Pre-workout supplements produce mixed performances

Max Garfinkel, Midway Reporter

Products like Gatorade Energy Chews, Clif Bloks energy chews and Sport Beans are fixtures at swim and track meets. Athletes use these energy supplements to give them a little boost to run a bit further or swim a bit faster.

Sophomore swimmer Kaley Qin says that she occasionally consumes Gatorade Chews before some of her races at swim meets.

“I don’t know if they actually help, but they taste good,” she said. “I do remember that at swim camp our head coach told us that Gatorade has too much sugar and is too concentrated so it doesn’t help, but half Gatorade, half water is helpful since it helps the sugars digest faster.”

The manufacturers claim their products help athletes train better. The supplements claim to help athletes regenerate electrolytes, which are sweated out during intense exercise. Specifically Jelly Belly, maker of Sport Beans, claims their product gives improved endurance, reduced perceived exertion, enhanced agility, faster sprint speeds and increased power output. Gatorade Chews and Clif Bloks similarly claim to provide bite-size muscle prep, and resupply “fuel” levels during competition.

For each of these supplements, I sampled the product and then went on a one-mile run to test how well each worked.

The Gatorade Chews taste like solid, concentrated Gatorade. On the outside they have a small crust. Inside they feel gooey, but they do not melt in your mouth. The Gatorade Chews contain no caffeine but provide energy to your muscles using carbohydrates. Each serving of six chews has 100 calories with 24g of carbohydrates and 16g of sugar. For me, the Gatorade Chews made running easier than running without an energy supplement. During my run I felt energized, and my muscles felt less tired after. They were more effective than the Clif Bloks, but they were less effective than the Sport Beans. Out of the three products they have the best taste and texture.

The Clif Bloks taste like bland lime Jell-O but with the consistency of gummy bears. Unlike the Gatorade Chews they have no crust but stay in their loosely cubic form.The citrus Clif Bloks contain no caffeine, but other flavors do contain caffeine. Similar to the Gatorade Chews, the energy comes from carbohydrates. When I ate the Clif Bloks and then ran the mile, I felt less energized than I did with the Gatorade Chews, and afterward my muscles ached about as much as they did when I ran without any energy supplement. These were the least effective of the three energy supplements I tried. The suggested serving size is one packet, which contains 100 calories and 50mg of sodium.

Unlike the other two energy supplements, Sport Beans contain caffeine, so they are a good mental wake up for early morning runs. They taste similar to watermelon jelly beans, but they are more sour and have a slightly bitter aftertaste. Their texture is similar to jelly beans but less compact and slightly more gritty. When I ate the Sport Beans I immediately felt energized by the caffeine. After I ran, my muscles felt less tired than they had when I ran without an energy supplement. The suggested serving size is one packet, which contains 50mg of caffeine — approximately as much as half a cup of coffee. One serving of Sport Beans is 100 calories.