A few posts ago, I shared some of my favorite natural food options for mid-run fueling. In this post, I want to take it a step further and get into what makes one power gel better than another and provide a basic power gel recipe with options to customize it for your own purposes.
Probably the most important characteristic of a power gel is its ability to be used quickly by the body during exercise to boost energy and performance. How easily the gel is digested and absorbed by the cells mainly depends on the type of carbohydrate used.
Types of Carbohydrates
Foods like honey and maple syrup mainly contain glucose and fructose while molasses are predominately composed of sucrose. Blackstrap molasses is also a good source of potassium and iron, which are important minerals for runners.
Other ingredients to consider adding to your power gel include: fat (in the form of coconut oil or nut butters, for example), protein (in powder form), small amounts of caffeine, sources of electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium), and other ingredients to add flavor or texture as desired. Here is my recipe for power gel with a coffee/caffeine kick:
My Recipe for Power Gel with a Coffee/Caffeine Kick
Whisk the first three ingredients together in a pan over low heat until mixed. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the final ingredients. Pour into one or more gel containers or squeeze bottles.
Optional Flavor Additions
Nutrition (per 1.3oz serving): 106 calories, 27.2 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 278 mg sodium, 7.3 mg potassium
Serving size: Makes about 1/2 cup of gel (or three 1.3oz servings)
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