Years ago, runners relied on flat colas and sports drinks as their main source of carbohydrates to keep them up and running during long endurance events like half marathons and marathons. Carrying these hydration and energy-giving drinks, however, can add up to carrying unnecessary additional weight packs during running. The rise of energy gels has been a vast improvement in recent years and these days they are a tastier solution too!
How do energy gels actually work?
Energy gels help replace the lost carbohydrates of the body. The gel’s quick consumption is necessary to promote faster recovery during running, which is why it is ideal for heavy carb-burners like triathletes, cyclists and marathon runners. Once consumed, carbohydrates in the gels are quickly absorbed in the blood to supply the brain and body with nutrients and calories needed to enhance performance levels. It also helps delay muscle fatigue and increase blood sugar levels to keep you up and running over those long gruelling miles.
When to take it?
Generally, it’s advisable to take a gel around 15 minutes before the race starts, to allow it to take effect. Since people have different digestion responses, you should check with your sports nutritionist on when is the best time for you to take energy gels. Also, make sure you’re getting enough water, as well; continue consuming gels periodically during the event to prevent dehydration and early fatigue.
The gels come in different flavors, and different nutrient composition. Be sure to read the nutrient panel on each of the gels you consume so you know exactly what’s in them.
Many contain varying amounts of these ingredients: Potassium, caffeine, maltodextrin, fructose, blend of amino acids, Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG), fruit puree,. B Vitamins, Ginseng extract.
* Look for gel’s that contains multiple sources of fuel (like glucose and fructose) will keep your system energized faster and longer.