Huma is a 44 g all-natural energy gel with chia seeds. It provides 100 calories and 21 g of carbohydrates. Using fruit puree as an ingredient offers a more pleasant experience than the typical syrupy mixture. In terms of texture, it’s just about right, not too thick or watery.
While energy gels serve an essential purpose for endurance athletes, none of us would categorize these sugary, syrupy concoctions as healthy. I’m picky about what I put into my body. I prefer eating natural, wholesome real foods. So when it comes to race and training fuel, finding clean options made with natural ingredients is a bit more complicated.
So when a brand claims it’s the world’s best-selling, all-natural energy gel, it piqued my curiosity.
Additionally, as a former importer of chia seeds, a key ingredient of Huma energy gels, I consider myself a connoisseur of the superfood. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the company’s marketing claims, followed by my takeaways about fueling with Huma in a recent 25km progression run.
The brand name, Huma, is short for Tarahumara, the indigenous people of Chihuahua, Mexico, featured in the best-selling book Born to Run. They are renowned for their ability to run long distances, fueled by the superfood chia seed.
“Huma Gel is made with 100% all-natural ingredients, including chia seeds – filled with vitamins, minerals and energy,” says the company.
The key marketing message is natural ingredients are the gentlest on our gastrointestinal system and, therefore, self-dubbed the “happy stomach gels.”
Since chia seeds are a selling point, let’s discuss why many consider them the O.G. of superfoods.
So yes, chia seeds are fantastic, and Huma energy gels incorporate milled chia seeds. However, while the company doesn’t specify how much chia seeds are used, the superfood is listed fourth or fifth on the ingredient list. One gel is only 36-43 g, so I’m not sure if there are enough chia seeds to get the full range of benefits.
Most Huma Orginal and Huma Plus (more electrolytes) are fruit flavors based on fruit purees. Let’s look at two of them here.
Apple & Cinamon
The carbohydrates are fructose (fruit puree), sucrose (cane sugar), and glucose (brown rice syrup). I just want to point out that, yes, the sugars come from natural foods, but sugar is still sugar. Don’t let the “all-natural” fool you into thinking it’s a healthier gel option. To be fair, Huma never claims to be healthy either, so I’m not saying Huma set out to trick you.
In theory, the dietary fiber from chia seeds should slow the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels, avoiding big spikes and crashes. I have read reviews by diabetic patients who use Huma as a safer gel of choice for their medical condition.
On the flip side, the fiber will also slow carbohydrate metabolization and require longer mouth-to-muscle time. However, this could translate to a more stable energy source easier on the stomach, just as Huma said.
At 44 g per sachet
The Plus version offers similar amounts of macro-nutrients but adds more electrolytes, up to 240 mg of sodium.
The fruit puree offers a more pleasant experience than the typical syrupy mixture. In terms of texture, it’s just about right, not too thick or watery.
Fear not if you are worried about chia seeds stuck in your teeth. The seeds are finely milled, so they’re not noticeable.
In regards to taste and consistency, it’s pretty standard. If you’re an experienced gel eater, there’s no surprise there.
Although Huma’s packaging is a slightly bigger version of what we’re used to with GU or Hammer, it’s flatter and less “puffy.” I had no issue carrying them in a running belt or hydration vest.The tear is also the standard design that most endurance athletes are very used to by now, so it’s an easy open-squeeze-swallow when on the move.
The course was a 5km flat loop. We ran the first 5km at an easy pace, cut down each loop, and finished at the lactic threshold.
Below were the paces for each loop
I purposely picked a faster-pace workout to test an energy gel that includes dietary fiber and protein to see if there will be a noticeable difference in absorption. I did not eat breakfast and took an Huma Original Blueberry 20 minutes before the workout.
I then took a Huma Originals Apple & Cinnamon each after the second and third loops. A fourth Huma Plus Lemon Lime after the fourth loop finished up the workout.
I carried the energy gels in a compression running belt and set water bottles at the start of each loop for quick sips to chase down the gel.
I had four Huma energy gels over 25km and had zero stomach issues. I don’t eat energy gels for the flavor anyway, so as long as a brand doesn’t cause gastrointestinal problems and helps sustain my energy output, it’s a good fuel.
Huma definitely gets the job done while offering a decent flavor. The workout was a tough one, and the energy gels got me through it despite running on an empty stomach.
With stable energy, a pleasant taste, and additional micro- and macro-nutrients, Huma is a balanced energy gel suitable for any endurance activities in my book.