Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review; Chocolate #9 Gel

I was first introduced to Chocolate #9 gels by a friend of mine who read my ‘gastric’ race report from the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run, earlier this year. In late April he contacted me and was generous and kind enough to send my a handful, in fact it was a large enough envelope, full of gels to last most of the summer. I was intrigued...a chocolate and agave gel....hmm well ok!

My taste in gels has migrated from CarbBoom to Accelerade and through Crank, I've dabbled with Gu, tried Roctane and learned to avoid PowerGels. Since the beginning of 2008 I've been using Hammer Products. While always being open to new things I am also a firm believer in the maxim ‘if it ain’t broke…”, but after Leona Divide something clearly wasn’t working so it was time to take the lid of the can and peer inside.

And so from their website:

Chocolate #9;
* Contains no refined sugar
* Is sweetened only with organic agave.
* Contains pure belgian cocoa
* Has been tested and certified as a LOW glycemic index item (e.g.,
* Because of its low glycemic index, when you use the gel you will reduce the negative effect of repetitive insulin spiking during sustained exercise (it's the reason you choose wheat bread rather than white bread, fruit rather than candy)
* Won't cause sugar low-bonk
* Is an excellent energy choice for athletes in general, and for those with diabetes, low blood sugar in particular, or those who want to avoid refined sugar
* It is vegan and low in fat
* Contains no synthetics, no unpleasant after taste.
* Contains two perfectly balance energy enhancing ingredients and nothing more!
* Ingredients: Organic Agave Nectar, Breakfast cocoa processed with Alkali.
* A note on ‘breakfast cocoa.’ Breakfast cocoa is a FDA term for the class of cocoa’s with the highest fat (energy) content. Using breakfast cocoa only made sense for an energy gel and lends to chocolate #9’s rich and smooth texture.

The premise they present is that as the gel is low on the glycemic index you are less likely to crash or bonk after taking it. Of course the fact that it’s chocolate is, let’s face it, a big selling feature.

If you’ve followed my blog for anytime you’ll know that this summer I had some pretty long runs and big days on the trail and so armed with them and obeying the golden rule don’t try anything new on race day I set out to try them out. And onto the resuts…

The taste test; duh well it’s chocolate! But seriously the taste is of high quality chocolate, the sweetness is not overly sweet, it’s not creamy like milk chocolate nor is it bitter like dark chocolate. It does have a rich smooth taste that’s very palatable. I filled a gel bottle with them and it came out as a solid ‘plug’ which could be rolled around the mouth or stashed in the cheek or under the tongue, this is stark contrast to typical gels which are usual sticky and cloy the mouth. Oh yes, did I mention it’s chocolate?

The service; having used them pretty much through the summer I felt confident enough to use them as my primary fuel source for 100 in the Hood. I had left it a bit late to place my order however through the power of Twitter I contacted them and they confirmed I would have them in time and they actually arrived the next day!

The results; for the ‘Hood I set my stopwatch for 40 minutes and took one at every chime of the alarm, the only exception being if I had literally just gone through and Aid Station. Unlike my experience with other gels I never got to the “ugh do I have to eat this again” point which is something that I have encountered before; it was, to be honest, a bit of a treat. If you have read my race report you’ll know that my nutrition plan really worked out, I had zero, absolutely zero issues with fuel, be it gels, drink or the ‘real’ food, additionally my electrolytes remained in balance for the event. Now it could be argued that this was because I was moving slowly, but I believe that whatever the pace I still needed to be fueled to move.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding; almost literally in this case! Of course nutrition is such a personal thing I cannot categorically say that it will work for you; one thing to note is that a sachet is only 70 calories instead of the usual 90 or 100 that’s something you need to remember when planning a nutrition plan. Currently only available as sachets, I have heard that more environmental bottles will be available soon. There are several reviews available on the web and Chris Russell has interviewed the company owner on his podcast RunRunLive. Not the cheapest gel on the market you can buy an introduction pack of three for $4.95 ($1.65 each), a box of 24 is available for $32.49 ($1.35 each) bigger discounts are available for larger purchases reducing the price down to $1.04 each.

In summary if you’re struggling with the traditional gel or looking for a change or even for some variety this could be a good move for you.

I’ve got a bunch left over so as an incentive to help a fledging company I’ll send three sachets to a lucky winner, just leave your name in the comments section and I’ll pull a name out of the hat on Sunday for Monday’s mail collection!


  1. Thanks for the review Stuart. I was delighted to find a "gel" only sweetened with agave, the only sweetener I use at home. I agree that they taste really good. I was afraid that they would be too sticky, leaving me licking like a dog eating peanut butter - the last thing you want while running. Turned out nice and smooth and certainly very yummy. Please add my name to the "hat"!

  2. my name... Robin Blackburn :))

    Your reports are so detailed and I always leave feeling as if I have tried them myself. You leave no question unanswered. Thanks!

    While the product is a bit pricey I do believe the benefits are worth it. Who could hate chocolate right?!!

  3. Those sound tasty! I'd love the chance to try them out. I'll either be training for my 1st marathon, 1st century or another 1/2 mary very soon so they will come in handy. The name is Bryan Birdwell. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Stuart, Loved the review and I love trying new things, but of course, not on race day! Yes, please add my name the hat as well.

  5. Hi Stuart,
    Could not agree more. The chocolate#9 is the best gel--the kind that makes you look forward to taking one.

  6. I'm intrigued by the fact that it's chocolate however it is a bit pricey and only 70 calories per packet. Maybe something special in the drop bag in the later stages of a 100. Now I read somewhere that caffeine in chocolate is a better burn. Does the gel packets say how much caffeine is in each one serving?

  7. I may be the rare human that doesn't get worked up over chocolate but I'd try these. I like the idea of the agave. Currently, I simply use various amounts of honey in my water bottle but like to drop a gu or two or whatever is on sale in my pocket on a 2-3 hr run. Throw my name in the hat to try these.
    Phil Uecker aka

  8. i've heard a little about these gels lately but haven't tried them yet. thanks for the review, maybe i'll win! (or maybe i'll have to find them at my running store)

  9. Just found your blog today! I like chocolate Gu and keep agave nectar around the house for sugar-intolerant friends, so I'd love to try these. Holly Hein. Thanks! :)

  10. awesome review!! i have heard good things about these and definitely want to give them a try :) thank you!

  11. oooh oooh oooh pick me pick me! Agree with Robin, you have awesome reviews! Wonder if they're sold in Canada yet? They sound great, and you mentioned they were chocolate right? LOL

  12. Fantastic Review. I vote for a challenge...with chocolate gels as the giveaway!!!

  13. I just wanted to give a shout out for the company. When I couldn't find a local store to purchase this product after hearing about it on a podcast, I contacted the company. The owner was nice enough to respond and find where they sold them in my area. Very personable!

  14. Cool. I will definitely give these a try. Thanks for reviewing!

  15. Oh, throw my name in the hat too. I'm really happy with Hammer Gels, but these are more expensive and I always seem to like the expensive stuff, so bring it on. Thanks for the great review!

  16. Thanks for the review. I am always up to try something new. BTW, the pool shots look heavenly. I miss swimming outside.

  17. Never tried any, but would love to give it a try. Please stick my name in the hat - all the way over here in London.


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