Energy Gels 101

Energy-Wall1When you run under 90 minutes, most of your energy comes from stored muscle glycogen. If you’re running longer than 90 minutes, the sugar in your blood and liver glycogen become more important as your stored muscle glycogen is depleted. Fueling with carbs during your longer runs will prevent you from running out of energy and help boost your performance. Gels are an easy, convenient option to help fuel your body during your longer distance runs.

The gels listed below come in different flavors. Variations in flavors may result in slight changes to nutrient composition. The nutrient information was pulled from each manufacturer’s website, but be sure to check the nutrient panel on the back of your favorite gel to know exactly what you’ll be getting. The info listed below is per gel, or per serving.

Clif Shot
110 Calories, 22g Carb, 60mg Sodium, 80mg Potassium (Clif Shot Turbo contains caffeine in varying amounts)
Distinguishing attributes: Organic gels (in varying percentages of organic ingredients) are available.

Gu Energy Gel
100 Calories, 25g Carb, 50mg Sodium, 40mg Potassium
Distinguishing attributes: Contains dual fuels*, maltodextrin and fructose, as well as a blend of amino acids.

Gu Roctane
100 Calories, 25g Carb, 50mg Sodium, 40mg Potassium
Distinguishing attributes: Contains dual fuels*, maltodextrin and fructose, as well as blend of branch chain amino acids. Contains Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG), which GU suggests will “support recovery by helping block the catabolic effects of various hormones that cause muscle trauma.”

Hammer Gel
90 Calories, 21g Carb, 25mg Sodium, 25mg Potassium +/- Caffeine (depends on flavor)
Distinguishing attributes: Contains dual fuels*, maltodextrin and fruit puree. Gluten-free, vegan, and kosher options are available. Contains only two grams of sugar—anecdotally, runners who are limited in the amount of sugar they can consume at one time report that they tolerate this product well.

Honey Stinger Gels Classic / Organic
120 /100 Calories, 29g / 24g Carb, 50mg Sodium, 85mg/50mg Potassium
Distinguishing attributes: Classic gels contain B Vitamins; Ginsting flavor contains both caffeine and Ginseng extract. Organic gels contain 95% Organic Ingredients.

PowerBar Performance Energy Gel
110 Calories, 27g carb, 200mg Sodium, 20mg Potassium, +/- Caffeine (depends on flavor)
Distinguishing attributes: Contains C2Max, a duel source of fuel* (glucose + fructose) which enables you to consume more fuel each hour and therefore keep your system energized.

PowerBar Performance Energy Blend
80 Calories, 21g carb, no electrolytes or caffeine
Distinguishing attributes: Still with C2Max carbohydrate blend, this fruit puree-based gel has vitamins but no sodium or potassium. This less-concentrated gel comes in a re-sealable pouch for runners who like to take sips every few miles, but not all runners will like carrying the larger packaging.

*If a gel contains multiple sources of fuel (like glucose and fructose) you’ll be able to consume and absorb more fuel each hour and therefore keep your system energized.

And, don’t forget about Chia seeds, dates, honey, and other forms of energy in their natural states. Lots of information on the internet about consuming raw foods for long distance training. Be sure to experiment now to be ready for race day!