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Homemade Energy Gel


I made my own energy gel. Why?

Humangear GoToob

  • I know what's in it. I don't have to worry about where the ingredients came from or why that ingredient is in the gel.
  • I can add whatever I want. If I want to add banana paste, I can!
  • I can make whatever flavor I want. Spare-tire flavoured gel? No problem.
  • I don't have to keep a stock of packaged gels at home.
  • I can save money. Commercial energy gels are expensive.
  • I won't be littering our world with energy gel wrappers.
  • I can prepare it in bulk for long activities.

I modeled it after Jim Ley's Gel Project and this summitpost article.


lundberg brown rice syrupI prepared this stuff the night before the Half for Haiti race. Check the podcast for my race report on this race.

I decided to use 2/3 Rice Syrup (left) and 1/3 Honey. I wanted to make enough to fill my GoToob so 55mL was my target. This meant 2 tbsp rice syrup and 1 tbsp honey. It's hard to measure the rice syrup because it's very thick. I read that you should heat it first - which would have been an excellent idea if I had thought of it sooner. Once I measured the ingredients (the rice syrup, the honey, and a dash of salt), I used a butterknife to mix them thoroughly and then spooned the stuff into the GoToob. It flows but very slowly so it's best to treat it like thick honey and push it with the knife.

I tried some of the gel that evening. It tasted like honey with some rice. It was quite sweet for me (I don't eat sweets and don't like the taste of sweet) so future versions of this for me will replace some of the sweet stuff with maltodextrin. I'll get back to you about that.nathan10_trailmix

My race-day nutrition plan suggested that I use 1/2 of the tube at 10k and another 1/2 at 15k. I use a Nathan Trail Mix to hold my stuff for running and that's where I put the gel. The first thing that happened was that the gel cooled to the ambient temperature - about -20C. This made it quite thick but it still squeezed out of the GoToob. I really wonder how a plastic bottle would have performed - I'll try that later. The gel tasted fine but perhaps because of the hour or so of running I found that the energy gel left a taste of salt in my mouth. Next time I won't add salt. The other problem that I had was that my water bottles froze and I was unable to drink enough water to properly rinse the sweet out of my mouth. As with all gels, they work best with water.

The verdict: I felt the same as I felt after eating other energy gels.  I didn't bonk and I had no stomach upset. I will definitely experiment more with this. Oh, and the flavouring issue: I will likely choose to not flavour the gel. I don't think that flavour will make me want it any more or less and there's a risk that I might not tolerate the flavour.

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