Scientific developments in recent years have seen remarkable breakthroughs in the way nutrients are delivered, case in point, the energy and isotonic gel! Substances in gel forms traditionally had to be consumed along with water to aid palatability, digestibility, and absorption…but not anymore. Products such as Science in Sport GO Isotonic Energy Gels and High 5 Energy have managed to deliver optimal ratios of carbohydrate and electrolyte in a smooth, energising, refreshing, and remarkably convenient gel form!
Throughout the Tour de France and Olympics, athletes were seen squeezing sachets of gel into their mouths, swallowing and continuing to pedal away with minimal effort and breaks in their flow. Our bodies are finely tuned machines where even partial discrepancies between fluid and electrolyte can result in reductions in energy, the onset of cramps, and a decline in overall performance. One of the main consequences of training is perspiration (sweating) and energy store depletion, therefore achieving the ideal ratio between electrolyte and water is integral! Despite this, overhydration has been a problem amongst elite and recreational athletes where they have been readily consuming water, despite only sweating minimal amounts in cooler climates, resulting in a condition known as hyponatraemia (low salt). Energy and isotonic gels helped to put a stop to this through the delivery of the necessary electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium etc) without the excessive amounts of fluid.
Energy gels have other benefits too, for example the bloating and ‘stitch’ that can sometimes accompany a liquid energy replenisher can be avoided if a more concentrated source of glucose and/or maltodextrin is consumed. The average energy gel comes in the form of a small and convenient 35g sachet; they are easily consumed and readily absorbed, thus providing a rapid delivery of carbohydrate to the muscles. The inconvenience and digestive difficulties that can result from consuming a carbohydrate bar mid- exercise, make energy and electrolyte gels an ideal training accompaniment.
On top of all this, these handy little energy sachets can be stored in your pockets or compartments, minimising weight and drag. Research has demonstrated a 45% increase in endurance if carbohydrate and electrolyte repletion is timed and delivered correctly…with isotonic and energy gels, this is made easy! Simply consume one sachet at the point of fatigue i.e. when glycogen stores become depleted, and consume another immediately after exercise (depending on training intensity and duration) to shift you into an anabolic (growth) state thanks to the insulin surge caused by the timely introduction of carbohydrate.
According to Backhouse, Ali and Biddle (2007), an isotonic and/or carbohydrate gel not only energises training and exercise, but also increases mood, positivity and reduces anxiety….especially when training.