Review : HUMA CHIA Energy Gel
I hadn’t heard of HUMA gels prior to this test which is a little surprising as they have been around since 2012. After a bit of reading I discovered the inspiration for the creation of the brand came from a US soldier working in Iraq. After reading a book on the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico he discovered that they used natural chia seed blend as fuel during 100+ mile endurance running events. He worked out that if he could harness this into a marketable product he might have something. The Huma brand was born.
I decided to use the gels in a half marathon, not something I would normally need in a race this short but a protocol I have used many times in training for ironman races, test the nutrition as much as possible under multiple levels of stress.
So I picked 3 of the 4 flavours for the run which happened to be Strawberries, Apple and Cinnamon and finally Blueberries. I didn’t take much notice of the flavours before I started as my stomach is pretty bullet proof and I wasn’t worried about GI distress.
Huma products utilise natural sugars, Cane Sugar and Brown Rice Syrup, to create the 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose, well known to increase the absorption in the body. Achieving this mechanism for delivery without the use of maltodextrin increases the advertised sugar content compared to other gels but uses real food alternatives and avoids confusion over what is and what isn’t listed as a sugar.
During the race the gel packs were easy to open on the move and were sized just right to fit in my hand so that one squeeze pretty much got all of the contents out first time.
First was the strawberries gel, a pleasant surprise, it was pretty much the best tasting gel I have tried, ever ! It was like strawberry jam with soft bits mixed in, no lingering after taste and once finished I really had to ask myself if that was a real gel. I’ve raced ironman level for over 13 years and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a gel. I have favourites that I use and I can easily swallow but it’s a function of racing, never a pleasure. This was different.
The next 2 gels were similarly tasty, in fact, the blueberry gel was even better, again a runny jam like consistency. The texture and taste were excellent with no after taste once I had washed it down with water. My running partner was still laughing at me as I commentated during the run. Finally the apple and cinnamon, again I wasn’t disappointed, reminded me of apple pie filling.
Not a beat skipped during the run, the gels kept away any thoughts of nutrition deficiency and not having to worry about ill tasting nutrition or running to the toilet with GI issues made the race fly by. Finding a gel that has no added sugars, tastes great, is gluten free (not that I need this) and delivers 22grams of carbs adds up to a nice package.
The recommended intake is 1 gel every 30-45 minutes for exercise over 2 hours but I would work this out myself based on my requirements, having the same level of carbs as most of the leading brands shouldn’t make this too hard to switch or at least compare.
My current triathlon racing strategy is to decant gels into a gel bottle to use on the bike, the consistency of the Huma gels would suit this strategy fine and I would have no issue using these on the bike leg during a triathlon.
Overall, I found the gels tasty, easy to eat, great consistency and texture. The pack was easy to open and appropriate size for carrying.