Change Your Energy Gel if You're Getting Gut Issues Whilst Running

Change Your Energy Gel if You're Getting Gut Issues Whilst Running

If you're getting gut issues, intestine problems or bad stomachs on long races, this could be down to the main ingredient and carb type of your energy gel.

Have you thought about the carb types used in energy gels? Their main energy giving ingredient could be the cause and by changing the carb type and energy gel you could potentially fix your stomach problems.

At Outdoor Food Club we have over 1000 outdoor and sports foods in our smart database and food discovery tool. In this case, we use the database to show all energy gels on the market today.

Here we have divided and grouped most energy gels available on the market in to their carb types so that it is easier for you to choose an energy gel which should help keep gut issues at bay.

If you're training for a specific endurance event, such as a marathon, ultra-marathon or cycle sportive or even an obstacle race that will take more than an hour, you're going to want to have a nutrition plan as well as a training plan.

We've had this happen to ourselve's and seen others fall victim to gut issues and cramping stomachs and being unable to eat food during a race and it has made them drop out and at best slowed them to a walk.

In the months training before the event you should be getting used to the types of food and drink you will be consuming on the race day, or at least working out what will work for you.

But what if you're getting gut issues and digestion problems whilst running or cycling long distances?

With that question in mind, it's important that you find out as early as you can what main ingredient is in the gel you are using, so that you can change to a different type energy gel and fuel well before race day.

To fix this issue,  we will be looking in to the carb types and ingredients used in most energy gel companies and grouping them together so that if you have a gut issue or stomach problem on a recent marathon then you can change to a different group of energy gels to find something that works for you.

Some energy gels may use multiple carb types, it's important that if you are switching between brands of energy gels that you check this out first. You may be fine with one carb type but then if you try another gel that has multiple carb types in it and one of them is an ingredient that you don't do well with, this too will ruin a race.

To get around this and to help distinguish which gels use what carbs, we have added a column to each energy gel suggestion table below in their carb groups so that you can see if the energy gel is using multiple carbs and this can help you avoid carbs that you're stomach and gut is struggling with and choose others which you have never tried before.

 

How To Find Out If An Energy Gel Gives You Gut Issues

You need to be training and running longer distances and for a longer span of time so that the gels you consume are actually required to fuel your run and being absorbed, we recommend taking a gel just before your first hour of running ends, at about 40-50 minutes and then every 15-20 minutes there after depending on the size and minutes of energy or carbs the gel has.

If you are testing which gels work, do not consume anything else, other than water for the second hour of running and see if you can get in to the third hour of running with no stomach issues off of just gels that you are testing.

If you can run 2-3 hours or more off of just gels and water (don't forget the electrolytes), then you should be good to mix in other foods that you are also used to on race day.

We don't recommend just gels for race day, mixing it up with other more substantial foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and the odd home favorite like a warm pie or soups (especially in colder races) are our go-to's and that works for us on longer ultra-marathon distance runs.

 

What Types of Energy Gels and Ingredients They Use

Below we have created a chart to show which carb types and sugars are used most throughout the energy gels in the database. This is a good indicator of what energy types energy gels use and are available on the market today.

top pick

Muir Energy Blackberry and Thyme Energy Gel
Muir Energy Blackberry and Thyme Energy Gel
is a no added sugar energy gel & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
21MoE

top pick

Torq Forest Fruits Energy Gel
Torq Forest Fruits Energy Gel
is one of many maltodextrin based energy gels & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
23MoE

top pick

huma cafe mocha chia energy gel
Huma Cafe Mocha Chia Energy Gel
is one of many cane sugar based energy gels & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
22MoE

top pick

Mule Bar Apple Studel Energy Gel
Mule Bar Apple Studel Energy Gel
is one of many brown rice sugar based energy gels & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
23MoE

top pick

Dextro Energy Orange Liquid Gel
Dextro Energy Orange Liquid Gel
is one of many fructose based energy gels & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
23MoE

top pick

Dextro Energy Orange Liquid Gel
Dextro Energy Orange Liquid Gel
is one of many dextrose based energy gels & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
23MoE

top pick

Honey Stinger Ginsting Energy Gel
Honey Stinger Ginsting Energy Gel
is a honey energy gel & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
23MoE

top pick

Untapped Coffee Pure Maple Syrup Energy Gel
Untapped Coffee Pure Maple Syrup Energy Gel
is a maple syrup based gel & has the most amount of minutes of energy, with
22MoE

Naturally Present and No Added Sugar Energy Gels

Out of the nearly 200 energy gels we have in the database, the vast majority of gels haze no added sugar and naturally present sugars in them. These gels are made up of fruits mostly. You'll find they will have a very high sugar count but the sugar in them isn't processed like other carb and sugar types we explore further below.

The energy gels in this section have no added sugars and are naturally present in the sugars that they use. This sugar type and carb type is the most common within the energy gel range in our database.

You will still find plenty of sugar in most of these energy gel offerings but at least they are provided from fruit and other natural ingredients.

The table has the sugars, carbs and minutes of energy expected from the gels as well as the diet and flavoring of each. If you want to see more options, just scroll through the table using the pager at the bottom to see all the other suggestions within this section.

If you are having issues with other gel types then check out this section. If you had a maltodextrin based energy gel that wasn't working for you, you can move to these suggested here and see how that goes for you.

An example is if you're training with a Clif Shot Energy Gel, which is a maltodextrin based energy gel, you can try and  see how the offerings in this section work for you on long runs, most of which are puree baby foods and fruit purees with the occasional nut butter.

Most people should be ok with no added sugar or naturally present sugar energy gels because they are made of mostly raw fruits, if you're used to fruits in your normal diet, then this group type could be the best energy gel for you and keep stomach issues at bay.

Some brands to look out for when looking at no added sugar energy gels:

  • Muir Energy
  • Peter Rabbit puree food
  • Happy Tot puree food
  • Plum Organics
  • ProBar
  • Longhaul Performance
  • Rrun
  • Yumbutter
  • Justins

At the moment well over 80 energy gels have no added sugar. To see these, go below for the suggestion table or head to the food discovery tool to ask more questions of the database of foods.

 

Energy Gels With Maltodextrin

Coming in second as the most used carb type in energy gels, maltodextrin can be found in at least a quarter of all energy gels on the market today, in this case they are in 49 of the 188 energy gels in our sports foods database.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a maltodextrin based energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there. If you're having issues with others, it's time to give a maltodextrin based energy gel a try and see how that works for you on your longer runs.

Even though there are a lot more naturally present sugar and no added sugar energy gels, the second most used carb type in energy gels is that of maltodextrin.

They are common and used by many different brands to give those using them the energy they need to work through an endurance event.

If you are interested in finding a new maltodextrin based energy gel, scroll through this suggestion table to see what options you have.

We pointed out at the top of this article that of multiple carb energy gels. We have added a column called carb type which shows whether each gel uses one, two or more carb types to fuel the athletes. IF this is the case, then keep an eye on these ingredients as you don't want to be using a gel and carb type that you know doesn't work for you.

If you're coming from a different brand and carb type energy gel, give these brands a try if you haven't tested a maltodextrin energy gel before.

  • Dextro energy
  • Torq gels
  • Carb Boom energy gels
  • Unived Rrun energy gels
  • Eload energy gels
  • Clif Shot energy gels
  • Gu energy gels
  • High5 energy gels
  • Science in Sport energy gels
  • Hammer gels
  • Mountain Fuel gels
  • Bulk powders gels

To see these gels, go below for the suggestion table or head to the food discovery tool to ask more questions of the database of foods.

Energy Gels With Cane Sugar

In this list of energy gel suggestions you can find energy gels which have cane sugar as the main energy ingredient.

As well as the flavors you can get, we have added a column which is very important, the sugar and carb type column. We have added this column because some energy gels have multiple carb types.

So, if you're looking at energy gels with cane sugar in them, keep an eye out on this column as you may find that they use other carb types. You may want to be avoiding another carb and this may also be being used in some of the gels in this list.

Cane syrup or cane sugar takes up 23 of the 188 energy gels in the database, being the third most popular ingredient to fuel athletes within the energy gel range.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a cane sugar based energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there. If you're struggling with other carb types used in gels, take a look at these here.

Some of the brands that use cane sugar in their gels:

  • Huma
  • Clif Shot
  • Split Nutrition
  • Noosh
  • Pacific Health

To see these gels, go below for the suggestion table or head to the food discovery tool to ask more questions of the database of foods.

Energy Gels With Fructose

In this section we have highlighted all the energy gels which are using fructose as a carb type. If you're looking for gels because of gut issues and want to avoid maltodextrin, glucose, dextrose, honey, maple syrup, cane sugar or brown rice sugar then give fructose a look.

There are plenty of options from multiple brands.

As well as flavoring, we have added a very important column called carb type and this shows if the energy gel uses multiple carb types. A lot of gel brands use dual carb ingredients as to better fuel athletes but this makes it harder to find gels which work for you and don't give you stomach issues.

As you can see in this column, most, if not all combine multiple carb types and one of the main ones being maltodextrin.

If you want to check out a fructose based energy gel, here are the brands that offer them:

  • Torq gels
  • Dextro
  • Powerbar
  • Maurten
  • Gu
  • Pacific Health

If you have more questions related to energy gels or other sports foods or outdoor foods, head on over to the food discovery tool where you can filter and sort over a 1000 food items.

 

 

Energy Gels With Brown Rice Sugar

In this section you can see energy gels which use brown rice sugar and syrup to make up the energy gel. If you have problems with other carb and sugar types give one of these a try.

Brown rice syrup is the 5th most used sugar type for energy gels with just a handful of gels and brands using this ingredient to fuel runners, cyclists and endurance athletes.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a brown rice or rice based sugar energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there.

As well as flavors, which is an important factor in choosing a gel we have added a column called sugar type which shows sugars and carb types used in the creation of each energy gel.

This is because it's hard to find a gel with a single carb type as most use dual carb ingredients to help athletes get energy quickly.

You can use this column to make sure that the gels don't contain the carbs or sugars you want to avoid.

You will find that a lot of these gels also have cane sugar or syrup in them as well, so if you haven't tested any of these for your nutritional plan then you have some decent options.

Some of the brands offering brown rice sugar based energy gels:

  • Mule Bar
  • Huma
  • Veloforte

To see these gels, go to the suggestion table or head to the food discovery tool to ask more questions of the database of foods.

 

Energy Gels With Dextrose

Dextrose, like maltodextrin is a highly processed carb that is great at giving you the energy, when you need it as you consume it.

There are a number of brands that supply energy gels with dextrose.

Dextro, Rrun by Unived, Eload and Hammer gels are the only dextrose based energy gels on the market at the moment.

Dextrose is one of the least used carb types and sugars in energy gels, but there are still some big brands using them.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a dextrose based energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there. If you find that a different carb type is affecting your gut or stomach, give dextrose based gels a go.

Some of the brands that use dextrose as their main ingredient:

  • Dextro
  • Rrun
  • Eload
  • Unived
  • Hammer

To see these gels, go to the suggestion table or head to the food discovery tool to ask more questions of the database of foods.

 

Energy Gels With Honey

There aren't many brands creating gels with honey in them, but those that do are some of the biggest on the market, if you're fine with honey then you should be ok with a Honey Stinger, Spring energy gel or the nut butters which have added honey in them by Justins and RX Nut Butters.

They are a different take to the highly processed carbs like maltodextrin and dextrose but still high sugar content energy gels that may or may not work for you.

We have seen Honey Stinger and Spring energy gels at food aid stations on ultra marathons and marathons.

The least two sugar types used in energy gels are honey and maple syrup. If you are not on a specific diet, such as a vegan or plant-based diet, then honey could be a great fuel for your endurance events.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a honey based energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there.

Here the suggestion table will show which gels have honey in them but if you have more questions for gels or other outdoor or sports foods, head on over to the food discovery tool. This smart tool has over 1000 food items for you to discover.

Energy Gels With Maple Syrup

One of the least used sugar types and energy gel ingredients, maple syrup. We love it's taste and even though it's high in sugar, it is more natural than the maltodextrin and dextrose offerings.

There are a few brands creating energy gels and one of our new favorites, the Veloforte is one that has maple syrup and fruit purees as a mix which we think is a great idea.

If you want a natural energy gel and are vegan, instead of honey you can get maple syrup. This is used in a handful of energy gels on the market and below you can see what brands and options use maple syrup.

  • Untapped
  • Rekarb
  • Veloforte
  • Justins
  • Rx Nut Butter

Are brands that all have maple syrup in their energy gels.

If you're having gut issues or stomach issues with a maple syrup based energy gel, it's time to change to one of the other options, there is plenty of choice out there.

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nutritional plan
gut issue
bad stomach
carbs