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During a run last week in Coyote Hills with the Mission Peak Striders running group, I had a brief conversation about the benefits of energy gels and other products many athletes enjoy while running.  I wanted to discuss some of the benefits of energy gels and other fuels here on Alameda Runners.

GU, Clif, and other companies market their gels and goodies by promising an energy boost that most of us crave while out on the road.

I’m not qualified to go into specific details regarding the nutritional needs or the physiological benefit of these gels, but most companies are extremely helpful if you have any specific questions.  (They’ll likely ask you about your level of activity, nutrition, and similar questions to try and help you as much as possible.)

The elevated blood sugar can lead to better athletic performance — and you hopefully won’t bonk.  For example, the GU Roctane product line is marketed as a product that reportedly reduces muscle damage, acid build-up, and other natural benefits.

Most companies normally recommend eating an energy gel every 30-45 minutes, but I don’t usually eat one until I’ve been out on the road for at least an hour.  If I know I’ll be out for a couple of hours, I’ll have one after about every 30 minutes of exercise.  You need to try and figure out what works best for you.  Work on this during training, and not on race days (the results could be disastrous).

The official GU website has some useful information about how to use GU energy products here.  Clif also is more than happy to explain the recommended use of Clif Shot energy gels and other products.  Accelerade also has an excellent page that discusses the use of various Accelerade products during exercise.

Honey Stinger also offers basic recommendations regarding the use of its products, and invites you to call or get in touch if you have questions.

If in doubt, it’s best to try and contact the company directly — they usually are very good about answering back.  Ted actually contacted Clif (without mentioning he writes for Alameda Runners) and received a quick response warning him not to consume the product the way he was because it can be very bad for you.

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