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10 Best Energy Gels for Running Reviewed

last updated Sep 20, 2019
If you are tired of losing your spunk while you are competing or training, then you may want to take a look at the best energy gels for running! These gels are perfect for all runner—from short distance runners to competitive marathoners.

While carb-loading is still a popular (and effective) way to energize before we go on our runs, sometimes that is simply not enough. The best energy gels for running will boost your energy and give you the energy you need to push yourself to the limit.

So, if you are tired of losing energy just when you need to push yourself to run faster you need to give energy gels a shot! We have taken the time to research all of the products below to ensure there is something on our list for everyone!

Check out our list of the best energy gels for running below!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 9 hrs of research

icon
Carb Boom
95.4/100 our score
Product Purity
98
Potency
91
Use
95
Taste
98
Side Effects
95
Carb Boom
Why is it better?

Vegan

Gluten free

Free of artificial ingredients

6 great flavors to choose from

Low in sugar

Gentle on your stomach

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Carb Boom
Test Winner: Carb Boom
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
5
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1K
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
9
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Giselle Killebrew:

To keep things current, we regularly update our page as well as conduct a lot of research to see if our products need to be updated or replaced. This time around we have not added any new products or replaced any old ones, but we have updated each product review to make them easier to sift through and compare. We have also added more information throughout our entire buying guide, so make sure to scroll down through the end!

Sorting Options
Product Purity Potency Use Taste Side Effects By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Product Purity
98 %
Potency
91 %
Use
95 %
Taste
98 %
Side Effects
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$69.64
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Product Purity
90 %
Potency
97 %
Use
95 %
Taste
95 %
Side Effects
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$11.60
Holabird Sports Link
$29.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$29.95
See Deal
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Product Purity
90 %
Potency
99 %
Use
92 %
Taste
94 %
Side Effects
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Product Purity
99 %
Potency
89 %
Use
88 %
Taste
89 %
Side Effects
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$26.95
Holabird Sports Link
$47.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$54.00
See Deal
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Product Purity
90 %
Potency
92 %
Use
93 %
Taste
90 %
Side Effects
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$20.39
Road Runner Sports Link
$25.99
See Deal
Backcountry Link
$27.86
See Deal
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Product Purity
99 %
Potency
85 %
Use
90 %
Taste
88 %
Side Effects
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$23.50
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Product Purity
95 %
Potency
90 %
Use
85 %
Taste
85 %
Side Effects
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Product Purity
81 %
Potency
98 %
Use
93 %
Taste
87 %
Side Effects
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$49.95
Holabird Sports Link
$49.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$49.95
See Deal
Backcountry Link
$59.95
See Deal
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Product Purity
95 %
Potency
80 %
Use
80 %
Taste
85 %
Side Effects
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$30.96
Backcountry Link
$36.00
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$36.00
See Deal
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Product Purity
80 %
Potency
90 %
Use
80 %
Taste
80 %
Side Effects
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.09.19)
Amazon Link
$10.99
Backcountry Link
$50.00
See Deal

10 Best Energy Gels

1. Carb Boom

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Carb Boom
Carb Boom
Carb Boom
Carb Boom
Carb Boom
Amazon Link
Product Purity
98
Potency
91
Use
95
Taste
98
Side Effects
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$69.64
Pros:

Vegan

Gluten free

Free of artificial ingredients

6 great flavors to choose from

Low in sugar

Gentle on your stomach

Cons:

Consistency is pretty thick

While this is a relatively newer brand, it has quickly made a name for itself. These energy gels come highly recommended by many athletes already. If you want something free of artificial ingredients--and they taste great!

Read more

Product Purity

These energy gels use 9 different ingredients--none of which are artificial. They taste great and are definitely a great option for those of you looking for a more all-natural product.

Potency

These energy gels are packed with 29 grams of complex carbs to provide you with the energy you need to keep going, all while remaining both gluten and dairy free.

Use

Depending on your activity level and length, you can take one of these as often as every 30 minutes if needed. They are completely all natural and safe to consume often--and since their ingredients are all natural and minimal, you don't have to worry about any stomach aches.

Taste

If you want something tasty, these are it. These energy gels specifically are available in six different flavors to choose from--Strawberry Kiwi, Vanilla, Banana Peach, Apple Cinnamon, Raspberry, and Grape Pomegranate.

Side Effects

This product is really gentle and very few years report any negative side effects.

2. GU Salted Caramel

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
GU Salted Caramel
GU Salted Caramel
GU Salted Caramel
GU Salted Caramel
GU Salted Caramel
Amazon Link
Product Purity
90
Potency
97
Use
95
Taste
95
Side Effects
91
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$11.60
Holabird Sports Link
$29.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$29.95
See Deal
Pros:

Comes in different flavors that everyone can enjoy

Low Caffeine levels

Amino acids help decrease muscle damage

Fast absorbing Ingredients

Cons:

Low caffeine levels so if you need high caffeine for those long runs, you may need to try something else

This is yet another great flavor to deliver the energy needed to come out on top of the competition. This one, unlike some of the others on this list by GU, is caffeine-free. If you love caramel, you will love this one too. Not only does it taste great or caramel lovers, but it goes down smoothly too!

Read more

Product Purity

When it comes to product purity this product falls somewhere in the middle. It is not completely organic like some other selections featured in our list further down--but it is also not riddled with ingredients you shouldn't consume. Overall, it is average and standard and perfect for those of you who need a healthy boost of energy to continue your workout.

Potency

While some consider it expensive, others do not mind the price because of its fast-absorbing ingredients which are vital to generating the needed energy levels. It is one of the highly preferred brands because of their different flavors.

Use

Key ingredients include fast-absorbing fructose and maltodextrin that ensure your increased workout and efficient energy during an intense workout.

Taste

This is an ideal quality for sports lovers because some prefer one flavor to another. The brand is flexible as it comes in up to seven different flavors that all have varying caffeine levels

Side Effects

The best part about this product is that it delivers a healthy boost of energy without the use of caffeine. This ensures that anyone can use it, so if you are sensitive to caffeine you won't have to worry about added jitters or unwanted symptoms that can arise when you consume it.

3. Gatorade Endurance

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Gatorade Endurance
Gatorade Endurance
Gatorade Endurance
Gatorade Endurance
Gatorade Endurance
Amazon Link
Product Purity
90
Potency
99
Use
92
Taste
94
Side Effects
89
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$35.93
Pros:

Great energy boost

Only 80 calories per serving

Taste great

Made for long distance runners

Cons:

Consistency is unappealing to some users.

Gatorade is probably one of the most well-known athletic drinks out there--they are literally used worldwide. The Gatorade Endurance energy gel pouch is easy to carry and a great tasting way to keep yourself fueled and ready to go. These gels also taste great and will quickly become a staple in your routine if you give them a shot.

Read more

Product Purity

The Gatorade endurance energy gels are not only packed with energy-boosting ingredients as well as jam-packed with electrolytes--so you can stay hydrated and ready to take on every training session and race you take on.

Potency

As far as potency, this product is packed with 20 gram of carbs to ensure that you get the energy you need. Each pouch also provides you with 100 grams of sodium, so you know it will replace those electrolytes as you go as well.

Use

These are super easy to use and perfect to take with you on the go. You can easily take these with you on your races and during your training session--so it is easy to always have them on hand whenever you need them.

Taste

These gels are available in several different flavors to choose from. They taste great, although the consistency may be too thick for some users.

Side Effects

The Gatorade Endurance energy gel is compatible with most people but if you have a more sensitive stomach you may want to use it less frequently since some users do report stomach issues.

4. Huma

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Huma Chia
Huma Chia
Huma Chia
Huma Chia
Huma Chia
Amazon Link
Product Purity
99
Potency
89
Use
88
Taste
89
Side Effects
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$26.95
Holabird Sports Link
$47.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$54.00
See Deal
Pros:

All natural energy gel made from organic sources

100% Gluten & dairy free, reducing the occurrence of upset stomachs

Available in many natural flavors

Compact beautifully designed package

Cons:

Not all flavors contain an adequate amount of caffeine

Huma Chia Energy Gel is Nutrition Energy Gel intended for a high tempo, continuous exercise such as running, cycling, triathlons, and any other activities requiring long-term endurance. What makes this product so great is the fact that it's 100% organic. It's also made from products that make it safe for consumption while it provides you with high energy levels. For this reason, Huma Chia energy gel is a great pick for the money.

Read more

Product Purity

The product has no additional ingredients and is 100% made of natural ingredients. It is gluten-free, vegan-friendly and is guaranteed not to cause upset to your stomach.

Potency

The Huma energy gels are a great option for those of you looking for steady energy delivery while you workout. That being said, if you are used to heavy caffeine consumption you will find that this product won't deliver a ton of additional energy for you to work with.

Use

They are great pre and in-race energy supplements which can also be used during rigorous training sessions, workouts or any activities that call for glucose/glycogen replacement.

Taste

It is packaged in a beautiful compact, vibrant easy to open pack that is quite appealing to complement the contents which are highly nutritious and delicious

Side Effects

As far as side effects go, this product is free of harmful ingredients as well as additives that could potentially give you unwanted side effects. Overall, you will find that this on is a great option for almost anyone, for the most part.

5. Clif Shot

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Clif Shot
Clif Shot
Clif Shot
Clif Shot
Clif Shot
Amazon Link
Product Purity
90
Potency
92
Use
93
Taste
90
Side Effects
94
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$20.39
Road Runner Sports Link
$25.99
See Deal
Backcountry Link
$27.86
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Pros:

Mocha flavored for the chocolate lovers

Kosher

90% organic ingredients

Quite affordable

Cons:

High in caffeine content, so could cause stomach issues

This is a popular one. The Clif “Shot” energy gel is intended to be consumed during a race or other endurance competition. Made of 90% organic ingredients, this Kosher energy gel also delivers a quick 50mg of caffeine to boost you up during your run.

Read more

Product Purity

This means that it is purely made with natural ingredients and no additives that would be harmful to limit your maximum performance. This is important to those who may have allergies and most consumers prefer organic compounds.

Potency

The combination of the three ingredients: Chocolate, Caffeine, and coffee make it one of the best energy gels and would guarantee maximum performance during your workout routine.

Use

An adequate amount of caffeine and coffee and purely organic with no additives. This one is a little more expensive than other options but most users felt it was worth it.

Taste

If you want options, you will love this one. The Clif Shot is available in several different flavors for you to choose from and we are confident that even some of our pickier readers will find something they will enjoy.

Side Effects

Since this product does contain caffeine, if you are someone who is sensitive to caffeine then you will find this is not a good option for you. Our research and reviewing process didn't have any major side effects, but it is important for us to highlight the fact that it does contain caffeine.

6. Skratch Labs

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Skratch
Skratch Labs
Skratch Labs
Skratch Labs
Skratch Labs
Amazon Link
Product Purity
99
Potency
85
Use
90
Taste
88
Side Effects
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$23.50
Pros:

Gluten free

Vegan

Free of preservatives and artificial flavors or colors

Taste great

Give you a great energy boost

Cons:

Not gels--but a great introduction to using more potent energy gels

The Skratch Labs energy chews are a great allergen-free and all-natural way to go when it comes to gel energy chews. These taste great and come in several fruity flavors to choose from. Since they were specifically designed for athletes and runners in mind, these are perfect for anyone who lives an active lifestyle.

Read more

Product Purity

When it comes to the ingredients and product purity of this Skratch Lab product, these are one of the best. They are free of most allergens--they are gluten-free, vegan, and dairy free. They are also free of preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.

Potency

This product uses both sucrose and fructose to provide you with the carbohydrates and energy you need. While these are actually chews and not technically gels, but we wanted to include a product on our list that was somewhere in between, in case you want to ease into the more jelly-like energy gels out there.

Use

These are perfect to take with you on the go--whether it is at the gym or while you are out on a run. You can eat this as needed--every hour or two if you are exerting yourself. However, these won't be best for a quick snack since if you are trying to have some downtime and wind down.

Taste

These chews are naturally flavored and taste great. They are available in several fruity flavors that taste great and anyone will love!

Side Effects

As far as side effects, this one isn't really one to be too concerned about. They don't have caffeine and give you an energy boost with sucrose and fructose. One thing to point out would be that while they aren't caffeinated, you definitely won't want to eat these if you aren't needing an energy boost.

7. Honey Stinger Ginsting

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Honey Stinger Ginsting
Honey Stinger Ginsting
Honey Stinger Ginsting
Honey Stinger Ginsting
Honey Stinger Ginsting
Amazon Link
Product Purity
95
Potency
90
Use
85
Taste
85
Side Effects
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$32.58
Pros:

Natural energy source

Good taste

Extra energy from caffeine

Has extra vitamins and minerals

Side effects are rare

Cons:

May be too sweet for some

This one adds another caffeinated option for runners with serious energy requirements. Reviewers also liked the taste although be warned that it's very sweet. The best thing is that because it's made with natural honey it won't potentially cause an upset stomach like many other options.

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Product Purity

Due to being made with natural honey this option is one of the most natural items on our list. The rest of the ingredients used by the brand are also all-natural--in fact, honey stinger prides themselves in the minimal ingredients they use in their energy gels and products.

Potency

Reviewers were pleased with how much energy it gave them, especially considering it isn't as likely to cause like upset stomach like many other options on the market.

Use

This product is perfect for runners with sensitive stomachs who nonetheless need a little bit of an extra boost beyond what the typical gel provides. Price-wise, it comes in at about average for products of this type and is widely available sold individually as well as in value packs.

Taste

If you enjoy the taste of ginseng, you will love this one. Its taste is crisp and natural, without the overuse of unnecessary sugars or additives that would take away from what ginseng is supposed to taste like.

Side Effects

Because of the use of natural honey this option doesn't have many reports of side effects associated with its use. Everyone is different, however, so we recommend consuming a small amount at first to see how your body reacts.

8. GU Roctane

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
GU Roctane
GU Roctane
GU Roctane
GU Roctane
GU Roctane
Amazon Link
Product Purity
81
Potency
98
Use
93
Taste
87
Side Effects
85
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$49.95
Holabird Sports Link
$49.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$49.95
See Deal
Backcountry Link
$59.95
See Deal
Pros:

Large flavor variety

Efficient absorption for lasting energy

High in sodium to help those who sweat a replace sodium

Comes in different flavors

Cons:

Some may find the consistency a bit thick

Similar to a lot of the other energy gels, this one also contains 100 calories and all the essential electrolytes, as well as 1425mg of amino acids to help to prevent or decrease muscle damage and mental fatigue. It's suitable for high-intensity racing as well as rigorous training sessions.

Read more

Product Purity

It is important to note here that this product may contain some ingredients those of you who prefer organic products will not like. While it features safe and quality ingredients, make sure to take a look if you are perfect about certain additives, dyes, etc.

Potency

The product contains 1425 milligrams of amino acids which is a substantial amount needed for tissue repair and muscle recovery. This also increases performance by reducing mental fatigue to help you during intense training.

Use

When priced per unit, the GU Roctane Ultra Endurance energy gel is fairly inexpensive. However, they come in large bulk packages when ordering online which can result in the need for customers to pay more than they may otherwise have been comfortable. Because of this, it's a good idea to try and find a sample at a local sports nutrition store before investing in a large order.

Taste

You are spoiled for choice in this section as it improves your selection. Additionally, the caffeine level in each version varies in order to boost brand choice and offer some versatility for different customers.

Side Effects

While we did not find any significant side effects associated with the GU Roctane energy gel, it's important that you give a small test just to make sure. This is especially important for anyone that commonly has food sensitivities.

9. Honey Stinger

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger
Amazon Link
Product Purity
95
Potency
80
Use
80
Taste
85
Side Effects
89
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$30.96
Backcountry Link
$36.00
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$36.00
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Pros:

A honey-based alternative to other gels

Easier on the stomach than a lot of other options

Goes down easy

Gluten-free

Cons:

No caffeine, so may not have the boost that others will

Made with USDA certified organic and natural ingredients, Honey Stinger products typically have fewer side effects than other options. This honey-based gel is perfect for those athletes that strive to push on to the finish line ahead of the others. With flavors like acai & pomegranate Honey Stinger energy gel is sure not to disappoint.

Read more

Product Purity

The product is composed of organic honey that is infused with tapioca syrup and provides a good source of energy and fiber. The product is high in protein with high levels of electrolytes.

Potency

Although this product does not have any serious energy-boosting ingredients, it does specifically feature all-natural ingredients that will deliver the energy you need to keep going steady. So, if you need a tasty and steady energy boost, you will love this one.

Use

It can be used to make other high energy products like energy bars, organic snacks, protein bars, and other kid-friendly snacks. It acts as a healthy sweetener that is loved by a majority of athletes,

Taste

With honey and organic products as ingredients, it is not only high in nutrients and energy needed but can be used to make other products. The sweet-tasting gel is highly valuable and offers good value for money.

Side Effects

We literally found no significant side effects with this product--so, unless you are allergic to honey or any of the natural and organic ingredients it features, you won't have to worry about any less than desirable consequences.

10. Science in Sport Go

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Science in Sport Go
Science in Sport Go
Science in Sport Go
Science in Sport Go
Science in Sport Go
Amazon Link
Product Purity
80
Potency
90
Use
80
Taste
80
Side Effects
80
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$10.99
Backcountry Link
$50.00
See Deal
Pros:

Water not needed upon consumption to be effective

Provides a great energy boost

Tastes good

Well priced when bought in bulk

Reliable, easy open package

Cons:

Some found the consistency off-putting

Packaging a little bulky

The Science of Sports Go Isotonic Energy Gel is a solid choice for a runner looking for something to help them get across that marathon finish line. SIS claims that their gel is designed to be effective even if you don’t have water on hand, which is helpful in the event that you need to be a bit more conservative with your supply.

Read more

Product Purity

The product has been tested vigorously in anti-doping labs. These are also considered safe to use for professional athletes as it is made of natural ingredients.

Potency

The gel acts fast and reduces the chances of bloating because it is designed to be used with water. the fast-acting soluble ingredients also improve performance to help you improve on your workout routine.

Use

The highly soluble formula that went into this energy gel is great for reducing bloating and that alone should signify its value to a majority of potential customers. What's even better is that this product is certified and given the seal of approval to be used by professional athletes.

Taste

The best part about this product is that it is available in lots of different flavors to choose from. It has the distinct texture that comes with any type of energy gel, but it still tastes great!

Side Effects

As far as side effects go, this product doesn't have serious implications--although some users do report that they have to take less than the suggested serving size initially. If you aren't sure how you will react to it first make sure to take a close look at the ingredients and then try and take the time to test out a little bit first--to see how you react to it.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Product Purity

Nowadays, it is important to pay close attention to the ingredients used in a product. We prioritized product purity because we wanted to make sure we were giving our readers the best of the best options out there.

It is very important to look at the ingredients before making any purchase. Should you be consuming these? Are they helpful or harmful to your body? A clear look at the energy contents of energy gels you will notice that they tend to have different types of sugars that vary in quantity.

In order to replace the loss of bodily fluids from sweating and prevent the development of running cramps, some gels contain high concentrations of electrolytes. Others contain small to moderate amounts of caffeine in order to provide an additional energy boost. It's essential to understand that at the end of the day the most optimal energy gel is the one that works best for you.

Make sure the ingredients used are able to get you what you are looking for during your workout session. The ingredients used not only serve the nutritional purpose, but they also determine the taste and flavors of the energy gels. Pick your favorite flavor and with the best taste for you. Below is a summary of the main ingredients.

Maltodextrin

This food additive is a polysaccharide (a long carbohydrate molecule). Maltodextrin is the most popular ingredient used in gel and chews supplements. It is a complex carbohydrate made from a chain of simple sugars. Despite being a complex carbohydrate it’s widely used because the sugars are broken down and digested easily as glucose.

In the United States, Maltodextrin is most commonly made from corn, although it can be made from any available starch. Don't worry if you come across maltodextrin that is made from wheat- it goes through so much processing that there is nearly no protein left to cause an allergic reaction.

It is an important ingredient to note since its easily digestible and absorbed, maltodextrin is useful for long-distance workouts. Its major disadvantages include weight gain, high amounts of processing, and it is a potential allergen.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is added to food to preserve it, specifically to keep gels from growing bacteria or fungus. It is also used in other non-gel foods, as well as cosmetics and fireworks.

Potassium Sorbate (aka Scrobic Acid)

This food additive prevents mold and yeast from growing and also lengthens the shelf life of food products. Beware- it can irritate your eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

Malic Acid

This food additive has rare approval from the US, EU, Australia, and New Zealand, and is naturally made by all living things. It is responsible for sour tastes (like in fruit) and is very safe.

Fumaric Acid

This additive helps to control acidity and has a fruity taste. With that in mind, it is most frequently used to improve the tastes of energy gels. Other uses for fumaric acid include polyester resin production, Fumaric acid is also used in the production of polyester resins, a component of dyes, and in making polyhydric alcohols.

When choosing an energy gel, you may also want to consider ingredients like sodium and electrolytes for replenishing salt and other important minerals lost through sweat, and caffeine for an extra boost of energy. Many gels and chews also contain glucose, sucrose, and fructose (simple sugars).

These carbohydrate sources are sometimes included in ingredients like cane syrup, tapioca syrup or even from fruit sources like dates. If you consume all of your carbohydrates in gel form, top up with plain water rather than carbohydrate drink (which would supply surplus carbohydrate). Consume too much carbohydrate and it won’t be absorbed – indeed, it could even upset your stomach

Potency

The potency an athlete will need will depend on the activity they are partaking in, their body's needs, and what they are used to. If you need caffeine, then go for the energy gels that have them. However, energy-boosting products don't have to use caffeine to do so.

Next, we did a comparison of the number of electrolytes in each brand. Whether you are going to need more or fewer electrolytes will depend on the time of your run and what your body needs. We advise athletes to experiment and see what works for them best in terms of electrolytes and water intake, while always taking different environments into account.

This is important because the loss of electrolytes during workouts is different in the summer heat and in the winter cold. As heat and humidity cause greater amounts of electrolytes to be lost, the need for proper care and supplementation only increases during hot weather. It is very important to look at the ingredients before making any purchase.

Should you be consuming these? Are they helpful or harmful to your body?

A clear look at the energy contents of energy gels you will notice that they tend to have different types of sugars that vary in quantity. Gels can also contain electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat and prevent cramps. Some gels also contain caffeine. The most important thing to remember when choosing an energy gel is that ultimately, the most optimal fuel is the one that works best for you.

Make sure the ingredients used are able to get you what you are looking for during your workout session. The ingredients used not only serve the nutritional purpose, but they also determine the taste and flavors of the energy gels. Pick your favorite flavor and with the best taste for you. What constitutes “the best” is different for every individual.

If you look at the package of the energy gel you will notice some of the ingredients used, like cane sugar, water, chocolate, and green tea extract, but what about the other ingredients that you can’t even pronounce their names. Maltodextrin, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, malic acid, and fumaric acid are some of the most common.

You will likely have to test a few different fuel sources before you find one that you like (in terms of flavor) and that also helps provide the best performance enhancement without upsetting your stomach.

Use

Depending on how much additional energy you need and what you need it for, you will want to pay close attention at what each product delivers in terms of use.

Use is important. After all, if a certain gel isn’t to your fancy, then you aren’t going to use it. However, it shouldn’t be the main reason why you choose a gel. The content is more important. It’s also worth mentioning that different people have different taste preferences, so what tickles our taste buds might turn yours off.

Besides taste, there are a few things that are super important to think about. One is your own tolerance. How well do you handle caffeine, as well as other energy-producing ingredients? For many people, headaches and stomachaches tend to be a common side effect that might go along with consuming energy gels.

If you don't consume much caffeine or aren't a regular coffee drinker perhaps, then the effect might be different for you. Likewise, if you tend to have a weaker stomach, you might think about consuming smaller than the suggested amount to see how your body takes it. All in all, the important takeaway is that you make sure you invest in something that covers your needs.

Taste

When it comes to anything you are going to consume or eat, it's important that you enjoy the taste--yes, even when it comes to your energy gels! We have provided a lot of different brands that offer a variety of flavor selections, so you have a ton of options to choose from here.

Taste is extremely important. After all, if a certain gel isn’t to your fancy, then you aren’t going to use it. However, it shouldn’t be the main reason why you choose a gel. The content is more important. It’s also worth mentioning that everyone’s taste is different. So what tickles one person's taste buds might turn yours off.

That being said, we did consider this to be an important factor to consider and, while we did rate the taste of each product, at the end of the day you need to consider your own personal preferences. Some of you may consider sweeter gels while others may consider something less sweet. We made sure to include gels that have all-natural ingredients as well because we know how important that can be.

I myself prefer to steer away from artificial flavors when I can. However, we made sure to ensure that there are options on our list that will fit the taste buds of every type of person out there--so look through our reviews carefully to find the perfect energy gel for you. Taste is important, so don't feel bad if you try something and decide to get something else either.

Side Effects

Some of the products on our list do feature caffeine in their main ingredients. If you are sensitive to this, make sure you check before you buy so you don't experience any unnecessary side effects.

When choosing an energy gel, you may also want to consider ingredients like sodium and electrolytes for replenishing salt and other important minerals lost through sweat, and caffeine for an extra boost of energy. Many gels and chews also contain glucose, sucrose, and fructose (simple sugars).

These carbohydrate sources are sometimes included in ingredients like cane syrup, tapioca syrup or even from fruit sources like dates. If you consume all of your carbohydrates in gel form, top up with plain water rather than carbohydrate drink (which would supply surplus carbohydrate). Consuming too many carbohydrates and they won't even be absorbed and could even upset your stomach.

The most important thing to consider when choosing an energy gel to support your athletic performance is its ingredients. Beware, first and foremost, of any potential allergens, and also think about whether the ingredients are actually good for your body. If they are, they will enhance your performance, but if they aren’t, they have the potential to stifle it.

After the ingredients, the next step is trial and error. Pick up a few gels, give them a try, and stick with the one that helps you perform and tastes great. Pregnant women should check with a doctor before using these gels.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

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How do you react to potent doses of caffeine?

These are a little different from slowly sipping on a cup of coffee. There are many who get that boost, but also accompanied by a headache, stomachache, or both.

It's wise to have a good idea of how you react to caffeine and other energy producing ingredients before consuming a whole serving. Perhaps try a partial serving for the first go.

Seriously, only use as suggested

We wouldn't recommend downing one of these gels every time you have a sweettooth or feel just a little tired.

For starters, your body may develop more of a tolerance, which means they don't quite work as well with a normal dose. Second, caffeine is addictive, so there's also that.

Other Factors to Consider

Brand

Some brands of energy gels have caffeine components in them that are very addictive. But you have the option of picking whether you want an energy gel that has caffeine or not. Each runner uses a different supplement in terms of energy gels. This is not only motivated by taste and preferences but also by the level and intensity of running.

Others use it for light running while others will need the energy boost for a marathon. That’s why it’s very important to consider the type of running you do before you make a purchase of these energy boosters and to ensure that their brand supplies fuel for that very purpose. Sports nutrition is expensive, so we factor in convenience and assess the value of the product compared to other products.

Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra dollar to get what will best serve your work out goals. At the same time, however, supplements alone will not make you a good runner; training and dedication will. For that reason, you shouldn't assume that every product with an expensive price tag will provide the benefits you need to take your running to a new level: only you have that ability.

Value

Whilst sports nutrition is expensive, we will factor in convenience and assess the value of the product compared to other products on the market. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra dollar to get what will best serve your work out goals. At the same time, however, supplements alone will not make you a good runner; training and dedication will.

You shouldn't assume every product with an expensive price tag will provide the benefits you need to take your running to a new level: only you have that ability. That being said, we do encourage you to stay in your budget if you have a strict price you need to stick to. Looking through our list you will find that the majority of the energy gels on our list are available at a great pricey, especially if you buy in bulk.

We also want to point out that the value of the product does not solely rely on the price that is designated to it. Rather we encourage to view the value in terms of how well the product fits your needs compared to the amount of money you will need to invest in it--if it fits all of your needs you will find that the energy gel you choose will be worth every penny.

Bottom Line

Loved by hikers, cyclists, paddlers, and runners for on-the-go (during-workout), energy gels are syrupy, semi-liquid products—usually high concentrations of carbohydrates. Their main benefit, to a runner, is that they are able to deliver a very fast energy boost that is easy to digest and are considered to be the quickest energy input of any performance food for any given sporting activity.

Energy gels come in small packets that are light, mostly 1 or 2 oz. They can be easily stashed somewhere close by, as you work out. Some are sweetened by non-sugar products such as honey, agave or stevia. 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. If you prefer to avoid caffeine, take note when selecting gels. There is, however, a huge number of different products on the market, with more flavors and varieties becoming available on a regular basis. With the market full of many energy gels, we recommend you only the best energy gels for runners.

Taste is extremely important. After all, if a certain gel isn’t to your fancy, then you aren’t going to use it. However, it shouldn’t be the main reason why you choose a gel. The content is more important. It’s also worth mentioning that everyone’s taste is different. So what tickles one person's taste buds might turn yours off.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What is an energy gel?

a:

Energy gels are most commonly based on maltodextrin, an easily digestible carbohydrate that quickly and directly provides your body with energy. They always need to be taken with water because they are something like condensed energy drinks. The gel reduces mental fatigue, increases muscle recovery rate and gives you an immediate boost of energy.

q: How do you consume these?

a:

It couldn't be simpler: rip open the top of the sachet and squeeze it into your mouth. It's important that you should consume all of it at once, without saving some to have later. And this is also very important: be sure to drink water when consuming an energy gel. Water not only helps to activate the gel's ingredients in your stomach, but it can also help to prevent you from getting an upset stomach.

q: When should you take them?

a:

Start by having half a gel every 15 minutes until you find out how much your body can take. Don't forget to always have a sip of plain water after the gel, but don't drink any sports drink right away, because those have a lot of carbs as well.

q: How do you use GU products? They're really popular, so what's the big deal?

a:

Try taking one gel or tablet every 45 minutes or so if you are someone with a slower metabolism. Athletes with a faster metabolism should try having one GU gel every 30 minutes and see if it works alright with them. GU has become a leader in the sports nutrition industry because their products work really well.

For some people, their formulations seem to cause more stomach issues than other brands, but most people don't seem to have a problem so long as the instructions are followed and water is taken with the gel.

q: How much water do I need to consume?

a:

If your energy boosts come only from gel supplements, remember to drink plenty of water and maybe even a bit more than you think you need. Gels are best absorbed when you are drinking water and are well hydrated. If you drink a product like Gatorade or other electrolyte or carb-based drink, beware that the carbs in your gel may not all be absorbed, defeating the purpose of taking the gel in the first place.

Plus, you could end up with an upset stomach--even with one of the best energy gels for running!

Sources

  1. Kylene Guerra, RD, Cleveland Clinic, Medical Website
  2. Bryon Powell , I Run Far, Running Website
  3. Andrew Hamilton, 220Triathlon.com, Sporting Website
  4. Fitday Editor, Fitday.com, Fitness Website
  5. Nick Harris-Fry, The Best Running Gels And How To Use Them In Your Training BUYING, Fitness Website