Energy gels are carbohydrate gels that provide energy for exercise and promote recovery, commonly used in endurance events such as running, cycling, and triathlons. Energy gels are also referred to as endurance gels, sports gels, nutritional gels, and carbohydrate gels. They come in small, single-serve plastic packets. Each packet has a strip with a small notch at the top that can be peeled off to reveal an opening through which the gel can be consumed.
Once consumed, the carbohydrates found in the gels are absorbed into the blood to supply the body with calories and nutrients to fuel exercise activity by helping to delay muscular fatigue, raise blood sugar levels, and enhance performance. Most energy gels have no fat, fiber, or protein, so they can be digested quickly. They contain mainly sugars and maltodextrins, which make them similar to sports drinks without the water. Some gels, such as e-Gel, also come with added electrolytes. There are also gels with extras such as ginseng and other herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and Coenzyme Q10. Caffeine can be found in some gels as well. Examples of common energy gels are GU, PowerBar Gel, and Clif Shot.
The recommended use of an energy gel is 15 minutes before starting and 30–45 minutes after starting the endurance exercise. The first gel prior to exercise may be skipped in favor of a high carbohydrate snack instead. Energy gels are then to be used every 30–45 minutes during exercise. The notch can be peeled off at the top and an intake of energy gel is recommended to be followed with a drink of water to avoid risk of dehydration. The exact intake of the gel varies for every athlete depending on their metabolism, body weight, and fitness level.
- About GU Energy Gel
- Energy gel for running - how to use, ingredients and selection
- Running Times Magazine: Running Time's Guide to Sports Drinks and Gels
- Carbohydrates for Runners at Runner's World.com
- e-Gel Electrolyte Energy Gel
- GU Energy Products
- Powerbar Energy Gel Products
- Clif Bar & Company: Clif Shot