We’ve published quite a few energy gels reviews, as well as some fueling guides and common pitfall articles. But as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so for this post we’ve created some fun graphics to help you remember the most important tips about fueling with energy gels.
Practice Make Perfect – Try Energy Gels During Training
Energy gels are not a food that is readily found in nature, so you don’t know how your body will react to them. We recommend you check for criteria like:
- Taste – make sure you can handle the sweetness or choose a less sweet option if you really can’t. I find that when my body is craving energy, it is able to handle sweet foods much easier than in regular non-endurance situations.
- It Doesn’t Upset Your Stomach – energy gels are mostly sugars but they can contain preservatives and other additives. Make sure to try them before a race to make sure your stomach can handle them.
- Ease of Opening – you want to make sure you don’t have to fight with your gel packaging as you’re going for a PR.
- Make Sure You Bring Enough – test out the effect of gels on your performance during training and determine how many you need for your given event.
Take with Water – BUT – Don’t Mix with Other Foods
Energy gels are engineered to be consumed with water (there are some exceptions like isotonic gels). If you mix them with sports drinks this may screw up the right balance of inputs and slow consumption or cause irritation. Same goes for mixing with foods and causing “soup” creation in your stomach which can also affect optimal absorption.
How Much and How Often Should You Eat Gels
There are limits to how much sugar your body can absorb, this is further impaired during great physical exertion, so make sure to test your body limits during training and read the recommendations of the manufacturers. They (the energy gels makers) want you to consume as much as possible ($$$) but they also don’t want to cause injury or bad experiences to their customers.
When and Where During the Race Should You Eat Energy Gels
Most energy gel companies provide guidelines with regards to how often to take their energy gels. One key thing to keep in mind is that it’s best to take energy gels with water so we recommend eating the gels when you have the next water station in sight. Open the gel, run up to the water station, consume with water, and then discard the sticky packaging so you don’t have to deal with that for the rest of the run.
We hope these tips help you be your best at the next event. Shoot us a note if you have any other tips that you think we should include in this list.