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Comparison of Energy Gels

4,355 bytes added, 14:20, 30 May 2016
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[[File:Gels.JPG|right|thumb|300px|My supply of gels]]
Energy gels are a useful component of many endurance runners' training and racing. In marathon distance racing, energy gels can make an important difference [[When to eat Energy Gels in the Marathon| if you know how and when to eat them]]. If you want a really simple guide to which gel to take, try this:
* For short runs (<13miles/2hr) donyou shouldn't worry about gelsgenerally need any fuel. The main reason for using a gel on a run this short would be if you're particularly hungry before you start running.* For long runs (>30miles/4hours) you probably need more than gels. People vary, but most runners seem to find that gels become unappealing and sometimes nauseating over a protracted time. I suspect this might be because they are so easily absorbed they don't give your digestive system anything much to work on. They also typically only provide a simple fast acting carbohydrates and over a longer time. You need a greater variety.
* [[Caffeine]] is your friend, so unless you're running close to bed time, use it.
* Gu is a great The best all round gelI've found is still Gu, and you could think of it as the Honda civic of energy gels. For most runners this is an ideal starting point.* If you're a competitive marathon runner looking for every edge, then I think it's worth a little extra to buy the Gu Roctane version is slightly better.
* For those suffering from cramps, try eGel (the sour flavor might help.)
* If you want more electrolytes, try PowerBar Gel.
* Hammer gel is a little easier to digest than Gu, so try that if you're having digestive problems.
=Which Gel? =
The flowchart below is intended to provide some general guidance around which gel to choose.
[[File:Gels-Vooma.JPG|none|thumb|500px|USN Vooma (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla Caramel): Water, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Sucrose, Acidity regulators (Sodium Citrate E331i; Potassium citrate E332i), Creatine Monohydrate, Ascorbic Acid, L-Carnitine, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)(L-Leucine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine), Acidulant (Citric Acid), Sodium Chloride, Flavoring, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Glutamic Acid, Thickener (Xanthan Gum).`''
=EFS Liquid Shot=
The most unusual thing about EFS is that it comes in a small plastic flask that holds the equivalent of about four normal gel packs. I rather like the idea of a small flask as you can take as much or as little as you feel like, something that's a bit trickier with a foil package to gel. Flask is also reusable which is nice, but I found it a little larger than I would like. While it sits very nicely in my hand, I wouldn't want to hold it for any significant distance, and it's a bit too heavy to put into running shorts. EFS make some impressive claims for their gel, but on closer inspection they become far less impressive:
* No "gelling agents, which slow down absorption and digestion." This sounds really good, until I realized that none of the gels contain any type of "gelling agent." Energy gels are the viscosity they are due to the quantity of carbohydrate, effectively making a thick paste.
* Contains "400 calories." This is a little misleading, as the EFS is the equivalent in size, weight, and cost to consuming for standard gels. If you compare like-four-like and look at a quarter of a flask, then the EFS has a reasonably standard hundred calories.
* A "supercharged endurance formula." I'd argue that EFS is a rather pedestrian and sub optimal blend of carbohydrates. It's half simple sugars, as a blend of dextrose and table sugar, and half ''[[Maltodextrin]]''. These simple sugars mean you needed to consume rather more water to make EFS isotonic than the better quality gels like Gu.
* "Over 1500mg electrolytes (so you don't need to bother taking extra electrolyte pills)." If he can normalize it down to a standard gels serving, then EFS contains 100mg of sodium, which is a little better than some energy gels, but far from ideal when you consider the amount of fluid that has to be consumed to make it isotonic. I estimate you need to take over 300mL/10oz of water with a quarter of an EFS flask. That's a little less sodium than you'd get from simply drinking the same quantity of Gatorade which is itself a pretty crappy source of electrolytes. For context, [[The Science Of Hydration]] suggests that a non-heat acclimated runner that is sweating heavily could lose over 5,000mg of sodium/hour.
* "1000mg of amino acids." There is some evidence that amino acids may improve endurance, but normalizing down to the standard gel, EFS only provides 250mg of amino acids, rather less and something like Gu Roctane.
* It's a "liquid?" I expected EFS Liquid Short to be a liquid, not a gel, so I was surprised that it was only a little thinner than most other gels. It's not quite as thick as a Gu, but it's far thicker than USN Vooma Energy, SIS Isotonic, Island Boost, or High5 EnergyGel. Personally, I rather like this consistency, but the "liquid" in the name is distinctly misleading.
Overall, I found EFS to be an adequate, if not particularly great energy gel. If you like the idea of the small flask, then you could either refill the EFS flask with a better quality gel or purchase something like the [ Fuel Belt Gel Flask] which I've used in the past.
[[File:EFSLiquidShot.JPG|none|thumb|500px|EFS Liquid Shot (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients: Complex carbohydrates, Dextrose, Sucrose, Water, Amino Acid Blend (L-Glutamine, Leucine, Iso-Leucine, Valine), Salt, Potassium Chloride, Calcium (as calcium complex), Magnesium (as magnesium glycine amino acid chelate), natural flavors, citric acid, sorbic acid and sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness)''
=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 flavors are generally rather more candy like than fruit like. 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. (Note that the chocolate flavor has 1.5g of fat.)

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