Homemade Organic Energy Gels

Fueling on the run has always been a challenge for me. While training for my first marathon in 2010, I experimented with GU and Clif Shot Bloks. Neither were particularly easy to get down during a race, and the artificial flavors left much to be desired.
While training for my second marathon in spring of 2012, I tried many flavors and brands of gels thanks to wonderful aid stations supplied by Team in Training. I found that the tri-berry flavor GU was bearable, and that Clif gels were decent. However, these still weren't perfect during the race as I choked them down with many cups of water.
Last fall, I began training with Honey Stinger chews, which have been my favorite fuel to date. Not only are they delicious, but they are also easy to chew on the run. However, during the Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2012, I was a bit dehydrated and could not get anything down after mile 19. Recently, I've been adding some raisins in the mix, which I've found to be very tasty on the run, but somewhat sticky and inconvenient to carry.

Honey Stingers and golden raisins

Thus, my quest to find the perfect on the run fuel. During a discussion with a co-worker and fellow endurance athlete, I expressed these concerns, and he referred me to the Boulder Cycling Club website with a recipe for homemade organic energy gels. Last weekend, I decided to give it a shot. 

Ingredients

Makes: 1.75 cups (14 oz.) of gel, 141.5 calories per oz.

  • 3/4 cup - Organic Brown Rice Syrup 
  • 1/2 cup - Organic Agave Nectar
  • 1/2 cup - Raw Honey
  • 1/2 tsp - fine grain sea salt- (Not pictured)
  • 1 Organic Banana

Directions: 

I followed the directions listed on the Boulder Cycling Club website:

  • Peel and puree the banana with the agave nectar in a blender (I used my immersion blender.) 
  • Measure and pour the brown rice syrup, raw honey, and sea salt in a large bowl. 
  • Pour banana/agave mixture into other ingredients and puree all ingredients.
  • Pour into small containers for use. 
  • Refrigerate until ready for use

Final product (it tastes better than it looks)

I found these fun little squeezable shampoo containers at CVS for about $2 a piece:

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this gel worked during my long run last weekend on the Appalachian trail. I took the larger 3 oz. tube with me, but did not eat the whole thing during the run, even though I think I should have for the 3.5 hours I was out on the trail.  The consistency was gooey, but not too sticky. I still needed to drink some water with it, though definitely not as much as I do with other gels. The gel was very sweet due to the 3 types of sugars, but the banana flavor was really good. As far as the energy boost goes, I felt the effects almost immediately after eating, and they lasted for a long time. 
I'm going to continue using this stuff for long runs, as long as I keep getting good results. I enjoy knowing that I'm putting all-natural, organic ingredients into my body while on the run. Finally, the taste and texture are amazing compared to other gels and chews I've tried. I may try tweaking the ingredients in the future, depending on how my long runs go. 
Time for bed, tomorrow I'm representing Team in Training at the Endurance Sports Expo, followed by a nice long run. 

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