No matter how much you like a particular food or drink during endurance activities, you inevitably end up craving real food or something different after a few gels or energy bars.
And there's no one option that's just right -- bars can be too filling and your pockets are only so big; mixing sport drink powder can be messy and liquid nutrition alone feels insufficient.
So most of us choose a combination of sport drink powders, gels and bars to fuel us through extended activity. Gels are great -- they're light, easy to carry and provide immediate fuel, but there are only so many you can eat over the course of an endurance event. And when they're warm, they're even less appealing. Gels supply convenient, quick energy, but they're certainly not my favorite.
Clif Shot Bloks, on the other hand, are something I enjoy. They have the texture of a gummy bear, but softer and easier to chew. They're bite-size blocks (10g each) that taste like a flavorful gel candy and come in three flavors: Cran-razzTM (Cranberry-raspberry), lemon-lime and strawberry.
They're not overly sweet and I'd probably snack on them like candy if they were sitting on my desk. Cran-razz is definitely my favorite.
Great new option
Bloks serve the same purpose as gels: A convenient and concentrated source of carbohydrates and electrolytes to consume during exercise. No protein, vitamins or other ingredients -- only what you need to keep your muscles properly fueled while you're working out. Because they're semi-solid, they're absorbed slower than gels, but still supply quick energy. As with gels, they should be consumed with water.
Unlike gels, there's no mess. They don't stick to each other, so it's easy to grab them one at a time, and they don't stick to your hands, so you won't transfer stickiness to your handlebars. In cold weather, they don't harden, so they're easy to eat. And on hot days, they're much more palatable to eat warm than gels.
Each package has six Bloks (two servings), and each serving provides 100 calories, with 24 mg carbs (50 percent complex, 50 percent simple), 20 mg potassium and 70 mg sodium. They're sweetened with brown rice syrup, which is easily assimilated to fuel working muscles, and have organic ingredients.
The one thing I don't like about them is the packaging. You need two hands to open these, which is inconvenient on a bike. They have a serrated edge running along the top of the package, so you tear downwards to open, but you need both hands to do so -- you can't hold one corner in your teeth and rip down with one hand nor can you easily bite off a corner.
And because you open the package from top to bottom, once it's opened it's hard to keep any remaining Bloks in the package. The serrated edge should at least be on the side so you open across the top of the package.
Ideally, there'd be an easy-tear strip that went across the top of the pouch that you could open with one hand and your teeth (or hold in place with one hand firmly on the handlebars). Uneaten pieces would remain in the bag by folding over the top.
New kid on the block
Clif Shot Bloks provide a badly-needed option for endurance nutrition. By using a combination of sport drinks, bars, gels and Bloks, you can keep things interesting and get the energy you need without overdoing any one product. I love the taste and convenience of Bloks and really appreciate having this tasty new option.
Clif Shot Bloks retail for $1.99 per package. Visit http://www.clifbar.com/ for more information.