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In the world of endurance sports, energy gels have become the go-to fuel for athletes pushing their limits. But did you know that making your own energy gels can not only save you money but also allow you to tailor the ingredients to your specific needs? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to create your own potent energy concoctions. 

As a special treat, we’ll share two killer energy gel recipes that you can whip up in your kitchen. Dive in to unlock the secrets of DIY energy gels and discover how to craft tasty, inexpensive, and effective fuel for your athletic endeavors!

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chefs hat and cooking utensil cartoon - with title How to Make Your Own Energy Gels: A Comprehensive DIY Guide

Introduction to Homemade Energy Gels

Energy gels are compact packets of energy that these days serve as a lifeline for athletes, offering a quick carbohydrate boost during prolonged activities. But while store-bought gels are convenient, they often come with a hefty price tag and may contain additives. 

Enter homemade energy gels: a solution that puts you in control. By crafting your own gels, you can select natural ingredients, adjust carbohydrate concentrations, and even experiment with flavors. It’s a journey into personalized sports nutrition, promising tasty, cost-effective, and efficient energy boosts tailored just for you.

Understanding the Basics of Energy Gels

Energy gels primarily use carbohydrates as their main energy component, delivering rapid fuel during extended physical activities. Once ingested, the body swiftly converts these carbohydrates into glucose, providing muscles with an immediate energy source. Most commercial gels, including the ones we’ll focus on in this article, utilize a blend of glucose and fructose for efficient absorption and sustained performance.

While fat-based energy gels like Spring Energy do exist, our emphasis here will be on carbohydrate-centric gels, aligning with the preferences of many endurance athletes.

major Carbohydrate based energy gels vs fat based energy gels

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Your Own Energy Gels

Crafting your own energy gels requires a selection of key ingredients to ensure optimal energy release and palatability. Here are the primary components based on our upcoming recipes:

Carbohydrate Sources:

Maltose or Maltodextrin: Easy to digest and breakdown glucose based carbohydrate that provides sustained energy.
Fructose: A natural sugar that complements maltodextrin for efficient energy absorption.

Flavor and Texture Enhancers:

Lemon Juice: Adds a tangy kick and can enhance the gel’s taste.
Amino Acids (BCAAs): Beneficial for muscle recovery and can influence the gel’s flavor.

Electrolytes:

Table Salt: Essential for replenishing sodium lost during intense physical activity.

Optional Add-ins:

Water: Adjusts the gel’s consistency.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs): Found in the Rocket Fuel Recipe, these fats can provide an additional energy source.

Remember, the beauty of homemade gels is the flexibility they offer. You can adjust ingredient quantities to suit your taste and nutritional needs, ensuring every batch is tailored just for you.

2 Killer Energy Gel Recipes You Can Easily Make at Home

The first recipe we want to share with you is based on a cyclist chef featured in the GCN video above. It’s called Rocket Fuel due its calorie density – over 2000 calories in a bottle. 
 
The second recipe is from our interview with Formosa 100 winner Ross Roessler. It’s easy to make, tasty, and proven to help you win tough trail races.
 

Rocket Fuel Recipe: The Ultimate Energy Drink for Endurance Athletes

Designed for those long days out on the trail or road, the Rocket Fuel Recipe packs over 2,000 calories in a single bottle. This energy drink is perfect for adventure racers and endurance athletes who need a concentrated source of energy without the bulk of carrying multiple food items.

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of Maltodextrin (search for plain maltodextrins online)
  • 120 grams of MCT powder (ensure you get the powder, not the liquid form for better stomach tolerance)
  • 100 grams of Fructose
    5 grams of Table Salt (for essential sodium)
  • Water (up to 750 ml)

Instructions:

Preparation: Begin by weighing all your ingredients. 

Mixing the Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the maltodextrin, MCT powder, fructose, and table salt. Ensure they are mixed thoroughly.

Adding Water: To ensure proper mixing, start by adding about 300 ml of water to the dry mix. Stir or whisk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

Finalizing the Drink: Once the initial mix is smooth, continue adding water until you reach a total volume of 750 ml. This might require a bit of estimation since the powder will increase the volume. Mix thoroughly.

Taste and Texture: The drink will have a creamy texture, thanks to the MCTs. It’s mildly sweet, with the fructose providing a gentle sweetness that’s not overpowering. The MCTs also give the drink a pleasant, smooth texture that’s easy to consume.

Usage Tips:

Take a sip of this concentrated drink and follow it with some water during your activity.

You can consider freezing the mixture if preparing it in advance for an event.

Always test the drink during training sessions before using it in a race or event.

Conclusion:

The Rocket Fuel Recipe is a game-changer for endurance athletes. It’s like having rocket fuel in your bottle, providing you with the energy you need to power through the most challenging activities.

Blue Raspberry Boost Gel: A Runner’s DIY Energy Delight

Crafted by a passionate runner who understands the importance of fueling the body during intense races, the Blue Raspberry Boost Gel offers a cost-effective, delicious, and efficient energy source. Inspired by the science behind leading energy gel companies, this homemade version ensures you get the right balance of glucose and fructose for optimal absorption.

Ingredients:

  • 60 g Maltose or Maltodextrin
  • 36 g Water
  • 30 g Fructose
  • 8 g Lemon Juice
  • 5 g Amino Acids (BCAAs, preferably Blue Raspberry flavored)
  • 2 g Table Salt

Instructions:

Prepare Your Ingredients: Ensure you have a kitchen scale for accurate measurements.

Mixing: In a medium-sized bowl, combine maltose (or maltodextrin), water, fructose, lemon juice, amino acids, and table salt. Stir thoroughly until all ingredients are well combined.

Storage: Transfer the mixture to a soft flask or any convenient container. If using for a race, consider dividing the mixture into portions equivalent to your regular gel intake.

Notes:

This recipe makes the equivalent of 4 standard energy gels.
The combination of glucose and fructose is based on scientific findings that suggest the body can absorb 60 grams of glucose and an additional 30 grams of fructose per hour.
Maltose is essential as it requires less water for absorption compared to glucose.
For a different flavor twist, omit the BCAAs and lemon juice. Instead, add 8 grams of cocoa powder and about 3 grams of instant coffee for a rich, chocolaty boost.

Conclusion:

The Blue Raspberry Boost Gel is not just a cost-saving alternative but also a customizable energy source that you can tailor to your taste preferences. Whether you’re running a marathon or just need a quick energy boost during your workout, this gel is sure to power you through.

Top Questions About Homemade Energy Gels

Why should I consider making my own energy gels?

Homemade gels allow for ingredient customization, cost savings, and the avoidance of unwanted additives.

What are the primary ingredients in a carbohydrate-based energy gel?

The main components are maltodextrin or maltose and fructose, with additional ingredients like lemon juice, amino acids, and table salt for flavor and electrolyte balance.

How do I adjust the carbohydrate concentration in my gel?

By varying the ratio of maltodextrin to fructose, you can tailor the gel’s energy release to your needs.

Can I add caffeine to my homemade gel?

Yes, you can incorporate natural sources like green tea extract or powdered caffeine, but always be cautious with dosage.

How can I experiment with different flavors?

Ingredients like fruit purees, cocoa powder, or natural extracts can be added for flavor variations.

What are the hygiene considerations when making gels at home?

Always use clean utensils and containers, and store your gels in a cool, dry place or refrigerate them for extended shelf life.

How long can I store my homemade energy gels?

While commercial gels have preservatives, homemade versions should be consumed within a week if refrigerated. Always check for signs of spoilage. This is mostly due to inability to properly store energy gels in a sealed packaging.

How do homemade gels compare in cost to commercial brands?

Making gels at home is typically more cost-effective, with savings increasing as you buy ingredients in bulk. The Blueberry recipe we shared came out to about 20 cents per gel according to Ross – significantly less than then $2 to $3 per store bought gel.

How do I package my homemade gels for a race?

While commercial gels come in single-use packets, homemade versions can be stored in reusable soft flasks or small containers.

Can I make a fat-based energy gel?

Yes, there are recipes like those using Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) as a bigger ingredient component.

What’s the importance of electrolytes in energy gels?

Electrolytes, especially sodium from table salt, help replenish minerals lost through sweat and aid in hydration.

How do I ensure my gel has the right consistency?

The water content can be adjusted to achieve your preferred gel thickness.

Can I use natural sweeteners like honey in my gel?

While honey can be used, it’s a mix of fructose and glucose and may alter the gel’s absorption rate. It’s essential to test any variations during training.

Are there any potential downsides to homemade gels?

One challenge is consistent packaging and portioning. Also their shelf life is typically shorter than commercial gels.