For runners, competitors and athletes, energy gels are a go-to fuel source. They’re a portable source of calories, glucose and fructose, all needed to continue muscle use. In the gel form, it can satiate the athlete longer without quickly filling the bladder. But the thought of squirting baby-food consistency fuel into your mouth while you’re sweating your eyebrows off is enough to deter some people from trying. Perhaps it’s something you can get used to, however, because the benefits of these gels seem to be worth it.
The body uses carbohydrates and stored fats as energy sources. But when you’re pushing yourself through a marathon or a CrossFit competition, or heck, your kid’s soccer tournament, you’ll deplete those resources quickly. You’re not going to have time to sit down and eat a meal, and you probably won’t want to down a protein shake. But your body needs fuel and fast. Hey, Mom, click here for 10 energy boosting superfoods.
Energy gels are densely packed with the foundational components of carbs: glucose. When your muscles are demanding energy, your brain will get the leftovers, leaving you with a foggy feeling. So, not only do these gels boost energy for the muscles, but awareness for the brain. Gels used to be more of a professional athlete and marathon runner thing, but it’s likely you’ll find them in any gym bag today. (via Triathlete)
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How many of these do you need to eat? If you’re running a marathon, bring a few with you. You’ll need to start downing them after the first 60 to 90 minutes, approximately one each hour. Most energy gels are designed for you to eat in the couple of hours leading up to a race or workout and during the actual event. Anything afterward will be labeled as “replenish” or “post-something,” and will contain different ingredients needed for recovery.
There are more than a dozen gel brands on the market right now. Calories are important since those are what you’re burning as you use energy, but potassium is also critical since it prevents cramping. Let’s look at six:
Honey Stinger: 100 calories, 50 mg potassium, plus caffeine. Want to know more? Click here.
Accel Gel: 100 calories, potassium (not listed), plus caffeine and protein. Click here for more info.
Hüma Chia: 100 calories, 30-50 mg potassium. Click here for more details.
Carb-BOOM! 110 calories, 50mg potassium, plus caffeine. Check it out here.
Ignite Naturals Reload: 110 calories, 75 mg potassium. Here's more.
Gu: 100 calories, 45-85 mg potassium, 18-36 mg caffeine, plus amino acids. Check it out here!
You can order them online in bulk, or find them at any specialty fitness store. Some major grocery stores are beginning to offer them as well. Pick up a pouch and give it a try! Click here for recipes to make your own energy drinks at home.