I’ve tried several different brands and flavors of energy gels in my days of running. I’ve found ones that don’t seem to have any effect while others give me the boost I need.
This past Wednesday morning, I ran 10 miles before work. I wasn’t hungry when I woke up, so I didn’t eat anything prior to starting, but I knew I would need something mid-run, so I brought along a Hammer Gel in the espresso flavor that contained 50 mg of caffeine (definitely enough caffeine for this girl who always orders decaf).
I took this gel at mile 6, but I never felt the surge of energy I normally feel. Even with the added caffeine, I didn’t feel any different. This actually wasn’t the first time the Hammer brand has failed me. To be honest, I’ve never been impressed with this brand of gel. I’ve tried it in the past, and I’ve had the same result—no effect. I don’t know why I bought this in the first place. (I think it might have been on sale at REI, which is where I buy 90% of my energy gels because they usually have a different brand on sale every time I stop in.)
Despite the failed energy gel, I had a great run that morning. This picture was actually taken post-run Tuesday after work in the sunshine and warmth of the day.
Now compare that to the incredible boost of energy I got during the Mayor’s Half-Marathon last Saturday. I took an Accel Gel at mile 8 of the half-marathon. I didn’t necessarily feel myself lacking energy at this point, but I’ve tried to get better after taking some calories in before I actually need them.
After taking this packet of gel, I felt like I had a fresh new pair of legs (okay, yes, that’s a slight exaggeration), but you get the point; I definitely felt this kick in and give me the energy to power through to the end. And once again, I’ve had the same result every time I’ve tried this brand. Love it!
One thing that makes Accel Gel different is that it contains protein. I’m not sure if that’s what actually makes the difference, but it is something that most other energy gels don’t have.
I’ve also had good results with the GU Roctane Energy Gel, which contain simple and complex carbohydrates, electrolytes, amino acids and caffeine. Both the GU Roctane and Accel Gel are about 50 cents more than the standard gels, but I will splurge for a race.
I reviewed some other energy gels and chews in this post.