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  1. #1
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    Natural substitutes (recipes?) for energy gels?

    Got a 5-6 hour XC marathon coming up soon, the sort of thing you just can't tackle unless you are fueling up CONSTANTLY throughout (tried that before!) Most other riders are doing gels every 45 minutes or so, though they give out a ton of food at checkpoints too (fruit, muesli bars and stuff), which has really helped me in the past.

    Anybody got any suggestions for good substitutes for gels? I don't really feel like it's necessary to use 'artificial' fuel sources, surely there must be some good recipes for something with equivalent energy value to gel, that doesn't cost a couple of bucks a pop too? Oh, and that's lightweight and easily 'administered', too?
    SPD shoes, pedals, cleats and the experience of going clipless. (a work in progress - let me know if I missed something!)

  2. #2
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    I would highly recommend Hammer Nutrition products as fuel sources for endurance events. They make all natural products that are specifically designed for whatever nutrition need you are looking to fulfill. Compare their ingredients to Gatorade and you can see how much better it is.

    I ordered $165 worth of stuff from them, got the 15% off with someone's referral code and they threw in $30 worth of free samples for other flavors and products as well. Awesome customer service - they called me to say the order shipped and are basically there to consult you on your specific training and racing regimen.

  3. #3
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    +1 on hammer. they always throw in freebies. I just ordered $60 worth of stuff, and it only cost me $15, thanks to some referral rewards.

  4. #4
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    lol guys he said gel substitutes

    blue agave nectar and/or brown rice syrup are good natural gel alternatives. both have a pretty good mixture of quick burning sugars and longer burning carbs.

    the clif gels use mostly brown rice syrup so you could just buy those for a reasonably natural off the shelf product.

    although even off the shelf gels arent really using any chemicals or un natural ingredients.
    mose of them are just a mixture of maltodextrin, dextrose, and pure fructose, with some electrolytes thrown in.
    Personally I make my own and save a ton of money.
    The mountains are calling and I must go

  5. #5
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    I started doing my own gels from brown rice syrup and I put them in runner's 6oz flasks, in my jersey pocket.
    I also eat SunRype fruit bars (http://www.sunrype.ca/viewproduct.php?line=9&group=0).
    Finally I bought some Elete electrolyte supplement. I'm not sure what I'll be doing with it, probably just add it to water (instead of sports drink) & gels for proper electrolyte balance.
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

  6. #6
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    I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm as close to being one as ever in terms of my diet. Riding, racing, and training has created an obsession for me to learn how to maximize performance through nutrition. Not to get off on a rant, but I suggest everyone reads Thrive, by Brendan Brazier (professional ironman triathlete). His book is loaded with cutting edge nutritional advice. It's geared for vegetarians/vegans, but everyone can benefit from it. Anyway, in his book he mentions how to make your own all natural energy gels and energy bites. The ones I like and that he regards as the ultimate for quick energy are called direct fuel bites. They are basically a combination of organic dates, organic coconut oil, lemon zest, lime juice, and sea salt. Simple all natural fast energy you can make on your own.

    Here's the recipe and directions.

    5 dates
    2 tbsp coconut oil
    2 tsp lemon zest
    1 tsp lemon juice
    sea salt (for taste)

    Blend in food processor until smooth. Seperate into bite size pieces and individually wrap in cellophane. Will keep in the freezer up to 3 months and up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
    I may not have the best of everything, but I have everything.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the suggestions, guys! Yeah, I was really aiming at some sort of slop I could put together myself rather than coughing up good bike money for commercially-produced stuff.

    The dates 'n' coconut oil thing sounds great!

    Also, I have seen (and tasted) something sold in the shops round here - a kind of malt extract gloop basically, it is pretty much a beer precursor (yeah, I have other plans for that stuff too ), supposedly pure fructose, maltose and dextrose, more or less. I mean, that pretty much IS an energy gel, isn't it? It tastes awesome too, so I am definitely looking at that one. Or maybe a mashup with that and some dried fruit like dates.

    I know most of the guys swear by gels, so I would be interested in doing a proper field test of some alternatives to see if gels are really that magical or whether a more natural substitute might do the trick too. I suppose a convenient aspect of gels is the sachet they are in - easy to slurp on the trail, whereas unwrapping a bar of anything in mid-flight has proved near-disastrous for me on more than one occasion..! Would have to find a way to carry the gloop, too, without getting it everywhere...
    SPD shoes, pedals, cleats and the experience of going clipless. (a work in progress - let me know if I missed something!)

  8. #8
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    honey, I use it for 1/3 to 40% of my caloric intake during endurance events.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsrftc
    honey, I use it for 1/3 to 40% of my caloric intake during endurance events.
    Honey was the first obvious choice - but it must be lacking some essential energy components, right? It's mostly fructose and glucose if I remember right.

    I sometimes add it to my water - around 5% concentration, probably. Not sure if it's enough (or even if that's a good idea), but it seemed to give me a boost as I am sipping it constantly.
    SPD shoes, pedals, cleats and the experience of going clipless. (a work in progress - let me know if I missed something!)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by markowe
    Honey was the first obvious choice - but it must be lacking some essential energy components, right? It's mostly fructose and glucose if I remember right.

    I sometimes add it to my water - around 5% concentration, probably. Not sure if it's enough (or even if that's a good idea), but it seemed to give me a boost as I am sipping it constantly.
    I dilute my honey 1:5 ratio so 1 part water 5 honey in gel flasks. Use hot water or it may not completely mix with the honey.

    Honey Stinger has built a business around the use of honey, unless I'm missing something, no its just fine. Plus it tastes better to me than 99% of the other stuff out there. Now it doesn't have electrolytes but I like the ability to manage my electrolytes outside of gel consumption. For the record, I use plain water, concentrated accellerade, caffeinated and regular gels, honey, and e-caps for my races so I can manage all components of my nutrition individually.

  11. #11
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    I'm way too cheap to go purchase those overpriced nutritional products, although that $60 worth for $15 is kinda tempting!

    Its pretty much the same way I do my cooking: mix a bunch of stuff together, taste, adjust.
    I usually start with some simple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a banana, put it all in a blender. Then I get creative and go digging through the spice cabinet, fridge, and fruit basket.

  12. #12
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    Best solo 8 hour I ever raced (in terms of nutrition), I had small baggies of seasoned mashed potatos in my jersey pocket.

    I would tare the corner off with my teeth, then force it in. Neutral on the stomach, liked the taste, good source of energy. I couldn't eat them in a race less than 4 hours, but above that, when the pace is a little lower, they were great.

  13. #13
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    What some of the tour pros use.

    Also, brown rice syrup, a good choice.
    Honey: ok choice 50:50 glucose: fructose
    Agave, bad choice: inulin is it's main carb, doesn't digest well.

    I make gels with a mixture of brown rice syrup and honey, about 3:1 ratio. Add cocoa powder to taste. But don't neglect electrolytes in that long of a race. Do a search on this site, plenty of previous threads with recipes.

  14. #14
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    I'm surprised nobody mentioned this, but RAISINS are natures natural energy gels - look it up Google whatever they pack a punch..

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor
    Best solo 8 hour I ever raced (in terms of nutrition), I had small baggies of seasoned mashed potatos in my jersey pocket.

    I would tare the corner off with my teeth, then force it in. Neutral on the stomach, liked the taste, good source of energy. I couldn't eat them in a race less than 4 hours, but above that, when the pace is a little lower, they were great.
    How about those small red potatoes? No baggies, just in the pocket (make sure it's clean)
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

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