Gels – you are either a firm believer in them or you absolutely hate them. The latter is usually due to a nasty side effect such as a gastro problem. But the truth is, energy gels do have their place.
In order to establish exactly what to look for in an energy gel, when to take them and how to avoid the dreaded tummy upset, we enlisted the help of Emma Barraclough, Senior Sports Nutritionist for Science in Sport (SiS).
Gels are only for the pros, aren’t they?
Whole food sources such as energy bars and bananas are easy to take with you on the bike, but they’re not always the most suitable things to be eating. When you eat solid food, more blood flow gets diverted to your gut to help with digestion. This is fine when you are riding steadily, but when you are riding at a higher intensity this compromises the amount of blood flow that your working muscles receive. This makes you unable to either keep up the work rate or you risk having the food sit heavily in your stomach waiting to be digested.
Gels, especially isotonic ones, empty quickly from your stomach and provide a fast source of energy. Most are pure carbohydrate, and unlike solid foods such as flapjacks and bananas, do not contain anything to slow the energy release down such as fat, protein or fibre.