Muir Energy has quickly become a favorite energy gel for people who are looking to eschew the typical gel ingredients—maltodextrin, fructose, sodium benzoate (a preservative) or natural flavors—and turn towards less processed sources. Muir uses ingredients like black strap molasses and Himalayan salt in all of their products to provide carbohydrates and sodium (often marketed as electrolytes). Using real foods instead of natural flavors (which are really just flavor additives), Muir gels are flavored with fruits, essential oils, and nuts or seeds.
I first learned about Muir when Ian, the founder, started selling jars of Muir Energy at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market in San Diego. Born out of Ian’s passion for long-distance hiking, and his desire to find a fuel that could both sustain himself physically and fulfill his nutritional requirements as a health-conscious eater, Muir energy was created. Ian’s goal was simple: “I wanted simple food that was flavorful, calorically and nutritionally dense, and made exclusively with real ingredients. No junk.” I was instantly intrigued, and both Nick and I suggested that there was a definite space for Muir in the ultra running communities, where whole foods-based gels were lacking.
I used Muir Energy gels at most of my races for the first few years (with success!), before tiring of the molasses taste prevalent in a few of the original flavors, including red raspberry and cashew vanilla. Recently, however, Ian reached out and asked me to review all 12 of the Muir Energy flavors, seven of which were new to me. Additionally, the gel pouches have been recently updated to provide a cleaner look and feel. The flavors I tried included:
- Blueberry Bergamot
- Cacao Almond
- Cacao Almond Mate (caffeinated)*
- Cashew Vanilla
- Cashew Vanilla Mate (caffeinated)*
- Passion Fruit Pineapple Banana
- Blackberry Thyme
- Cashew Lemon
- Red Raspberry
- Red Raspberry Mate (caffeinated)*
- Sweet Potato Oregano
*I’m sensitive to caffeine, so I didn’t try the caffeinated gels, (Nick assured me they taste the same as the non-mate flavors.) The rest were tasted over several long runs in the last month.
To keep this review reasonable, I’m going to review three flavors that I tried—Blueberry Bergamot, Sunflower, and Cashew Lemon.
Some aspects to note:
Muir offers both fast burning and slow burning gels to best fuel specific activities. While any of the gels can be eaten during slow runs, it’s probably best not to use the slow-burning gels (made with more fat-based ingredients) during fast, hard efforts. Likewise, the slow-burning gels are best utilized during longer, slower runs.
All gels are:
- Lower glycemic
- Hand-made in San Diego
All of the Muir energy gels look different now than how they were presented when I first started using them in 2015. The matte surface is much more modern and appealing and I prefer seeing what I’m eating, whether raspberries, or blueberries, or sunflower seeds, than reading it. The new look allows for this with colorful pictures of blueberries or cashews.
While this flavor has been available for a while, it was my first time tasting it. The only context I had for bergamot was earl grey tea, which gives the English tea its citrusy taste. Blueberry Bergamot is geared towards faster efforts, and a hard climb up the power line trail on Orcas Island (see here to understand just how tiring this climb can get) was the perfect time to test it out. I expected this flavor to be fairly sweet, but you can taste the bergamot, which provides a sort of orange tang and balances the sweetness. This flavor wasn’t as thick as others, which also made it a good choice for the day; spending extra energy squeezing out gels during a hard run is the last thing I want when looking for good fuel.
Like all Muir gels, Blueberry Bergamot is made using five ingredients, and while black strap molasses is the basis of the gel, I tasted mostly blueberry, which was a welcome surprise. I definitely wouldn’t use this flavor by itself for a race, but it provides a refreshing taste that I imagine might act like a bit of a palate cleanser.
Back in college, I can recall going through entire jars of Trader Joe’s sunflower butter within a few days. I’d eat it on a banana, with carrots, or most often, by itself. I had forgotten about my love for sunflower butter until I tried Muir’s latest offering. For those who have tree nut allergies, the Sunflower gel provides a slow burning fuel option for longer, slower runs or hikes. I ate the Sunflower gel during an easy run through Fort Ebey State Park where our pace was dictated by Cashew (luckily, that meant an easy run after a week of harder efforts.) The flavor was surprisingly delicious, tasting mostly of sunflower seed butter with sweetness from the black strap molasses, and the texture, while thicker than other gels, smooth enough to come out easy even with the colder temperatures. I’m not allergic to tree nuts, but I would choose this gel over any other during an easy effort (and maybe even as a midday snack.)
Cashew Lemon is a bright, delicious flavor that Nick and I found to be pretty refreshing during a snowy run (yes, Nick tried it, too!) That said, the molasses flavor does seem to come out fairly strong in this one for me, so I’m not sure that I would use this by itself during a race—diversity in flavor profiles would be key! Like Sunflower, Cashew Lemon is a slow burning flavor that worked well during a snowy run this past weekend.
I’ve never had any issues with Muir’s digestibility, and all three of these flavors left me feeling energized and without stomach problems.
Would I use these in a future race? Hands down.
Would I rely solely off of Muir Energy for a 50K or longer event? Probably not.
For everything in between, however, Muir Energy is a solid choice and the ingredients are simple enough that I’d rely on them as a snack, too.
To try Muir Energy yourself, use the code JADE20 for a discount off your first order.