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Tested: Clif Shot Energy Gel

clif shot gels

Just about every energy bar manufacturer also makes an energy gel. Clif Bar is no different – they offer Clif Shot for anyone who wants a quick shot of calories in the convenient gel form.

I’ve used Clif Shot gels a few times in the past few years, and never had great success with them, but I bought a bunch this past fall/winter season so I could perform a complete test and review.

After many hours of road riding, mountain bike racing, and XC skiing, here is what I think of Clif Shot gels…

Clif Shot Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Let’s start by looking at the ingredients list of a Clif Shot gel:

Strawberry: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Strawberry Puree, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Organic and Natural Flavors, Green Tea Extract (contains caffeine), Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Oxide.

The first thing you notice is that Clif uses brown rice syrup instead of the more popular maltodextrin (brown rice syrup is also the first ingredient in Clif Bars.) I don’t consider either one to be any better or worse than the other as far as healthiness goes, so if you like brown rice syrup, great.

The other interesting ingredient is strawberry puree. Clif seems to use some ‘real’ ingredients in their gel to give it that natural flavor. I do appreciate how they choose the more natural and organic ingredients.

The Nutrition Facts go a little something like this:

Calories 100
Fat 0g
Total Carbs 25g
Sugars 8g
Protein 0g
Sodium 40mg
Potassium 30mg

That’s your standard energy gel right there. It focuses on carbs, contains no fat or protein, and has a few electrolytes. Nothing more to say about that.

Clif Shot Taste Test and Review

Here are my thoughts on all the Clif Shot flavors.

clif shot strawberry

Sonic Strawberry – Starts with a natural strawberry flavor, probably due to the “strawberry puree” in there. It’s a decent flavor, but a little too ‘natural’ for me.

Also, after maybe half the gel, I notice a metallic taste. (I’m not sure how to best describe it, but some weird tinge is in there that I didn’t like.) Or maybe you could call it a chemical/artificial taste, despite the organic ingredients and natural flavors.

Strawberry has 25mg caffeine.

Razz Sorbet – This was the first Clif Shot flavor I ever tried. It’s not bad at all; it’s quite a bit better than strawberry.

Razz has a similar natural taste like the strawberry, except this tastes like real raspberry. It’s pretty sweet, with no aftertaste. It’s still not as good as Tri Berry GU, but it’s edible.

Cola – This sounded kind of weird, but it wasn’t bad at all. I don’t even like cola or any soda, so I was surprised to like this at all.

This was a very interesting flavor – probably one of those “love it or hate it” ones. Apparently they quit making this flavor though, so there must not have been much ‘love’ for it.

Apple Pie – Finally, a good tasting flavor! This tastes quite a bit like apple pie, but not too sweet (a good thing.) It has that natural apple taste like other Clif Shot flavors, but this time there is no aftertaste!

Apple Pie is probably my favorite Shot. As for flavor, it’s not quite as good as the apple cinnamon Hammer gel, but it’s worth trying if you like apple.

Double Espresso – [Review coming soon.]

Double Espresso contains 100mg caffeine, like a “double” shot of espresso.

clif shot mocha

Mocha – Even though I don’t care for chocolate flavored energy bars, chocolate energy gels are a different story. Especially this mocha Clif shot, which is awesome! (I’d say this is my favorite of all chocolate energy gels.)

It has a very natural taste since it contains actual cocoa powder – it’s like real chocolate. It’s not bitter though, thanks to the sweetness of the brown rice syrup.

Mocha contains 50mg caffeine.

Mango – This tastes like a real mango, but not a ripe one. It’s not sweet, and it’s not sour, but it’s just plain bad. It was so awful I could barely finish the whole gel packet! (The aftertaste was bad too – I had to consume a strawberry gel after this just to get the taste out of my mouth as quickly as possible!)

While I don’t think any of the fruit flavored Clif Shot gels are good, the strawberry and razz are like delicacies compared to the Mango! Avoid the mango flavor unless you’re a true masochist!

Overall, you can taste the natural fruit purees (or cocoa) used in these gels. That’s not so bad. But that real puree mixed with whatever else is in these gels does not make for a good final product.

I think Clif Bars taste pretty good, but the gel is another story. Except for the Mocha (their chocolate-flavored gel,) I’m not a fan of Clif Shot gels.

Texture:

The Clif Shot texture is sort of different than the other gels, probably because of the brown rice syrup. It gets quite thin in the heat, which I don’t really like. Fortunately, it’s nice and thick in the cold weather.

It turned out great for XC skiing. But I also did an XC mountain bike race in 92 degree heat with these. A pack goes down in 2 seconds it’s so thin! (At that point, you barely even taste it, which could be good or bad, depending on your preference.)

Clif Shot Energy Boost

I did get a small but noticeable energy boost with these. Roughly 5 minutes after consuming one I noticed I felt stronger. It was not as good of a boost as GU gel, but it was a little better boost than with Hammer gel.

(Of course, I wanted another one after 45 minutes or so; same as any 100 calorie energy gel.)

I got a pretty heavy caffeine kick from the Mocha, and that only has 50mg caffeine! With 100mg caffeine, the Double Espresso should be pretty potent!

The Litter Leash

To show their environmental concern, Clif came up with something called the Litter Leash. This is a design where you can tear off the top of the gel pack but still leave it attached! It prevents the inevitable litter from many people who drop the little tops of gel packs along the road or trail.

However, I have found that standard GU gel packets are easier to open and less bulky. And since I don’t mind saving the tab and sticking it in my jersey pocket, GU is great for me.

To make matters worse, the litter leash doesn’t always work. Since the packet is pretty hard to open, sometimes I have to pull it hard enough that the litter leash rips right off, rendering it useless.

My final verdict is…

I won’t be switching from GU gels, but it’s worth trying a Clif Shot to see if it works better for you. I’d recommend a raspberry or apple pie flavor if you like fruit, or the Mocha or Double Espresso if you’re adventurous.

(For me, GU is easier to open, tastes better, and starts working faster, so I will stick with them.)

Official website: www.ClifShot.com

Buy online: www.PerformanceBike.com

Product Review Details
Company: Clif Bar
Product: Clif Shot Energy Gel
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.7 out of 5
Date last updated: 2009-07-14
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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3 Comments
  1. I work for a company that sells Clif so I get them SO CHEAP, (as in, what I feel their products are actually worth). I try to stay away from caffeine so I stick with raspberry. I’ve tried the Double Espresso and WOW, it really got me through a hard workout when I was exhausted. Loved the flavor too.

  2. LOL, yeah, gels are super expensive for all they are. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I just tried the chocolate Cliff Energy Shot today at the Columbus Marathon! I love it! It tastes like chocolate frosting! Thanks!!

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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