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Gummies or Gels. Which is best for runners and cyclists?

 

Gummies and energy gels are both designed to supply quick, available energy which is needed to delay fatigue in endurance exercise lasting over 90 minutes. But what is the difference and which product might work best for you? Gels may suit athletes who need to consume energy in one hit, whereas gummies may be better for runners and cyclists who want to spread out their energy intake and consume less volume, but more energy. Find out more about gels, gummies and how to make the right fuelling decision based on your individual needs.

"30 - 60g of carbohydrate every hour to promote endurance performance" 

The American College of Sports medicine (ACSM) suggests that during endurance exercise (steady state, like running or cycling) athletes should consume 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour. That’s to help prevent ‘hitting the wall’ – where your stored carbohydrate (glycogen) runs low. This amount would suit individuals competing or training for up to 3 hours. For ultra-endurance exercise (3 hours +) the recommendation is to consume carbohydrate up to 90g per hour- but unless you’re a trained elite ultra runner, this is very hard to consume and often not realistic!

 

What types of fuel are there?

 

 Typically, endurance athletes are accustomed to using energy gels and drinks to provide carbohydrate. A typical energy gel contains around 20g of carbohydrate in a 60ml (g) solution, with a 500ml energy drink containing anywhere between 30-80g of carbohydrate. Energy gummies are seen as ‘the new kid on the block’ providing a more concentrated fuel source at 32g of carbohydrate per 40g pack.

 

You should consider the ‘type’ of carbohydrate in your product and see which one works for you.

 

 Maltrodextin is usually made from corn starch. It is used in sports products since it’s not as sweet as other sugars.

 

 Fructose is also known as fruit sugar. This is the sugar found in fruits and honey. It is very sweet and overconsumption can often lead to stomach problems in endurance athletes

 

Glucose syrup is a concentrated solution of sugar and is used in both confectionary and sports nutrition products

 

 There is a limit to how much carbohydrate you can deliver. Consuming one type of carbohydrate e.g maltodextrin or glucose limits you to delivering up to 60g of carbohydrate per hour, whereas combining these fuels with fructose allows you to deliver up to 90g of carbohydrate per hour. This is because glucose and fructose use different methods of transportation to reach your working muscles. You should consider the type of exercise you’re doing and choose the fuel to reflect that e.g if you’re performing ultra-endurance exercise – choose more glucose/fructose products, whereas if you’re running for 2 hours- a glucose only product may suit you best.

 

 The gel vs gummy debate

 

 Gels have been around for a while – love them or hate them, they provide fuel to the working muscles with the additional aim to reduce stomach distress. However, gummies may prove a better alternative in some situations when carrying gels is not practical or you suffer stomach distress. 

 

Gummies Isotonic Energy Gel
32g of carbohydrate per serving 22g of carbohydrate per serving
40g serving size 60g serving size
100mg caffeine option 75mg caffeine option
2 packs (80g total weight) required for 60g carbohydrate per hour 3 packs (180g total weight) required for 60g carbohydrate per hour
Recommended to consume with water to aid digestion May be taken without water to aid digestion
Can be dosed out e.g 3-4 gummies every 10-15 mins Must be consumed in one go

 

You may want to consider combining gummies, gels and drink to build your nutrition strategy based on what suits you. Gummies may be more beneficial during flatter/less intense sections of races or when you may be experiencing stomach issues and can’t handle food/fluid volume in the stomach. Gels may be better for high intense sections due to the added fluid and let’s not forget the importance of hydration.

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