By Dominic Lazzaretto
I started using energy gels five years ago while training for the Los Angeles Marathon and have come to rely on them for any physical activity that lasts more than an hour. [Add your own Tantric jokes here] Energy gels are much easier to carry and digest than energy bars and they provide a better energy boost than fluid replacement drinks.Now, don’t get me wrong. Energy bars and fluid replacement drinks have their place – and will surely be the subject of future reviews – but there is nothing quite like the immediate lift an energy gel can provide.
Don’t ask me how, but the best gels somehow also provide clarity of thought. You go from feeling like you can’t go another
In order to provide some control in the testing, I took a gel at the mid-point of a rolling eight mile run. I didn’t eat anything prior to the workout and only consumed water with the gel. I road tested several of each variety and taste tested every variety made by each company, except where noted. The results are identified below. Scores are based on a five-point scale with five being the ideal. Every product in this test is readily available online (including at our partner sites, where discounts can be had). For the bricks and mortar devotees out there, I have noted whether the products could be found in local stores. I live in Los Angeles, so if it can’t be found in shops here, finding it anywhere might be a challenge (my apologies to the small town folks with great local shops).The reviews mention packaging. Sure, it has nothing to do with how well a gel performs, but in a field of high-quality products, looks matter. Yeah, I said it. It’s out there. No, I won’t take it back. In fact, I’m even giving it a name: “The Cosmo Factor”.Now, on to the results…
Originally, I had planned on testing Accel Gel as well (try to say that five times fast); however, I could not find them for sale individually anywhere in the Los Angeles area. While they do offer a mixed box, my meager budget kept me from buying a full case just to test a few. I guess you’ll just have to run your own test on these.Overall Comments
A Note on CaffeineI was surprised to find that more caffeine was not necessarily a good thing. Although a standard cup of coffee has far more caffeine (+/- 80mg) than the double-caffeine gels (50mg), I could sense caffeine’s effects on my body far more in the gel. The standard caffeine options (25mg) gave me great results without the jumpy feeling provided by the double-caffeine versions.I should point out that I’m a one cup of Joe per day kind of guy. This information states that caffeine has a greater effect on performance for those who don’t use it regularly. If you indulge in a triple shot of espresso every morning, you may find that the double-caffeine options are just right for you.
*Note: these tests are subjective and individual results may vary from person to person.
A Note on the Author: Dominic Lazzaretto has completed four triathlons (generally in the middle of the pack) and has competed in dozens of road running races, mountain bike races, and road cycling events. He is one of the official gear reviewers for BeginnerTriathlete.com.