If you’re like me, and starting to run longer distances and perhaps training for a full marathon or other endurance events – you may be wondering what all this talk about energy “gels” or “chews” is.
What is an energy supplement? Why do we need energy supplements? How do you choose a gel or energy supplement? When do you use them? How do you use them?
Trust me; I had all of these questions, too. I am teaming up with Glukos Energy and have done a bit of research in hopes to answer some of these questions and give you a perspective on fueling. Like they say, you get out what you put in. So, if you expect maximum results and effort from your body, you should certainly think about what you are putting in to your body! Simple as that!
So, let’s dig in and keep in mind I’m not an expert. I’m just a fellow runner putting together some information in hopes to help. Also, as an FYI, I will be mentioning Glukos Energy but all opinions are my own!
What is an energy supplement?
An energy supplement is something that you eat or drink in order to gain quick energy. The absorption into the body needs to be very quick because you are eating/drinking during your run. If the energy isn’t absorbed until, say, an hour later, you may possibly already be finished with your event! So the idea is to eat something that will quickly be absorbed – this is why the energy supplements are in the form of a gel, chew, or drink.
Gels come in little packets (as seen above) – easy to carry and dispose of during a run.
Why do we need energy supplements?
Muscles need two things while you’re running in order to keep going – fat and carbohydrates (carbs). Both of these elements are pre-determined before our run (already stored in the body). Even when you load up on carbs before a big race, your muscles can only store a certain amount. So, what can we do during a run to gain energy?
Your entire body (and all life forms) gain energy from a substance called glucose, which is stored in the blood. The more strenuous the activity, the more glucose your body requires. Glucose is the only substance that, when ingested, absorbs immediately in order to effectively give your body an extra source of energy. So, since we are asking our body to go the distance (literally), we need to give it what it needs to preform! Energy supplements can be helpful for anyone doing any endurance activity – for example, running a half-marathon or marathon.
How do you choose an energy supplement?
Because glucose is the only form of energy our bodies can use and immediately absorb, and because it is a pure form of energy, that’s exactly what we want! I do recommend checking out Glukos’ website for further information on this. They have all the science on why glucose is so important and necessary. I like to see the evidence, the facts, the why – so if you’re like me, check out their science!
So, once you have a supplement, you still have options – gel, chew, drink? I think it all depends on your preference. I love chews! I just love gummies and chewy things in general. During a marathon, though, I would probably use gels just because it’s more convenient. If you carry water with you on your runs, you can put an energy tablet or powder in your drink. There are also energy bars, if you prefer that.
I, personally, will be doing a little bit of all of the above. I think it’s nice to at least have a few different options for convenience, and so that you don’t get sick of one thing. Luckily, there are also lots of sweet flavors to choose from so you don’t get sick of the stuff.
When do you use energy supplements and how?
You can use energy supplements before, during, and even after a run. Glukos recommends taking one (gel, for example) 20 minutes before activity and then again every 30 minutes to prevent fatigue. Have a gel with a meal after your long event in order to aid in a speedy recovery. You could consider revising by taking half a gel every 15 min (still equaling 1 gel per 30 min) if you have stomach issues. As always, listen to your body!
So, with this in mind, what would your race day look like with energy supplements?
Before race – energy gel 20 minutes before
During race – 1 gel about every 30 minutes
After race – post-race meal + one energy gel, chew, bar or drink
Bonus! What do I eat?
Besides knowing how to use your energy supplements for fuel, it’s important to fuel properly through your meals as well.
As for your meals on race day, don’t eat anything “new.” Nobody wants stomach issues when we already have butterflies! Also, experiment with what works for you before race day. Eat a small pre-race meal about three hours before the race and keep drinking water (not chugging) throughout the day.
An example of something to eat before your run would be oatmeal and fruit or a bagel and a banana. I personally like to have two waffles and yogurt. Different amounts and types of foods work for different people, though. I, personally, need a substantial amount of food or else I get hungry and feel fatigued straight away. Others may need less food and feel better. Also think about how dairy or other sometimes sensitive foods may affect your stomach during a run.
After the marathon, you may find that you have a decreased appetite. Still try to eat something afterwards. Have some post-run snacks (usually available at the race) but also pack your own just in case. You could have a banana and nuts about 30 minutes after (with your gel to help replenish glucose), then a turkey sandwich or a smoothie shortly after that. Again, listen to your body and eat like you normally would. Hold off on trying that new Indian restaurant for another day.
I hope this helped!
I can’t wait to update you guys on how using energy supplements is going for me. I really can’t wait to try the chewies! I am going to try the gels, chews, and drink tablets.
I will let you know what flavors I like, how it effects my runs, and all that good stuff!
Feel free to comment with any other advice or additional information you have on energy supplements and how you use them! I found the information from Glukos to be very helpful. (Here’s their FAQ). Feel free to ask me questions as well and I’m happy to answer to the best of my knowledge as always!
View on the Glukos website here!