How To Take GU Energy Gel (And How Often) ?!

I’m going to come right out and say that without energy gel, I’m not confident I can finish a marathon run. That burst of energy at strategic moments is (for me) the difference between crossing the finish line or declaring DNF (did not finish).

There are many energy gel brands on the market, and I’ve tried most of them.  They all work the same, and the main difference is usually the taste; there are some I’d never use again for that exact reason. GU is on the plus list!

So, how do you take GU energy gel? Everyone is different; some people need an energy boost more frequently than others. The timing is based on a person’s metabolism, the outside temperature, the length of the event, and when the body needs it. If there had to be a universal average to consume an energy gel, it would be approximately every 45 minutes of training or competing.

Get ready to learn all about GU Energy Gels.

Why Energy Gels Benefit Runners ?

During heavy exercise, the body gets quickly depleted of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and amino acids. Energy gels are a cheap and highly efficient way to replace them in an easy-to-digest manner.

Sodium is the most common electrolyte that the body needs during exercise. Sweat removes sodium from the body in significant amounts, and dehydration could occur if it’s not replaced.

When Should You Take GU Energy Gel?

It’s best to eat the first one 15–30 minutes before the start to give the body a little more energy than it may need. Throughout the event, they can be taken as required — when energy levels feel low — or every 45 minutes. Elite athletes with a fast metabolism can consider eating them every 30 minutes. (Source)

Each GU Energy Gel sachet contains 100 calories. The average human body can digest 120–240 calories in an hour during exercise. Therefore, taking them more frequently than every 30 minutes is not advisable. 

The bloodstream doesn’t need excess carbohydrates, so they’re diverted to your gut. Remember, gels contain sodium and sugars, and too much of these can cause more damage than good.

The Best Way to Eat It

Energy gel can get sticky; I’ve ended up with it all over my fingers and in my pockets before. So here’s the best way to eat it. Tear the top ¾ of the way only. Place the opening in your mouth and squeeze it from the bottom of the pack, kind of like toothpaste. When it’s empty, fold the top flap over a few times.

There you go, no mess, no fuss!

Here’s Yuri from the GU marketing team demonstrating, while cycling, how to eat an energy gel using only one hand.

How to Eat a GU Energy Gel on the Go

We also highly recommend that you check out our post ” Where Do You Store Energy Gels? (While Racing Or Not)

Do You Need to Drink Water With GU Gel?

Yes. The gel is a thick substance, so adding water will help digest it and get it into the bloodstream faster, so it can activate. Without liquid, the sudden impact of a mass of carbs into the stomach may cause slight irritation.

If you’re like me and not one of those runners who always keeps a bottle of water with them, you can time when to eat the gel. The best events usually have water stops every 2 kms. When I know a drink station is coming up, I’ll open the gel sachet and eat it just before I get there. Then I’ll grab the usual amount of water and wash it down. 

How Much Water Should I Drink With GU Energy Gel?

There’s no hard or fast rule about how much you need. Personally, I don’t drink any more water than I usually would during an event.

Some athletes state that they can consume 14 ounces for every gel sachet, but that’s too much for me. 

Can You Mix Energy Gels With Sports Drinks?

Never drink anything other than water with energy gels. Sports drinks contain the same levels of sugars and sodium as energy gels do, so you’re doubling down, which could be dangerous.

Can You Take GU on an Empty Stomach?

GU Energy Gels work best on an empty stomach. If the event is first thing in the morning, avoid eating any solid foods. Eat your first energy gel 15–30 minutes before the race starts. If it’s at another time of the day, wait for at least 3 hours after the last meal.

If you’ve eaten before a race, your body has enough fuel and carbohydrates not to need energy gels.

However, if the event is longer than a mini-marathon, you may be exercising for over 3 hours, and at that point, your body will be starved for energy. So keep some sachets in your pocket, just in case. 

How Long Does It Take for GU Gel to Work?

Depending on the person’s metabolism and how soon after eating, they’ve drunk water, it can take anywhere from 3–15 minutes to kick in. Ideally, an athlete will feel an energy boost, breathing may feel less labored, and any feelings of fatigue should dissipate. 

Energy gels are designed to boost performance; they’re not painkillers or muscle relaxants. Any expectation for them to assist in these areas is futile.

How Long Does GU Last After Eating?

After it kicks in, the energy boost will be stronger and gradually dissipate, usually just in time for the next one ( typically from 30 to 45 minutes).

How Long Does GU Last For On the Shelf?

GU Energy Gels can be consumed even 12–24 months after the best-by date. Their effectiveness doesn’t diminish over time, and the only differences may be in the taste and consistency of the product. For more on this, check out our post ” Do Energy Gels & Electrolyte Powder Get Expired?

How To Choose The Best GU Energy Gel?

One of the ways GU has it over its competitors is the wide range of flavors. While some have only a few to choose from, GU has it covered. Try them all and find the one that is the best tasting. There’s nothing worse in an event than giving yourself a mouthful of something that doesn’t taste great.

I love the cola flavor, but the berry ones also taste great. As I said in the opening, I’m a huge fan of energy gels.

If you find during an event that you wish you had a power burst, consider taking a couple of sachets with you in your pockets. Ideally, take one just before a drink station so you can dilute it with water.

Stephen Christopher

began running at the age of 50 and 2 years later ran his first marathon in just over 5 hours. He continues to join events all over Thailand and South East Asia with Berlin and London on the list for the future.

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