Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade Energy Gels / Gu

For endurance athletes energy gels have become a necessary evil.  Their consistencies are horrible.  For some people the first time they consume one they become nauseous.   For many people they can cause some serious stomach issues.  Sometimes the ingredients are questionable. And over the many months of training they can become very expense.  Because of these reasons I started to surf the internet to find out how to make homemade energy gels.

Most gels consist of only a few, easily obtainable ingredients.  They all have some type of a carbohydrate (sugars), salt, vitamins (potassium, C, E, etc) and others (flavorings, caffeine, protein, amino acids, etc)

(All these can be easily purchased online, at your local grocery store, health food store or beer supply store)

This can found on the internet or your local beer supply store.  This is the sugar that most commercially available gels use (Hammer, Carb-Boom, Power Gel, and Gu).  It is easily digestible, not overly sweet and a fast energy source.  It is commonly used in sodas and candies.  This usually comes in the form of a powder that must be hydrated.

Commonly known as a fruit sugar.  This is a slow digesting sugar and has low GI index. 

This can be found just about anywhere for cheap.  One added benefit of this sugar is that it naturally contains vitamins and minerals. Consuming local honeys may even be beneficial to individuals with a pollen allergy.  It is also an antiseptic and antibacterial. Honey contains many natural sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose).  Stinger Gels use honey as one of the carb sources.  I make homemade mead (honey wine) so I have a TON of this in the house.

Brown Rice Syrup
This syrup contains maltose, glucose, and maltotriose.  It is also quickly digested.  This is the carb source used in Cliff Shot Energy Gels.

Agave Nectar
This is the sugar they use to make tequila. :-)   This is the sugar used in Chocolate #9 Gels.  It has a light syrupy consistency and is slightly sweet.

Blackstrap Molasses
This is what is used to make rum. :-)  This sugar is used a lot in southern cooking and is an acquired taste.  But it is cheap and has naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. 

Other Ingredients

Salt – I would use all natural sea salt or use some commercial electrolyte pills you already probably purchased.  Personally I like Salt Stick.

Vitamins – Take your pick.  This is usually vitamin C (Citric Acid), vitamin E, potassium, etc

Amino Acids – You can get these from anywhere but they are not necessary.  GU and Hammer sometimes adds them to their gels.

Flavorings – Experiment with your favorites (juices, extracts, purees, artificial flavorings, etc)

Caffeine – Coffee, tea, No-Doze, etc

Pectin - This is a thickening agent (think Jell-O).  You can get this in the supermarket.

The How To:

The great part about making homemade gels is that you can customize and experiment with ingredients and flavors.  This experimentation is part of the fun.  You can also save a ton of cash.  You can make gels for about 1/5th the price.  Trying to make homemade energy gels is definitely on my list of todos.

I found several great websites that describe the details, recipes and science behind energy gels.  Much of the information above is a summary of their details.  I would recommend reading these links.
Has a great article about how to make a simple, all natural, cheap and effective energy gel.  It basically uses only honey, blackstrap molasses and salt.  These ingredients should store for months with no issues and since it comes from honey and molasses it contains all the natural vitamins and minerals you need. The second page tells you how to make a protein version.  I am not sure how good it would taste though.

Note: the link above has two pages.  You can access the second page by clicking the hyper link at the bottom of the page. 

Summit Post
This website has a great break down of everything you need to know.  It describes the science behind gels, their ingredients, packaging and price breakdown, etc.  Great read.

Note the link above has three pages.  You can access the other pages by clicking the hyper link at the bottom of the page. 

Jibbering has some great sounding recipes.  He also tells you what went wrong with some of the recipes he has tried.  Another great read.

Life Is An Ultramarathon has a great gel breakdown which include each gels main carbohydrate, cost sweetness, etc.

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