The best energy gels
At Camino we know the struggles of long endurance races. We ourselves have experienced the ‘bonk’ in training that sends you searching for the nearest service station to top up on coke and chocolate bars, and shamefully on race day when trailing some 2-3 hours behind Berks.
With so much information on how much fuel, when to fuel and what to fuel with out on the course there is no doubt that energy gels are a simple and effective way to get the energy you need on race day. Gel notoriously used to be known for being unpalatable and hard to swallow but nowadays nutrition companies have put in the effort to make them a staple for triathletes and cyclist to carry in their kits if racing or training for more than the hour (you probably won’t need them for anything under, your glycogen and glucose stores in your blood should provide you with ample energy to get you through the race given proper daily nutrition).
Given the market for these handy little energy packets full of tasty sugary goodness is flooded with different products at high prices we tried and tasted numerous amount of different gels before narrowing it down to our 5 favourite gels (it was a very productive morning followed by a very big mid-afternoon slump).
This is our go to gel come race day. All flavours taste great with the sole energy source coming from Maltodextrin and sending 22g of carbohydrate through your bloodstream. We have never experienced gastric issues with this gel potentially because of the maltodextrin sugar is mixed in with water within the gel (each gel contains 38g of water) this gives the gel a low osmolality meaning you need less water to make the gel isotonic. This also means the gels are easy to take without water and provide a lighter consistency.
The only downfalls are the artificial sweeteners but guess that’s what make that lemon and lime taste so good and the large packet size compared to some of its competitors.
Winners Energy Gels
Another winner for us, the fruity flavours are less sickly sweet then the cholate and coffee flavours available in other brands. Similar to the SiS we didn’t need water to wash down the gel as the consistency wasn’t too thick. One gel provides nearly 30g of carbs and 118 calories which is much higher than what SiS gels provide. The smaller packaging is also favourable choice over the SiS gel. The gels were made with Cadel Evans so if they have us riding us fast as him in the morning we’ll give them a tick of approval. All in all the gel is a good tasting all-rounder if you are looking for a simple energy lift containing carbs and electrolytes during a race.
Ideal for the sweat machines. PowerGel provides a mix of fructose, glucose and high levels of sodium ideal for racing in hot weather. One gel provides 26.7g of carbohydrate in a neat little 41g packet making it easy to race with and smaller in size compared to SiS and Winners gels while providing more carbohydrate per serve. There are multiple flavour options with some containing caffeine for an extra pick me up. Be warned though the flavours are sickly sweet, and the gels are a thicker consistency.
Clif Shot Energy Gels
These little power packets contain not only sugar, but also other important minerals to help you power through race day including sodium, potassium, magnesium and electrolytes. We thought they had a consistency similar to cake frosting therefore making them a good option for those who like to feel as if they are actually ‘eating’ something. The ingredients are 90% organic and caffeinated flavours are available. The chocolate flavour we tried literally was like eating chocolate icing off a birthday cake. Thumbs up from us – we’d just eat these on a daily basis if it was socially acceptable.
GU Energy Gels
The pioneer of energy gels is a calorie dense little packet of sugary goodness that is loaded with carbohydrates (21g) that are easily and rapidly absorbed for lasting energy. The gels also contain branched-chain amino acids to help with muscle fibre damage and increase the speed of recovery. They have a smooth consistency making them easy to swallow and digest. Again, some flavours contain caffeine for that extra hit. GU come in a number of different flavours including fruity flavours and the classic chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla bean flavour was the flavour we tried and was nice enough to go back for seconds.
All up we can’t go past the race day tried and tested SiS gel. However, for flavour that chocolate frosting taste of the Clif Shot Energy Gel is something we enjoyed but questioned how it would go in an actual race. The PowerGel came runners up for us mainly due to the small packaging and ease of getting the gel out of the packet, which can be a frustrating task on race day. The most important thing is to try your gels in training. Some people will find some gels quite pleasant and easy on the stomach while others may struggle. Find what works for you and stick it as race day nutrition can derail your race dramatically.