By Matthew Hodges
Often when I mention the word energy gel, I usually get the same reaction or response! Usually a funny face is pulled in a disfigured manner or â€œit gave me a stitchâ€ is a common response!
Energy gels do work and if used correctly can give you that ultimate energy boost to get you out of trouble and to the finish line. Energy gels are a convenient way of getting carbohydrate into the system quickly.
To keep things really simple I guess there are two types of energy gels on the marketâ€¦â€¦those that DO need washing down with water and those that don’t. The majority of energy gels available on the market today DO require you to wash them down with water. The solution is basically a concentrate and needs diluting with water. The consistency is often very thick and quite sweet. If not enough water is taken with the gel it can be detrimental to your performance, stomach cramps, stitches and vomiting are the common complaints. However if sufficient water is taken with this type of gel you will certainly reap the benefits.
New to the Australian market are gels that do not need washing down with water such as the new range from Science in Sport (SiS). Basically the concentration is already diluted. The advantage of this is that it takes out the guess work of how much water you need to take with each gel, but more importantly if you are out in the middle of nowhere with no water to hand or your in a race approaching an aid station that is ten deep, you can still safely and effectively take this gel. The consistency is a lot runnier and as it is already diluted they are not too sweet!
Also look out for gels containing caffeine, again if used correctly these can really give you that kick when you need it or certainly get you home. Caffeine gels are great when taken before an event last up to 1 hour to 1.5hrs or the later stages of a training session/ race when not only do you need that energy lift but also boost those concentration levels. Most caffeine gels contain 35-50mg of caffeine which is equivalent to a strong coffee!
On average most energy gels contain 20-25g of carbohydrate, which equates to approximately 30mins of energy during exercise. As with any sports nutrition products implement gels into your training runs and see which work best for youâ€¦
Good luck for the rest of the season.
Matthew Hodges is from Science in Sport (SiS). If you want to ask Matthew about anything related to race nutrition you can email him. SiS can also provide you with a race nutrition plan for any upcoming races you may have such as Port Maquarie 70.3, Busselton 70.3 or Sydney ITU.