Energy gels are excellent for that sudden performance boost during a race. Are you the kind of person who buys them at the event, ready to consume, or are you like me and buy them in bulk for use throughout the year?
Either way, you need to know how to store them. Like most perishables, they have a shelf life, so proper storage is essential.
So where do you store energy gels when you do not intend to use them? The best place to store energy gels is in a cupboard or on a shelf, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. (Source)
I’m glad you asked; I have a few tips for you too.
Get ready to learn all about how to store energy gel when you’re not racing and when you are.
“Disclaimer: Energy drinks aren’t for everyone. They can cause side effects like dizziness, or rapid heartbeat, and contribute to obesity and diabetes. In extreme cases, they could cause heart issues. Before consuming any of the ones listed in this article, consult with a medical practitioner to determine if it’s the right one for you.
We don’t get sponsored at Triathlon Budgeting – The Ultimate guide for triathletes by energy drink companies. The products listed come from various sources (referenced in each section), and are based on their independent lab tests and not paid favoritism.”
- Can You Refrigerate Energy Gels?
- How Long Do Energy Gels Last?
- What Is the Most Efficient Way to Store Energy Gels While Racing?
Can You Refrigerate Energy Gels?
One of the most commonly asked questions is about refrigeration. Yes, you can, but it’s not necessary. As I said in the intro, storing them at room temperature is ideal. If you want to keep them in a cool place, put them in the freezer at sub-zero degrees. The gel will freeze, so remember to give it time to thaw before use.
If the gel sachet has been opened, accidentally or otherwise, then keeping it in the fridge until your next race may be an option. Based on the ingredients, most of them won’t go bad after opening, but to play it safe, consume them within 30 days.
How Long Do Energy Gels Last?
Most energy gels have a shelf life of 18 months after the day they’re packaged. However, many manufacturers insist they can still be consumed up to 12 months past that date. The texture may be a little looser, they may not taste as great, and the effects may not be as instant, but they’re perfectly safe.
For a more detailed look at expiration dates, check out our article Do Energy Gels & Electrolyte Powder Get Expired?
What Is the Most Efficient Way to Store Energy Gels While Racing?
Carrying a bag with you when racing can weigh you down and, in return, lower your finishing time. There are a ton of handy ways to store energy gels without needing one. Triathletes, I’ll break it down per stage, but let’s first talk about gels in water.
Can You Put Energy Gels in Water?
Putting multiple energy gels into sufficient water — 3–4 oz per sachet — is an excellent way to keep them with you throughout the race. You can take a sip when convenient, anytime during the event. Any water bottle with a sealable cap works fine.
Cyclists can keep it in the water bottle holder on their bikes. Runners will need to carry it with them throughout the race; swimmers, you may want to sit this option out, but I’ve got you covered next.
Swimmers, you guys have it easy. You’re probably wearing something made of lycra, which hugs your body tightly. Slip the gel somewhere inside but close to the edge so it’s easy to get at. Inside the sleeve or in your trunks are the preferred places.
Here are three easy ways to store energy gel when you’re cycling.
1. Water Bottle
Most bikes have a ready-made bottle holder, so mix your gels with water, as mentioned above and keep it there for easy reach.
2. In Your Pants
Bicycle pants are almost always made from lycra. Just like swimmers, these handy pieces of clothing hug the body in all the right places. The opportunities to store gel sachets are endless. Naturally, you’d like them to be in a place you can reach.
3. On the Bike
Another tip is to use electrical tape and attach as many gel tubes as you need to the front bar of your bike. Wrap the tape around the tearable section, so when you’re ready to refuel, rip it off, and you’re good to go.
Here’s the process in video format:
Now you guys have it the easiest, as there are a heap of ways you can store your gels. Here are 5: (Source)
1. In Your Hand
Ok, so this might sound a little uncomfortable, but here’s a trick, use an elastic band to hold it in place. This way, you’re not actually holding onto it with your hand, but it’s instantly accessible when you’re ready to eat it.
Stating the obvious, I know, but it’s really a very convenient option. I like to wear running shorts with zippered pockets, so the gel packets don’t fall out.
To avoid sticky pockets from opened sachets, tear the top ¾ of the way off. After eating the gel, fold the top over the packet, and fold the entire thing again. No more stickiness!
3. Use a Safety Pin
This is a really neat trick if you don’t have pockets. Pin the top of the gel pack inside your shorts at the waist. When you’re ready, rip off the top, it’ll stay in your waistband, but the rest of the sachet is now in your hand, and you can eat it.
4. In Your Cap
If you’re one of those runners who like to wear a cap, you’ve got an instant gel pack holder. If the hat fits snugly, just slip it under the rim; if it’s a little loose, some double-sided tape will hold it in place.
5. One For the Ladies
Girls, you have an extra item of clothing that we boys don’t, and it’s perfect for storing energy gel. Your sports bra! Just slip it into one side, and it’ll stay there nice and snug until you’re ready to eat it.
There you have it; energy gels are a convenient way to get that boost during a race. Store them at home, at room temperature, for up to 18 months from the packaging date.
During the event, there are multiple ways to store them, and it differs slightly per event. I’m a fan of using my pockets, but there are alternatives.