The best energy gels to fuel your run

The best portable power-ups to support your endurance feats
Best energy gels to buy

If your two-footed or two-wheeled exercise efforts last longer than 90 minutes, you’re going to need a source of energy to top up your body’s glycogen stores – or risk suffering the dreaded wall. That’s where energy gels come in.

Carbohydrate gels are the go-to energy supply for endurance athletes. We love them because they’re a convenient way to get extra carbs on the move in a form that’s more readily digestible and kinder on the gut than regular solid food. What you’re really looking for is something that provides even, sustained energy with no rush and crash.

Most gels contain between 15-25g of carbs, and the best use a combination of fuel sources to increase the number of carbohydrates the body can process in an hour from 60g to 90g – without risking stomach upset.

Natural vs chemical

While in the past the majority of carb gels have been based on sugars such as maltodextrin, with artificial flavourings that tend to taste a bit chemical, there’s a growing trend for all-natural products made from real-food ingredients.

We’re constantly testing the latest energy gels to decide which products you should consider. And while every single one of the gels we’ve handpicked is on the list for its combination of taste, effectiveness and convenience, it’s important to note that what works for one person might not work for another. We recommend a bit of trial and error to find your best energy gel – but this is a great place to start.


Best all-round gel: 33Shake Chia Gels

Buy now: 33shake.com | £1.99 (international shipping)

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

There are only four ingredients in 33Shake’s all natural gels: chia seeds, coconut palm sugar, organic vanilla and Himalayan pink salt. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

Unlike all the other gels on this list, the ingredients in the resealable packs come dried so you have to add water to rehydrate them 10 minutes before you plan to use them. That extra step might put some people off but it’s actually very useful if you’re carrying fuel for a long ride or run, because the dehydrated gels take up less space.

You get 11g carbs in a single gel, which is lower than most other gels but the boost is nice and even. Having a gel with real-food bits in it is actually a pleasant change from the usual nondescript sludge. There’s salt in the 33Shake gels to help balance your hydration, but if you’re looking for a caffeine boost, sadly there’s no option.


Huma Gel

Buy now: humagel.com (US) / Amazon | $2.25

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

All Huma Gels are made entirely from real food. A blend of chia seeds, fruit puree, cane sugar and brown rice syrup, they come in fruity flavours such as apple & cinnamon, blueberry and lemonade. They pack a 21-25g carb payload and they taste refreshingly natural. Compared to most ‘chemical’ gels, they’re frankly delicious.

The spark of inspiration for these chia-based gels comes from the famous ultra running Tarahumara tribe who use chia seed blends to power their incredible endurance feats. The fibre from the ground-up seeds provides steady energy without the rush-and-crash you can get with some gels.

There are power-boosting caffeine options with 25-50mg caffeine, and electrolyte charged varieties to support hydration. For anyone looking to go long – and not be constantly ripping open gel packets – there’s a very handy resealable XL pouch too.

Spring Energy Gel

Buy now: myspringenergy.eu / Amazon (UK) | £2.45

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

Another 100% natural energy gel with fruity flavour profiles and a smooth pure texture, Spring energy gels use different combinations of chia seeds, rice, molasses, cassava, honey, beetroot, rice, plant oil and peanut butter (not all contain nuts). What you get is a tasty source of carbs that you’re happy to eat when your watch beeps for gel time. If you’re not allergic to nuts, the peanut butter blends have a really pleasant, natural salty edge that’s a departure from most sickly sweet gels.

The Spring line-up features gels designed – and handily labelled – for different scenarios so whether you’re looking for quick punch of power, you’re about to take on some hills or you’re buckling up for a long-haul ultra, there’s a gel for the job.

Each rip-top pack provides a hit of between 15-20g carbs that comes from a combination of fast and slowly absorbed sources, designed to provide an even supply of energy without big sugar spikes and nasty crashes.

And there are electrolyte, caffeine and vegan options too.

Maurten 100 Hydrogel

Buy now: maurten.com (US) | $40.32 (for 12 gels)

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

Maurten are a relatively new kid on the endurance fuel block but they’ve made an instant impact. The fuel of choice for marathon world record breaker, Eliud Kipchoge, the brand was initially known for introducing a new formula carbohydrate sports drink mix that turned into a gel in the stomach for steadier absorption. But they now have an actual gel too.

The principles are the same: the gel has a special formula that speeds transit through the gut to the lower intestine. That means there’s nothing lingering in the stomach to cause those tummy troubles.

The gels have a surprisingly pleasant, and totally unique, soft jelly texture – a little like a squishier version of the innards of a jelly baby. It’s unlike any other gel, much less sticky and with a completely neutral taste that means there’s nothing to grow tired of. The energy delivery is smooth and crash-free and the packets are light, compact and easy to open on the move.

Stealth Real Fruit Energy Gel

Buy now: secret-training.com (UK) / Amazon | £24.50 (for 14 gels)

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

Another relatively new brand, Stealth’s real fruit isotonic gels are made to be consumed without water. That’s a very useful feature that means you don’t have to time your gel with a water station if you’re running a marathon, and you can still top up your carbs on longer runs and rides even if your water bottles are empty.

However, there is a trade off. The 60g isotonic gels are the bulkiest on this list and take up a fair bit of space in your gel belt or jersey pocket.

When it comes to taste, Stealth claims they’ve got the "taste of a smoothie and the performance of an energy gel" and that’s a pretty fair description. The fruit flavours are nicely natural and not overly sweet – we really like the banana – and the texture is thicker than something like a High5 Aqua gel that works on a similar principle, but is far less gluey than most other gels.

That looser consistency also stops the gels hanging around in the gut too long, cutting your chances of the dreaded GI-mageddon. Each gel packs around 21g of fast-acting carbs.

OTE Energy Gel

Buy now: otesports.co.uk (UK) / Amazon | £27 (for 20 gels)

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

Another range to use real fruit for a more natural flavour, OTE’s fresh-tasting gels come in orange, lemon & lime, blackcurrant and apple flavour. The apple was definitely the standout for us.

Not much smaller than the Stealth gels, at 56g these also take up a fair amount of space and that makes them a little less convenient for racing where you’re not carrying a bag or a decent size belt.

While they’re made with real fruit concentrates to give them a fresher, fruitier taste, these gels get their 20g carb hit mainly from maltodextrin, so if you’re looking for all-natural energy, these probably aren’t for you. Each gel also packs added electrolytes to help support your hydration.

OTE has also created an ingenious easy-open dual delivery system with two openings, one that you can tear to gulp the gel down, another smaller one that you rip to sip.

Torq Gel

Buy now: torqfitness.co.uk (UK) / Amazon | £24 (for 15 gels)

Best energy gels for running, cycling and endurance

Remember that the body can only really process 60g of carbs per hour? Well, Torq’s gels buck that trend with a 2:1 blend of glucose and fructose to deliver their 28g hit of carbo energy faster than single carb gels.

This dual-carb delivery makes for a punchy energy hit of energy initially but this also lasts longer than some rush-and-crash gels that shoot for speed of delivery over a more sustained supply.

Fans of jazzed up flavours and those with a sweet tooth will enjoy Torq’s dessert-inspired combos like apple crumble, cherry bakewell and rhubarb and custard. These are unsurprisingly very sweet and a little engineered but the consistency is smooth, not too cloying and easy to swallow. You’ll need water to follow them but they’re pleasant by gel standards.

The compact, easy-open tubes are a dream to use on the move and each gel contains five key electrolytes for hydration support. Caffeine seekers can choose a guarana option for an 89mg caffeine kick.

Rawvelo

Buy now: Rawvelo (UK) | Sigma Sports | $44 for 20 gels

The best energy gels to fuel your run

Joining the real food gel revolution, Rawvelo’s gels use that increasingly familiar blend of ingredients combining organic fruit juices, coconut sugar and natural brown rice syrup to create a gel that’s completely free from any artificial ingredients such as preservatives, colourings or flavourings, contains no refined or synthesised sugars, and which are 100% vegan and organic.

There are three quite unique flavours to choose from: Blood Orange, Blueberry and Hibiscus (which packs 50mg of natural caffeine from a 50g sachet) and Passion fruit and Coconut. Each gel packs 20g carbs with a consistency that’s far more liquid than other traditional gloopy gels, making it much easier to get down without water. There’s a hint of sea salt but these gels are a little on the sweeter side.

Veloforte Nectars

Buy now: Veloforte (UK) | £5 for 3 gels

The best energy gels to fuel your run

Veloforte has long been known for its all-natural energy bars based on an Italian staple, panforte, and now it's extended its 100% real-food approach into gels too, with what it calls Nectars.

If you’re sick of the same old super-sweet maltodextrin-based gels with fake flavours, then these should be the next gels you try in training. A bit like Rawvelo, the gel consistency is far less viscous than traditional gels and that makes for a much less gammy mouth.
The flavours are pretty unique too with a blend of real fruits and botanicals that create a trio of gels: Tempo (Date, Lemon & Ginger), Primo (Beetroot & Lemon) and Doppio (Maple, Coffee & Guarana). What you get are gels you genuinely look forward to eating rather than grudgingly get down.
Each gel has 22g of carbs that are a mix of fast and slower-acting to avoid rush-and-crash energy, and you get added nutritional bang for your buck from the addition of ingredients like ginger and beetroot.

Tags:   Running
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