Huma Chia Gel Product Review: Yay Or Nay? ** UPDATED **

Disclosure: This is a review for the Huma Chia Gel product that was sent to me for free.  I did not pay for this product and was not asked to provide a positive review in exchange for the product.   ** UPDATED ** I am updating this Huma Chia Gel post because they have updated their options in terms of flavors and I had the pleasure of testing out the new flavors during my current training for Ironman Chattanooga.   The new flavors that Huma Chia Gel have introduced to their product line are mango and blueberry.  These are a bit different from their original flavors of apple-cinnamon but straight forward like their strawberry.  When I tested out the original flavors (review is below) I found that was more drawn to the apple-cinnamon than the strawberry and I was expecting the single mango and blueberry flavor to be in line with strawberry. I tested both of the flavors on a long bike ride figuring that if there was an issue with the flavor or on my GI I would have other nutrition with me.  What I found out was that the flavors were better than the strawberry nor did they cause me any distress.  Both flavors still had the chia feel in the mouth which is not a problem but brought a different profile and made them more palatable than the strawberry for my taste buds. As I mentioned before this product is not something I would use in the Texas heat because it does not pack the electrolytes needed to get through the heat and humidity but it is certainly a product that can be used on runs that last an 1.5 hours or less. ========================================================= Huma Chia Gel was a product that I was introduced by John Flynn of the blog Training Smoker when I did my review for Bestowed.  Like any other athlete I was more than happy to give it a try as I was looking for anything that would help me get an edge.  In addition to that I wanted to try something a bit more natural than what I had been using.  I was also ready to ditch the dried pineapple and raisins that I was carrying in my jersey back pocket.  When I was in the midst of training for Ironman Texas 2013 the Huma Chia gels showed up at my front door. I was contemplating using the products during my training or waiting until I was done with the race and then train with them.  Looking at my calendar and my schedule I figured trying out the Huma Chia gels at that point would be ok since I had two 5 hour rides and one 6 hour ride left on my schedule.  If the Huma Gels didn't work for me I could always revert back to the EFS Liquid Shot that I had been using and knew that it was fine for my GI and that it worked for me. My biggest concern with the Huma Chia gel after talking with Maria was about GI distress.  Maria pointed out that chia tends to expand and that could cause me some issues on the run.  I took that into account during training and again this was the time to experiment.  With nearly two months to go until the race I knew that I had time on my side should the gels not provide me what I needed.  The other concern was that I haven't used a Gel in a packet in forever and how would I handle that.  EFS comes in a flask and the Herbalife24 product line that I use is a powder that I mix in water bottles.  Making a decision to tape gels to my bike, have them in a jersey or shorts pocket.  What were the logistics going to be like?  I need to have precise movement and adding anything that would distract from riding my bike as hard as I could was not going to work for me either. The first time I chose to use the Huma Chia gel was on a short 3 hour ride where massive calorie intake would not be needed.  The gel packets are 100 calories so 2 of them along with the sports drink wold provide me with enough calories for the entire ride.  When I stopped at a stop light I took out the first of two flavors (the Huma Chia gels come in Strawberry and Apple Cinnamon) and ripped open the packet and to my surprise found the gel to be more liquid than I expected and I appreciated that.  I remember GU being thick like molasses and not something I enjoyed.  The next item I noticed was the flavor.  It had a true apple cinnamon taste and reminded me of an apple pie.  Two thumbs up so far. At the next opportunity to take a gel I tasted the strawberry and while the taste was not as enjoyable as the apple cinnamon this was not something I had to choke down.  It was flavorful but the apple cinnamon was my favorite and for the rest of training I was hoping that I would pull the apple cinnamon out of my shorts.  When I finished the ride I went for a quick transition run.  I was looking for anything that would cause me to not use the gels.  What I found was an easy run with no issues at all.  I focused the rest of the day on how I felt  because a 3 hour ride and 15 minute run is not a 6 hour ride and 4 hour run like I would face at Ironman Texas.  The rest of the day I had no issues and I was ready to continue using the Huma Chia gels during my training block. With 5 hour and 6 hour rides coming up I devised a plan of how to take the gels as well as when.  My plan was to make the gels more liquid and put them into 5 oz flasks that I could put in my racing shorts.  This would be great practice for the race.  I also decided that I would sip the sports drink every 20 minutes and take a swig of the Huma Chia gel flask at the 1.5 hour mark and the 4.5 hour mark.  This would break up the flavors as well as allow my body to process the gels without pouring them on top of each other. These two ideas worked like a charm.  The 5 hour and 6 hour rides were good and the runs after were showing good results.  I had no issues with my GI and was able to tolerate the taste at the intervals set before me.  I was looking forward to taking these gels with me to The Woodlands and race.  That is where things turned out to be different from what I had been training with. As you may know May 18th was a day that will live in Ironman Texas lore.  The days preceding, and now the day's post race have been in the mid-80s.  All of my training had been in those temps.  On May 18th the temps would reach into the mid-90s and the heat index would surpass 100*.  These were conditions that I had not trained in and made this race much more difficult than anticipated. Around Mile 100 of the bike I had consumed all of my sports drink and the Huma Chia gels.  I was smart enough to pack a flask of EFS Liquid Shot in my transition bag and had carried with me in my jersey.  This turned out to be a life savor because of the amount of electrolytes in the flask.  I also took Perform off the course because I knew I needed the sodium.  The gels did not cause any issues in terms of my GI, but they don't pack the electrolyte punch that is needed on a very hot and humid day.  With only 100-110mg of sodium and 20-30mg of Potassium these gels are not going to allow me to perform at my best in the heat and humidity that is Texas. My final conclusion on the Huma Chia gel is that these are a terrific product that can be incorporated into your training and racing.  They taste good and come with healthy fats and a decent amount of carbs for the 100 calorie pack.  That being said if you are racing in  hot and humid conditions be sure to either carry a salt stick with you or incorporate something else.  I can see myself using these gels in the Fall and Winter here in Texas but when the Spring and Summer roll around I will be back to using EFS Liquid Shot because of the amount of electrolytes in them. [caption id="attachment_8262" align="aligncenter" width="553"]huma chia - product review - ironman - triathlon Huma Chia Gels Were A Part Of My Ironman Texas Nutrition Plan[/caption]

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.