Gels are a form of sports nutrition commonly used by endurance athletes during training or competition. They are usually packaged in small, convenient pouches or packets and contain a concentrated blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and occasionally amino acids or caffeine.
Energy supply: Gels are primarily used to provide a quick and easily digestible source of energy during exercise or competition. They usually contain quickly digestible carbohydrates such as maltodextrin or glucose, which can be quickly converted into energy.
Compact format: gels are very convenient and easy to carry around due to their compact and lightweight packaging. They can be easily stored in your pocket or running backpack, allowing for easy and quick ingestion during exercise without the need for additional chewing.
Electrolytes: Some gels also contain electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium to help balance the body's electrolyte levels during sweating and aid in hydration. This can be especially important during longer workouts or in hot environments.
Taste and compatibility: gels are available in a variety of flavors to suit individual preferences. The sweet taste can also increase motivation and enjoyment during exercise. It is important to test gels before training to ensure they are well tolerated and do not cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Timing of intake: the exact timing of gel intake depends on the individual sport, duration and intensity of training. Generally, gels are taken every 30 to 60 minutes during prolonged endurance activities to maintain energy levels.
It is important to note that gels alone are not sufficient to meet an athlete's nutritional needs. A balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats remains critical for optimal performance and recovery.