33Shake is a new company making all-natural supplements and sports foods, including this Chia Energy Gel. It might appeal to cyclists who find conventional gels over-processed or hard to stomach, but the amount of energy it delivers is minimal and the price is a bit on the steep side.
Chia Enegy Gel's main ingredient is, as the name implies, chia seeds. After a brief internet trawl, we learn that chia is a leafy plant related to mint that grows mainly in Central America. The other ingredients are coconut palm sugar, Madagascan vanilla and Himalayan pink salt.
These four items from far-flung corners of the globe are mixed – unusually, in dried form – in a plastic sachet with a screw lid, to which you add water to make your actual gel. It takes 10 minutes for the ingredients to dissolve (although not completely), and the instructions on the packet recommend using the gel within 24 hours of making it.
Each gel weighs 21g (in dried form) and consists of 11g of carb, 5g of fibre, 4g of fat and 2g of protein, plus a dash of iron, sodium, potassium and calcium.
When it comes to taking one of these gels, the texture is best described as like a normal gel with lumps in – a critic might say grit in – which is a bit of a surprise if you're used to the smooth textures of gels from the likes of High5, SiS, Mule and Torq, but you soon get used to it.
The taste is pleasant and refreshing; it's slightly savoury and at the same time very slightly sweet, but not sticky. I experienced no ill-effects on the digestive front.
So far, so good, but do these Chia gels work? To test them, I went for a hard fast training ride after not eating all morning. After an hour I was flagging. I had a Chia Enegy Gel and went up the next hill feeling revived. So, yes, they work.
Would this have happened with a similarly sized dose of carb from any other brand of gel? Or, indeed a similar amount of carb from 'normal' food? Yes, most likely.
But if you don't like the taste of other gels, or find them too sweet, too sticky, or too harsh on the stomach (especially in longer events) then trying 33 Shake Chia Enegy Gels is recommended.
It's worth noting that the amount of carb (11g) provided by a single Chia Enegy Gel is quite low compared to other gels (which usually provide 20g to 50g). Most sports studies agree that you need between 50g and 90g of carb per hour, after the first hour or two of exertion, depending on your own physiology and other factors. On that basis you'll need to take a lot of Chia gels if you're doing a 100 mile sportive, or you'd need to take them along with other forms of energy.
It's also worth noting that if you intend to carry some of these gels on a bike ride, you'll need to mix them with water before leaving, and keep them in your pocket just like any other energy food. If you were a real weight weenie on a sportive or other organised endurance event you could carry these gels in their dry form and add water at a feed station.
On price, a single gel costs £1.99 from the 33 Shake online store. If you buy a pack of 10, that drops to £1.89 per gel. A pack of 30 and it's £1.79 per gel. With each gel containing 11g of carb, that's on the steep side when compared on a crude carbs-per-quid basis against competitor products such as Nectar Sports Fuel Cell (40g sachet containing 20g of carbohydrate for £1.50) High5 Energygel (38g sachet, 23g of carb, £1), ZipVit (60g gel, 51g of carb, £1.50) or Sponser Liquid Energy Long (40g gel, 23g of carb, £1).
But if you're looking for more than just carbs, and want a gel made with all natural ingredients that's tasty and easy to digest, then 33Shake Chia Energy Gels are well worth trying.
All-natural energy gel, useful for cyclists that find conventional gels hard to stomach, although the amount of energy delivered is minimal. Pricey too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: 33shake Original Vanilla Chia Energy Gel
Size tested: 10 units sent
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is an energy gel, designed for use during training and racing. It's unusual in that the ingredients are presented in dried form, to which you add water. The manufacturers website says:
'Packing a mighty punch from whole, unprocessed chia seeds for clean-burning, sustained energy this gel is like nothing you've ever tried before. Prepare yourself for a brand new way of fueling your endurance.'
The website goes on to say:
'Inside every 33Shake Chia Energy Gel you will find: Our naturally powerful Extreme Endurance™ blend of carbs, proteins, Omega-3s and antioxidants; 90 calories per serving; Natural anti-inflammatories; A great fresh taste ... All natural and low-GI sugars for genuinely sustainable performance without the energy-sapping spikes of traditional gel...'
It's a little unfair to accuse all other traditional gels of 'energy-sapping spikes'. While this may occur with *some* energy products (and certainly does with items like chocolate, biscuits and sweets containing large amounts of refined sugar) many gels from other brands contain low GI or 'slow release' carbs.
Construction is good. The ingredients come in dried form in a screw-top sachet, meaning you could consume half the gel, put the top back on and have the rest later.
Performance is very good, in that this gel delivers carbohydrate quickly and effectively.
Each gel weighs 21g. About double that, or a bit more, when water is added. Carrying 40 to 50g of weight in your back pocket to provide 11g of carb does not compare well to the ratio provided by competitor brands (Zipvit is at the other end of the scale with a 60g gel providing 51g of carb), but then, to be fair, 33Shake Chia Energy Gel is a very different thing, aiming to provide an all-natural product for athletes that may find 'normal' gels difficult to stomach.
With a 33Shake Chia Energy Gel containing 11g of carb and costing £1.79 to a penny shy of £2 each, value is not good when compared on a crude carbs-per-quid basis against competitor products such as Nectar Sports Fuel Cell (40g sachet containing 20g of carbohydrate for £1.50), High5 Energygel (38g sachet, 23g of carb, £1), or Sponser Liquid Energy Long (40g gel, 23g of carb, £1).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, 33 Shake Chia Energy Gel performed very well, in that it delivered carbohydrate quickly and effectively, tasted good and induced no ill-effects. However, when the dried ingredients are mixed with water, it's heavy and bulky for the amount of carbs provided.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The all-natural ingredients; the unusual but pleasant taste.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
When the dried ingredients are mixed with water, the gels are relatively heavy and bulky for the amount of energy provided.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Personally, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they found traditional gels hard to stomach.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is a very interesting product, and some kudos must go to 33Shake for thinking outside the box (or sachet, in this case) and coming up with a novel way to provide an all-natural alternative to traditional energy products. These Chia Energy Gels are effective, tasty, and produce no ill-effects. On that basis the score would be 9. However, the actual amount of energy provided per gel is relatively low, and the cost is relatively high, deducting two points to give an overall score of 7.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding - aka rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)