Last Updated July 20, 2023
With countless energy gels out there, choosing the best can be daunting. But at Runivore, we’ve done the heavy lifting. After testing 50+ gels on training rides, tours, and challenging races like KOM Taiwan, we’ve honed in on the top performers. Guided by critical rider-centric criteria, we present the ultimate energy gels for long rides. Dive in and find your perfect match.
Performance Impact: We tested SiS Go while training for our 100 km Taiwn KOM race and found the gel effectively provided an energy boost without causing any stomach issues. The energy boost was felt within 5-10 minutes of consumption, indicating rapid absorption and effectiveness.
Isotonic Formula: The gel’s isotonic nature means it has the same concentration as cells inside the body. This allows the gel to empty from the stomach quickly, providing fast energy without the need for additional water. This reduces the risk of stomach bloating from over-drinking, making it easier on the digestive system during intense physical activity.
Taste and Consistency: The SiS Go Isotonic Energy Gel is described as one of the better-tasting gels on the market. Its main ingredient, maltodextrin, is almost tasteless, making the gel less syrupy and more palatable, akin to thickened, fruit-flavored water. This can be a significant advantage for athletes who struggle with the often overpowering sweetness of other gels.
No Need for Water: Due to its isotonic nature, the SiS gel can be consumed without the need to drink water alongside it. This is especially beneficial during races or rides where water access might be limited.
Variety of Flavors: The SiS gel comes in a range of flavors, offering choices to cater to different taste preferences. This variety can prevent flavor fatigue during extended activities.
Packaging Size: The SiS gel sachet is relatively large, which might make it cumbersome for some athletes to carry multiple gels during a race or long ride.
Unique Hydrogel Formulation: Maurten Hydrogel encapsulates carbohydrates in a hydrogel, allowing them to bypass the stomach and move directly to the intestines. This results in faster absorption without causing gastrointestinal distress. This innovative approach ensures that cyclists get a quick energy boost without the common stomach issues associated with many gels.
Mild Flavor and Consistency: Maurten has taken a different approach by making their gels “more tasteless” rather than adding more flavoring. This addresses the common issue of sweetness overload experienced with many other gels. We found the gel’s unique texture (akin to a not completely set jello) to be a refreshing change from the typical syrupy consistency of other products. This mild flavor and unique consistency make it easier to consume multiple gels during long rides without experiencing flavor fatigue.
Performance and Versatility: We used Maurten energy gels in various scenarios, including mountain rides and flat fast coastal rides. The gels provided consistent energy without any adverse taste or stomach issues. The lack of a strong aftertaste meant the gels could be consumed without needing to wash them down with water. We also found that Maurten’s mild flavor allowed us to consume multiple gels without experiencing sugariness overdose.
Natural Ingredients: Maurten Hydrogels are made from natural ingredients, which can be appealing to athletes who are conscious about avoiding artificial additives in their nutrition.
Versatility Across Sports: The gel is not just for cyclists but is also suitable for runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes. This versatility indicates its broad applicability across various endurance sports.
Positive Feedback from Elite Athletes: The gel has been used by elite athletes, including top marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and triathlete Jan Frodeno.
Texture Might Not Suit Everyone: The unique hydrogel texture, described as similar to “not completely set jello,” might be off-putting to some athletes who are accustomed to the typical syrupy consistency of other gels.
Higher Price Point: Maurten Hydrogel tends to be more expensive than some other energy gels on the market, which could be a consideration for athletes on a budget or those who consume gels frequently.
Effective and Balanced Nutritional Profile: Neversecond C30 provides a substantial 120 calories and 30 g of carbohydrates in a 60 ml sachet. The gel has a 2:1 glucose-to-fructose ratio, ensuring optimal carbohydrate absorption during prolonged activities. Additionally, it contains a significant 200 mg of sodium per pack, which is essential for electrolyte balance during endurance events. The C30+ variant also offers a caffeine boost with 75 mg per gel, which can be particularly beneficial for maintaining alertness and combating fatigue during long rides.
User-Friendly Packaging and System: Neversecond stands out with its unique product naming and “dot” system, making it easier for athletes to understand the carbohydrate content at a glance. The packaging also features a litter chain design, which reduces litter by keeping the torn-off piece attached. This is a thoughtful feature, especially for environmentally-conscious riders.
Taste and Consistency: The gels have a lighter, more watery consistency, which many find easier to consume compared to the typical syrupy gels. The C30 Berries flavor was described as above average, even if it doesn’t distinctly taste like berries. The lighter texture and mild flavor can be advantageous, especially when consuming multiple gels during extended rides.
Stomach Friendliness: The gel’s formulation, combined with its lighter consistency, might be easier on the stomach, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues during long rides or races.
Caffeine Option: The C30+ variant offers a caffeine boost, which can be beneficial for athletes looking for that extra kick of alertness and energy during their activities.
Flavor Ambiguity: While the C30 Berries flavor was above average, it didn’t distinctly taste like berries. We haven’t tried other flavors but this might be a bit misleading for those expecting a more authentic berry flavor.
When planning for your next cycling adventure, it’s also critical to consider the length of the ride and the timing of your energy gel intake. As a rule of thumb, energy gels are typically most beneficial for rides longer than 90 minutes, when your body begins to exhaust its glycogen stores.
Also, if you’re transitioning from swimming to cycling during a triathlon or starting your ride on an empty stomach, an energy gel can provide a quick, digestible source of carbohydrates to jump-start your performance and sustain your energy levels.
As for the quantity of energy gels needed, that is largely influenced by the duration of your ride and your personal metabolism. On average, aim for about 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour of riding. Keep in mind, this can vary depending on your size, fitness level, and the intensity of the ride.
Make sure to test out different amounts during your training rides to see what works best for you. It’s always a good idea to have a few extra gels on hand in case the ride becomes more challenging than expected or if unforeseen circumstances prolong your journey.
Lastly, let’s not overlook the practicality of carrying energy gels during your ride. Think about how you will store them; options range from jersey pockets to specialized gel flasks attached to your bike. Ensure they are easily accessible so you don’t have to stop or struggle to get to them when you need that energy boost.
Hydration is also key when using energy gels. Most need water to be properly digested and to prevent any gastrointestinal discomfort, so ensure you’re drinking fluids along with consuming gels. Remember, energy gels are a tool to aid your performance, so finding what works best for you might take some experimenting. Ride on, fuel, and get ready to conquer those long miles!
In our quest to find the top online retailers for energy gels, we evaluated various stores based on prices, product selection, delivery options, and return policies. Although big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target ranked highly in search engine results, our experiences led us to conclude that specialty stores can provide an enhanced buying experience for dedicated athletes.
TheFeed.com impresses with an extensive selection of energy gels, competitive prices, and beneficial membership options for additional savings. RunningWarehouse.com also distinguishes itself with a diverse range of gels, providing various size options at reasonable prices. Both stores showcase a keen understanding of athletes’ needs and preferences, offering tailored selections to suit different riders.
Despite their focus on general merchandise, Amazon, Target, and Walmart hold their own when it comes to affordability and convenience. If you’re already frequenting these platforms for your shopping needs, they can be practical choices for securing energy gels. However, when considering specialized product knowledge and a curated selection, TheFeed.com and RunningWarehouse.com stand out as our top recommendations for purchasing energy gels online.
Energy gels provide a quick and digestible source of carbohydrates to boost performance and sustain energy levels during long rides.
Runivore (Tom and Will) tested over 50 gels on training rides, tours, and races like KOM Taiwan, focusing on rider-centric criteria to identify the top performers. We assessed them based on effectiveness, taste & consistency, carbohydrate quantity delivered, packaging, and suitability for long rides.
Energy gels are typically most beneficial for rides longer than 90 minutes when the body begins to exhaust its glycogen stores.
On average, aim for about 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour of riding, but this can vary based on individual factors.
Most energy gels need water for proper digestion and to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort.
We’re primarily long distance runners so we have a bit of a bias. Specialty stores like TheFeed.com and RunningWarehouse.com offer a curated selection tailored for athletes, while big-box retailers like Amazon and Walmart provide affordability and convenience.
SiS Go Isotonic Energy Gel is ranked as the best overall due to its good taste, solid performance, and isotonic properties.
An isotonic formula means the gel has the same concentration as body cells, allowing for quick stomach emptying and fast energy without needing additional water.
The SiS gel doesn’t require additional water for consumption and comes in a variety of flavors.
Maurten 100 features a unique hydrogel formulation for faster absorption without gastrointestinal distress and has a mild flavor and consistency.
The hydrogel encapsulates carbohydrates, allowing them to move directly to the intestines for faster absorption without causing stomach issues.
Maurten 100 is made from natural ingredients, is versatile across sports, and has received positive feedback from elite athletes.
Neversecond offers an effective nutritional profile with a 2:1 glucose-to-fructose ratio and a light texture, making it suitable for consuming multiple gels.
Neversecond offers a balanced nutritional profile, user-friendly packaging, and a caffeine option for an extra energy boost.
The C30 Berries flavor was described as above average, but it didn’t distinctly taste like berries, which might be misleading for some users.