Races that involve input for more than 90 minutes can make you deprived of energy and carbohydrates. Yes, you need to replenish the carbohydrates already stored in your body at the rate of 60gm/hr.
These are restored more effectively by consuming energy gels which is a widely used practice by endurance athletes and triathletes.
It’s important to know the individual requirements of your body, especially the calories you burn during the race. It helps you to satisfy the calories you need to consume through energy Gels, drinks, and other supplements. Make sure to check our post on Triathlon Nutrition Guide: Before, During & After Race (What Not To Eat !!!)
For some more details on this, head over to our article we wrote about How Many Calories Are Consumed In Triathlons; Why Is It Important? All Distances
Are energy gels expensive in general?
Not really. You can keep your energy level boosted with energy gels that cost around 2 USD per gel that will last you for 45 workout minutes. However, these energy gels have upsets your stomach and there are alternatives that may work better for your body.
Also check out the energy gel I personally use and proven to be working as part of my list of Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear
How To Make Energy Gels Alternatives Yourlelf At Home?
In general, I personally have never got to the point where energy gels alternatives have completely delivered the same level of energy as quickly as off the shelf energy gel, but I also was never been able to take the right number of gels in long events because of how horrible they make my stomach feels.
So I believe one can mix and match between homemade and ready-made energy gel for optimal outcome.
The main objective of the recipes and ingredients below is to deliver a cheaper, and tastier source of energy while still maintaining a level of effectiveness when compared with typical energy gels. Check out my go-to energy gels listed in my Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear
Also, Sodium, potassium, and protein are commonly added as the main ingredients in energy supplements. I would advise experimenting with different recipes in your training sessions to figure out which ones workes best for you.
One thing to note is that energy gels often contain caffeine to pump up the body which is absent from the recipes below but you may choose to add some ingredients to include such as coffee bean powder.
Here are some options you can make your own,
Note: Make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients.
Brown rice syrup
The main ingredient is Brown rice syrup for this recipe. You need to add 30% of the honey in 50% of brown rice syrup along with 20% of molasses. Molasses are the source of proteins. However, molasses from Blackstrap can work best for this recipe. Now stir the mixture after adding around 8 teaspoons of salt.
Stir it gently until you see the uniform consistency in the liquid. You can now add water to it to make it diluted as much as you want. For better flavor and taste, you can add vanilla extract, lemon-lime, coffee, or powder green tea according to your taste.
You can repeat the aforementioned recipe by replacing brown rice syrup with maple syrup and adding a peanut butter powder to give it a better flavor. PB 2 defatted peanut butter can work best here. Be mindful while adding salt, too much salt doesn’t really taste well with honey.
Let’s now use maltodextrin to make this gel. You need to add 6 tablespoons of Karo syrup in perfectly warm 15 ounces (566.99 g) of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Take a small container and fill it with 300gm of maltodextrin. Keep on adding it slowly in the Karo water syrup under simmering.
Maltodextrin is a kind of glucose as well as a quick source of carbohydrates. They are less sweet and are fast-digesting carbohydrates. It is referred to as a go-to mass gainer, available in a powdered form. You can get your hands on drinks that contain maltodextrin as the main ingredient.
You can also add a sugar-free drink mix for flavoring. You can add salt to it if you don’t consume salt tablets separately during your race. Do not just leave the mixture to simmer, keep stirring it until it gets uniformly thick. Let the gel get cool, and then you can pour it into gel packets or containers.
Frozen Fruit Gel
For this, you need 1 pound (0.45 kg) frozen fruit, 1 cup of pitted dates, packed (about 22 dates), and 1 cup (0.24 l) sweet rice flour. Put the saucepan filled with fruit and dates over the stove for about 20 minutes. Keep stirring so that nothing gets stick to the bottom of the pan.
Now shift the fruit-date mixture into a blender, and blend it to get it into a form of smooth purée. Let it cool, and you can now add one cup of sweet rice flour to it. Preheat your oven to 350 °F and transfer the gel chew to a baking tray with grease-proof paper on it.
Place the tray inside the oven for about 20-25 minutes. You’ll see a thin layer over it after 10 minutes, you can check it with the help of a knife. After 20 minutes, pull the tray out of your oven and shift the gel chews to the refrigerator for the next 20 minutes. It’s now ready to be taken for bike rides and runs.
What Are Effective Ready Made ( Off The Shelf) Energy Gels Alternatives?
These alternatives are in the form of energy drinks, sweets, soft jellies, fruits, energy bars, dry fruits, nuts, and sandwiches. Having said that, if you have had a bad experience with certain gels, then try using gels of another brand or maybe of different flavors, or you can make your own.
Well, it’s better to get your hands on jelly babies rather than swallowing energy gels.
It’s worth mentioning that these are however cheap alternatives to energy gels. Though, they are not precisely recommended as sport-specific, but contain sugar and therefore can boost your glucose level.
We have some soft jellies as well, commonly known as jello. Each block of jelly contains 92gm of carbohydrates, and I think it’s yummier than sweet and sickly energy gels.
One of the most readily available sources of carbohydrates. Banana contains 30gm of carbohydrates along with fibers. You must have seen it in the pockets of triathletes during the race and as the main ingredient in energy drinks.
A 2012 study on trained cyclists published in the journal PLoS .One found that eating bananas during a 75k time trial had the same effect on performance as consuming a sports drink.Source
Easy to carry, 30g of dried grapes can deliver you 24g of carbohydrates with more health benefits than energy gels and energy bars. According to studies, raisins are as effective as energy gels
A 2013 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that 5K time trial performance in a group of runners was the same whether they consumed raisins or energy chews beforehand.Source
Honey has a liquid consistency with a high amount of sugars. It is naturally processed and readily and quickly absorbed by our body.
Dates are great chewy carbohydrate-rich natural energy gel
Maple syrup alone has more sugar and more nutrients than honey. It is accessible has a thick texture. It makes a great option for usage while racing. There is also the option of Maple syrup candy for something to chew on.
How To Pack Your own Home made Energy Gel
Check the link below for how do you pack your energy gel,
The final thoughts revolve around the effectiveness of the aforementioned homemade alternatives for energy gels.
It’s better to make your own energy gels rather than buying expensive ones just because they taste better and you can tweak the ingredeants based on your personal preference.
Give this article a good read we wrote about How Much To Spend On Triathlon Energy Gel?
Secondly, you can avoid upseting your stomach by simply dumping that specific ingredient from your recipe.
It goes without mentioning that consumption of these energy gels has an age limit. Energy gels are not suitable for children. Also as they are intensely flavored. Many children also find their texture unappealing.
We have gathered some reasons as to why energy gels are not suitable for children and what other alternatives are available of athletic kids. Have a look at Should kids use nutritional supplements like energy gels and drinks? Risks and Substitutes