How To Make Your Own DIY Energy Gels – Triathlete

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When you go hard for a long time, you have to fuel the car properly. That’s why energy gels are a go-to for many athletes when they need a big dose of sugary energy ready to stave off the dreaded jolt.

Traditional energy gels can certainly get the job done and are affordable to purchase, but the cost can add up quickly if you’re slamming packs down with every workout. They’re also often a pain to deal with during a workout: nothing is worse than sticky hands and pockets, and finding a trash can in the middle of a long ride isn’t always easy. But there is a solution to these problems, and that involves mixing your own rocket fuel.

Homemade energy gels are a solution for mess-free eating with less waste. They’re a good option for athletes who prefer to feed more often on “real” food and less often on the cloying options in a packet. Plus, they let you create flavor flexibility to suit your tastes. You can also be in control of your intake, as energy shots from your kitchen make it easier to eat as much or as little as you like while working out. (If you’ve ever tried to put half-squeezed energy gel in your jersey pocket, you know why that’s important.)

Below are five recipes of homemade fruity energy gels (or more accurately, less sticky energy syrup) that taste great, are easy to digest, and are guaranteed to keep you going strong. These gels can be prepared a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

RELATED: 4 homemade energy bar recipes to fuel your workout

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PB&J Energy Gel

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup boiled water
  • 1 tablespoon. smooth peanut butter
  • 1 Teaspoon. honey or agave syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. fine salt (omit if using salted peanut butter)

Instructions

Place the cherries and boiling water in a blender container and let soak for 30 minutes. Add peanut butter, honey, and salt; blend until smooth as possible. Let cool, then transfer to a larger gel flask or two smaller ones.

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Orange scented maple fruit energy gel

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup boiled water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon. Orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions

Put the raisins and boiled water in a blender container and let them soak for 30 minutes. Add the other ingredients and blend until the mixture is as homogeneous as possible. Let cool, then transfer to a large gel flask or two smaller ones.

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Pina Colada Energy Gel

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped dried pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon. dried coconut
  • 1 Teaspoon. sugar
  • 3/4 cup boiled water
  • 1/2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions

Place the pineapple, coconut, sugar and boiling water in a blender container and let soak for 30 minutes. Add lime zest and salt; blend until smooth as possible. Let cool, then transfer to a larger gel flask or two smaller ones.

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Homemade energy gel with lemon berry

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 glass of water
  • 2 tsp. honey or agave syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon. Lemon peel
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions

Place the blueberries, water, honey, lemon zest and salt in a blender container and blend until smooth. Transfer to one larger gel bottle or two smaller ones.

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Energy gel with chocolate and banana bread

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dried banana, the soft kind of dried banana and not the crunchy banana chips
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. sugar cane
  • 3/4 cup boiled water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions

Place the banana, cocoa powder, brown sugar and boiling water in a blender container and let soak for 30 minutes. Add vanilla and salt; mix until as smooth as possible. Let cool, then transfer to a larger gel flask or two smaller ones.

Tips and tricks for making your own energy gels

How to carry homemade energy gels

Your first question about making your own energy gels is probably “How should I take this?” After all, putting your fluffy food in a foil packet isn’t really an option (unless you want a huge mess in your hands). There are a few types of containers on the market that you can use for these homemade energy shots.

options on how to carry homemade energy gel

A good option is a soft, flexible gel flask, like this one from GU, that has a large holding capacity. You can also use smaller, harder gel bottles like this one from EnergyFlask. Or look for squeezable silicone travel bottles, which are small bottles designed to carry liquids in travel toiletry bags. Squeezable plastic food bags can also do the trick. These are baby food bags that usually contain fruit puree, but it is certainly possible to wash and refill them. Weesprout has an option for a squeeze food pouch designed for multiple uses.

Ingredients and portions of the homemade energy gel

The beauty of these homemade gels is that they have water incorporated to aid in absorption and limit the digestive pitfalls that can come from gulping down too many highly concentrated packaged gels. For extra hydration, fill the gel container with more water if there is room left.

For each of the recipes above, you can increase the ingredients if you want to make enough to fill multiple containers for epic workouts.

You can consume half of the gel recipe at two separate times during a workout or suck it all up if you need a big boost of energy. They are most useful for continuous exercise lasting more than 1 hour.

For the most part, nuts are the primary source of carbohydrates in these gels (I recommend Mariani Fruit – their excellent nut options include banana and pineapple, perfect for DIY gel projects). Letting dried fruit soak in boiled water for at least 30 minutes softens them enough that they can more easily blend into a smooth paste. But you may still end up with a few bits of fruit in your gel bottle. All right!

The combination of glucose and fructose in these nuts increases carbohydrate absorption rates during exercise, leading to better energy delivery to working muscles. But there are some athletes who cannot tolerate the sugary composition of nuts during exercise – it is probably the fructose that causes stomach problems. It is best to test any of these gels during training sessions rather than during a major event to gauge tolerance.

RELATED: Should you ditch sports nutrition products for real food?

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is an author and journalist specializing in sports nutrition and a recipient of the 2013 James Beard Award for Food Journalism.

How To Make Your Own DIY Energy Gels – Triathlete

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