Energy Gel For Marathon
The amount of energy gels and brand of energy gel you should have for a marathon depends a lot on the time you spend running, those running a marathon in 2.5hours will differ from those attempting a sub 4 hour marathon and so on. Below we look in to when and how much energy gels you should have when attempting a marathon race distance.
If you're just looking for energy gel recommendations, scroll to the bottom and you'll see a definitive list of gels available for you to try. At the time of writing we have nearly 200 in the food discovery database and all are below in an easy to use table format for you to discover new favorites.
If you're looking for energy gels for your first or seventh marathon race, it needs to be quick to consume, not give you any gut issues and work fast so that you get the energy you need straight away.
As well as that there are some other questions you could ask of them that would make their use that much easier and enjoyable, such as flavor, packaging type, whether you need to take the gel with water, etc.
Before you get used to training with your own gels and working out a nutrition plan for yourself, ask your marathon races if they are providing gels.
If you're going to use gels provided by the marathon and their food and drink stations, it is important that you test these out many months before on your longer runs to check that they work for you.
Make sure you ask the marathon if they are providing gels on the day of the marathon and which gels they are providing. If they are, that is great as you don't have to carry any extra weight with you.
It also is important to think about eating other foods, substantial real foods, water and electrolytes as well. We have written a much more thorough guide on how much to eat and when for a marathon and other distances here. And combined with the food discovery tool, we're sure you can find nutritional plans that best fit your specific requirements.
Why Energy Gels For A Marathon
Energy gels are a great source of energy and are very popular because they're very easy and quick to consume. They weigh very little and because of the amount of gels available, there are bound to be some that work very well for you.
If you are self-supporting a marathon and you have to carry your own food, then gels will literally take up no more than 350 grams if you're attempting a sub 3 hour marathon and take with you 7 gels for that period and marathon length.
How Many Gels For A Marathon Run
This question has a different answer for everyone, if everyone is giving it their best shot and putting in similar levels of effort, it comes down to how long you'll be out on the marathon.
A rule of thumb is 200+ calories per hour or 1.2g of carb per minute from the food items you choose to consume.
Depending on the gel type, that means at least 2-3 gels per hour with each gel being consumed every 20-30 minutes. You need to also check whether the gels you are taking need to be consumed with water.
With the table below which shows all of the available energy gels, you will notice there is a column on the far right called minutes of energy, this is a guide which is taken from the amount of quick energy usable carbs that are in the energy gel and shows roughly how many minutes of energy that gel can cover you for.
It may be that it could cover you longer or for less than it states, this is down to the effort being put in, how long you've been running for in the marathon and other factors. Make sure to check both the calories and the carbs in each food item to get a good estimate of how many you will need.
How Many Energy Gels For a Sub 3 Hour Marathon
Using the minutes of energy as a guide and if every energy gel you use is carb based then you will be looking at a minimum of 7 energy gels for a 3 hour marathon.
Why 7 and not 9 if each gel could cover 20 minutes and you'd consume 3 an hour? This is because the first 30-45 minutes of a race, you should have plenty of energy and have potentially pre-carb loaded and you can use this to get you through the first hour.
It is only after the first 45-60 minutes do you need to start taking in extra calories and usable energy for endurance events and marathons which are longer than 1 hour in length.
If you go from the first 50 energy gels in the list below out of the nearly 200 available to choose from, you can stick to this guide as most in the top 50 offer around 20 minutes of energy per gel.
This is because they have between 22 grams and 28 grabs of carbs and 90 to 110 calories available.
How Many Gels For a 4 Hour Marathon or Longer
The same rules apply for 4 hour marathon or longer races, 1.2g of carbs per minute and or 200+ calories per hour. If you're attempting a marathon and looking at under a 4 hour marathon time or something even a little bit longer, you would look to consume about 10 energy gels for 4 hours of moderate to hard running.
This is because a sub 3 hour would have 7 gels, plus the extra hour, with each gel covering 20+ minutes, you know you will be covered, energy wise with 10 gels.
Training With Energy Gels on Long Runs
One of the biggest takeaways from all of this is that you train, train, train your nutritional plan. This goes for how many gels you have and the energy gel brand and ingredients composition you have.
Using the food discovery tool, you can filter by energy gels as a food type and then look in to the sugar types and ingredient composition used by gels to find ones that work with your gut and don't give you any gut issues.
If you're going to be taking at least 7+ gels for a marathon, you need to know you can handle that amount of gels in a short space of time, whilst also running at a hard effort.
Many people worry about whether they've trained enough, but not many concern themselve's with training their nutritional plan. Eating the wrong foods or not enough can kill your race, even if you've had the best training regime pre-race.