Thanks for all the input from everyone on my data search for the *right* sports gels, etc. to be using on long runs.....I also thought I would post the information given to me by my best *COACH* :)
I can always count on Mich to be a wealth of information - must come from all the years of living with an Ultra Runner!!
I figured I'd post it here as some good information for anyone else who might be needing it.
It is really personal preference. Based partly on taste, partly on how a particular manufacturers "formula" works for you and partly on how it sits on your stomach.
Generally, any gel would work. Particularly for relatively moderate distance runs. GU's are good, liked by a lot of people and widely available at athletic stores. Cliff blocks are the same deal. Like a jello shot (but less jiggly and more gummy....so between a jello shot and a gummy bear). Cliff also makes Cliff Shots, which are a gel, like GU's.
There are dozens of energy gel brands - Hammer Gel, E-Gel, Carb-BOOM, Honey Stinger, Accel Gel, Jelly-Belly Sports Beans, Powergel, . . . and I'm sure there's more out there. I can only relay information based on Chet and my experiences. Chet hasn't had good success with Powergel, and I honestly don't know any racers out there using the stuff. Chet has used Hammer Gel, E-Gel, Carb-BOOM, Honey Stinger, Cliff Shots, Cliff Blocks and GU. I've used GU, Carb-BOOM, Cliff Shots and Hammer Gel.
Chet's currently using Hammer Gel and E-Gel's. He's found that that he likes the flavors of Hammer Gels the best, he can take the plain (it really is *PLAIN*) so when he's flavored out on his long runs and races, it doesn't turn his stomach, and the E-Gel's are a good variety of flavors and he does notice a real "boost" more out of the E-Gels. He used GU and Cliff Shots for a long time early on, but the flavors would get overwhelming, not agree and just didn't work for him over time. But, occasionally, he likes the Cola flavored Cliff Shots and blocks. He also used to use the Carb-BOOM's as they provided a different variety of flavors. I guess when you run as much as he does and eat as much of that crap, flavor really does matter.
I on the other hand really like the Hammer Gel espresso flavor. It's got a nice caffeine kick and tastes like chocolate pudding. I like the GU's and Cliff Shots too. I tend to go with the vanilla, chocolate and berry flavors, and like those. But, I really just use what's around, and since Chet always has a good stash around, I use whatever he's got.
Now, the real question I have for you is what are you drinking and how much? I think the big issue you need to be looking at (and your starting point) really needs to be hydration. I know you HATE the scale, but it's still DAMN hot out there, so you should really be monitoring how much water you're loosing while you're running. The BEST way to do it is to step on the scale right before you leave to go run, then step on the scale when you get back. If you've lost weight, you're not drinking enough. I know you don't want to hear this, because you're running to "loose" weight, but when you're out on the run, you need it to be a net zero or pretty darn near to a net zero.
Also, on your longer runs, you should start adding a specialty drink to the mix. Are you carrying one water bottle (are you carrying any?)? Are you carrying two? Down there, on your long runs you should be carrying at least 40oz of fluid!!!!!! If you're carrying two bottles, then you could mix up one bottle regular strength of a sports drink and then have the other plain water. Really, plain water is best, but if you're going out for more than an hour, it's time to start thinking about adding some supplements to that. The energy gels are really for that - energy. Sure, they have electrolytes in them and stuff, but they are a "boost" not a replacement. That's where the sports drinks come in.
GU, Cytomax, Hammer, and a lot of the other manufacturers that make gels make sports drinks. Honestly, I think Hammer Heed is one of the best, GU is very good, and Cytomax is doing okay out there too.
This is my recommendation - pick up a good sports drink at the local running shop. Start using it. Start out with a full concentrated solution. If it's too strong for your taste, then start playing with it to dilute it down. And start using that on any of your runs longer than 60 minutes. Get a few energy gels too. And then carry those. I think you'll see a marked improvement with using the sports drink, but on the really long days when you start to feel the crash, take a gel. You'll notice a big difference there too.
It's all personal preference. Try different brands, flavors, etc. See what you like.