Energy gels: getting them right (and using them!)
They provide quick carbohydrates to the muscles and brain during exercise with minimal handling. But before using them, it’s best to understand and test them!
An energy gel is primarily a mixture of sugars and water. Its consistency will vary from liquid to thick, in a format that varies according to the brand of the product. The whole thing comes in disposable packaging with a tip that is easy to tear off. It is recommended to always accompany it with a large mouthful of water to promote absorption and limit digestive problems.
Usually, gels contain mainly simple carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, etc.), but some also contain complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin, starch, etc.) and even a little protein. For faster absorption, choose gels that have a higher proportion of simple carbohydrates than complex carbohydrates. If your effort is longer, it is then interesting to combine different types of carbohydrates and a little protein. All of them will contain around 20 to 27 grams of carbohydrates, which is almost the minimum amount of carbohydrates to consume for each hour of training (we aim for 30 to 60 grams per hour).
Almost all gels contain sodium and potassium. For sodium, which is the electrolyte that most influences performance and hydration status, gels contain 0 to 200 mg on average. In general, gels are not concentrated enough to fully replace sodium losses in sweat, so you need to compensate with a sports drink or salt capsules (see a future article on this topic).
A wide variety of products are available on the market to meet everyone’s needs. The ideal is to try several to find the ones that suit you. During your training, it is essential to test the gels that will be available on the Marathon Beneva de Montréal course (SPARK gels) if you plan to use them during your race!
Gels are quickly absorbed and do not require chewing, a clear advantage over other foods (bars, dried fruit, jujubes, etc.). If taken without water or in excess during a workout/event, the gel will draw water into the intestine, which can cause bloating and even diarrhea. It is important to be cautious and to hydrate yourself sufficiently when taking them during a long outing.
In the end, it is all a matter of personal preference and choice. You have to know yourself and try out different types of gels.
Psstttt…for those who register for one of the races, Vivaï offers a 10% discount on the purchase of a nutritional evaluation with us or on the purchase of our sports nutrition guides by mentioning the promo code: MBDM10 . Contact us at 514-287-7272 or firstname.lastname@example.org or purchase them on our online store: https://www.vivai.ca/fr/categorie-produit/services-et-forfaits/