Updated: Aug 27
Energy gels are a runner's best friend. They are a quick and convenient energy source when you are on the go. Whether you're going for a walk, a hike, a training run, or a race, this is one snack you wanna carry with you at all times.
Athletes all have their own preferences and requirements for what nutrients they want to nourish their bodies. Did you know exertion over 60 minutes requires you to start replenishing calories lost?
Get a group of runners together and you'll find as many opinions about gels as there are people. Luckily there are enough gels to match the various opinions, preferences, and requirements athletes have. Gels are a snack that can pack a punch, be it, low or high in protein, carbohydrates, sugar, fats, electrolytes, etc. Maybe your preferences are influenced by diet, non-GMO, gluten-free, all organic ingredients, vegan, or keto-friendly.
Taking all that in mind, and personal experience I have created a list of the top six gels for the following categories; natural gels, organic gels, gluten-free gels, keto-friendly gels, and vegan gels.
What Are Energy Gels?
Before we get into the top gels, we should address the question of what are they. Energy gels are designed to top off your glycogen stores that get depleted during long-distance running or a rigorous exercise. Energy gels are typically made up of simple sugars, which are your body's preferred source of fuel during exercise.
Many gels also contain electrolytes, which become crucial, especially in warmer weather. While some gels also contain caffeine, this little boost might be helpful during those late-night workouts or overnight hours on the trail.
When to Take Energy Gels
Typically you want to consume an energy gel roughly every 45 min to an hour for races or runs over 60 minutes in duration. This roughly gives you 100 - 150 calories and 25 grams of carbs. Many recommend that you consume water to help your body digest the influx of sugar you are taking in. Staying hydrated and well-nourished is important during rigorous exercise.
Best Energy Gels for Running
1. Honey Stinger Energy Gel
Calories: 100 - 110
Carbs: 24g - 26g
Sugar: 10g - 25g
Sodium: 45mg - 50mg
Caffeine: 0mg - 32mg
Flavors: Strawberry Kiwi (caffeine), Fruit Smoothie, Gold, Acai Pomegranate
Price: $29.99 - $36.99 (directly from the site - prices may vary)
Honey Stinger is made from natural non-GMO ingredients. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free. This may not be an applicable option for athletes looking for a vegan-free option because these energy gels do contain honey.
2. Huma Energy Gel
Carbs: 21g - 25g
Fat: 0g - 1g
Sugar: 13g -16g
Sodium: 105mg - 110mg
Caffeine: 0mg - 50mg
Flavors: Strawberries, Apples & Cinnamon, Blueberries, Cafe Mocha (50mg caffeine), Chocolate (25mg caffeine), Lemonade (25mg caffeine), Raspberries (25mg caffeine)
Price: $2.50 - $2.75 (directly from website - prices may vary)
Huma offers all-natural, vegan-friendly gels in two options. Original energy gels and plus energy gels. Plus energy gels contain more electrolytes. Sodium ranges from 240mg - 380mg. Potassium ranges from 75mg - 100mg. Calcium ranges from 25mg - 30mg. Magnesium ranges from 15mg - 40mg. Flavors offered include berries pomegranate, blackberry banana, strawberry lemonade, and lemons & lime.
3. GU Energy Gel
Carbs: 19g - 21g
Sugar: 6g - 7g
Sodium: 125mg - 180mg
Caffeine: 0mg - 70mg
Flavors: Cold Brew (caffeine), Chai Latte (caffeine), Blueberry Pomegranate (caffeine), Chocolate Coconut (caffeine), Vanilla Orange (caffeine), Sea Salt Caramel (caffeine), Pineapple, Cherry Lime, Strawberry Kiwi, Lemonade, Tutti Frutti
Price: $9.60 - $62.40 (directly from website - prices may vary)
GU Energy Gels are all-natural, kosher certified, gluten-free, vegan-free, and keto-friendly available in original and Roctane energy gels. Roctane ultra-endurance amino acid supplements are a good source of electrolytes and energy. GU by far offers the most flavors.
Original energy gels contain the same number of calories and grams of sugar. Carbs range from 22g to 23g. Sodium ranges from 55mg - 60mg. Caffeine ranges from 20mg - 40mg. Original energy gels contain 450mg of amino acids.
Available flavors with caffeine include; Cola Me Happy, Tri-Berry, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Outrage, Salted Caramel, Jet Blackberry, Salted Watermelon, Tastefully Nude, Mandarin Orange, Espresso Love, Caramel Macchiato, and Mint Chocolate. Non-caffeine flavors available are Strawberry Banana, Birthday Cake, Campfire S’mores, Toasted Marshmallow, and Lemon Sublime.
4. Clif Shot Energy Gel
Carbs: 24g - 25g
Sugar: 12g - 13g
Sodium: 60mg - 90mg
Caffeine: 25mg - 50mg
Flavors: Citrus (Caffeine), Strawberry (Caffeine), Mocha (Caffeine), Double Expresso (Caffeine), Chocolate Cherry (Caffeine), Chocolate, Boston Cream Pie, Chocolate, Razz, Vanilla
Price: $1.40 - $31.20 (directly from website - prices may vary)
Clif Shot energy gels are organic and vegan-friendly energy gels. These energy gels are not a significant source of electrolytes.
5. Ucan Edge Energy Gel
Sodium: 50mg - 55mg
Flavors: Orange, Strawberry Banana
Price: $31.46 - $34.95 (directly from website - prices may vary)
Ucan Energy gels are made with superstarch and all-natural non-GMO ingredients. These gels are vegan-friendly, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. They are not a significant source of electrolytes but if you are looking for a sugar-free energy gel you may consider this one. There are only two flavors to choose from that do not contain caffeine.
6. Spring Energy Gel
Calories: 90 - 250
Carbs: 12g - 45g
Fat: 0g - 19g
Sugar: 5g - 22g
Sodium: 6mg - 200mg
Protein: 1g - 6g
Flavors: Speednut (caffeine), Awesome Sauce, Koffee (caffeine), Speednut with Hemp Oil, McRaecovery, Power Rush, Hill Aid (caffeine), Long Haul, Canaberry
Price: $7.50 - $68.00 (directly from website - prices may vary)
Spring energy gels are all-natural, vegan-friendly, and gluten-friendly. They are not kosher certified. Out of all the gels, this brand does provide some source of protein, is low in sugar, and is a more caloric option compared to the other brands. They offer a wide variety of gels low or high in carbohydrates, sugar, calories, and sodium. Long Haul, Hill Aid, and Power Rush energy gels are not vegan-friendly.