good. This was actually our favorite product of all because they were easy to eat and, importantly, the packaging was substantially easier to open on the go than the Shot Bloks, and the taste was good.
This will be our go-to product for the coming race, though I believe we will be switching flavors to a non-watermelon variety.
Stinger Organic Waffles (Vanilla)
Stinger Waffles were an interesting pick for us. The only reason I bought these was because the guy at the store said they were the worst of everything the store sold, and they were awful. Naturally I bought one.
I actually really liked it, though I ate it after a run rather than during. The problem was that the product is extremely dry, and the texture is a little grainy. I wouldn't bring this on the run, but it was an interesting treat. Make sure to have water handy.
Stinger Organic Energy Chew (Cherry Blossom)
Stinger Energy Chews are a pretty close second to the Gu Chomps. We actually ate these during our second fuel break on our twelve-mile run. They are a pretty comprable product to both the Shot Bloks and Gu Chomps.
The flavor is decent; the texture is good. It reminds me of the fruit snacks I loved when I was a little kid. Not a bad option, and they are organic . . . ?
Sport Beans (Berry)
This was a pretty interesting product. I personally did not really care for it, and I believe my wife said they tasted like Flintstones vitamins. They are like most jellybeans, rather hard and sugary. I can see their appeal, but in my opinion it would be really difficult to really eat these while on the run. Maybe for cycling, but not running.
The taste was good (I thought), the packaging was good, and I could see these filling a niche for some people. Just not for me!
Overall, a pretty good sampling of what is available, and we found some products that we liked. To sample all of these products cost about twenty bucks at Eastern Mountain Sports, and I think it was well worth it to see what we liked, rather than settling on what they will be serving on race day.