Why in the world would you want to gulp down a liquid the consistency of snot when you are in the middle of a workout or race? With the exhaustion that you muscles feel and the burning of your lungs it would seem like the best thing to do would be to hydrate. We all know that at this point energy bars are like unto small stones that you have to swallow and then you have to bid your time while your body breaks them down.
Lets delve into a little painless biology to understand what we are talking about in the energy supplement realm:
Carbohydrates: These are one of three main sources of energy that the body consumes. (Protein and fat are the others) Carbs should be anywhere from 45 to 65% of our diet. Within the carbohydrates there are simple carbs and complex carbs. The complex are thought to be the best because they take time to break down or burn and release more nutrients. The carbs are absorbed into the blood stream and become glucose. The glucose that is not used when it enters the blood stream is stored in the form of glycogen.
Ever heard of carb loads before a race or workout? So what is happening is we consume foods with complex carbs like pasta and potatoes (starches) Then our body breaks them down into glucose and then stores them in the form of glycogen. During the race the next day our body begins to draw from the reservoir of glycogen to fuel our strenuous activity. (As a nerd point, how fast a food transforms form glycogen to energy is called the glycemic index) This is when carb depletion takes place. When the stored glycogen has been used and we begin to slow down, this is sometimes called “bonking” or “hitting the wall”.In order for our body to have a continuous reserve is when it is necessary to replete ourselves with carbs. If this is done well we can recover much more quickly.
The original questions is “why use gels?”
Dr. Edmund Burke from Active.com explains that “neither a liquid nor a bar, carbohydrate gels combine the benefits of both liquid sports drinks and solid energy bars to take sports nutrition a step further. Carbohydrate gels are more concentrated than a liquid and digest more easily than a bar, translating into more efficient energy and better performance. Carbohydrate gels are great for training, competition or any time an individual needs a quick energy boost. ” This form of carbs has the highest glycemic index or is absorbed most quickly.
In addition without the protein and fats that bars have, gels have complex carbs and simple sugars that are able to be broken down very quickly. The gels are also able to be added to water as to make them less viscous. Gels are also the only supplement to contain Amino Acids which are protein in their simplest form and help to construct muscles.
At Noble Sports we have a number of gels including the popular Hammer Gels. Come down to the shop and grab a couple for the next workout or race that you have.