After grinding out the miles under the scorching sun and building a solid aerobic base, it’s time to welcome friendly running temperatures and get ready to kick butt. Whether you have an upcoming race or are beginning a build-up, it’s never too early to test and practice with the energy gels you plan to use on race day.
Here are four of the best energy gels reviewed and used by Runivore in 2023. Nailing your fueling can often be the difference between a personal best or staggering to the finish line, and we hope these recommendations will help you go full send this racing season.
Best-tasting energy gel – Precision Fuel & Hydration
Precision Fuel & Hydration (shortened to Precision for brevity), a relatively new player in the sports nutrition scene, created one of the best-tasting gels. We’ve used their products to power a PB effort at the 2023 Osaka Marathon and a good performance at a 50 km trail ultra.
Precision has a non-distinctive, fruity flavor that is pleasant but with a mild aftertaste. It contains no electrolytes, as the gel is designed to be used alongside its Hydration range.
The energy gel, formulated based on a 2:1 glucose-to-fructose ratio, comes in two sizes: a pouch with a resealable twist cap containing 90 g of carbohydrates and a more compact sachet with 30 g of carbohydrates.
Best integrated energy gel – GU Roctane
We created the term “integrated energy gel” for products that really pack in the extras. GU Roctane has three times the sodium and branched-chain amino acids compared with the brand’s Original series and kept the carbohydrate content the same, around 20 g.
GU Roctane also contains taurine, which the company claims can maintain heart contractility and improve cardiac output, as well as beta-alanine, which can promote the formation of the intramuscular buffer carnosine to delay fatigue onset. Bells and whistles galore.
GU Original has always worked for us, and Roctane simply added more sodium to a tried-and-true fuel. Taste, texture, and packaging are all familiar. No surprises.
Here’s a comprehensive piece if you want to learn how GU Roctane stacks up against Maurten Gel 100 hydrogel.
Bonus: Best energy gel for a change of taste – GU Original Cola Me-Happy
Speaking of GU Original, we would like to throw in a bonus recommendation. If you’re a fan of cola flavors and want a boost of caffeine mid-run, here’s GU Original Cola Me-Happy for your consideration.
It supplies 22 g of carbohydrates and 40 mg of caffeine from green tea extract. The flavor has a mild spicy kick and a pleasant bitterness to balance the sweetness of the gel. We wouldn’t recommend fueling an entire marathon with only this option, but it’s a nice change of pace to mix into your fueling plan and prevent flavor fatigue.
Best carb-packed energy gel – SiS Beta Fuel
Here’s another term we coined: super gel. It refers to energy gels that deliver carbohydrates beyond the 20-30 g range in a single serving. In recent years, we’ve seen an emerging trend – sports nutrition brands packing in as much sugar as possible.
If you’re new to energy gels or have a sensitive stomach, we wouldn’t recommend jumping straight to this option or other super gels since taking 40 g of carbohydrates in one go is a lot.
Gradually train your digestive system to adapt, just like you would with your fitness.
Fun fact: The first version of Beta Fuel, launched in 2018, was an isotonic energy gel, but the company abandoned the isotonic route for the current rendition in 2021 and changed the maltodextrin-to-fructose ratio from 2:1 to 1:0.8 ratio.
Here’s an in-depth comparison between SiS Beta Fuel and Precision.
Best energy gel you’ve never heard off – Mag-On
As runners based in Asia, we pride ourselves in introducing to our Western audience the little-known gems made in this corner of the world.
The “Mag” of Mag-on stands for magnesium. Its energy gels provide 50 mg of magnesium per sachet, about 12-15% of the daily recommended intake.
However, whether the magnesium content makes a difference is hard to tell. I personally think it’s a marketing gimmick. What truly affect performance are calories and sugar, which Mag-on provides in abundance at 30 g of carbohydrates and 120 calories.
If you prefer a watery consistency and tart, fruity flavors, Mag-on won’t disappoint. We find the Japanese-made energy gels pleasantly light and tart, especially delightful for hotter temperatures.
There you have it! Four gels, each with its unique features and benefits. We hope you find the recommendations helpful and feel free to click on the links for full review and comparison articles.
We wish you joyful running in the coming racing season. Happiness happens when you run.