I was recently sent a sample pack of Hüma Gel to review. The timing was a little off because I had just started my taper for the Costume Party Run, so I wasn’t really running long enough to use an energy gel. On the other hand, I didn’t want to wait until the half marathon before trying it because that would be, you know, stupid. So on my last longish run of my training, I decided to use a Hüma gel, even though I really didn’t need to.
To be honest, I was a little wary. Hüma Gel is 100% all natural, using real fruit, not flavorings to make it taste good. They have no chemicals or preservatives, you can actually pronounce every ingredient. And the gel is based on chia seed, to give it a superfood burst of nutrients. Chia seeds are loaded with Omega 3s, antioxidents, fiber, and complete protein. Chia seeds were even used by the legendary Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, to fuel their epic runs of 50-150 miles. So what on earth was I hesitant about?
I’ve used chia seeds in a few things, like smoothies, to give them a boost of nutrients. No problem there. I also tried a chia seed bottled drink, try being the operative word. I did have a problem with the texture, the mouth-feel, of the chia seeds. So I was concerned that I would have the same issue with the Hüma Gel.
I knew then, that I needed to test the Hüma Gel before the race. I tried the Strawberry, that generally being my favorite. The flavor was good, genuinely tasting like strawberry. And the texture? It was okay! The chia made it a little thicker than some other gels, which is fine with me. It had a bit of a strawberry jam feel, which was also okay with me. I liked it! But how would it perform in my half marathon?
Energy Gel 101
A little info about energy gels in general and Hüma Gel in particular. When your muscles needs energy, the first source they go to is your blood glucose. And while your body can store enough for sitting around watching television, or even light exercise, it is only enough to last for 60-90 minutes. Once it is gone, your body turns to fat for energy. The problem with that is that fat is not a quick energy source, and cannot produce energy quickly enough to sustain you through higher levels of exertion.
Enter energy gels. Energy gels provide a quick source of easily digestible carbohydrate. Hüma Gels use a special blend of carbohydrates that efficiently convert to glucose, contain only natural ingredients, and have no chemicals or preservatives. Each Hüma Gel pouch pack a strategic 100 calories/21 grams of carbohydrates that your body can digest easily to keep you fueled for your workout.
Where Did Hüma Come From?
The idea for Hüma was born in the sands of Iraq. In the summer of 2009 a US Army soldier named 1st Lieutenant McCollum was charged with leading grueling missions throughout Iraq. At the time he was reading a book about the Tarahumara, a tribe of Mexican Indians who regularly compete in epic 100+ mile races as part of their culture. To fuel themselves on these ultramarathons, they use a special chia seed blend. He figured if it worked for them in Mexico, maybe it would work for him in Iraq.
I have a mixed experience with fueling during races. I tend to have stomach issues from fueling on the run, so I usually stick to what I know. My stomach problems have occasionally led me to not fueling enough during a race because I am afraid to eat anything during a run, even a gel. I was determined to give Hüma Gel the proper test though, so I packed two for my half marathon, one Strawberry, the other Apples & Cinnamon.
I took my first Hüma Gel at about mile 6.5. I took the Strawberry (random, as I just pulled one from my pocket). It went down easily. Now if you’ve read my race report, you know that while I had a few asthma issues, my energy levels (and my stomach) were just fine. Excellent in fact. A few minutes after my first gel, I could feel it working, fueling my body for the rest of the run.
I took my second Hüma Gel at about mile 10.5. This was my first taste of the Apples & Cinnamon. I liked it even better than the Strawberry! There is just a hint of cinnamon flavor, kind of like eating your favorite applesauce. It powered me through the last miles of the race and caused no stomach problems. While I’m not going to give the Hüma Gel all the credit, it did help me push through to my post-50 year old PR! 2:00:11 baby!
Would you like an all natural, great tasting energy gel for your long workouts? Have your tried Hüma Gel?
Disclosure: I received a sample pack of Hüma Gel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions (and race times) are my own.