Homemade Energy Gel

a recipe for success or disaster?

Recently Active.com published an article that discusses how to make your own homemade energy gel in an effort to save money (read article). Unfortunately the author has over-simplified the problem and in the process designed a product that most sports nutritionists would strongly recommend against using. If you really want to make your own energy gel you certainly can, but the process is a bit more complicated and the cost of ingredients is going to be much higher than the formula recommended by Active.com.
all carbohydrates are not created equal

The most glaring mistake made by the author is in his assumption that all carbohydrates are the same. Unfortunately this is not the case. The author recommends using honey as the carb source since it’s already in “goop” form as he describes. One of the problems with honey-based energy gel is that it is 100% simple sugar. If you look at all of the leading energy gels (e-Gel, GU, PowerBar Gel, Hammer Gel, etc.) you will notice that the primary ingredient is maltodextrin which is a COMPLEX carbohydrate derived from corn. The problem with simple sugars is that they elevate your blood sugar far to high and to rapidly. If you could maintain this inflated blood sugar level it would be great for performance, but unfortunately you can’t. In a short time period your blood sugar level will come crashing back down even lower than before you consumed the sugar. You are then left feeling lethargic and even worse your body can no longer as efficiently convert your muscle glycogen into usable energy. In addition, sugar consumption has been shown to inhibit your body’s ability to burn fat as an energy source which is completely counter productive to athletic performance.

This “sugar crash” happens to kids when you give them candy, they run around like crazy followed by the crash. It happens to adults when we eat a desert loaded with sugar – we’re real happy for a while but then a little later we’re ready to doze off on the couch. When this happens to athletes we call it “bonking” (it sounds more athletic than a sugar crash).

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