Amazeball 2Amazeballs. It’s a word – as such – that only rolled into the Collins Online Dictionary, as recently as 2012: “an expression of enthusiastic approval.”

To Urban Dictionary readers it’s: “Basically beyond amazing. Being so awesome that a regular word can’t describe you.”

And now it moves from adjective to noun, as a nutrition product. But does the noun live up to the adjective? Are Amazeballs amazeballs?

My first encounter with the globes of nutritional goodness was at Duncan’s Run 100 in Gippsland, presented in the competitor pack. But you know what they say about not risking new things, untested in training, on race day? So I pondered and left that ball alone. Result, courtesy of what was obviously a deficient nutritional strategy in the first place: dry wretching up as a I neared the finish line. Would an Amazeball, taken earlier on, have made any difference? Hard to scientifically quantify (as is any nutritional ‘test’ in the field and unfortunately Trail Run Mag does not employ a gaggle of white coated dietary boffins with spreadsheets and control measures. Yet.).

Whatever the cause of that close call upchuck, I was intrigued enough to try the Amazeballs in training and then in the competitive field at Shotover Moonlight Marathon, a brutalish 42km mountain run in New Zealand. I got the balls in early and consistently. And they went down easily. In training I’d established that of the flavours I had – Original and Hint of Choc (there is also peanut/honey), I’m a sweet tooth and thus leaned toward the choc. The original has more of the raisin-aftertaste, it having plenty of dates, sultanas and raisins. Then there’s the oats, honey, nuts, rice, cranberries and coconut, along with spices, vitamins and a pinch of salt.

What I’m driving home here is the all-natural ingredients.

Now, some like the idea of stuffing scientifically, lab-originated foods into their stomach while running, the quick ingestion nature an attraction. Rightly or wrongly, I like the idea of putting real food in my mouth and actively seek out real food nutritional solutions that work while on trail. I still reckon you can’t go past bananas as top of the taste tree.

Here the taste is absolutely ‘real’ and not synthetic, the mouth feel being a perfect balance between the dryness of oats and nuts and moisture content brought in by the berries and raisins. Warm your balls up prior to eating, ahem, for the best mouth feel. The coconut taste certainly adds to the digestibility – although as pointed out by the inventor, Tara Martin from Runners Kitchen, some runners have had issues with the coconut flakes being too small and causing coughing fits if inhaled quickly and unfortunately. Not what you want when running. She’s working on a new recipe as I write so the coconut taste and benefit remains but the flakes are less problematic.

So, all natural equals a big plus in this reviewer’s estimation. The convenient packaging of these balls is another benefit – the natural ball packaging that is. Perfect bite sized servings. Whack them in a ziplock and they are as handy as you like.

As the Runner’s Kitchen website notes regarding the digestion and energy performance: “It has been common for runners to use a carbohydrate only solution, as this provides the body with a quick energy burst. Dietetics teaches us about the glycemic index (GI) which is a measure of how rapidly the energy in carbohydrate is accessible by the body. Common carb solutions (such as gels) are high GI and so give the runner an instant hit to push you on when you start to feel sluggish. But they don’t necessarily provide you with enduring energy.”

This is where I believe these natural nutritional solutions come to the fore – on longer runs, where a more measured, longer lasting output of fuel within the body is essential if you don’t want to go on a rollercoaster ride of nausea and energy ebb-flow. The ingredient mix, it is claimed (and I concur), delivers both short and long term release of energy. Anecdotally, that is exactly what I experienced at Shotover, getting the product in to me early – along with bananas and electrolyte solution, had me maintain what seemed like a more consistent energy output and I definitely lasted longer before I bonked (it still happened – there is no substitute for training).

That extended stretch of ‘energy time’ is measured against past runs where I only had the bananas and electrolytes, and lost performance earlier.

Mixing fruit, nuts, grains, honey and spices into an all natural nutritional product for endurance sports is not ground-breaking in itself of course – however getting the balance of ingredients right to deliver taste benefits along with an appropriate serving size, is. Also, the fact that it is Australian made, and the inventor is here, receiving and responding to feedback and adjusting her product constantly and quickly, means that of all nutrition products on the market, this one is more than likely to get it right. And with a growing movement toward natural foods, Amazeballs fulfils a niche of matching that requirement to the supply of energy needed to conquer the long runs, both in training and competition. The only negative is that I keep mistaking them for good old fashioned rum balls and eating them for fun rather than on the run. Maybe, with a little rum added, they’d enter the realm of SuperAmazeballs…
3-pack (45 balls) $60 // 1 pack (15 balls) $30

Reviewer: Chris Ord