Energy gels – who are they for and when to use them?

Energy gels – who are they for and when to use them?
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

On store shelves we can come across various dietary supplements and nutrients designed for physically active people. This category includes, among others, energy gels. What are they, who can use them and how should they be used?

What are energy gels?

Simply put, energy gels are a concentrated source of energy. What makes them different is that they quickly provide easily digestible carbohydrates, which are essential during intense, prolonged physical activity. Energy gels do not burden our digestive system and have a semi-liquid consistency. When choosing them, one should be guided by, among other things, the composition. The shorter it is, the better. Who can use such a product? Energy gels are most often used by cyclists and long-distance runners during competitions. However, it is advisable to test such a product at the training, consume a small portion and check whether it does not cause discomfort such as heartburn or nausea.

Composition of energy gels

What is the composition of energy gels? They contain, among others, simple carbohydrates (such as glucose) and complex carbohydrates such as starch, which are broken down to simple sugars. The latter are a source of energy that can be quickly and easily used by the body. Sometimes we have to deal with energy gels with the addition of fructose. However, there should not be too much of it. This can result in gastrointestinal problems.

What else do energy gels for athletes contain? Their composition may include, for example, caffeine to stimulate the nervous system and taurine, which delays the onset of fatigue. Glycine, a deacidifying substance which provides an additional source of energy, and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which help maintain the right electrolyte balance in the body, are also added to products of this type. However, these are not all the possible ingredients of energy gels. They may also contain water, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, gelling agents, acidity regulators, starch and fruit pieces.

Are energy gels healthy?

Despite their numerous advantages, energy gels also have some disadvantages. These include the fact that they are a rich source of simple sugars, which can increase the risk of developing tooth decay. Gels containing a large amount of carbohydrates can contribute to the burden on the body and cause unpleasant gastrointestinal discomfort. Such products enriched with concentrates, flavors and artificial colors may also have adverse health effects.

For whom are energy gels intended?

Who can use energy gels? It is a very good solution mainly for people who practice endurance and strength sports. This category includes cycling, running and triathlon. As research shows, athletes who consume energy gels during intensive effort achieve better results and have a better capacity of the body. This is due to the fact that there is a high concentration of glucose in their bodies, which translates into an increased supply of energy to the muscles.

When to use energy gels?

When is it worth buying a product like an energy gel? It works best on long distances exceeding 10 km. If they are a bit shorter, snacks such as a banana or a muesli bar will be sufficient. In addition, you should take care of proper hydration of the body. How to take the energy gel? It is recommended to consume it in small portions. After eating, we rinse the mouth with water, which is intended to wash away simple sugars and get rid of the characteristic aftertaste.

Featured photo: Michael Dodge / Getty Images Sports

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