How to Eat Energy Gel

Three Parts:Buying Energy GelTesting Energy GelUsing Energy Gel During a Race

Energy gel is a glucose product designed for endurance athletes. It helps replenish your blood and brain carbohydrate levels during a race. The “goo” consistency is designed to be easy for your stomach to digest, when digestion slows to help put more energy into movement. It is a good idea to test energy gels before the big race and follow the pointers set out by marathon racer.

Part 1
Buying Energy Gel

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    Choose several different flavors of gel. Stomachs can often turn queasy during a race, so you are unlikely to stomach one that you don’t like when you aren’t racing.
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    Look for products with maltodextrin/fructose blends and brown rice syrup blends. Although you might like the idea of a natural product better, the synthetic product may provide better results.
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    Test out chews in addition to gels. Gels are generally easier for the body to digest, since the chews require more work from the mouth and digestive system. However, some runners, bikers, hikers and other athletes might enjoy the taste of chews better.

Part 2
Testing Energy Gel

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    Plan several long training sessions where you can test the gels for taste, texture and effect.
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    Keep water with you at all times. You should always take energy gel with a gulp or two of water.
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    Try fruit flavors, chocolate flavors and vanilla flavors. You may not know what your body will crave until you are in the midst of exercise.[1]
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    Try a “rocket fuel” energy gel in the last 20 minutes of the race. Don’t take this type any earlier or you may run out of steam before the finish line. These types of gels don’t work for everyone.[2]
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    Choose the gel that gives you a noticeable pick-me-up about three to 15 minutes later. Many runners describe this as a “second wind” and the results should be noticeable.

Part 3
Using Energy Gel During a Race

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    Eat a healthy breakfast before race day. Although most gels will say to eat a serving 30 minutes before the race, it is far better to fill your body with less simple sugars so that you build a solid store of both complex and simple carbohydrates. Gels are simple carbohydrates, and are designed to keep you going, not start you off.
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    Wait 45 to 60 minutes before taking your first gel. Your store of carbohydrates will last between 90 and 120 minutes, depending upon your pace. Spend some time getting comfortable in your pace, and then pull out your gel packs.
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    Time a serving so that you take it just before a water station. You will need a couple of gulps of water to swallow and digest the goo. Don’t take energy gels without water, and never take them with sports drinks.
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    Take another serving every 30 to 60 minutes of the remaining race. Read the gel packet before you race to see the serving size. It is better to take more gel near the beginning of the race than the end, because digestion may stop completely near the end.
    • If you know your digestion stops completely and you have trouble even consuming water near the end of a race, then don’t take energy gels near the end. You can end up throwing up the gel, because your stomach isn’t capable of digestion.
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    Adjust your serving size if you have a sensitive stomach. Runners who are prone to sickness should take a quarter serving every 20 minutes throughout the beginning of the race. Choose your flavors carefully and avoid using it near the race’s end.[3]
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    Take another serving a few minutes after the end of the race if you have hit a wall. They can help you start to recover. Begin eating more complex carbohydrates at your next meal.


  • Beware that using energy gel can sometimes lead to mental dependency. Avoid using the gels when you can, so that your body learns to run with and without them.

Things You'll Need

  • Energy gels
  • Energy chews
  • Water
  • Timer

Article Info

Categories: Sports and Fitness