It’s no surprise that midrun fuel isn’t always the most appetizing thing to eat or drink, especially when it’s mile 18 of a long run or marathon, and you just don’t want to consume anything. But every now and then, a source of fuel comes along that actually tastes good, and you may find yourself wanting to munch on it off the run, as well.
We talked to registered dietitians Kelly Hogan, M.S., and Torey Armul, M.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to set the record straight.
Clif Bloks are a tasty and effective midrun fuel because of their simple sugars and electrolytes.
Runs that last 60 minutes or longer require extra fuel. You should aim for 100 calories or 30 to 60 grams of carbs, every 30 to 45 minutes to keep the glycogen stores in your muscles topped off.
That means you should consume three chews (half of the sleeve) every 30 to 45 minutes.
Energy chews like these are designed for fueling the muscles during long efforts, says Armul. They’re made of entirely simple sugars, which your muscles can use quickly during exercise, and they lack fiber and protein, which can be hard to digest or cause stomach issues while exercising.
The chews also have the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which are lost through sweat, says Hogan. That makes them a solid choice to stash in a pocket for a long run in which you won’t have access to water or your go-to sports drink.
If you like an extra energy boost midrun or know you need extra salt, there’s a Blok for that. Each flavor offers different levels of caffeine and sodium, but note that the higher levels of caffeine are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, children under 18, or people with sensitivity to caffeine.
But because energy chews are entirely simple sugar, Armul points out that they’re not going to satisfy your hunger during a mid-afternoon slump.
When looking for a snack off the run, it should have a balanced nutritional profile, meaning carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. Protein, fat, and fiber will fill you up and keep you feeling full, whereas that sleeve of chews cost you 200 calories, and you’ll be hungry in an hour, says Hogan.
Instead, she suggests keeping a jar of peanut butter with crackers in your desk, or add a few spoonfuls of nut butter to a piece of fruit. In a pinch, a candy bar may even be a better option than a sleeve of chews if it has fat and some protein, like a Snickers bar, but Hogan points out “that’s still not the greatest option if you’re hungry.”