Energy gels whilst riding

Barrzy257
Barrzy257 Posts: 411
edited July 2013 in Road general
Bought a High5 marathon pack and whilst having a read through it today it suggests taking to gels prior to the event, then 1 every 20/30minutes, I no that's a marathon but a 100+ cycle is similar in effort, now I don't do this when I cycle this sort of distance, I eat every so often, banana, soreen or sumat similar, plus normally carb loaded drinks, then if I get any cramps or I'm starting to feel tired il take a gel, this can start as early as 65/70miles in, then I take the gels every 30minutes.
My real question is will I benefit from taking the gels from the start? I'm worried my guy will give out towards the end! Does anybody do this method?
Cheers
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Comments

  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Taking gels before an event assumed that's your only nutrition strategy. I prefer regular food or energy bars and only use gels in the middle of high-intensity events (racing) or for emergency top-ups, generally late in rides.
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  • bigpikle
    bigpikle Posts: 1,690
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour - anything else sits in your stomach all the way and you start to feel bloated, have bad wind and feel sick. Trying to replace all the calories you burn as you ride is a big myth and big mistake...

    You dont need all those gels and crap - just a plan to get your 50-60g max of carbs an hour and the right amount of water (about 500ml an hour).
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  • Barrzy257
    Barrzy257 Posts: 411
    Bigpikle wrote:
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour - anything else sits in your stomach all the way and you start to feel bloated, have bad wind and feel sick. Trying to replace all the calories you burn as you ride is a big myth and big mistake...

    You dont need all those gels and crap - just a plan to get your 50-60g max of carbs an hour and the right amount of water (about 500ml an hour).
    This was my train of thought, if I did 15 gels in I think I'd end up looking like a was rocket powered...
    Thanks for the help guys, just wanted to reassure myself, and be sure I wasn't missing a trick!
  • goonz
    goonz Posts: 3,106
    To be honest have a good heavy breakfast, porridge banana coffee and you should be good for between 30-50 miles. when you feel yourself flag, flapjacks, banana e.g. food. Not gels. Gels should only really be used as the last resort for the final push.
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  • phreak
    phreak Posts: 2,905
    goonz wrote:
    To be honest have a good heavy breakfast, porridge banana coffee and you should be good for between 30-50 miles. when you feel yourself flag, flapjacks, banana e.g. food. Not gels. Gels should only really be used as the last resort for the final push.

    Very much agree, but would add that gels are also useful if you're doing a very hard effort and thus chewing is not very easy. Doing European sportives for instance I've found eating real food on a climb is not easy, whereas gulping down a quick gel can do the job.

    When riding in Britain though it's usually real food all the way.
  • Bozman
    Bozman Posts: 2,518
    I take two with me just in case of an emergency.
    I don't really need them, food a couple of hours before I go out and if I'm doing over 50 I'll have a piece of flapjack every now and again.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    +1 on regular food. I use home made flapjack plus jelly babies. The latter are easy to get out of a jersey pocket as often as needed, while flap jack tends to be every 10-15 miles on longer rides and is more tricky to get to my mouth.
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  • apreading
    apreading Posts: 4,535
    goonz wrote:
    To be honest have a good heavy breakfast, porridge banana coffee and you should be good for between 30-50 miles. when you feel yourself flag, flapjacks, banana e.g. food. Not gels. Gels should only really be used as the last resort for the final push.

    Not sure I would agree with this. Real food needs to be taken before you feel yourself flag as it takes longer to get into your system. Gels are useful if you feel yourself flag as a quick fix until the real food kicks in or cant take in enough food regularly enough any other way.

    Just need to be careful with gels that you can get a spike of sugar high followed by a real low and you need to make sure that the low is either after the event or that you have some strategy to avoid it. If I am only stopping once an hour or hour and a half (I dont eat on the move, like to take a break for it), I might take a gel and some real food - the gel gives me half an hour of energy and then the food kicks in for a second half hour to an hour to keep me going to the next stop.

    Of course, your strategy also depends on whether you have carbs in your drink or not - if you are regularly drinking enough carbs then you might not need gels or food other than to stop you feeling hungry. I drink less than most though, so dont think I would get enough carbs through drink alone.
  • junglist_matty
    junglist_matty Posts: 1,731
    Gels are made of Lance armstrong's cum, YUK!
  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    Everyone is different, and there is no 'right' answer. For my part, I hate energy drinks, and prefer just plain water. Anything up to 2 hours and I will just rely on breakfast / lunch. If the ride is over two hours, I start using energy gels, at a rate of one per hour. For me, gels work best. If I am doing 3 hours or more, I will also take a banana, and anything over 4 hours will involve a flapjack or similar.

    All the gel / drink / bar providers seem to imply you should take a ton of the stuff every 20 minutes. I certainly am in a group that runs out of energy easily, but 2 or 3 gels an hour is crazy, unless you are on the last mountain of an epic Giro stage :D For me, the zipvit gels with 51 mg of carbs, at a rate of 1 per hour, work perfectly. Have not got the bonk since using 'em. I used to use other makes, at 25 mg of carbs, and would often run out of energy.

    So, it is trial and error.
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  • markhewitt1978
    markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Bigpikle wrote:
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour - anything else sits in your stomach all the way and you start to feel bloated, have bad wind and feel sick. Trying to replace all the calories you burn as you ride is a big myth and big mistake...

    You dont need all those gels and crap - just a plan to get your 50-60g max of carbs an hour and the right amount of water (about 500ml an hour).

    What does 60g of carbs equate to?
  • apreading
    apreading Posts: 4,535
    jouxplan wrote:
    Everyone is different, and there is no 'right' answer. For my part, I hate energy drinks, and prefer just plain water. Anything up to 2 hours and I will just rely on breakfast / lunch. If the ride is over two hours, I start using energy gels, at a rate of one per hour. For me, gels work best. If I am doing 3 hours or more, I will also take a banana, and anything over 4 hours will involve a flapjack or similar.

    All the gel / drink / bar providers seem to imply you should take a ton of the stuff every 20 minutes. I certainly am in a group that runs out of energy easily, but 2 or 3 gels an hour is crazy, unless you are on the last mountain of an epic Giro stage :D For me, the zipvit gels with 51 mg of carbs, at a rate of 1 per hour, work perfectly. Have not got the bonk since using 'em. I used to use other makes, at 25 mg of carbs, and would often run out of energy.

    So, it is trial and error.

    I think the Zipvit ones are meant to be 1 per hour due to the carb content. The High 5 ones have only 23g of carbs, so the advice of 3 per hour is not too different to your 1 zipvit but spreads the carb intake out to even out the highs and lows.

    Your post is a bit contradictory - saying that 2-3 per hour is 'crazy', then saying that 1 per hour of the smaller ones left you running out of energy - application of some logic required here...
  • apreading
    apreading Posts: 4,535
    Bigpikle wrote:
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour

    Apparently thats not true (according to High5 anyway):

    "Research suggests that you should consume a maximum of 60g carbohydrate per hour from traditional sports drinks. The recommended intake for new generation Energy Source with 2:1 fructose can be substantially higher, at up to 90 gram per hour. EnergySource is a new generation sports drink for use during exercise. It contains a carbohydrate formulation of maltodextrin and fructose in a ratio of 2:1 and key electrolytes."
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    If you are using a few gels on a ride - decant them into a bottle and dilute with water. Easy to take and no messy wrappers to store.

    I think they're unneccessary for most rides - real food is cheaper.
  • supermurph09
    supermurph09 Posts: 2,471
    Very much an individual thing IMO. I tend to ensure I have something on me to eat every hour, that could be a bar or banana etc. I'll take 1 gel for below 50 miles, 2 gels for anything above. The gels get into your system quicker. I'd rather come home with my pockets full having not needed to take something every hour than be completely shot having not had the option. Also, some rides you might end up pushing much harder than you anticipated, that will affect your needs.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    I don't eat on training rides (50-80) miles, but occasionally take a gel or two. I'll eat on audaxes, but again not much. The only time I eat a lot is 12hr and 24hr TTs, and even then I supplement with gels (used 20 on my last 12hr). As others have said, nutrition is very personal and you need to find what works best for you.
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  • jouxplan
    jouxplan Posts: 147
    apreading wrote:

    Your post is a bit contradictory - saying that 2-3 per hour is 'crazy', then saying that 1 per hour of the smaller ones left you running out of energy - application of some logic required here...

    Ooops! You are quite right :oops: I did not think that through very well, did I? :roll:
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  • team47b
    team47b Posts: 6,424
    Bigpikle wrote:
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour - anything else sits in your stomach all the way and you start to feel bloated, have bad wind and feel sick. Trying to replace all the calories you burn as you ride is a big myth and big mistake...

    You dont need all those gels and crap - just a plan to get your 50-60g max of carbs an hour and the right amount of water (about 500ml an hour).

    What does 60g of carbs equate to?

    one decent slice of wholemeal bread is about 60g
    one bagel is about 60g
    3 bananas is about 60g
    6 fig rolls is about 60g
    2 smallish flap jacks are about 60g
    600ml of orange juice is about 60g
    3 slices of soreen is is about 60g
    6 digestive biscuits are about 60g
    12 jelly babies are about 60g
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  • jcondylis01
    jcondylis01 Posts: 50
    I wouldn't say that running a marathon and cycling a hundred plus miles are the same in effort, although they are both as hard as you make them.

    When I run I use the High5 Isogels which are more watery than a gel and therefore easier to consume whilst running. When I cycle I prefer real food and maybe a couple of gels, but definitely not 2 or 3 an hour. Firstly, that would get quite expensive on a 100mile ride, and secondly, your stomach probably won't like it very much.
  • markhewitt1978
    markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    team47b wrote:
    one decent slice of wholemeal bread is about 60g
    one bagel is about 60g
    3 bananas is about 60g
    6 fig rolls is about 60g
    2 smallish flap jacks are about 60g
    600ml of orange juice is about 60g
    3 slices of soreen is is about 60g
    6 digestive biscuits are about 60g
    12 jelly babies are about 60g

    Thanks! I'm planning a 50 mile ride on Saturday, which is nothing for most here, but the most I've done is 30 miles and after that I'm usually tired and hungry so need to plan to eat something.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Have a banana and a few dates. Sort you right out.
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  • Buckie2k5
    Buckie2k5 Posts: 600
    take more than you need. if you dont on your way home you will be thinking of my post ;)
  • smoggysteve
    smoggysteve Posts: 2,909
    Experiment. Try and find something you can digest easily. Bananas or good, along with flapjack as mentioned. Energy gels take about 10 minutes to get to the muscles and are only really good for around 5 minutes hard work so I tend to take them when I know a climb is coming up. If you feel yourself flagging, taking a gel is not going to automatically pick you up. Managing your calorie intake on the ride and eating at regular intervals is a better option to keep the energy levels constant otherwise your will just peak and trough again and again.
  • thegreatdivide
    thegreatdivide Posts: 5,803
    Eat before you flag.
    Drink before you get thirsty.
    And most of all ignore Grill's bragging posts.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Eat before you flag.
    Drink before you get thirsty.
    And most of all ignore Grill's bragging posts.

    Which part upset you? Was it pointing out that fueling is unique to the individual, or was it citing that different types of rides with different intensities and goals require unique fueling strategies? Why inject conjecture into a thread when personal experience is so much more valuable?

    Only one of us posts their KOMs ;)
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  • phreak
    phreak Posts: 2,905
    It's also important not to confuse a lack of fitness with a lack of energy.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    phreak wrote:
    It's also important not to confuse a lack of fitness with a lack of energy.

    QFT. Good catch.
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  • A cheaper solution - a 5kg bag of pure maltodextrin costs about £12 - I got mine from the MyProtein website (no affiliation). For anyone who's not aware, carb gels are mainly maltodextrin..I'm not sure what is added to make them into a paste but im guessing a little drop of water.

    Gels are what, £1.20 each for 25g? So you'd get 10 for £12. For my £12 I get 200 x 25g.

    For what its worth I have a small bowl of porridge and scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast two hours before a ride. I then have a banana one hour before the ride (it takes a banana about an hour to digest). Then just as I'm getting my kit together to go out I have a glass of water with 20g of the maltodextrin disolved into it to give me a bit of a boost for the first 15 - 30 mins of the ride - just in case the breakfast hasnt kicked in yet.

    For a three hour ride I'll take three bottles - one with just water for the first hour (no extra carbs needed) then two with 500ml of water and 70g of maltodextrin powder in each. 70g of powder might sound like a lot but its about 4 or 5 tablespoons and as soon as you add water to it is dissolves completely. I add a touch of blackcurrent squash just to add some taste...maltodextrin doesnt taste of anything and hardly changes the taste of pure water but its better to have it taste slightly of blackcurrent. For what its worth Ive got 610ml bottles - the Camelbak podium ones - I like them because they allow me to carry at least 500ml of water in each plus the powder.

    Ive got the London-Surrey 100 miler coming up and im going to use the same strategy but I obviously cant take one bottle per hour from the outset as that would involve carrying 6 bottles. So im yet to decide what to do..I think I might go with the three bottles and then carry little sachets/bags of powder so that they be added to the water when i fill up at the water stations. I'll probably carry a couple of flapjacks for later stages and maybe one sachet of the SIS electrolytes powder as backup in case its a hot day.

    That's me anyway...
  • paul968
    paul968 Posts: 11
    team47b wrote:
    Bigpikle wrote:
    your body can only cope with 50-60g of carbs an hour - anything else sits in your stomach all the way and you start to feel bloated, have bad wind and feel sick. Trying to replace all the calories you burn as you ride is a big myth and big mistake...

    You dont need all those gels and crap - just a plan to get your 50-60g max of carbs an hour and the right amount of water (about 500ml an hour).

    What does 60g of carbs equate to?

    one decent slice of wholemeal bread is about 60g
    one bagel is about 60g
    3 bananas is about 60g
    6 fig rolls is about 60g
    2 smallish flap jacks are about 60g
    600ml of orange juice is about 60g
    3 slices of soreen is is about 60g
    6 digestive biscuits are about 60g
    12 jelly babies are about 60g

    I'm not sure where you get that one decent slice of wholemeal bread is about 60g from? More like 15, possibly 20g, but no way is a slice 60g! A bagel is also a fair amount less than 60g.

    If I'm wrong on this then I've spent 30 years as a diabetic messing things up pretty badly!
  • smoggysteve
    smoggysteve Posts: 2,909
    Back on the subject of Gels, Does anyone know of any gels that have a more environmentally friendly package? Nearly all I have used have foil type packages with rip open seals which are (not by me) left all over the floor. There must be a brand that uses a lit that can be replaced without becoming too expensive. I hate seeing litter caused from gel wrappers and torn off caps. Also would be easier to carry home without having sugary goo oozing down my back inside my jersey pockets.