Welcome to Week 8! This week we are going to dive a bit deeper into everyone’s favorite topic – nutrition.
Specifically, this week we will talk about gels and chews. Gels are very popular among hikers, cyclists, paddlers and runners for on-the-go (during-workout) use. They are syrupy, semi-liquid products–usually high concentrations of carbohydrates–that come in small, squeezable packages.They swiftly deliver a very-easy-to-digest energy boost—offering perhaps the quickest energy input of any performance food option. Some gel makers create specialized gels by adding varying doses of caffeine (a potent fatigue fighter) or sodium (for people sweating excessively due to high temperatures or humid conditions). Caffeine enhanced products are usually clearly marked. Gel packets are small, very light (1 or 2 oz.) and easy to stash just about anywhere.
Some people find the gooey texture of gels less than appealing. Electrolyte chews were created for these folks. Chews are offered in varying consistencies. Some are like gumdrops, or gummy bears, and others are more like jelly beans. They provide essentially the same function as a gel—infusing the body with carbohydrates (to delay fatigue) and electrolytes (to replenish stores of salts). Because their soft-yet-solid texture requires slightly more digestive work than a gel, their benefits may be slightly slower to impact your body. Chews are designed exclusively for the during-working stage of activity.
Finally, always remember to try any gels or chews in training before you decide to use them on race day. It’s always best to know how they affect your body, so you can plan ahead.