Best energy gels review 2014
Gels are useful for boosting carbohydrate intake during exercise, thereby prolonging endurance in longer (1hr+) training sessions/races. Your muscles can use around 60–80g of ingested carbohydrate per hour.
If your only carbohydrate source is gels, you should consume enough to meet that need (typically 2–3 per hour, spaced evenly). However, you’ll need fewer if you combine them with carbohydrate drinks or energy bars.
Caffeinated gels should only be used sparingly in order to avoid excessive caffeine intake. Because most gels are very concentrated, you’ll need to consume additional water, typically 150–250ml per gel. Some gels contain more water, which may reduce the need to consume it separately, unless you’re exercising in warm conditions.
OTE Energy Gel
Price: £1.40 per gel from www.otesports.co.uk
OTE’s ‘pH neutral’ energy gel provides a dual maltodextrin/fructose formulation – for rapid carbohydrate absorption – together with electrolyte minerals. Each 56g sachet is formulated with real fruit, with no artificial sweeteners or colours. In testing, the consistency was light and refreshing, and the lemon/lime flavour reasonably authentic.
It had less bite and tanginess than some others, but deliberately so, and those with sensitive stomachs will appreciate the complete lack of acidity. At 6.8p per gram of carbohydrate, value for money is pretty good considering the advanced formulation.
Verdict: Well-formulated, low-acidity, good-tasting gel at a fair price, 87%
Price: £1.59 per gel from www.usn.co.uk
Providing just under 24g of carbohydrate per sachet, USN’s Vooma gels also contain added sodium (to replace sweat losses), vitamin C and a sprinkling of amino acids, which USN claims help muscle function and recovery.
Out testing, the gels were easy to carry and open on the road, but the flavour we reviewed was found to be overly sweet, far from refreshing and neither very apple- nor blackcurrant-like. Combined with a slightly rich consistency, this resulted in a somewhat sickly experience overall. The price of 6.7p per gram of carbohydrate is also fairly average.
Verdict: Good composition, but loses out to better-tasting products, 78%
GU Salted Caramel
Price: £1.60 per gel from www.guenergy.co.uk
Looking for an alternative to fruit gels? Then GU’s Salted Caramel gel could be for you. A 32g sachet delivers a 22g carbohydrate blend of maltodextrin and fructose for rapid uptake into the muscles, the electrolyte minerals sodium and calcium, caffeine (from green tea leaf extract) and useful amounts of the antioxidant vitamins C and E.
In testing, we found the rather salty taste was balanced perfectly by sweetness, resulting in a lovely caramel/toffee flavour. The consistency was very thick, but this actually worked well with the taste. But at a pricey 7.3p per gram of carbohydrate you’ll need deep pockets!
Verdict: Good formulation, excellent taste but expensive carb ratio, 85%
Torq Apple Crumble
Price: £1.45 per gel from www.torqfitness.co.uk
Torq’s Apple Crumble flavour gel provides a 2:1 maltodextrin/fructose blend for rapid absorption, as well as five electrolyte minerals to replace those lost during sweating. Each 45g sachet delivers no less than 28.8g of carbohydrate, making this gel good value for money on a gram for gram basis.
Although not the most refreshing gel in the bunch, the apple crumble taste was remarkably authentic and the consistency was smooth. The higher concentration of carbohydrate made for a fairly sweet taste, but fortunately not overwhelmingly so. It comes in at a surprisingly decent price too.
Verdict: A good-tasting gel at a competitive price point, 89%
Continue reading our 'Best energy gels 2014' round-up