The 5 Best Energy Chews, According to a Dietitian

Clif Bar CLIF BLOKS have many tasty flavors and are easy to use during exercise

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Energy chews can provide a fast source of energy, which can be helpful during endurance exercise, such as running, cycling, hiking, or training for a triathlon. They are a popular endurance sports nutrition supplement designed specifically for eating while you are exercising. Allison Knott, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDN says, “Energy chews are a convenient way to consume carbohydrates during endurance exercise—they’re easy to carry and provide a concentrated source of energy.” 

It is important to note that energy chews are only recommended for longer exercise, not every workout. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour for any exercise lasting more than 60 to 90 minutes. In addition to providing carbohydrates, some chews provide electrolytes and performance enhancers, such as caffeine.

In order to recommend the best energy chews, our dietitian (who is also an athlete) pulled from personal and client experience and consulted with other dietitians specializing in sports nutrition. When choosing an energy chew, it is important to consider the ingredients, nutritional content, additives, electrolyte levels, and serving size. An energy chew that works for you may be different from what works for someone else, and that's okay. It often takes trial and error to determine what fuel and hydration is best for your body during exercise.

Verywell Fit Approved Energy Chews

  • Best Overall: Clif Bar CLIF BLOKS are our top pick as they taste great, come in an easy-to-open package, and offer a variety of flavors with differing electrolyte and caffeine options.
  • Best Tasting: If you are looking for an energy chew that has only a few ingredients but still hits the mark for flavor, try Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine, so you can know that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs, and which dosage to take.

Is an Energy Chew Beneficial?

Whether energy chews can be beneficial depends on how long you exercise and how your digestive tract tolerates fuel during exercise. During exercise that lasts over an hour, energy chews provide carbohydrates to help prevent “bonking” or “hitting the wall,” and some types of chews will also contribute to replenishing electrolyte losses through sweat.

Most chews are not high enough in sodium to provide the recommended 300 to 600 milligrams of sodium per hour of exercise. Therefore, chews may need to be paired with an electrolyte supplement to reach recommended sodium needs. 

Working with a sports dietitian can help you clarify your fueling needs and determine what may work best for your body.

Endurance athletes: If you are an endurance athlete, you likely exercise for long periods, maybe more than 60 to 90 minutes at a time, most days of the week. Some days, you may even have more than one long workout in a day. For endurance athletes, energy chews can help fuel the consistently long workouts that last over an hour or more. Chews can also be helpful for preventing fatigue on days when you have more than one long workout scheduled. 

Those who exercise for 60 or more minutes: Even if you’re not an endurance athlete, you may have days when an endurance workout (such as running or cycling) is longer than 60 to 90 minutes. In these cases, energy chews can help you stay fueled. Some people will need to consume energy during exercise when exercising more than 60 minutes, and others might not need to unless they're exercising for closer to 90 minutes or more. It will likely take some experimentation to figure out what works best for you.

Who Might Not Benefit from Energy Chews

Energy chews make for a great addition when refueling mid-exercise, but there are situations when they might not be the best option. 

Recreational athletes: If you are engaging in exercise for under 60 minutes, you likely will not benefit from taking an energy chew before or during exercise. 

Those who are looking for a new snack option: If you’re not in the middle of a workout, energy chews might not be the best option for a midday snack. Energy chews are formulated with simple sugars, designed to fuel your workout quickly. They are not intended for a snack at rest.

Those with sensitive stomachs, especially when exercising: If you have discomfort such as bloating, cramping, or diarrhea when eating and exercising, you may benefit from experimenting with different energy chews, gels, or bars and/or adding small sips of water when eating mid-activity. 

Best Overall: Clif Bar CLIF BLOKS Salted Watermelon Energy Chews

Clif Bar CLIF BLOKS Salted Watermelon Energy Chews

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Caffeinated and non-caffeinated options

  • Sweet and salty flavor

  • Provides a good amount of sodium

  • Easy to open and carry

Cons
  • Contains wax for texture

What do buyers say? 88% of 500+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

CLIF BLOKS quick energy chews are our top pick, because they taste great, offer great nutrition for refueling mid-workout, and come in bite-size pieces in an easy-to-open sleeve that fits nicely in your pack or pants pocket.

Clif Bar recommends consuming half of the CLIF BLOK packet (or one serving) 15 minutes prior to starting your activity, followed by one or two packets every 60 minutes of activity, as tolerated. It also recommends a small mouthful of water after consuming a BLOK, to balance out your sugar and electrolyte intake, to help maintain your fluid status.

Each pack provides 48 grams of carbohydrates from tapioca syrup, cane sugar, and maltodextrin, as well as sodium and potassium to cover any losses through sweat. While the salted watermelon flavor is not caffeinated, you can choose a caffeinated flavor if desired. With 11 flavors to pick from, there is an option for everyone’s taste preference. Our favorite flavor is the CLIF BLOK Salted Watermelon, and we like that it has a higher amount of sodium, 100 mg per serving, which may lower the amount of electrolyte supplement needed during exercise.

Chews per pack: 6 chews | Serving size: 3 chews | Servings per container: 2 | Calories per serving: 90 | Carbohydrates per serving: 24 grams | Sodium per serving: 100 mg  | Caffeine: 0 mg

Best Budget: Jelly Belly Sports Beans

Jelly Belly Sports Beans

Amazon

Pros
  • Small, resealable packet—fits anywhere

  • Caffeine and non-caffeinated options

  • Multiple flavors

  • Provides electrolytes, B vitamins, and vitamin C

Cons
  • Beans vary in size and therefore nutrition content

  • May be difficult to consume while running

Jelly Belly Sports Beans provide what you need when it comes to fueling your workout on a budget. 

In addition to 25 grams of carbohydrate per serving from cane sugar and tapioca syrup, these beans provide sodium, potassium, and small amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C. Try eating Jelly Belly Sports Beans 30 minutes pre-workout, and then one or two beans every 15 minutes of activity. The resealable packet makes it easy to carry in a pocket, waist, or armband during exercise. 

There are a few potential drawbacks to these otherwise convenient sports beans. For example, you may find it challenging to take out one or two beans at a time during exercise, and while one package consistently offers 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates, the beans are not all the same size. That means each package may have a different number of beans, and you won’t know exactly how much nutrition is in each bean. 

If you are still working to find your favorite flavor, Jelly Belly Sports Beans offer an assorted flavor pack in both caffeinated and non-caffeinated options, letting you try all flavors at once to determine what you like best!

Beans per pouch: varies, one ounce worth | Servings per container: 1 | Calories per serving: 100 | Carbohydrates per serving: 25 grams | Sodium per serving: 80 mg | Caffeine per serving: 0 mg caffeine.

Best Tasting: Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews

Energy chews

Amazon

Pros
  • Simple ingredient list and provides electrolytes

  • Preservative, coloring and wax-free

  • Higher water content makes them easy to chew

Cons
  • Limited flavor offerings

  • Higher chew count per serving

Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews provide your needed carbohydrates using few ingredients in a variety of tasty flavors. Skratch recommends consuming an entire packet before exercise and then during exercise as needed. Each packet contains 36 grams of carbohydrates from cane sugar and tapioca syrup.

Skratch Labs bypasses the use of waxes, preservatives, and artificial coloring. They use powder made from real fruit to offer authentic flavors, such as blueberry, matcha, cherry, raspberry, or orange. We like that the sour cherry flavor includes 50 milligrams of caffeine from green tea, but Skratch Labs also offers non-caffeinated options.

Chews per pouch: 10 chews | Servings per container: 2 | Calories per serving: 70 | Carbohydrates per serving: 18 grams | Sodium per serving: 80 mg | Caffeine: 25 mg

Best Organic: Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

Honey Stinger

Pros
  • USDA Organic ingredients

  • Gluten and dairy-free

  • Provides vitamin C

Cons
  • No caffeinated options

  • Higher chew count per serving

  • Not vegan

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Pink Lemonade Chews utilize organic,whole foods ingredients like grape juice and black carrot juice concentrate, and they come in convenient  bite-sized shapes. Organic tapioca syrup, honey, and sugar are their top ingredients. The chews provide 23 grams of carbohydrates per serving. These simple carbohydrates break down fast to go straight to muscles for fuel.

While all ingredients are organic, non-GMO, and gluten- and dairy-free, Honey Stinger does not offer a caffeinated chew version. Even though they are dairy-free, they are not considered vegan because of the honey.

Chews per pouch: 10 chews | Servings per container: 1.7 | Calories per serving: 100 | Carbohydrates per serving: 23 grams | Sodium per serving: 40 mg | Caffeine per serving: No

Best Whole Foods Option: Joolies Organic Pitted Medjool Dates

Joolies Organic Pitted Medjool Dates

Amazon

Pros
  • Single ingredient whole food

  • No added sugar

  • Provide trace amounts of minerals

Cons
  • Do not contain sodium and no caffeinated options

  • The fiber may cause digestive issues for some

  • Does not come in a convenient package

If you’re looking for a natural food source instead of a manufactured supplement to fuel your long workouts, we recommend trying Joolies organic Medjool dates. In addition to quick energy during exercise, dates offer many health benefits

The carbohydrates from dates are mostly from natural fructose and glucose. Two small dates provide 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 25 grams of natural sugar (no added sugar), and 260 milligrams of potassium. Dates are naturally sodium-free, so you will also need to consume an electrolyte drink to replenish sodium during your workout. (Note: To use during exercise, a few dates will need to be carried in your own packaging, like a plastic or reusable bag.)

Servings size: 2 dates | Calories per serving: 110 | Carbohydrates per serving: 30 grams | Sodium per serving: 0 mg | Additives: none

Final Verdict

For a tasty and convenient energy chew that comes in a variety of flavors, caffeine, and sodium options, try Clif Bar CLIF BLOKS, our top energy chew pick for exercise.

What to Look for in an Energy Chew

Form

Energy chews come in a variety of flavors, consistencies, and ingredients. There is also slight variance on the size of chews and recommended timing and dosing amounts. We recommend trying a few different brands and types of chews to see what consistency is easiest to chew and feels the best for your digestive system.

Evidence shows that caffeine may boost athletic performance, most notably in aerobic exercise. Many energy chews contain caffeine to help boost performance. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may choose to avoid energy chews that have added caffeine. Always read the label carefully to check whether the product contains caffeine.

Ingredients and Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Many energy chews contain caffeine to help boost energy. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may choose to avoid energy chews that have added caffeine. Always read the label carefully to check whether the product contains caffeine.

Carbohydrates: Energy chews consist of easily digested carbohydrates, often referred to as "simple sugars." Carbohydrates should be the primary ingredient listed, as this is the energy source your body needs mid-workout. The carbohydrates in chews can come from a variety of sources with different combinations of the simple sugars sucrose, glucose and maltodextrin. Note that fructose as a primary ingredient in energy chews or other sports nutrition products may cause stomach upset.

Knott recommends, “When choosing an energy chew, look for one that contains a mix of carbohydrate sources. This will help ensure tolerance and aid in maximum absorption while exercising." 

Electrolytes: Electrolyte balance is essential to any endurance athlete. Electrolytes play an important role in controlling fluid balance, muscle contractions, and heart rate. When you are out of balance or low on electrolytes, your performance will diminish. In particular, profuse sweating can result in a sodium imbalance, which means that it’s most important to consume sodium during a long training session.

If you are relying on your energy chews to help replenish your sodium losses, look for options on the higher range for sodium. Use 50 to 100 milligrams of sodium per serving as a good baseline. There are options that do not contain significant amounts of sodium, which simply means it is important to also consume an electrolyte drink, especially for endurance athletes. If you are taking any sort of diuretic medication, resulting in increased losses or storage of electrolytes, be sure to speak with a healthcare provider or sports dietitian about maintaining proper electrolyte balance during bouts of intense training.

Caffeine: Caffeine is often an additive in energy chews, as it has been shown to improve athletic performance. Everyone responds differently to caffeine, so it is important to know how your body responds, and adapt your intake accordingly. That may mean choosing non-caffeinated chews if you are caffeine-sensitive. It is also important to note that taking more than the recommended 3 to 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight will likely not improve performance.

Energy Chew Dosage

Energy chews do not have a standard dose. Most manufacturers take into consideration the total carbohydrate and electrolyte amounts when recommending the serving size. It is important to follow the nutrition label directions for serving size, adapt the dosage according to your needs (making sure to incorporate enough fluids!), and always try new energy chews during training rather than on the day of a competition.

Knott adds, “It's best to choose a chew that offers the optimal amount of carbohydrates in a number of chews that’s comfortable to consume during exercise. For example, if you need 60 grams of carbohydrates in an hour, but it will require eating 10 chews to reach that number, then that may be too many for some athletes to tolerate. Understanding your tolerance and the ease of intake is important for successfully taking in enough carbohydrates via chews during exercise.”

Keep in mind that there may be multiple servings per packet of energy chews. Take note of the serving size and number of servings per packet before beginning your exercise, so you can dose accordingly. Multiple packets may be needed to reach your carbohydrate and sodium goals during exercise. For every hour of moderate intense exercise, the ISSN recommends consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and up to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour for ultra-endurance athletes. Sodium recommendations during exercise can vary based on sweat rate, climate, and length of exercise, but in general, 300 to 600 milligrams per hour are recommended for exercising for an hour or more.

How Much Is Too Much?

There is no defined upper limit for energy chews, but consuming too many, especially at once, can lead to gastrointestinal upset. The amount you can tolerate will vary by person and product. It's best to test out fuel during training days. Follow package recommendations and, if necessary, slowly adjust the amount until you find the optimal amount for you. If you are unsure how much is right for you or are having difficulty with your fueling, work with a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition.

Chews that contain caffeine and sodium may also exceed recommended doses.

Caffeine: When consumed at 400 to 500 mg/day or more, caffeine has been shown to reduce, rather than enhance, athletic performance, and it may lead to sleep disturbances, stomach upset, irritability, anxiety, or other harmful health outcomes.

Sodium: The range of sodium requirements in the endurance athlete can vary greatly. In certain instances, it has been shown that the ultra-endurance athlete needs more sodium, as they can lose up to 1.7 to 2.9 grams of salt per liter of sweat. Just like with fluids, adequate sodium intake is critical to maintain performance and health while exercising. It is important to monitor your sodium output and intake when training intensely for long periods of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I eat energy chews?

    Energy chews contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, combined with sodium and sometimes caffeine. Many labels recommend consuming one or more packet or serving for every hour of intense activity. Some chews are best consumed just before starting your activity, while others are best consumed both before and during exercise. It is important to do what works best for your body based on tolerance, trial, and activity level.

  • Are energy chews safe for kids?

    The short answer is no. Energy chews are designed with the active adult in mind. They may appeal to kids, because they look and taste like gummies, but the carbohydrates, salt, and other additives such as caffeine in energy chews are not appropriate for kids. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry advises against caffeine for children under the age of 12, and it recommends limiting it to no more than 100 mg daily for adolescents 12 through 18 years of age.

  • What are the benefits of energy chews?

    Energy chews provide a quick fuel source that is often more easily digested and better tolerated than other mid-race fuel options. They can help provide carbohydrates that are needed for workouts lasting longer than one hour.

  • Is it possible to eat too many energy chews?

    Yes. Energy chews are a source of calories, carbohydrates, sodium, and sometimes caffeine. If you consume more than you need, you could experience digestive upset, increased chronic disease risk, body composition changes, or other unwanted side effects associated with too much simple sugar and caffeine. Only consume what you need, based on your workout, length of activity, and servings as outlined on the nutrition label.

  • Do Gatorade energy chews work?

    At 24 grams of carbohydrates and 70 milligrams of sodium per serving, Gatorade energy chews are comparable to other energy chews on the market. They are flavored and colored using artificial ingredients, which is why they weren’t included on this list, but they will certainly do the trick to help you fuel your workout.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a lifelong athlete and registered dietitian, Brittany Scanniello is constantly keeping up on the latest sports nutrition research, trends, and new products that have hit the market. In her day-to-day, she works with active people, helping to coach them on their nutrition choices for before, during, and after training, to ensure that they are putting their best foot forward.

We work hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements. You can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here.

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