I’ve been running for a couple of years now, normally between 3 and 7 miles per training run, but up until this point I’ve never tried any supplements, relying instead on a decent diet and a plentiful supply of bananas to keep me going through the longer runs. However, I was asked to review a couple of Multipower products, and the first one I tried was Multipower Multicarbo Jelly. As the name suggests, this is a multi carb product, containing both sucrose (“normal” sugar) and isomaltulose, which has a low glycaemic index and is a source of glucose and fructose. The low GI index means that the glucose produced enters the blood stream at a slow and steady rate, preventing a sugar high and subsequent sugar crash afterwards. Theoretically at least, this combination of sugars should produce both a good initial source of energy and a longer lasting source of sustenance during a prolonged run.
When I train after work, I normally try and eat something light about an hour before I run, for example a couple of slices of toast and jam, or a biscuit and a banana. However, for the sake of research I decided to rely solely on the jelly to see how I’d cope. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but on tearing open the end of the packet, I squeezed up a length of rectangular orange jelly, a bit fragmented near the end but otherwise mainly intact. If you imagine a packet jelly made up with roughly a quarter of the normal amount of water, you’re probably close to the consistency and strength of this jelly. As I bit into it, I was aware of a strong but pleasant orange flavour and an intense sweetness, which I have to admit left me feeling slightly thirsty once I had eaten the whole bar, which is why Multipower recommend drinking a glass of water at the same time.
For this first run, I ate the bar roughly half an hour before my training session, as I was a little unsure of the optimum timing for eating it (the website simply states “before exercise”). My club session that night wasn’t too intense, and involved a nice steady 5 and a half mile there and back run along to a local wood with a nice scenic run through the bluebells. This is a run which I’ve struggled with in the past, as it has a couple of long drags in it, which I’ve always found difficult to cope with, but on this occasion I made it to the top of the hill without feeling too exhausted. However, I did notice that although I had energy, my stomach felt empty and in fact grumbled from time to time, so maybe it’s not a good idea to rely solely on the jelly if you’re actually hungry!
My second “jelly” run was a solo session along the footpaths and through the woods near my house, with a few demanding hills but a slightly shorter distance of just under 5 miles. This time I ate the jelly just before I left the house, having had a small snack half an hour previously. Again, I managed the run with no problems, and improved my time from the last occasion when I’d run a similar route, though it was difficult to compare accurately as I’d run an extra quarter of a mile this time. When I got home I still felt as though I had plenty of energy left, and could have gone further if I’d needed to.
My overall thoughts on Multipower Multicarbo Jelly:- It tastes very pleasant, if overpoweringly sweet (those of you who don’t have a sweet tooth may struggle with it), and is easy to chew and digest. The packet is fairly small and flat, so would probably be easy to carry in a pocket if necessary, though I haven’t tried this yet so I couldn’t vouch for how intact the jelly (or indeed the packet) might remain. I feel it is probably more useful for longer runs, rather than the maximum of 7 or 8 miles that I regularly do – I can imagine the benefits really starting to kick in for half marathons and above, but my current mileage is usually fine with a humble banana as my only fuel (an average banana will have approx 23g of carbohydrate, against the 58g present in Multicarbo Jelly). The product description also states that the product’s sodium content contributes to muscle function, though again sodium (in greater quantities) is also present in bananas, in addition to vitamins A and C, plus lots of potassium (good for muscles, nerves and brain cells).
My recommendations? For prolonged or very intense training sessions and for portability, I can recommend Multicarbo Jelly as a great source of extended energy, but for shorter runs/less intense sessions, you can’t really go wrong with a banana.