Energy Gels for Running - 101

2 October 2015

Energy gels are a fairly new addition to the health and fitness world, but they have already made a big splash, particularly in running circles. A convenient way to load up on carbohydrates, they are now a staple in the race-day routine of many athletes. With so many on the market, though (and still relatively little known about them) it is hard to choose which is right for you. It's even hard to know exactly what they do!

What Are Energy Gels?

While sports drinks are useful in topping up energy levels, they are not always convenient to take on a long run. Energy gels, which are essentially concentrated carbohydrate drinks of around 100 calories, can be a more practical solution to this problem, as they are small and compact so they won't hinder you at all.

Why Do You Need Energy Gels?

Your body utilises two main forms of fuel when you're running in order to feed the muscles - fats and carbohydrates. Fat, though, is only broken down slowly, and is an ineffective source of fuel unless you are going comparatively slowly and are not reaching the aerobic threshold. Therefore, when racing or training hard, carbohydrate is the primary fuel your body relies upon. 

The issue with carbohydrate is that the body can only store a limited amount in the muscles as glycogen, even when you load up before your run. Typically if you're running at a marathon pace then you can store around two hours worth of glycogen in the muscles, less if you're going at a faster pace. Therefore, if you're running for any great length of time you will need to top up your energy levels if you want to keep performing at the same level. Energy gels can replenish these depleted stores of glycogen and help you keep going for longer.

When Should You Take Energy Gels?

Like everything, energy gels have to be taken in moderation. As they are mostly made up of simple sugars they shouldn't be taken, for example, every half hour or so, as your body just doesn't need that much sugar at once and will struggle to digest it. This will lead to discomfort and a potentially sickly feeling in your stomach. It is best to wait at least an hour between gels on a run, so you are getting the most out of them. You can also take them before a workout but it is advised you don't wait too long to start running so you can make the most out of the gel.


There are a wide range of energy gel products on the market, making it hard to know which is right for you. Honey Stinger, a US company specialising in organic, honey-related products, is one of the leading brands available. More versatile than many other energy gels, you can consume straight from the packet, take it with water, put it on toast or stir it into your tea.

These products utilise the natural properties of honey as an energy source, and have the benefit of containing certified organic ingredients. If you're health-conscious and concerned with what you're putting into your mouth then Honey Stinger is the logical choice for your energy needs.

Think Sport is proud to stock the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels, get them now!