I struggled to find a good way to take in many calories during my first couple marathons, and that probably contributed to some late race bonks (ie. Philadelphia 2011). Over the course of my first four marathons, I probably took down a combined four gels. Not good.
In 2013 I made an effort to increase the amount of calories I took in during marathons, but I had a hard time swallowing the contents of GU and Cliff gels without choking, especially at fast speeds.
I don't remember exactly who told me to give the Powerbar gels a try, or whether it just happened through process of elimination, but after years of using Powerbar "solid" products I switched to PowerGels and have finally found the formula.
I've been eating these basic Powerbars before races since I started running 15 years ago
The Powergels have a more "liquid" consistency compared to other gels I've tried - which makes them go down easier without additional fluids, and they are also easier to swallow in colder weather.
Each gel pack is 110 calories with 200mg of Sodium (more than typical gels). The flavors I prefer have 25mg of caffeine. Other flavors have 50mg, and there are some that have no caffeine at all.
I've gotten to the point where it's no problem to get 400-500 calories worth of gels during a marathon, which is a huge improvement for me. To a certain extent, I look forward to taking them!
I know a lot of people struggle to figure out in-race nutrition and have a hard time tolerating gels. Give the PowerGels a try - at first they seem a little different, but I think you'll quickly realize it is a good different.
[Note: Yes, I'm sponsored by Powerbar, but this isn't a sponsored post. I'm writing this because I really believe in the product. I will continue to use these gels in marathons regardless of future sponsorship.]