And it’s here! The full review by three of our regulars of the Chia Charger sports nutrition product
Unexpected delays in postage and with real life put a pause on this for a while (and one of our reviewers only recently received his so we’ll add his review here when it comes in). Three reviewers comment below, myself (AMD), Richard (RM) and Brian (BC) and we are looking at the Chia Chargers, kindly supplied by Jason from the makers here.
So what were your first impressions of the Chia Charger?
AMD: I was a little bit unsure actually! They seemed quite hard through the packaging. I’m also a processed food junkie and these looked full of nuts and berries and I was a little bit worried they might taste like they were good for you rather than taste good, if you know what I mean.
RM: Nice handy size, overall good ingredients too, bit worried at how hard they are
How did they taste?
RM: Lovely – I like anything that has peanut butter in it and love oats so the product had me
BC: Good – they’re ‘seedy’ and sweet, ,very palatable
AMD: Surprisingly much better than I expected! In the photos and packaging they look quite dry but they aren’t, in fact they are quite like a flapjack – maybe even a little moister. I did pick out a cranberry (yes, I’m a wuss) but they were certainly good enough to eat as a snack, which is a change to a lot of sports nutrition stuff that can taste foul.
The Chia Charger competes with more traditional sports nutrition products like gels and energy bars – how does it taste in comparison with them?
AMD: No comparison between them and a gel. Gels have a woeful consistency (like snot!) and I have to force them down, particularly if they are non-isotonic. I stopped using energy bars a while back but the Chia Charger certainly tasted at least as good as I remember them
RM: The taste, for me was nice but I would question its effectiveness on runs
BC: Good, they taste a lot more normal than gels which will be a positive for many.
Where and when did you use your Chia Charger?
RM: During a long run, during a cycle and during work where I was teaching multiple spin classes
AMD: I used them before and after a run
BC: on 2 runs, first was in the gym on a treadie. I was pretty ’empty’ starting I felt the CC gave me a bit of a kick, even though I cut the session at 30 mins. More to do with general tiredness than anything else.
Second time was at the start of a run – took one before heading out and another midway through the run of 7 miles. Again they tasted good and I felt they gave a bit of a boost, when I was otherwise tired.
What kind of effect did it have? Was this as expected?
AMD: I had assumed that the Chia Charger would be a little lightweight when compared to a gel so one of the first things I did was check the labels on one against a standard Lucozade Sport gel.
The Chia Charger is 28g, versus 45g for the gel. Despite that (and assuming I have my math’s right) the Chia Charger has 120 calories compared to the gels 123 (and remember the gel is close on twice the volume). Round one to the Chia Charger…
However 70 of those calories come from fat, which is a much slower release than the carbs in a gel, so you would expect the Chia Charger to rlease it’s energy more slowly but over a longer time. Sugar wise again there isn’t much in it – 5g in the Chia Charger versus 4g in the gel. Protein though the Chia Charger has 4g and the gel none.
So based on that and looking at the science that recommends fast release carbs during exercise, slow release carbs before and slow release carbs and protein after I decided to use the Chia Chargers for pre and post workout nutrition. Certainly they were easy to digest and I didn’t feel them “sitting” in my tummy during the run, there was no gassy feeling or aftertaste. They didn’t make me magically run a minute a mile faster but they were certainly comparable to other sports products.
RM: It didn’t work for me when running – too hard, needed liquids to soften it a little – too much chewing was required to break it down. I generally don’t use much sports products on long runs apart from the odd bit of dextrose or a gel so I’m not sure if it had any effect.
BC: Similar to gels I think. As expected
How would you rate the Chia Chargers performance against a more traditional sports nutrition product?
AMD: On a par with anything I’ve tried
RM: Again – it has many complex carbs, a little sugar and will digest more slwly than most typical sports energy products which may go against the idea of taking in energy during endurance training and events. The main aim is to get sugar quickly to the body
BC: Good, although on longer runs I think they would need to be taken with water wheres the isotonic gels I normally use don’t require this.
Did you feel you had to take the Chia Charger with water?
When running – yes, when cycling and spinning – no.
AMD: I didn’t take it during exercise and it was fine but on a run yes.
BC: No, but with extended use I would feel I would need to.
How palatable do you think the Chia Charger would be over the course of an endurance event, for example a marathon?
AMD: I think it would be fine; it certainly isn’t too dry. The consistency though may make it hard to chew and I’m not sure how practical the packaging would be. On the bike leg of a triathlon I’d say a definite yes.
BC: I wouldn’t foresee any problems
RM: It would not be my product of choice for running but I need to add that for cycling, I see it as a more effective product, especially on long cycles. A hard to chew product like this while running can lead to cramps (did for me a little as in I gasped trying to get it down) but I worked great when I was on the bike and the motion of not running prevented any cramp situation for me on the bike
How practical do you think the Chia Charger is for use during an endurance event?
AMD: As above really, it’s on a par with the likes of sports bars and probably slightly behind a gel in terms of practicality but it’s certainly not impractical.
RM: Way more suitable as a pre/post snack or cycling than running in my opinion
BC: Good, I would remove them from the packaging and stuff them into a pocket, they’re nicely shaped and practical to carry
Does the fact that the Chia Charger is a natural product matter to you?
AMD: It does a bit. As I said I love processed junk food but I know that if I am going to make a leap in performance I need to pay attention to nutrition so a natural product is a bonus. It’s certainly more reassuring than looking at a gel and just seeing ominous words like Sodium Citrate, Pottasium Sorbate and Beta Carotine…
RM: I like to limit to an extent the amount of fake ingredients I put in my body. I was very happy to see such a product and would pay for it again
BC: It’s a bonus
The ChiaCharger retails at $15 for 6 and up to $45 for 20 plus shipping. On a scale of 1 – 10 how would you rate that as value for money?
AMD: I’d say a 7, they aren’t cheap but they are made of quality ingredients and all specialized sports nutrition is expensive.
BC: 3 – seem expensive. My isotonic gels come in at about €0.90 each and provide a similar, and possible more predictable, effect
RM: I liked the taste and liked them on the bike so yes, I would get them at this price
And finally any other comments?
AMD: I think this is a good product and – like Richard – I would see it as being of use to athlete’s other than just runners. Endurance cyclists, orienteers, hikers, weight lifters, etc. Personally I wouldn’t use it for fuel during a run but pre and post runs or just as a healthy snack I’d certainly look at buying them again.
RM: Should aim this also at cyclists
BC: Chia is a fairly minor ingredient (only 4th by weight), would they provide more energy if more Chia was used?
So there you go, that’s what we thought. If you’ve used the Chia Charger and have anything to add then post away in the comments below and once again a big thank you to Jason from Chia Chargers who made this happen.