The Benefits of Energy Gels
Energy gels are a reliable and convenient way of absorbing carbohydrates conveniently and quickly during intense exercise to maintain blood sugar levels. They consist primarily of concentrated, carbohydrate solutions in individual 30-40g sachets. The rapidly absorbing carbohydrate found in sports gels are generally composed of complex carbohydrates and simple sugars. These include glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin or fructose. Energy gels also contain other ingredients such as protein, medium chain triglycerides, caffeine and electrolytes. Energy gels are characterized by being quickly oxidized and mildly sweet.
They provide an excellent means of replenishing carbohydrate stores (your body’s primary fuel source) which can become depleted while running longer distances. It is well established that carbohydrate consumption before and during endurance exercise can reduce fatigue, improve performance and power output. Consumption of Energy Gels during exercise can significantly impact on running performance in events greater than sixty minutes in duration. They provide a similar pattern of carbohydrate delivery and oxidation rates as sports drinks. Sports gels are composed of a number of important ingredients which when digested ensure optimal fueling and maximum performance on race day. The electrolytes maintain water balance and aid in optimum hydration. The carbohydrates deliver ready to use energy and delay bonking by sparing glycogen. The amino acids reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. The caffeine enhances performance by increasing focus and concentration and decreasing perceived effort during intense endurance exercise.
Energy gels are an excellent energy source for endurance running events by helping to replenish and speed up glycogen to your working muscles while racing. The faster you run the greater the percentage of your energy consumption will come from carbohydrates. Check out the top energy gels for running for running in the market.
Energy gels will often “wake you up” in a very noticeable way and make you feel envigorated while racing.
These sports gels deliver a fast and appropriate dose of carbohydrate providing much needed energy.
The carbohydrates in these supplements are absorbed into the blood stream supplying the body with much needed calories and nutrients. This helps fuel energy levels, delay muscular fatigue, raise blood sugar levels and enhance performance and recovery.
The speed at which you’re able to digest and process energy gels plays an important role in how often you consume them. Each runner absorbs and processes carbohydrates at a different rate. This is based on the runners absorption rates, metabolism, fitness levels and body weight. Typically, we can store about ninety minutes of muscle glycogen when running at half marathon pace and about two hours worth when running at marathon pace. When running high intensity events lasting in excess of an hour or lower intensity events lasting several hours it is recommended to consume approximately 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour to maintain blood glucose levels. During endurance events lasting in excess of 2.5 hours a high carbohydrate intake of 90 grams per hour may be necessary depending on energy expenditure.
It is generally recommended to take your first gel fifteen minutes before starting a race with time intervals of thirty to forty five minutes thereafter. This depends on how well you generally react to gels in training. Energy gels are consumed with water to speed up digestion and absorption into the blood stream.
The physiological benefits of consuming carbohydrate gels are actually two fold. First of all your body receives an instantaneous boost. Then the more substantial benefits come into play once the sugars have been processed through your digestive system. Secondly on detecting the carbohydrate in your mouth, neural signals are emitted that tell your body it’s receiving some nutrients. This allows you to run and push harder in the short term. Energy gels help replenish the glycogen and calories you’re burning when racing hard.
Consumption of Energy Gels
Always take energy gels with water to avoid dehydration, and to speed up the digestive process.
The number one consideration is that gels contribute very little to hydration levels, so it is essential that you still drink water. In terms of caloric punch, the majority of energy gels contain an average of 74 calories per ounce. The body processes roughly 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute while running.
There many different brands on the market, each with their own distinguishing ingredients including caffeine, amino acids, vitamins and co-enzyme q10.