Continuing from my last blog post, taking in two sugars is better than just one sugar during exercise. And you’ll notice this as almost every sports nutrition company in the market today has at least two sugars in their products. The only ones that I can think of that don’t, are Honey Stinger gel (although their other products do) and Hammer products. I try to stay current on all the sports nutrition companies in the market, but forgive me if I’ve misspoken about the two above.
The reason that two sugars is better than one is:
Carbohydrates travel on different pathways in the cells. Once you’ve overloaded a pathway, you can’t get any more of that specific sugar/carbohydrate into your body. Original research showed 60g/hr was all the body could take in, absorb and use. Then, a study was conducted several years ago that showed if you add in a second carb, it will travel on a different pathway, and more energy can and will be delivered to your muscles. The “new” numbers for g/hr are now up to 90g/hr, or 50% more. That is the equivalent of 360kcal/hour, or 3.5 gels/a PowerBar and a gel. There are many combinations to get 360kcal.
This research was not done by PowerBar, but the head of RD (research and development) used this study for PowerBar’s new carb blend of C2max. The two sugars studied were glucose and fructose in a 2:1 ratio and in this ratio, the athletes studied had an 8% increase in performance. If you remember from the last blog post, you want to have either monosaccharides or disaccharides as your sugar sources. Occasionally PowerBar uses maltodextrin and fructose, but the combo is generally glucose and fructose. Either way, they are simple digestible carbs.
Making Your Own Gel:
I think the sports nutrition companies in the market today make some pretty fantastic things. There are plenty of different companies to choose from, different people and athletes marketed to, and all the sports nutrition you could ever want. I’m a bit biased towards PowerBar, but there are other good choices out there as well.
That being said, if you find yourself looking to save money, or you’re wanting to see exactly how something you are putting in your body is prepared, it is possible to create your own gel. There are just a few things to think of.
- You need two sugar sources
- You need to add an electrolyte mix (or at least just salt)
- You can add caffeine if you’d like (yes please)
- You need a container to hold the gel
Maltodextrin is inexpensive and readily available in today’s market. If you search for it online, you could find several store that will ship you bulk maltodextrin powder. Maltodextrin will make a good sugar source as it breaks down to glucose, but you’ll need another sugar source.
Additional sugar sources include:
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Barley Malt
All of these sugars can be bought at your grocery store, or online in powdered form. In addition, you can buy powdered electrolytes and caffeine. Or you can just use table salt as well. Depending on your sugar combination, you might need to heat the sugars together on the stove, with water possibly to get them to blend together.
Here are some of my suggested combinations. All should be in a 60/40 ratio.
- Brown Rice Syrup/Honey
- Brown Rice Syrup/Agave
- Barley Malt/Honey
- Barley Malt/Agave
Depending on which you use, you might have to stir really well or the gel could be a bit lumpy. The approximate calories/carbs/electrolytes you are looking for in a gel are:
- Around 100 kcal
- Around 25g of carb
- 50-200mg of Sodium
- Around 50mg of Potassium
- 25-50mg of caffeine
You may have to do a “science experiment” to get your mixtures just right. Go ahead and do some trial and error, it should be fun right. Even though I’m giving you the ingredients to make a gel, and the right amounts of things to look for in a gel, I’ve personally never made a gel. So I feel bad in that I can’t tell you my personal experience, but I’m giving you the best ingredients to get started.
One day I will try this. I love to make homemade energy bars for cycling, so why not gel. But for the time being, I’ll leave that up to the companies that make the big bucks. I did find a website that had instructions for making your own gel too. Check it out below.