Energy Gels: Good for you or just Goo?

16 Apr

What are Energy Gels?: They are carbohydrate gels that provide energy and promote recovery, usually in single serving plastic packets that are quick and easy to digest. It is a gooey substance, available in several different flavors, that is squeezed into the mouth for fast digestion.

How do they work?: The carbohydrates found in the gels are absorbed into the blood to supply the body with calories and nutrients to fuel the body and help delay muscular fatigue and enhance performance.

What are they made out of?: These gels are like a solid sports drinks. They don’t usually contain fat, fiber, or protien (for quick digestion). They’re mostly made of sugars and maltodextrins, and sometimes electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and caffeine.

When should they be consumed? :Energy gels are generally recommended 15 minutes before rigorous exercise and 30-45 minutes after starting. These can be substituted for a carbohydrate dense snack, but these gels are designed for convenience during exercise. How much they should be consumed during varies but to get the recommended 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour from energy gels requires a gel packet every 30-45 minutes for those in a marathon or other long and continuous activity.

The Problem: Eating a gel every 30-40 minutes during a four hour marathon would be 8 gels ny one food in excess isn’t very healthy.

The Verdict: It depends. If you choose to eat energy gels through out a marathon make sure you stay hydrated. While some runners swear by these gels other perfer to stick to water and sports drinks.

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