Energy Gels

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Energy Gels

Energy gels and sports gels have been used in competition for several years to replace vital electrolytes and replenish tired muscles during training and events. When you use food gels for cycling, you’ll find that they can give you the boost you need to finish a race or improve your results during training. At BikeExchange, we have a large selection of sports gels, and you can trial different brands until you find the one that works (and tastes) the best for your training regime.

These gels are carbohydrates in a convenient (and lightweight) pack. Previously (before carb gels were popular), the most common way to get a carbohydrate boost was through energy drinks. The exact caloric makeup of sports gels may vary from brand to brand, but most will fall into the 100- to 150-calorie range. The amount in these gels will provide enough sustenance to rapidly increase energy availability, raise your blood sugar, and stop muscle damage.

The exact ingredients of power gels will differ between brands, but common ingredients include glucose and maltodextrin. You’ll find that many gels will use fructose as part of their ingredient list as it is absorbed differently, and therefore, you can absorb the contents more rapidly.

Some gels will include caffeine as part of their makeup. Caffeine works as a stimulant, and it’ll reduce your fatigue and increase alertness. You’ll also find gels containing electrolytes that help replace salt lost during high activity levels.

What are energy gels?

Energy gels (also called endurance gels) rapidly replace lost energy and supply additional fuel during high activity levels (marathon running, cycling, etc.). When you’re training, in a race, or performing during other events, you can deplete your body’s energy store. These gels are usually made from maltodextrin, which will provide glucose into your bloodstream, and they offer highly digestible carbohydrates.

An easy way of describing energy gels is a concentrated form of energy drink. If you bought an energy drink and removed most of the water, you’d be left with something similar to an energy gel. However, when you are cycling, you may not wish to take bottles of energy drinks with you, and therefore, the gel is a much better option. All gels should be consumed with water.

How to use energy gels?

All energy gels and cycling gels are different, so it is best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best way to consume them. However, as a general guide, your body can absorb 1 gram of carbohydrate per body weight kilogram per hour. For example, a 75kg cyclist can consume and absorb 75 grams of carbohydrate per hour of activity. As gels come in various sizes (flavours and brands), you can find an excellent mix to take one or two to support your needs during a training session.

The exact number of gels you’ll need depends if you’re also using energy drinks (Gatorade, etc.). Check how many carbohydrates you’ll receive from those drinks, and then you can top up with gels when required. When you use gels, you need to mix them with water, so if you’re planning on using gels and energy drinks, you’ll need at least one, but preferably two bottle cages on your bike.

When racing or training, it is essential to remember that your body can only absorb a certain amount of carbohydrates at a time. If you take in too much, the gel will stay in your stomach, and you may feel sluggish and unwell. You shouldn’t need any more than two per hour for the best results with gel.

The best time to take gels in a ride depends on what your body needs and some cyclists find their bodies tend to stop absorbing the gels in the later stages of a ride. If you try the gels during training sessions, you’ll get a good feel of when the gels are helping you the most. When you use gel in training, your body will get used to the pattern and absorb them more effectively.

How long do energy gels last?

Many factors go into how long energy gels will last. It can rely on how fast your body can digest them and what activity you’re doing. During an event, you’ll find that your body starts to cease digestion as the end nears. As you need your stomach to absorb the gel to be effective, it is best to use the gels before your body shuts down digestion.

An effective strategy for taking energy drinks or gels is to take them at hourly intervals. Some riders can stomach taking gels every forty-five minutes, but it is best to stick to the hourly rate if you’re new to taking gels.

If you are into the second part of a race and your stomach feels upset, you can break your gel dosage into four parts and take it every twenty minutes. Splitting the dosage will still give you the boost you need, but it won’t feel heavy in your stomach and make you feel sick.

At BikeExchange, you’ll find all the best energy gels, glycogen supplements for cycling, and hydration gels. Most orders can be shipped Australia-wide. You’ll find all the gear you need for cycling, including road bike handlebars, handlebar tape, cycling computers, brake pads, and clip-in pedals. We also stock a range of Liv bikes and Lazer helmets. Shop Australia’s number one cycling marketplace today.

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