Thursday, February 16, 2006

Product review: Clif Bloks

Ack! I just spent half an hour writing a review of Clif Bloks, only to have it *blip* totally disappear when I clicked on publish. Blogger sucks!

Let me try again.

Product review: Clif Shot Bloks Organic Electrolyte Chews. $1.95 plus tax and shipping from for 60g/2.1 ounces or 6 blocks (2 servings). Cost per serving similar or slightly less than most sports gels.

Nutrients: Calories per serving 100. Calories from fat 0. Total fat per serving 0 g. Saturated fat 0 g. Trans fat 0 g. Cholesterol per serving 0 mg. Sodium 70 mg. Potassium per serving 20 mg. Carbohydrates per serving 24 g. Dietary fiber 0 g. Sugar 12 g. This is a negligible source of sodium and potassium for replenishment of sweat losses during heavy exertion - don't count on it for any significant contribution to electrolytes. I consider the title "electrolyte chews" a misnomer and marketing gimmick. They're certified organic, if that's important to you (not to me).

Ingredients: First listed ingredient is organic brown rice syrup, which has a fairly modest glycemic index and shouldn't make your blood sugar spike. On the other hand, they also won't give you a big boost when you may really need it, like glucose tablets, for example.

Texture: Sweet, chewy bite-sized blocks, which are fairly large, about 3/4 inch square. Not as chewy and much less sticky than Jujyfruits, but more chewy than Jell-O jigglers. Might be pasty and difficult to get down on a hot race course without lots of water.

Flavor: I only tried the lemon-lime flavor, and for a snack and after a swim - not during a dry, hot workout. The flavor is pleasant, bland, very slightly salty, and mildly sweet-tart, like a generic mixed fruit jelly, but without any true lemon or lime tang. I haven't tried the other flavors yet.

Packaging: This is one of the big negatives of this product for me. They come 6 per package in a non-recloseable plastic pouch, which at 4.5"x5" is about 3 inches bigger than it needs to be. I've already seen many of these littering race courses. While I like being able to take just one blok at a time (1/3 serving) rather than trying to choke down an entire gel (or trying to carry an oozing open gel packet), having to dispense these sticky little items out of this unwieldy package during a race (and then finding a place to properly dispose of the empty package where it wouldn't get caught in the wind) would be a hassle.

Summary: These aren't bad for a candy-like snack for a little energy during or after a workout when you have access to lots of water, but there are lots of gel candies on the market that have much better flavors and equal energy value. The packaging and hassle of dispensing Clif Bloks might make them fairly undesirable to me to carry during a long race, and I'm doubtful that I would be able to choke them down when I'm very hot and dehydrated. I'd probably take one for variety if they were handed out on the course for free, though.

Update: I tried the Cran-Razz flavor and I do like that better. It's a pretty recognizable mild cranberry-raspberry taste. I decided the texture/consistency is very much like Sharkies, or also like those candy orange slices or candy spearmint leaves without the coating of sugar. Which I like better, come to think of it. Actually, the best solution might be to go to the Brach's Pick-a-mix candy display in the grocery store and get a bunch of those individually-wrapped gel candies.


TriFeist said...

You are brave. I tried one at the Disney expo. The texture felt awkward standing at the expo. I couldn't imagine trying to eat one on the bike or while running. But too be fair, eating solid food while working out is a personal problem.

Bridget said...

I have been wanting to try this for awhile. Thanks for the review.

Flatman said...

Thanks, Nancy! Ever the guinea pig!

mipper said...

my running guy said that teh strawberry flavor was the least favorite. he said it seemed oxy-moronic but more people he'd talked to had issues with that flavor. i tried teh cran-raspberry ones. i have to agree with everything you said. though i got nauseous when using these, so i don't think i handle solids too well while exercising. i agree with needing lots of water to get them down. i also cut mine in half. another hassle if you are on a course. thanks for the review. you said it much better than i could have. :)

Geek Girl said...

I tried one of these at the Tuscon marathon expo, and I have to say it was too thick and sticky for me. I'm thinking of trying the electrolyte jelly beans next.
I read that Sally Edwards sometimes sucks on rock candy to get a slow release of sugar.

Cliff said...

Thanks for the review. I have been waiting to try them. I won't use them for race purpose more for my regular long training. I have tried sharkys before and they just stuck to my teeth.

I guess this is more for ppl who want some extra chew which they can't get from a gel.

backofpack said...

I like plain Gu. It's not too sweet or thick. What about gummie bears? They might be okay. I ran a half with a woman who sucked on Jolly Rogers hard candies. She offered me one, but I'm afraid I'd choke! Walking and chewing gum at the same time is not my strong suit, so I can't imagine trying to get more than a Gu down.

Chris said...

Ugh. Blogger has me going nuts these days. Hopefully they get their act together soon!

Comm's said...

ah heck Nancy, I was going to type up my product review on Cliff bloks for this weekend. Well great minds think a like.

I don't like the packaging either, big draw back. I take 2 bags (which equal 4 gel packs in calories) and transfer them to a 'snack'size zip lock (1/2 the size of sandwich bag). Solves that problem right up.

BTW, cran-razz is my fav and any blok is a thousand times tastier than sharkies.

TxSkatemom said...

I tried these at MCM expo and LOVED them. I think I had the strawberry ones. I can't handle the slimy texture of any gels, but I like these. But then again, my usual "fuel" during marathons is two packs of fruit snacks I pilfer from my kids and whatever I pick up on the course (oranges, gummy worms -- there's a guy who stands at mile 22 at White Rock with a big bowl of them, cookies, whatever). I used to not be able to do that, but I've experimented enough now that I know what i can do.