When Gatorade launched their Endurance Energy Gel, we expected it to be 100% sugar like many of their sports drinks. So kudos to them for making a product with complex carbs, specifically maltodextrin, which has been proven to have significant performance advantages over sugars. The good news for us here at Crank Sports is that e-Gel wins the head to head comparison hands down. e-Gel has double the complex carbs (and lower sugar) as well as the addition of fructose which allows for maximum energy uptake (explained below). e-Gel has three times the electrolyte levels to maintain hydration and avoid cramping an injuries. And e-Gel has a complete profile of amino acids and antioxidants to reduce tissue damage, soreness and lactic acid buildup and to speed recovery. None of these things are found in Gatorade Endurance Energy Gel. Read on for all the details:
Each pack of e-Gel provides nearly 90% more energy than a pack of Gatorade Endurance Gel. This makes e-Gel more economical and you have fewer packs to carry and less trash to deal with, that’s a good thing!
e-Gel has more complex carbs than any other energy gel and this is critical because your body can uptake more energy when you use complex carbs instead of simple sugars.
How is this possible?
Read on (or watch this video)
The carbs/energy in an energy gel are transported into your cellular system through osmosis. If you recall learning about osmosis in science class, it’s the way a fluid crosses a membrane. In order for the fluid to cross, it has to be an equal or lower concentration than the fluid on the other side of the membrane. In this case you’re trying to get the gel across your cellular membrane so you can use the energy. Gels by themselves are extremely concentrated (hypertonic), that’s why you need to use water with gel so that you can lower the concentration until it becomes isotonic (the same concentration as your cellular fluids). When you do, the gel and water get absorbed – osmosis!!
What’s interesting is that the concentration of a fluid (also called the osmolality) is largely dependent on the NUMBER of particles in the fluid, and less dependent on the size of the particles. Complex carbs by definition have a larger molecular structure than simple sugars, basically they have more glucose molecules stuck together. But remember, it’s the number of particles, not the size that matters most. What that means is that at the point of absorption (isotonic), a fluid with complex carbs can transport nearly twice as much energy into the cellular system compared to one with simple sugars.
This isn’t something that we’ve invented here a Crank Sports, it’s proven science. Many energy gels (including e-Gel) use at least some maltodextrin for this reason. Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate with an extremely large molecular structure. Where e-Gel sets itself apart from other products is that we use much more complex carb and less sugar. This allows you to get more energy when you use e-Gel compared to our competitors. Why do other companies use so much sugar? Simple, because it’s sweet and inexpensive, and sweet things sell. So if you want to sell a lot of something you make it sweet. But if you want to make the best PERFORMING product you use complex carbs.
Brown Rice Syrup
Maltodextrin is the preferred complex carbohydrate for endurance athletes as discussed in the complex carbs section.
But why fructose?
Fructose is also a sugar, but it’s very different than all other forms of sugar and we use it in all of our products for a very good reason.
Fructose sometimes gets a bad rap for endurance athletes because it is thought to cause stomach and GI discomfort. Like anything else, if you take too much fructose it can be a problem. But if you use it properly it can actually significantly improve performance … without stomach issues. Here’s why:
Most of the energy that we use during endurance sports comes from consumed carbohydrates that are converted into glycogen and stored in our muscles. Glycogen can then be quickly broken down into glucose and used to fuel the muscles. The liver also stores glycogen which has been converted from fructose and serves as an additional “fuel tank” to power your muscles.
Here’s where it gets interesting …
The main route for glucose absorption from the gut is through a transporter called SGLT1 – a protein that acts like a door, helping glucose go from the gut to the bloodstream. SGLT1 has a maximum capacity and can only transport around one gram of glucose per minute (240 calories/hour). Fructose, however, is absorbed with a different transporter, called GLUT5. By using both transporters you can increase the amount of carbohydrate the body can use during exercise up to approximately 300 calories/hour.
GLUT5’s sole job in life is to transport fructose, so if you’re not consuming fructose then you’re not using the GLUT5 transporter … it’s like having an additional fuel line and not using it, why would you do that? In addition, your secondary fuel tank (your liver) will be under utilized as well.
The rapid absorption of fructose mixtures and special handling of fructose in the liver are the two main reasons that fructose can also also help to speed up recovery after exercise. A recent study found that when athletes drank sports drinks containing both fructose and complex carbohydrates after exercise, they accelerated the recovery of their liver glycogen stores. It almost doubled this rate of recovery compared with drinks that didn’t have fructose, when the same total amount of carbohydrate was consumed.
Bottom line … if you want to “be your best”, incorporate some fructose into your training and competition nutrition program.
e-Gel is the only energy gel to provide complete electrolyte replacement in the gel – where it should be! The most important electrolyte that you need to replenish is sodium to help you maintain hydration and to avoid cramping and injuries.
For a more detailed discussion of why it’s important to have this level of electrolytes in the gel instead of getting your electrolytes some other way:
Potassium is the other electrolyte that is important to replace during your training and competition, along with sodium. The level of potassium in e-Gel is designed to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation for replacement during athletic activity. See the sodium discussion for additional details.
Histidine, Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine
no amino acids
The amino acids in e-gel help to reduce lactic acid build up, reduce soreness, maintain muscle protein and aid in quicker recovery.
Gatorade Endurance Energy Gel does not contain amino acids.
vitamin C 120%
vitamin E 120%
Antioxidant vitamins C and E help protect against tissue damage, reduce soreness and aid in the recovery process.
Gatorade Endurance Energy Gel does not contain these antioxidants.
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