Energy Gels: Do you Really Need them?

What are energy gels? That’s the question a lot of new runners are asking. Before, we only had water and energy drinks, but now we have these gels, which many are vouching for. If you’re thinking of giving them a try, here’s a rundown of all the essential information you have to know first.

What are Energy Gels?

The more common energy gels are derived from maltodextrin, which supplies glucose to your bloodstream and also digestible carbohydrate. You have to mix them with water, so in a sense, they’re energy drinks.

Why Do You Need Them?

Runners need these gels because they replenish your body’s carbohydrate supply as it gets depleted when you run. Most high quality gels work as an energy booster, “waking” up your body.

Have you ever tried running for long distances on an empty stomach? It probably didn’t take long before you started feeling dizzy or woozy. That’s because your brain’s glucose supply is running low. By taking these gels, you’ll be infusing your body with a fresh supply of energy.

When Do You Really Need Energy Gels?

The benefits are most apparent when you go on long runs, i.e. 10K, 21LK and so on.  At 5k you won’t need it, while for 10k it’ll make more of a difference. However, it’s also going to depend on your experience. If you’re a long-time runner who can complete a 10K in less than 40 minutes you probably don’t need a gel booster.

However, if it takes you 40 minutes to an hour then you’ll notice the difference when you drink one of these. The general rule is you’re going to feel the benefits when you run for 60 to 75 minutes.

Is It Safe?

Yes, they’re safe. Of course just like any other food or drink you should research the product and learn as much as you can about it. Follow the instructions for mixing the gel with water and use only as directed. As long as you follow these guidelines there should not be any problems.

Other Helpful Facts About Energy Gels

The absorption rate varies per individual, so while some may feel the effect of the gel in just a couple of minutes, for others it might take 15 minutes. The vibration difference occurs because our stomachs digest carbohydrates differently. When you run, your body shifts more blood in your legs than the stomach, slowing down digestion.

That’s why some athletes and runners like to take gels early so the body has a greater chance of absorbing the gel. As to how early, it’s around 45 to 60 minutes. Some even prefer to take gels before they start working out, but it’s better to have a meal instead. However, the choice is really up to you.

Our Take

As we have shown here, these energy gels can make a difference as far as performance is concerned. They’re no alternatives for working out, but if you want to make the most of your physical capabilities and have had enough of energy drinks, energy gels are the answer.

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