What Are Energy Gels & How Do They Help Personal Training?

We all have that friend, family member or client who’s taking part in an endurance event who would love to get that ‘edge’ (and I’m not talking about a glass of vino before the event!).

The market nowadays is a wash with different gels, bars and isotonic drinks to help keep you going for longer. So what exactly are they? Well, it’s very simple, they are small sachets you can carry with you when you are running/cycling etc that contain energy sources (among other things). We have broken down what are in our top 3 with the ‘need-to-knows’ just below.

All of these servings can be found on the reverse side of each product. Always check your servings before ingesting any of these gels.

Clif Shot (chocolate):

kcals: 100, carbs: 21.3g – sugars 12g, sodium: 140mg, potassium: 76mg, caffeine is present from cocoa mass (7mg)

GU Energy gels (salted watermelon):

kcals: 100, carbs: 22g – sugars 7g, sodium: 60mg, potassium: 40mg, caffeine added through green tea extract.

PowerGel (Strawberry Banana):

kcals: 110, carbs: 27g – sugars 10g, sodium 200mg, potassium: 20mg, caffeine added through green tea extract.

So what do all of these ingredients actually do? 

Carbohydrates: Your body’s main energy source, broken into different forms, sugars being one of them. The different chemical makeups of different foods dictates how quickly they can be utilised as energy and for how long.

Sodium: Is the prime electrolyte that your body loses through sweating, therefore replenishing these levels helps to maintain proper hydration.

Potassium: Another electrolyte found in the blood that helps with smooth muscular contractions.

All 3 of the gels we’ve just taken a look into have their own benefits and I cannot stress enough, that what works for one individual, may/may not work for another. We are all unique and therefore our bodies react in different ways to different ingredients and quantities of.

The main benefit to the Clif Shots are that they have very few ingredients, keeping things simple and therefore reducing the risk of any adverse affects during digestion. The GU Energy gels have added Branch Chain Amino Acids (leucine, valine and isoleucine) which may reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage and finally, the PowerGel has a dual source energy blend of both maltodextrin and fructose (for both short and long term energy release).

My conclusion… if you have a buddy who’s looking for that extra ‘oomph’ in their performance, encourage them to test out a few different gels (or bars/drinks) weeks/months before they participate so they can see what works for them!