Comparison of Energy Gels

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** Amino acids may help performance, but the evidence is unclear at the levels provided in most gels.
* [[Caffeine]] is great for improving performance and speeding the absorption of carbohydrate, but too much can upset the stomach.
* Flavor is important, as you won't want to take an unpalatable gel. Experiment with different flavors, as different people have different tastes, and what flavor appeals can vary with circumstance.
This table is ordered by ease of digestion, which is a combination of the science of nutrition, personal experience and the experience of many runners I've talked to.
{| class="wikitable"
!'''Name'''!!'''Calories'''!!'''Carbs'''!!'''Sugar<sup>4'''</sup>!![[Maltodextrin]]<sup>1</sup>!!Glucose<sup>1</sup>!![[Fructose]]<sup>1</sup>!!Other Carbs<sup>1</sup>!!'''[[Protein| Protein]]'''!!'''Fat'''!!'''Sodium'''!!'''Potassium'''!!'''[[Caffeine]]'''!!'''Water to <br>be Isotonic<sup>5'''</sup>!!'''Weight<sup>6</sup> '''!!'''Carbs/g'''!!'''Cal/g'''!!'''Ease of digestion<br/> (higher is better)'''!!'''Viscosity<sup>9'''</sup>!!'''Recommended for'''
|[ Hammer Gel]
|Sensitive Stomachs
|General Use
|Those looking for every advantage
|A less sweet Gu
|Fructose malabsorption
|A Gu Alternative
|Those needing extra electrolytes
|Improved Recovery and Ultradistances
|Not Recommended
|Not Generally Recommended
|Not Recommended
* <sup>3</sup>The unusual nature of the ingredients in 2<sup>nd</sup> surge makes it harder to estimate the types of carbohydrates included.
* <sup>4</sup>The sugar value includes sucrose, fructose, glucose and other 'sugars'.
* <sup>5</sup>This is an approximation based on the amount of sugar, Maltodextrin, sodium and potassium, ignoring other ingredients. The water included in the gel is assumed to be the overall weight less the weight of the carbs, fat and protein. See [[C:\Users\fellrnr\Dropbox\The Science of Energy Gels| The Science of Energy Gels]] for details on the isotonic calculations.
* <sup>6</sup>This is the net weight of the gel; generally the packaging added 2-3g to the gels according to my scales.
* <sup>7</sup>The chocolate flavor has 1.5g
* <sup>8</sup>The chocolate flavor has 2g
* <sup>9</sup>Viscosity, or thickness, varies enormously between gels. The thickest, Chocolate #9 is more like a paste than a gel, were the thinnest, PowerBar Gel is a liquid.
=Size Comparison=
[[File:Gels.jpg|none|thumb|500px|Here is a visual comparison of the sizes of the various gels.]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, Filtered Water, Energy Smart (Grape juice and Rice dextrins), Potassium Sorbate (as a preservative), Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Alanine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine).''
For marathon distance racing, I prefer [ Gu] over all other gels I've tried. It contains 5g of [[Fructose]], with the rest of the calories coming from the easily digested [[Maltodextrin]]. I find that Gu can be consumed without any extra water as long as it is taken a bit at a time and [[How to eat a Gel| mixed with saliva]]. Some of the flavors can be a little strong, but the 'plain' Gu has a light cola flavor. Gu is slightly thicker than other gels, which I find makes it easier to mix the gel with saliva, but it can become overly thick in colder conditions.
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C),citric acid, calcium carbonate, vanilla, sea salt, preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), fumaric acid, herbal blend (chamomile, kola nut, ginger), pectin.''
=Gu (Peanut Butter)=
The peanut butter flavored [ Gu] is different enough to justify its own section. The peanut butter flavor is far less sweet than the regular Gu flavors, but if you like peanut butter it can be a lot more palatable. It also substitutes a little bit of fat and protein for the carbohydrate, as well as having a tiny bit more sodium and potassium. I find this flavor digests particularly well and I'd recommend trying get if you're a fan of peanut butter. Obviously, if you hate peanut butter or you have a peanut allergy this is not going to work for you. The Peanut Butter flavor is one of the thickest gels, and is quite a bit thicker than the other flavors of Gu. Even in warm conditions it tends to be a little too thick, and in cold conditions it can become bit like a chewy candy such as taffy, toffee, etc.
''<br/>Ingredients: Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C), preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), calcium carbonate, sea salt, fumaric acid, calcium chloride, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, herbal blend (chamomile, ginger).''
=Gu Roctane=
[ Roctane] is a more expensive variant on Gu, though the price has reduced significantly since its introduction. The main difference is the addition of 1.7g of amino acids, which may help slightly. Roctane is not as thick as the standard Gu. I've not noticed any difference when using it, but if you like Gu and are looking for even a slight advantage, it may be worthwhile. If you are paying hundreds of dollars for a race entry and travel, then the extra cost is minor. If you take 8 gels in a 4-hour marathon, Roctane only adds $4-5 to the cost of the race. Of course, you'll need to practice with Roctane in your training, so you'll have to factor that cost in as well.
''<br/>Ingredients (Blueberry flavor): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Roctane Amino acids (Histidine, Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine), Ornithine Alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), sodium citrate, malic acid, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural pomegranate flavor, natural berry flavor, calcium carbonate, sea salt, caffeine, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.''
=Vi Endurance=
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate.''
=PowerBar Gel=
[ PowerBar Gel] is noteworthy because of its higher sodium content that may help alleviate [[Hyponatremia]] and [[Cramps]]. I found the flavor stronger than Hammer, Gu or Cliff, but still quite pleasant. The level of fructose is higher than I'd like to see for digestibility. You may need to drink some water near the time you take PowerBar Gel due to the extra electrolytes. PowerBar Gel has a noticeably thinner consistency than most other gels, and is almost a liquid. This makes it far easier to take in cold weather as it does not go so thick, but it also make it trickier to mix with saliva in your mouth.
''<br/>Ingredients (vanilla): Carbohydrate blend (Maltodextrin, fructose), water, electrolytes (sodium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium chloride), natural flavor, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.''
=Accel Gel=
''<br/>Ingredients (Gold flavor): Honey, Water, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Natural Flavors, Vitamins & Minerals, Niacinamide (Vit B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit B5), Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride (Vit B6), Riboflavin (Vit B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit B1), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12)''
=#9 Chocolate=
The only ingredients in this [ #9] are Agave and Cocoa, and Agave is predominantly fructose (55% fructose to 20% glucose). This amount of [[Fructose]] is slow to be absorbed and can be difficult to digest, making it a poor choice for most runners. The Agave makes this gel intensely sweet, which I did not like and the '[ processed with alkali]' means that most of the antioxidants are destroyed. This is also by far the thickest gel that I've tested so far, being more like a paste than a gel. This gel may be suitable for runners that suffer from a blood sugar drop after taking more conventional gels prior to exercise (see [[The Science of Energy Gels| The Science of Energy Gels]] for more details).
''<br/>Ingredients: organic agave nectar, cocoa processed with alkali''
=2<sup>nd</sup> Surge=