Review: Pure Energy Gels, Poor Flavor Yet Fast-Reacting

 

I’ve been hearing good things about Pure Sports Nutrition and its energy gels made with “real ingredients.” Founded in 2012, The New Zealand-based company has gained a loyal following globally in the last few years, particularly in Asia.

For this review, I brought two Pure energy gels – Banana & Manuka Honey and Orange Lemon Lime – on a 21km LSD (long slow distance). Below are my thoughts and experiences.

Marketing Claims

“Made from real ingredients with no artificial colors or flavors. They are light in consistency and not sickly sweet, making them easier to consume while exercising and racing,” says the company website.

Pure’s marketing hook is real foods, yet it can’t claim to be “all-natural” because of ingredients such as maltodextrin and preservatives.

I also have an issue with this statement, “light in consistency and not sickly sweet,” as I find the energy gels on the thick side and, for one flavor, sickly sweet.

Ingredients – simple and primarily natural

Banana & Manuka Honey

  • Maltodextrin
  • Banana Puree (23%) (bananas 99.65%)
  • Citric acid
  • Filtered water
  • Manuka honey (6%)
  • Sea salt
  • Preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate)
  • Antioxidant (ascorbic acid)

Orange Lemon Lime

  • Maltodextrin
  • Filtered water
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Lemon juice (4%)
  • Lime juice (3%)
  • Orange juice (1%)
  • Mineral salt (sodium citrate)
  • Sea salt
  • Preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate)
  • Antioxidant (ascorbic acid)

The ingredient lists are relatively short, which I love. Besides maltodextrin and preservatives, other items are made by Mother Nature. If you prefer a more natural fuel option, Pure might be for you.

Nutritional facts

Banana & Manuka Honey

  • At 35g per pack, if offers
  • 86 calories
  • 0.2g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 21g carbohydrates
  • 54 mg sodium
  • 33 mg potassium

Orange Lemon Lime

  • At 35g per pack, it offers
  • 95 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 23.3g carbohydrates
  • 49 mg sodium
  • 13 mg potassium

Pure energy gels are right on the mark in nutritional content, providing 20+g of carbohydrates in a 35g sachet. They also contain sodium and potassium, the two electrolytes the body loses the most during exercise.

Taste and consistency

Unfortunately, Banana & Manuka Honey was one of the worst-tasting energy gels I’ve had. This is coming from a person that likes banana and honey. Combined with its thick syrupy texture, it wasn’t my cup of tea. (Here’s a full review on another honey-based energy gel, Honey Stinger Gold)

Orange Lemon Lime was more palatable. Most citric flavor energy gels I’ve tried are lighter and more tart. This one, however, is a heavy syrup.

Of course, when it comes to flavor, it’s highly subjective. To be fair, I would like to have on record that most of the guys in my training group of eight runners find Pure very acceptable.

Packaging

I love the packaging of Pure energy gels. Just slightly longer and narrower than the conventional dimensions pioneered by GU and Hammer but still fits nicely in my fuel-carrying gear.

I also like the thinner neck, which makes tearing the packet easy. I noticed that the best way to consume the energy gel is to suck it and not just squeeze the packet. This might sound like more work, but it will make less of a mess.

 

Performance – 21km LSD

I only had coffee before the run. I often do this workout empty stomach since it’s an easy effort, and the whole run takes under two hours. I had Banana & Manuka Honey 30 minutes into the run and then Orange Lemon Lime at the 70-minute mark.

Some takeaways

  • As mentioned, I did not like Banana & Manuka Honey in terms of taste. Orange Lemon Lime was okay.
  • However, I would rate Pure energy gels very high for their mouth-to-muscle time. I felt a surge within minutes. It’s definitely one of the faster-reacting fuels I’ve had.
  • The higher electrolyte content is a plus. After all, hydration is also a big part of maximizing performance.
  • Despite my issue with the flavor, the energy gels did not upset my stomach. But I can’t imagine eating more than two Pure gels in a single session.

 

Conclusion

Most of us don’t eat energy gels for health or taste. We fuel to race and to perform. In that sense, Pure is a solid, quick-reacting energy gel. Taste is very subjective, so give it a try. Even though it didn’t agree with me, it might be better suited to your taste buds.

The ingredients are simple and mostly from natural sources, which should cause little gastrointestinal stress. The packaging is compact and easy to tear open. Consuming the gel is smooth and mess-free.

Overall, I don’t think Pure is for me. I really don’t ask too much from my gels. Only three key things – give me ample sugar, don’t upset my stomach, and don’t taste too horrible. Pure passed most of my evaluation benchmarks, but its taste and consistency simply disagreed with my palate. Running at race effort is already challenging enough; I don’t need a fuel that causes more discomfort.