If you regularly read this site, you already know how great it is to make things on your own and hack otherwise pricey on-the-bike food and drink. Here you will learn how to make your own homemade energy gel. Outwardly, off-the-shelf gels in fancy foil packets seem like engineering marvels that can pick you up out of a bonk and back to pedaling efficiently. The reality is that they are easy to make bursts of easily accessible carbohydrates, both for your body to use and for you to find the ingredients.
For simplicity’s sake, you could shove a honey bear in your pocket and be done. Honey is a great source of quick energy but one, it is very viscous, making it a bit hard to choke down when you are already having a rough time on the bike and two; a little work on your part will provide your homemade energy gel with a bit more nutritional value.
Along with honey, you will need brown rice syrup, which is thinner than honey and it will still provide carbohydrates, and blackstrap molasses, which is quite thick but has a lot of potassium to provide electrolytes. Along with the three sources of carbohydrates, you will need another source of electrolytes. You could put pure salt in, although it will not help the texture. Opting for something like Elete electrolyte drops will give you the electrolytes and reduce the viscosity of the gel. If the mixture is too thick, it will be difficult to choke down.
Take one tablespoon of each sweet ingredient (honey, rice syrup, and molasses) with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt or six drops of electrolyte concentrate. Blend together either by hand or in a blender. This homemade energy gel should be about equal to two gel packets. That was pretty easy, right? Now you can experiment with flavors and textures.
Get a Flask
You have to get that homemade energy gel in your pocket for your ride and then into your mouth without making a mess. Use a refillable gel flask. It will cut down on garbage, can hold more than one shot of gel, will not leave gel in your pocket from finished packets, and is overall less prone to making a mess at any stage.
A Note on Gels
If you have ever read the instructions on a gel packet, you have seen that it says to drink anywhere between sixteen and twenty four ounces of water with each gel. That is a full bottle of water. Over the course of a long ride, you would need six or seven, or more, full bottles to wash down each gel. It is not the most efficient way to get energy into your body. Gel should be the last resort energy, when you are on your way to bonking or need a final kick to get you to the end.
The reason gel needs so much water is that your body needs fluid to digest it. With solid food, your body uses mechanical digestion to break it down. With a gel, there are no solid elements but it is too thick to go directly to your bloodstream. Your body pushes fluid into your digestive system from your bloodstream to dilute the gel and then deliver it back to your bloodstream. This is why gels require large of amounts of water with them.
Homemade Wins Again
Homemade energy gels are great for the same reasons all the other homemade foods on this website are great; the satisfaction of making your own food, tailoring your nutritional needs and tastes, hacking the system, and being able to whip up what you need when you need it. Continue to impress your friends with your own homemade energy gel.