energy gel

How to make and carry your own energy gels: 3 DIY Recipes

In one of our very first blog posts on nutrition, we shared three homemade recipes for an isotonic drink, an energy gel and an energy bar. It was quite successful and we got amazing feedback on our social media platforms. From then on, we have kept posting recipes, but no gels, only bars and rice cakes, and that is why we will be focusing on 3 energy gel recipes here, as well as on broadening the variety of options available to carry them on our bike rides.

Chocolate-flavored energy gel

Ingredients to obtain around 120 grams of gel:

  • 2 pitted dates, approx. 20 g. You can also use raisins or prunes.
  • 10 g (1 tbsp) of chocolate.
  • 70 g (3 ½ tbsp) of honey, molasses, maple syrup or agave syrup.
  • 20 g (4 tsp) of lemon or lime juice.
  • 1 tsp of fat-free cocoa.
  • 1 pinch of salt.

Preparation:

Soak the dates (or the raisins/prunes) for about 2 hours. If you want them to soften a bit faster you can put them in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Once softened, rinse them well. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds, and then pour the date mixture into a jug with it. Add the honey, the lemon/lime juice, the cocoa and the salt. Use a blender to mix everything together until you have a somewhat liquid, silky purée consistency. If you find it too thick, add water little by little. Be careful though, as you don’t want it to be too watery.

Nutrition information:

This recipe has 374 calories, 77 g of carbs, 4 g of protein and 6 g of fat.

Berry flavored energy gel

Ingredients:

  • 60 g (⅓ cup) of berries, either frozen or fresh. You can use a mix of different berries or just one type.
  • 4 pitted dates, approx. 40 g.
  • 10 g (1 ½ tsp) of honey
  • 10 g (2 tsp) of lemon or lime juice
  • 1 pinch of salt

Preparation:

This recipe is easier than the previous one. Soak the dates and once they’re soft, rinse them and add them to a high container together with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a blender or food processor. This gel’s consistency is more liquid than the previous one. If you’d like it to be a bit thicker add more dates.

Nutrition information:

184 calories, 40 g of carbs, 1 g of protein and 0 fats.

Coffee flavored energy gel

Ingredients:

  • 3 pitted dates, approx. 30 g.
  • 70 g (3 ½ tbsp) of honey, molasses, maple syrup or agave syrup.
  • 1 espresso. About 25-30 g of coffee.
  • 1 pinch of salt.
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee. This is optional, although you can also dissolve instant coffee in 25-30 g of water instead of using a cup of espresso.

Preparation:

Soak the dates, and once they’re soft, rinse well and add all the ingredients to a container. Blend the mixture. If the consistency is too thick add some water, and if it is too liquid add more dates.

Nutrition information:

307 calories, 80 g of carbs, 1 g of protein and 0 fats.

How to carry your gels when cycling

You have several options:

  • Reusable and squeezable plastic food pouches (the baby food bags that usually contain fruit purée, but you can wash and refill them). You can find them in different sizes and shapes or designs, mostly aimed at kids. Some of them have a funnel that makes pouring easier.
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  • Soft, flexible bidon. These are small, soft and flexible bottles that can hold up to 160-170 ml of liquid. You can search for gel flask, soft flask, soft bottle, collapsible water bottle, running soft gel flask, etc.
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  • Silicone travel bottles. Yes, exactly. These are small bottles designed to carry liquids in toiletry bags in our travel kits, that can also serve as containers for our energy gels.
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  • If you happen to have a food packaging machine and packaging bags that hold up to 150-170 ml, then you can prepare small bags with an opening to pour the gel and then seal them with the machine.
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For all of the above packaging options, you may want to place the container vertically in a glass so that you can easily pour the gel directly from the jug or using a spoon. If you use a small funnel, filling the container with the gel will be much easier.

The source of carbohydrates in these gels are mainly fructose and glucose. They also contain some sucrose and maltose. Such a variety of carb sources helps us achieve higher levels of absorption and a better digestion of said carbs. These different sources are also metabolized differently. Glucose is the quickest one to get metabolized, maltose does it at a medium-level rate, while fructose metabolizes much slower than other carbohydrates.

You can add powdered maltodextrin to these recipes. Maltodextrin is an “artificial” carbohydrate mostly present in every store-bought energy gel. This carb is mainly obtained from corn starch and is widely used by the food industry because it is cheap and easily produced. A retail price of 1 kg of maltodextrin is about $7-8, the wholesale price is probably lower. An energy gel costs around $1-2 and has about 20-22 g of maltodextrin in it. A similar rule applies to glucose, fructose and dextrose. If you do the math, you’ll see that, for the food industry, energy gel sales are quite profitable and make for a good business, and that making them at home is actually really easy and cheap.

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