Sport gels, drinks and/or gus are a big part of many athletes’ lives. They can be an integral means of replenishing key nutrients and/or hydration while exercising. The difficult part can be finding the right product for you. In the months leading up to an event, it is important to try different products so as to determine your response and tolerance to them. What works for someone else might not work for you.
*Tip: Optimize your performance by investigating what products will be offered on the day of your event and at what point during the race so you may attempt to mimic these circumstances in your training especially if you are not planning to bring your own sustenance to the event. Here’s a link to the Beast map detailing the location of nutrition and hydration stations: http://www.barberbeast.org/uploads/Maps/10Mile_8_4_sm.pdf
Sport gels are a combination of sport drinks and energy bars that can deliver you the fuel you need to sustain your energy levels while competing. Most sport gels include carbohydrates and possibly caffeine but don’t include fat, fiber, fluid or protein. Sport drinks can provide you with key electrolytes, sodium, potassium and fluid you may have lost from sweating.
Here is a brief comparison of some popular sports drinks:
Cytomax: This product is available as a powder or ready-to-drink and provides endurance athletes with electrolytes and 14gm of carbohydrates per 8 ounces.
NUUN Active Hydration: This product is available in a tablet formulation that is meant to be mixed with water. While it contains electrolytes, this product does not contain carbohydrates and may not be appropriate fuel for training > 60 minutes unless combined with a source of carbohydrate.
Gatorade or Gatorade Endurance: This drink has been a long time favorite of many athletes with 14gm of carbohydrates per 8 ounces along with sodium and potassium. Gatorade Endurance also includes magnesium and some calcium to help further replenish lost nutrients.
Below is a brief comparison of some sports gels:
*Tip: In order to optimize carbohydrate absorption and prevent gastrointestinal distress, every 32 g of the products below should be consumed with 10 ounces of water.
GU Energy Gels: With 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 50mg of sodium, and 40mg of potassium these gels can be a great way to sustain energy levels during training > 60 minutes.
Clif Shot Energy Gel: With 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 40mg of sodium, and 30mg of potassium these gels are yet another great way to sustain energy levels during training > 60 minutes. However, in order to optimize carbohydrate absorption and prevent gastrointestinal distress, every 32 g of this product should be consumed with 10 ounces of water.
Also some popular sport chews available include:
PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts: With 30 g of carbohydrates/6 piece serving, this product should be consumed with 12 ounces of water.
Clif Shot Blocks: With 24 g of carbohydrates/3 piece serving, this product should be consumed with 10 ounces of water/serving.
You’re not alone! A sports dietitian can assist you in designing a personalized plan that considers your individualized energy needs and preferences.
Leslie Lawton, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDE
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Saint Vincent Hospital