Energy gels were created to solve a problem: how do you top up your emptying energy tanks when you’re training and racing, sometimes flat out?
Most gels shoot for the same goal, to deliver a big hit of fast-acting carbs in a conveniently portable package that you can slurp down on the move.
There’s a problem though, all too often we sacrifice flavour and risk stomach issues for that fast energy. We suffer, rather than savour, the average gloopy energy gels. Most gels also do nothing nutritionally beyond delivering that big hit of sugar.
if, like us, you’ve been searching for another way, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve rounded up some of the best energy gel alternatives for fuelling your efforts.
Problems with traditional energy gels
There are hundreds of different varieties of energy gel with flavours that range from citrus fruit to fancy desserts and textures that differ from liquids to pastes. But there are some common problems with energy gels...
Here are a few we’ve fixed at Veloforte:
1. GI distress
Over-processed carbohydrates, like those found in many traditional energy gels (we’re looking at you maltodextrin), can cause problems for more sensitive stomachs. Bloating, cramps, nausea and general GI distress is pretty common. So is finding yourself popping to the nearest portaloo mid-race.
2. Chemical taste
Too many energy gels taste like highly flavoured, nuclear-coloured treats. The kind you wouldn’t give to your kids. Artificial, overly sweet and densely concentrated, we tend to tolerate rather than enjoy eating them. In fact, we often say ‘using’ them rather than ‘eating’ them – which says a lot!
These chemical flavours can become overbearing, leading to taste fatigue on longer endurance efforts too. Worse than that, resenting your next gel can make you delay taking on the carbs you need. That’s the best way to book a seat on the struggle bus.
3. Too much gloop
Traditional gels can be gloopy, viscous and hard to swallow when you’re pushing your limits. They often have to be taken with water, which can be tricky if you’re relying on the aid stops as your source of fluids in a race. And they can leave a claggy mouth coating that accentuates the problem of that chemical taste.
4. Zero nutritional value
We use energy gels for the, um, energy but beyond that hit of processed carbs and artificial flavours, most energy gels offer very little extra nutritional bang for your buck. There’s nothing else to support the body at its time of need. It’s a bit like filling a car with petrol but not bothering with the oil.
Why not add vitamins and minerals and maybe some antioxidants too? You know, like real food.
Natural energy gels
At Veloforte, we decided to change things up. We wanted to raise the bar and make the ultimate alternatives to energy gels. Gels that;
- taste fantastic
- deliver reliable but powerful energy
- pack more nutritional bang for your buck.
Veloforte energy gels use the most natural, unprocessed forms of energy-boosting carbohydrates that are kinder to tender tummies. The combination of glucose and fructose is proven to cause fewer GI problems than single-source carbohydrate products. As a dual fuel, it also allows your body to absorb significantly more carbohydrates than usual and supplies steady energy. None of the sugar rush and crash you can get. Here’s where we get it from:
- Unrefined brown rice syrup: Made from the starch of wholegrain rice, this provides the fast-release carbohydrate glucose.
- Date syrup: Made by gently heating, squeezing and soaking whole dates, this natural nectar syrup provides slower release fructose.
- Sweet maple syrup: One of nature’s finest fuels, this delivers a delicious natural source of both types of carbohydrate.
Our alternative to energy gels banish the artificial and fight off flavour fatigue, by using real-food ingredients for clean, fresh and natural tastes.
After months in the kitchen, we came up with four distinct flavours:
- Tempo: Sweet and zingy date, lemon and ginger, Tempo is ideal when you want a fresh, lively boost.
- Primo: With savoury notes of beetroot and lemon, our Primo gels are perfect when your palate needs a change of pace.
- Doppio: Pairing smooth maple with coffee and guarana, the Doppio has 75g of jitter-free caffeine for added alertness and perceived energy.
- Riba: The taste of British summer hedgerows, Riba combines tart, jammy blackcurrant with a gentle elderflower twist in an all-natural silky-smooth nectar that’s powerful yet gentle on your tummy.
It's why our energy gels – and our products – have picked up awards all over the place. From scooping a gong in the Women's Health Food Awards, to being selected as a Best Buy by the experts at Coach, the IndyBest and Men's Fitness.
And one we're properly proud of: winning a Great Taste Award for our delicious energy bars. Not something your average energy products can shout about.
Other energy gel alternatives
If you want something to use in combination with our award-winning energy gels to fuel your endurance adventures, there are other energy gel alternatives. Particularly if you’re planning to go longer – and slower – where it becomes a little easier to eat foods with a little more texture.
Here are a few alternatives to energy gels for running and cycling consider:
Chews offer a different texture and the feeling that you’re eating something a little more substantial, a bit like a solid energy gel. But perhaps the biggest benefit is that they tend to offer smaller hits of carbs with each mouthful.
That makes them ideal for managing a little-and-often, steady supply of energy, where you’re not overloading your stomach with a whole gel. Unlike some energy chews, Veloforte energy chews are softer, almost melt in the mouth, making them easier to eat and faster to digest.
Relying on energy drinks alone for longer endurance efforts means you have to drink a lot of liquid to get the energy you need into your system. But they can be useful on shorter efforts and as part of a fuelling mix.
Veloforte’s Vivo and Attivo energy-packed electrolyte powders deliver 22g of carbs along with a hit of sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium to support hydration.
Natural alternatives to energy gels
Here at Veloforte, we’re big believers in the power of natural, real food. That’s why we use many of the ingredients below in our products. But you can of course include the raw ingredients in your fueling mix, too.
With around 82g of carbohydrate in every 100g, honey – particularly the runny stuff – is a brilliant source of natural energy. Though it can also be very sweet and probably isn’t something you’d want to eat for hours on end during a long-distance endurance challenge.
The elite runners who win the Marathon des Sables year in, year out run on dates and dried fruit. It’s easy to carry, comes in little bitesize servings and adds some texture to your fuel mix. Speaking of mixes, you can also make your own from whichever fruits and dried berries you like.
These need little introduction. Relatively easy to eat on the move, with around 28g of carbs in a single fruit, they’re also packed full of potassium and antioxidants like vitamin C. Plus they come in their own packaging.
Get started with natural energy gels
In the meantime, it’s time to stock up on the most powerful, delicious and nutritious energy gels, going. We recommend starting with our mixed pack energy gels so you can savour the full range of our fuelling magic.
- Tags: Energy Gels