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Guide to Energy Gels and Nutrition

By: Kanchan Gautam

Nutrition is hard to tackle for novice and seasoned runners alike. Figuring out what works best for your body and your running needs can be a challenge. We want to make that a little easier and have reviewed and highlighted all the different features and composition of the different energy gels we carry here at the store.

Why use energy or nutrition products for training or runs you ask? During any type of sports activity, one's body utilizes certain things, such as proteins, fats, and sugar which need to be replaced for ideal results. Nutrition product such as energy gels, energy chews, and hydration tablets typically will contain some of these ingredients that are intended to fuel one's body so they are able to perform optimally during a particular workout or race. Not only do they contain these essential nutrients but these products are also made in an easy to carry and digestible form for ease of use and consumption during a vigorous activity such as running. (via VFuel)

Gu makes two different types of energy gels; GU energy gels and GU Roctane energy gels. Gu energy gels are made for daily training, competition or racing while GU Roctane is meant to be used for more demanding training or activity. Each pack of GU Energy Gel contains energy-dense calories to help sustain energy demands of any duration or activity. Each packet contains carbohydrates, sodium, and branched amino acids. Sodium, the primary electrolyte lost in sweat, aids in hydration by maintaining water balance while branched-chain amino acids help in reducing mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. Both these gels also contain electrolytes that maintain water balance and aid in optimum hydration.
Caffeine is another ingredient GU uses in their gels. Caffeine is known to increase focus and concentration during exercise. GU Roctane will contain all of the above ingredients but has a higher concentration of sodium, and branched-chain amino acids. Both of these gels contain carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) that help maximize carbohydrate absorption and utilization while diminishing stomach distress. (via Gu)

Vfuel, on the other hand, is a true endurance gel meant for all types of sports or activities such as cycling, running, triathlons and swimming. Like most energy gels, maltodextrin is the primary carbohydrate they use, but instead of Fructose, VFuel utilizes Dextrose as its secondary carbohydrate. This is what makes VFuel standout and a favorite amongst certain athletes as it makes the gel easy to digest and does not cause any gastrointestinal distress. Ingredients such as amino acids, sodium, caffeine and Citrulline Malate are used in VFuel that help to recycle toxic ammonia and keep muscle fresh, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, and help athletes feel energized during any given activity. (via VFuel)

Huma gel is unique as they use a combination of all natural ingredients like amino acids, chia seed, and fruit puree to make their energy gels. Unlike other energy gels their ingredient list doe not include maltodextrin or dextrose. The combination of amino acids with glucose and salt will provide a steady release of energy for athletes during athletic training or race day. Huma Plus energy gels will contain 25mg of caffeine while their regular energy gels contain no caffeine. (via Huma)

As a plus, all three gels are gluten-free. Huma and GU are also vegan, and finally, all of GU gels are kosher! While VFuel and Huma are meant to be taken 15 minutes prior, GU will need to be consumed 10-5 minutes prior to beginning a race or training. It is also important to note that with all three gels hydration is a must and the gels are meant to be taken with the small amount of water. For optimal performance, one energy gel will need to be taken every 30-45 minutes.

All three gels also come in a variety of flavors to satisfy everyone's taste buds!  

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