How to choose an energy gel for a marathon

Marathon performance depends on a number of factors, and nutrition during the race is one of them. In the preparation process, you need to train not only the muscles, heart, and lungs, but also the stomach. You will learn what carbohydrate gels are and how to choose marathon gels.

Energy Gels are specialized nutrition during endurance exercise often used during running, triathlon and energy-intensive sports.

Why you need an energy gel for a marathon

Replenishment of carbohydrates is necessary to maintain the tempo of running throughout the race, did not face a marathon “wall” and even make the finish acceleration.

Pros and cons of energy gels


  • High speed of assimilation.
  • High concentration of carbohydrates in a compact format.
  • The consistency is easy to swallow, no need to chew.
  • The use of the gel does not create the feeling of a full stomach.
  • Variety of flavors.

  • The need to drink some gels
  • Price of carbohydrate gels
  • The use of gels over long distances will not allow you to replenish the elements that are lost with sweat – sodium, chlorine, potassium.

How do running gels work

The human body is able to assimilate a maximum of 60 grams of glucose (fructose) per hour, this is about 3 carbohydrate gels, and on hot days this figure is lower.

The carbohydrate gel is based on easily digestible sugars – maltodextrin, glucose, fructose, vitamins, electrolytes, caffeine and taurine, plus flavoring agents. One gel contains about 20 grams of carbohydrates or 100 kcal.

The consistency of gels can also vary – from thicker to almost liquid.

Carbohydrate gels are different in composition and there are those that need to be washed down with water or more liquid that do not need to be washed down with water.

How to use running gels

Make a meal plan ahead of time. The first gel is recommended to be consumed 60 minutes after the start and eat a gel every 3 miles (5 km). Start with carbohydrate gels, then electrolyte gels, and after 18 miles (30 km) caffeinated gels.

What to look for when choosing an energy gel?

Composition of carbohydrate gel:

  1. caffeine — can be really cool to cheer you up during a race when you are losing concentration and deserves to be included in your arsenal. But be careful – caffeine overdose can cause stomach problems.
  2. Types of sugar — it is recommended to give preference to gels based on maltodextrin.
    • Maltodextrin, a polymer of glucose. These are long chains of glucose molecules. Maybe advertised as a “complex carbohydrate”, although it is still artificially obtained and has a high glycemic index.
    • Glucose is a simple carbohydrate that can be absorbed at a rate of 1 g / min (60 g / h).
    • Fructose, a simple carbohydrate that is often added to sports drinks as a second source, is usually not the only one or the main one. Athletes with fructose intolerance cannot consume large amounts of it.

What’s the best energy gel for running

It is important to try carbohydrate gels during your workouts, such as long runs or speed runs. To see the effect, and to train the stomach to perceive the gel while running.

If the first gel you tested doesn’t work, try another gel from a different company.

If the gel did not suit you, this does not mean that it is bad, it just did not suit you.

Which energy gel to choose:

  • Maurten GEL
  • GU Energy Gel
  • SIS Energy Gel
  • Clif Energy Gel
  • Huma Gel

Remember that energy gel will not help you if you are not ready for a marathon. You must exercise properly, recover and eat right.

5/5 - (1 vote)
Ralph Martin

When you have to make a choice, you need to understand the choices you make. Make informed choices

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How to choose an energy gel for a marathon