Energy Gels for Runners

Energy Gels for Runners

Energy Gels for Runners

In this article, we will explore the world of energy gels for runners. We will discuss what energy gels are, how they work, and when to use them. We will also provide a guide on choosing the right energy gel for your needs. Finally, we will conclude with key takeaways to remember when using energy gels during your training and racing.

Key Takeaways

  • Energy gels are convenient packets of carbs, amino acids, and other nutrients designed to resupply glycogen and electrolytes during long runs.
  • Most energy gels contain a combination of simple sugars, electrolytes, and sometimes caffeine.
  • Runners should consume 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour during long runs, with most gels providing around 25-30g of carbs.
  • Choosing the right energy gel depends on personal preference, affordability, ingredients, and texture.

What Are Energy Gels?

How Do Energy Gels Work?

Energy gels, or running gels, are convenient packets of carbs, amino acids, and other nutrients designed to resupply accessible glycogen and electrolytes that get depleted during long duration runs. Most energy gels are similar. They contain a combination of simple sugars, like sucrose, fructose, glucose, and maltodextrin. Simple sugars are the body’s preferred source of fuel during exercise because they can be used by the body quickly after consuming. Most gels provide between 20 and 30g of carbohydrates per serving. These gels are easily digestible and provide a quick burst of energy, making them ideal for athletes during training and competition. Some gels also contain electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which help replenish lost fluids and minerals in the body. It's important to note that energy gels should be consumed with water to ensure proper absorption and avoid digestive issues. Overall, energy gels are a convenient and effective way to fuel your runs and maintain energy levels.

When Should You Use Energy Gels?

During long-duration endurance activities such as running, cycling, or triathlons, it is generally recommended to consume a gel every 45 minutes to an hour to help maintain energy levels. If you're engaging in high-intensity workouts or activities that deplete your glycogen stores quickly, such as interval training or intense team sports, consuming a gel before or during the session may help provide a quick energy boost. Keep in mind that any event longer than an hour requires electrolyte replenishment. Along with carbohydrates, replenishing electrolytes is essential to maintain proper muscle function and prevent cramping. Ideally, when looking to run a marathon or half marathon, you should prioritize energy gels that provide sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other electrolytes. During a long run, you should consume 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour. Most energy gels contain around 25-30g of carbs, aim to take 1 gel every 30 to 45 minutes. For my marathons, I eat one energy waffle at the start, and then I take one gel every 30 minutes. I alternate between caffeinated gels and uncaffeinated gels. In total, I end up taking a total of 6-7 gels over the 26.2 miles. Some runners (myself included) love gels for many reasons. The easy-to-digest carbs found in gels provide quick and reliable fuel. Gels are easy to scarf down and carry with you during a run. Plus, many gels also contain electrolytes which are key for preventing dehydration and avoiding cramps. The texture of gels makes them easy to consume fast (no chewing necessary) and they are perfect for mid-run fueling.

Choosing the Right Energy Gel

When it comes to choosing the right energy gel for your runs, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about the flavor. You want something that you enjoy and that won't become too overwhelming during a long run. Second, consider the ingredients. Look for gels that contain real food ingredients and avoid those with excessive amounts of sugar or artificial additives. Third, think about the nutritional profile. Check the carbohydrate content, as well as the presence of electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Finally, consider your personal preferences. Some runners prefer gels with caffeine for an extra boost, while others prefer non-caffeinated options. Experiment with different brands and flavors to find what works best for you.


In conclusion, energy gels are a game-changer for runners looking to boost their performance and sustain their energy levels during long-distance runs. They provide a convenient and easily digestible source of carbohydrates and electrolytes that can help delay fatigue and improve endurance. When choosing the right energy gel, it's important to consider factors such as flavor, texture, and nutritional content. Ultimately, the best energy gel for you will depend on your personal preferences and specific needs. So, next time you hit the pavement, don't forget to fuel up with an energy gel and experience the difference it can make in your running performance!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do runners use energy gels?

Runners use energy gels to resupply glycogen and electrolytes that get depleted during long runs. Energy gels provide a quick source of fuel and can help improve endurance.

What are the advantages of taking energy gels?

Taking energy gels can provide a quick source of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and other nutrients to fuel your runs. They are convenient, easy to consume, and can help prevent fatigue and muscle cramps.

When should you use energy gels?

Energy gels are typically used during long runs or endurance activities lasting longer than 60 minutes. They can be consumed every 30 to 45 minutes to maintain energy levels and prevent glycogen depletion.

What do runners like about energy gels?

Runners like energy gels because they are easy to consume, provide a quick source of fuel, and often contain electrolytes to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps. They are also convenient to carry during runs.

How do you choose the right energy gel?

When choosing an energy gel, consider factors such as the carbohydrate content, flavor, texture, and additional ingredients like electrolytes or caffeine. It's also important to try different gels during training to find one that works best for you.

Are energy gels good for running?

Energy gels can be beneficial for running, especially during long runs or endurance activities. They provide a quick source of fuel and nutrients to sustain energy levels and improve performance.

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