Runners, cyclists and triathletes commonly use energy gels, and for good reason: They provide a convenient, ideally dosed energy source that can be taken in on the fly. But gels aren’t just for endurance types. Recent research published in the European Journal of Sport Science illustrates that these products — most of which contain a blend of fast-acting carbohydrates like maltodextrin or dextrose and slower-digesting carbs like fructose — also produce performance-enhancing effects during all-out intermittent sprinting exercise. In the study, athletic participants who ingested a 70-milliliter gel containing 25 grams of carbs and 100 milligrams of caffeine one hour before, immediately before and during sprint training had decreased levels of fatigue and perceived exertion toward the end of exercise compared to a placebo. It should be noted, though, that such effects were likely because of the caffeine, which is also often found in gel products. These findings can be extended to those using high-intensity interval training to improve performance (not for weight loss) or in athletes who are undergoing repeated sprint training over long periods.
Do This:Find a gel with caffeine and take one dose an hour before training, another immediately before you start your workout and another 30 to 60 minutes into the training session. If you’re looking to get similar effects without the carbohydrates, take 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine before your training session.