Athletes often need nutrients during workouts to provide sustained energy, and endurance athletes know the benefits of sports gels. Their compactness makes them easy to carry on a bike or during a run — or even at the gym. Even better, certain gels deliver their nutrients quickly, allowing you to sustain performance for longer, enhancing speed, effort and results. Here’s what to look for in a sports gel:
Because energy needs midworkout are virtually immediate, getting in a source of carbs that mixes well with water is crucial for absorption within your gastrointestinal tract. The sugar sucrose and the long-chain-carb maltodextrin are readily digested, and mixing them with the fluids found in your system helps speed the process. They are then available to fulfill your immediate energy needs, helping to keep you from bonking as a result of reduced blood sugar. Fructose, on the other hand, is absorbed more slowly, helping to provide energy after you’ve burned the fast-digesting carbs, allowing you to sustain peak performance.
Many sports gels provide almost all calories from carbs, whether that’s fast- or slow-digesting sources. But recent research demonstrates superior benefits when you get a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. So if you’re getting 20 grams of carbs, you should also get 5 grams of protein. The benefits of protein include better endurance, increased satiety (compared to equal-calorie servings without protein), enhanced muscle protein synthesis and faster, better recovery.
Some gels contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant. Many people find that caffeine helps them feel more energized so that they can perform better for longer periods. Research backs this up, demonstrating that it not only helps prevent fatigue but also enhances strength, endurance and recovery.
Find Them All In: Accel Gel from PacificHealth Laboratories