Coffee & Questions ☕️ Today we talked all about gels!
I answered your questions:
There were so many good questions! Watch the replay to see the discussion or read the transcript below 👇🏼
Not all gels are created equal! Some are better than others but at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and what fits in as part of your overall nutrition plan.
Good morning and welcome to coffee and questions. Today we're talking all about gels. But before we get started, just a couple of things that I wanted to talk about is that Busso is only 20-weeks away. Or it's less than that now. So if you're doing Busso Ironman, now is the time to start to try and get some help with your nutrition.
Every Ironman I get people to come in and see me or try and come and see me just a couple of weeks before the race, and it's too late. It really is too late. Like if you're doing an Ironman, there are plenty of boxes that you need to tick before you head in to race day. And you need to start doing that early. So just like you might have a say 20-week Ironman build roughly, you want to kind of build your nutrition through that as well. So yeah, if you're doing Busso this is just your reminder that now is the time to seek help.
If you contact me, like say 2-weeks before the race or even 4-weeks before the race, then chances are I'm going to say no, I can't help you. It's too late. So if you're doing Busso, this is your kick in the butt to organise some assistance. So I just wanted to say that up front before I forget. And the other thing that I had to tell you was that kit order is pretty much going in this week/over the weekend. So this is your last opportunity to get Dietitian Approved cycling kit too if you want one. I’m never, never doing it again. I am not an apparel ordering type human. I hate the logistics. It is just a shit fight. So I'm a dietitian. I'm not a clothes manufacturer person. So this is the last time you can get Dietitian Approved cycling kit ever it is proper Limited Edition.
If you don't know anything about it, it is Castelli. It's top of the range because of Castelli Custom team wear. It's basically what Team Ineos are wearing, previously Team Sky. So it's yet top of the range. Really good quality, it's aerodynamic, like the sleeve length is a bit longer and they've tested it and wind tunnels and stuff to make it pass air through the shoulders. And for me, the biggest reason why I went with Castelli is that the knicks are super comfy. Like they're the comfiest knicks I've ever worn. The chamois is really well designed. It doesn't have any seams around the inside. You know, sometimes you get chamois with seams or stitching that rubs you but doesn't do that. The chamois stays put as well. I've had chamois that twist, not going to mention any brands, but I've had chamois that twist over time, and they're really annoying as well. So it's really good quality chamois like you can do long over 100k rides, and still have a company to protect those bits. Invest in proper chamois, it's cost price. It's like a $600 kit. And as long as I don't change the pricing on me it's only $280 and you know I don't make any money on it. It's not about that. It's just getting like people sick, sick gear. So hit me up if you want one. This is your last chance ever to get like a $600 kit for $280 - cost price. So yeah, not making any money on it.
Alright. Welcome everyone on Insta! How are you doing this morning? Becky said, “Hey, hey, I made it. I made it! Took a sickie for this.” Did you really? Hopefully, you didn't take a sicky to catch coffee and questions this morning. Burkey, you can always catch the replay on IGTV or if you're on my email list, I send out the link to watch the replay too. And Penny said, “Just a faster way for me to let everyone know I'm your problem. Wearing a DA cycle kit collector's item now.” It is definitely a collector's item. It was always meant to be a collector's item, but I probably maybe done 3 orders. But it's definitely limited edition there's less than 100. There's probably less than 50 kicking around the place. So yeah, it's definitely Limited Edition. This latest design is super clean and super slick. I've taken a lot of the extra sort of riding and stuff on it. So it's just super modern. It's beautiful. I've got a picture up on my wall, but you probably can't see it. And yeah, nice and black and slimming. But it's not hot. So yeah, it's perfect.
Alright, and then we've got hands-on mobile massage, hello! Tracy Roger’s here. Emily's here. Sorry, get mentally fit. I mean, Emily. And then Burkey said, “Now, wife’s more essential than me. So I'm school teacher today.” Lucky you.
Alright, so they were the two things I want to talk about just to get started today. So number one was kits, if you want one, this is literally your last chance and the other one was Busso. If you're doing Busso, then you want to start thinking about your nutrition now. Not in a couple of months’ time like now is when you start building your nutrition into that and then you'll have more success on race day as well.
Alright, there's doesn't look like there's anybody on Facebook this morning. If you are on Facebook, Facebook's a bit delayed for me. If you are here, just say hi to know you're here.
Alright – gels. We're going to talk about these bad boys. I've grabbed a whole heap of gels from my collection at the office. And we can talk through any questions you have on gels. So I've got a few already to get started. But if you've got anything you want to know, just pop it in the comment section. And I'll answer it as we go. Let's try and have a bit of a discussion to hear. Hopefully, my voice hangs out. I still am completely blocked. So probably sound like a nasal spasm. So but that's alright.
So when it comes to gels, they're beautiful aren’t they? They just looked so delicious. Kind of like apps, they're designed to just want to make you eat them. There's lots that we can talk about. And I guess to start with, like I asked everyone yesterday, what brand they use, and there was a huge range of responses. So there were some people that had SiS which is this one. A lot of people have Pro4mance, High5, Maurten – quite a lot of people are using Maurten at the moment because they're the course nutrition for the Ironman events at the moment. They've got the bid for the sponsorship or whatever you want to call it for offering on-course nutrition this year.
So I guess gels aren't created equally. They're all a little bit different and the range of carbohydrates they contain ranges anywhere from SiS gel which is 19g of carbs all the way up to Ironman and pro4formance, they've got 30g of carbs and then there's some spring energy gels that have got around 45g of carbohydrate in them. And what you use, I guess, really comes down to personal preference. Depends on what it tastes like and what you're comfortable using and what doesn't give you any gut symptoms.
Gels need to form part of your overall plan too. So a lot of people when I ask them what they want to know about gels said, “Why do they give me got upset?” And there could be a number of reasons why this happens. Number one, it could be just the way that you're taking them. They are really concentrated little suckers. So it's 30g of carbs in what 47g and this one's 45g. So that's a very high osmolarity. So a really high concentration. And so if you're having something like this, that's 30g of carbs without any water to flush it down, then you're likely to get gut upset, particularly when you're running.
So it could be just the way that you're consuming them that's causing that gastrointestinal disturbance if we want a technical term. So a lot of people kind of get diarrhoea, or like bloated or some people even vomit with gels, but they are definitely a concentrated, little morsel of fuel. So make sure that when you are having them, you are diluting them down with a good cup of water. So 200 mils to 300 mils of water is needed to dilute the concentration of this down in your stomach. So if you think of say sports drink, you put a scoop in, and a scoop is maybe 20g of carbs after around 30g of carbs. And then you mix that in a good sort of five 600 mils of water. So you need to kind of think of that with the gels as well that you are doing diluting them down, so that they're not super concentrated.
So that could be why you're getting got upset or diarrhoea. It could also be the type of carbohydrates that's in them. So a lot of them are made on just maltodextrin. So if I have a look at these SiS is made on maltodextrin as its first carbohydrate. And what maltodextrin is, two glucose molecules joined together. So it's really easily broken apart in the gut to then absorb that quickly into your bloodstream and use it as a fuel source. So a lot of gels are that. There's no other carbohydrate in this one in particular. And then you get into things that have got a bit of fructose in them as well. So I think this like, I don't think this ironman flavour does. No, it doesn't, this one does. And this one has some fructose, and so they use a maltodextrin plus fructose. And pro4formance also uses sucrose, which is one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose, which is just like white table sugar.
So it's having an understanding of what type of carbohydrates or sugars are in your gels as well, I think that's important because they're not all equal, they are all different. And some people don't necessarily tolerate fructose. So that could be an issue for some people. If you don't digest and absorb and break fructose down that well, that can be causing you problems. So you might want to avoid fructose, or use a product that's got a good glucose to fructose ratio. So things like these guys, they have a glucose to fructose ratio of 2:1. And we know that glucose helps to carry fructose across the stomach lining so that can alleviate symptoms for some people.
So they would be two things to look at if they're giving you issues. So a few people sort of said that they use a certain brand because it's safe. If they found that's the one that doesn't cause that upset for them. So I'd have a look at the brands that you were using and have a look at the combination of sugars in them and see if it's the sugars that are the problem for you.
Another question that came through was can they be mixed with water? So let's take a step back from that question. Something like this SiS one, it says isotonic along the top and isotonic means that you don't need it with water. So it's the right concentration to absorb it without needing to drink a whole glass of water with it. There are gels that are isotonic. So SiS is this green one that's available in the supermarket.
The other one that doesn't isotonic is High5, it's not this one. But there's another one that does. I can't think of any more off the top of my head potentially Maurten is the other one that doesn't need necessarily water. I'd have to have a look at that in detail. But it just means that it's the right concentration. The number of particles in the solution are not as concentrated as something like this, super thick. So you don't need water with that. Now, because of that, it's quite a big gel. If you have a look at the size of this, it's massive. Compared to say a shot gel. It's 60 mils. So and this one's 34. So it's very much bigger, and it's also very liquidy. It's kind of like a jelly sort of consistency. It's a similar consistency to that Maurten, the new Maurten gel that's like a jelly sort of matrix. So you don't need to mix this one with water for that reason. But you do need to mix not at the time like you don't need to mix it before you consume it. But you do need to dilute these down with water to help with their absorption across the stomach lining.
Now you can if you want to decant your gels into little gel flasks, and then top those flasks out with water so that they are a bit more liquidy. That can be something to play with if you don't like sticky fingers. You know like having to pull this off and get it out while you are cycling and running someday, we just hate having sticky fingers. And so that's a way to get around that is to decant it into little floss before you go. Or you can mix, I sometimes mix gels in with sports drinks for some people just to make it a one-stop shop, feeling sort of bottle knowing that they're also going to drink water to dilute that concentration down as well.
So hopefully that answers that question for you, Alex. You should dilute them down with water, you don't necessarily have to mix them with water before you can shoot them. And some of them don't. Some of them don't need to be mixed with water, or you shouldn't mix them with water. So the science behind Maurten, it's a weird sort of jelly sort of texture. I don't know how to describe it. But it's a bit of a gel. And it doesn't mix very well with water. And you probably shouldn't mix it with water. I don't think it works as effectively if you try and do that. And then it does weird things. It reacts after a bit of time as well. So it's going to not behave like it was meant to out of the packet if you do mix the Maurten one with water. Same as this SiS. Well, I probably wouldn't work there missing mixing that one with water. But all these other ones, you can.
Now in terms of consistency, so some people have a preference for consistency for gels. Some people like them really thick like Clif do really thick, Gu are really thick as well. And that could be good if you were just want to kind of nibble on it. Like if you take the top off and have some you can keep running within in your hand that's not going to slosh everywhere. But something like the High5 or the SiS or even probably Pro4formance, it's quite liquidy. So it would be harder to do that. But it's I guess it goes down easier in what goes if you would just want them to get rid of it.
So the gels that you would pick, sometimes can purely just be based on consistency and what you'd like. And then I think the other major factor when picking a gel is that you're picking something that you like. You're picking a flavour that tastes good, you're happy to consume it, you're not likely to consume something or want to consume it if it doesn't taste very good. So one of the biggest challenges is finding a gel flavour that you like. Oh, Emily says, “Got around. Cheers!” No worries, Emily! I'll see you next time.
On Facebook, give me a holler if you’re here. There's a few people watching now.
That should hopefully answer your question Alex and give you some other tips around sort of choosing a gel. And then also, I guess answering the question that came through around do they need to be taken all at once? And no, they don't. You can definitely have a small amount and then just spread it out. You don't have to have it all in one hit.
You can't get them in Australia or anymore. But you could get these sponsored gels, you can probably order them online. They were in the UK. But the person that was distributing them through Australia is no longer doing that. But I think these are really cool because they are a little toothpaste cap. So you can take the cap off, take that cap off and then put it back on again. And these are a double gel. So these are actually 50g of carbs in a tube. So it's two gels in one heat. And that can be quite good to carry. Like if you like running with something in your hands, they can be quite useful. Other do stash quite easily too, you know, that's what sports bras are for right stashing gels, or a few guys, stick it in your shorts, or down here as well. So you don't, you don't need to have it all in one hit. You can definitely spread it out if you've got the ability to do that. So if it's a thicker gel, or if you're putting them into a flask, or you've got something cool like this one where you can replace the cap.
What to look for when buying gels was a good question. And when I think we've covered a few of those points already, but you want to I guess try a lot of different types and find one that you do like. So a good place to start is just to go to a cycling shop or running shop or have a look on like wiggle or push ease or any of those online stores and just get a variety of things if you can. Or hit up a mate who's got some and just add like buy one of them so you can try it without having to buy a whole box. Because there's nothing worse than buying a whole box of something and you don't like it and then you're stuck consuming it until it's done. So if you're one of my clients, I have to give you a couple because I get to the samples and stuff all the time. So that's one way to try them. Just taking one-off them and seeing if you like the consistency and the flavour.
Some companies will do like a mixed trial pack. So you can get like a small amount for a small amount of money without having to buy a whole box of stuff. So that's a good way to try things. And, I guess, with gels, how much you have, and what you use really depends on your overall plan as well. So you can base your whole plan on gels if you want. I've had two Ironman athletes in my time that have done an entire Ironman on just gels, which I think is just crazy. But whatever, it's simple, and it was effective, sort of. So you can do that if you want to. I guess I stopped them both away from that model. One because they were using a shit gel. And two, you're out there all day. You're out there riding for 6-hours running, for 4-hours like that's a long time to be having a gel every 20 or 30 minutes. The amount is just to make by the end of it. Burkey said, “Oh, yuck!” Yeah, one of these guys did it on the Endura mint gels. I don't know if they make that flavour anymore. But he did during his time in Ironman, the entire bike and run on enjoyment gels, which is another how he did it. But yeah, it was easy for him to remember, he just had to buy one product, and then he was done. But those are actually really low in sodium. So I wouldn't recommend doing your own then just on those gels if you weren't adding anything else to it.
So I guess what I look for in gels when people come in and they've got gels, I have a look to start with to see how much carbohydrates in them because they range from 19g to 45g of carbohydrate. And then what they're made up of, so whether they're just maltodextrin, or if they've got some fructose in them if they've got some sodium or not. Or if there's any other sodium in somebody's plan.
So carbohydrate content, how much sodium is in them, and then I guess always what's part of an overall plan with your nutrition. So I wouldn't recommend doing a whole Ironman on gels. You could do some longer runs entirely on gels if you wanted to. But I would always have water with you always. Even if you're using isotonic gels. The isotonic gels are unlikely to meet your fluid needs alone. So you're likely to still need water in addition to that. And potentially sports drink depending on what sort of event you're doing as well. They're the things that I would look at when somebody comes in with a product and I often steer people in the direction of staying with that and then trying different some other products or if they have no idea what they want to use then I kind of direct people with maybe a brand or a couple of brands to try and see what you like. Like at the end of the day, you really need to like your nutrition. Because you're more likely to consume it if you don't like it and you think it's like a better one. That doesn't necessarily matter. Because if you're less likely to consume it, you're less likely to meet your fuelling needs.
So a lot of people are divided by those Maurten gels. Some people love them and some people just absolutely hate the texture. So just because they're on course or everyone's starting to use them at the moment doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be using them. Definitely try whatever is on course so if you're doing any Ironman events coming up, you'll need to try them because they're on the courses this year if you ever get to race again. Nicola calls them snot rockets. That's a good description of their texture. They are very jelly. Yes, snot rockets. Are you talking about my snot rockets, my excited infection that won't go away?
So I guess they were some tips for what you should look for when you're buying them. Just try a whole range of stuff and find something that you like, and then I can work your plan around anything. Like if there's something missing from your gels, I can add it in another way in a different product. So it doesn't necessarily matter so much. It would only matter if you're looking at relying on gels entirely for your plan. Which most people aren't. Then the question came through around how much to have during events. And I guess you know, how long is a piece of string. It really depends on what your event is and what your overall nutrition plan is, rather than a set target for gels. And it also depends on who you are and how good you are at fuelling. A lot of people just read what's on the packet. So if I read like, these are really good at marketing, “For best results, consume one sachet 15-minutes prior to exercise and then one sachet every 30 to 40 minutes during exercise with 150 to 250 mils of water.” There you go, they tell you that you need it with water. So I've had a lot of people blindly just follow what's in the packet. So it's one every 30-minutes. And so that's what they do with no sort of thought around what else is going on and what their actual needs are. So I can't answer the question for how much you need. Because it's highly, highly individual. It depends on who you are, and what your goals are. How good you are at fuelling and what you can tolerate. And what your event is as well, like how long are you actually going to be out there for? So like with people that are doing Ironman, say Busso in December, I start now working out what their nutrition plan might look like. And then we sort of try some things and test it out and slowly build their nutrition up overtraining. So that their training their gut to absorb more nutrition while they're exercising too, that's really important. Because a lot of people just blindly follow carbohydrate intake guidelines with whatever is on the internet and have no sense of awareness of what is actually good for them. And what they can tolerate.
So one of the athletes I worked with heading into Cairns, he spent his whole run feeling a bit uncomfortable, and then would spew like this is in his race sims, he would spew for an hour after his race sims because he just wasn't tolerating his nutrition. And he was blindly following a set amount of carbohydrates per hour because that's what his training buddy told him to do. And that's what the internet said, but obviously, he couldn't tolerate it. So my strategy with him was actually to dial his nutrition right back down, and then slowly building him up again. So that you can get used to absorbing that nutrition while you're exercising. Because you blood is not in your stomach to help with digestion while you're exercising. It's diverted away to your heart and your lungs and your diaphragm and your working muscles. It's not really trying to help you with the digestion side of things. So really do need to train your body to deal with taking nutrition while you're exercising and particularly exercising at higher intensities.
So yeah, I can't give you an idea of exactly how much to have and when because it's super individual. Don't follow what's in a packet. That's pretty much just marketing, it's designed to help you buy more of their product. So if you're like, “Oh yeah, I've got to have two of these now, and I'm going to run for 4-hours then I'm going to need this many gels.” Right? That helps you buy more of their product. It really just depends on what else you're having within that hour or what your overall nutrition plan is as well.
Any questions while I keep jabbering on if there's any questions, type them in and I'll answer them for you live. Burkey said, “I can't afford them.” Yeah, the Maurten gels are not cheap. They're actually what they used for that original two-hour marathon, black world record attempt. So they weren't available to consumers back then. That was in what 2015-2016? I've lost track of time. And they were designed for them to deliver 90g or 100g of carbs an hour based on the science of the different transportable carbohydrates. And that's why they've got that texture too. They're trying to do some research around like a gel matrix being absorbed better. So that's why they had that snot rocket texture. But that's that what that's what where they came from, and that now they've become available to the consumers more widely. They do have sports drink products, as well, but I don't think they're that cheap.
If you want cheap gels, then probably the most cost-effective is these guys – Pro4mance. They're only online. And they often have sales of $1 gels. And because they are online, they don't have big costs for distribution and stuff. So they're very not expensive. The most expensive gels I've ever seen would probably be these ones. I've seen them for like $6 to $8 a gel – the Torq ones, Which is pretty expensive. So that could be a factor in you deciding on what you use as well. Particularly if you're doing more longer stuff like ultra-marathons or Ironman or something. You’re going to do a long training build, and then your race is quite long. So you might need a fair amount of product. So you might want to choose something that's more cost-effective to if you're on a budget.
So no questions? Nobody's got any questions. The last question I had come through was a gel that’s safe for pregnancy. Now, a lot of these packets will say not safe for children under I think it's 12 years or 15 years or something and then also not safe for use during pregnancy. Let me see if I can find one. Yeah, this one says not suitable for children under 15 years of age or pregnant women should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. So I'm not going to give you any advice on that. On this forum, I think if you're pregnant, and you're looking at using sports products, then you should go and see a sports dietitian. There's certainly other options to gels if you're leading to the fuel during exercise like you don't necessarily have to use gels. So it depends on what you're doing and what you need it for. And then if you are using gels, I'm not going to answer that on here. That's too dangerous. You need some individualised advice if you're pregnant and trying to use products like this. Because a lot of them will have warnings or something on the label because they can't really do tests or studies on pregnant women. They can't give them something that could be a problem and they go here you go, let's see what happens. So a lot of stuff like this. It may be okay. But it's hard to do research on pregnant women because it doesn't get past ethics.
Ara-Jane Reading said, “I've just learned so much about gels. Thank you.” You're welcome. You're welcome. It's a big minefield of information, I guess. And it's something that I work in, day in day out. So I can tell you exactly how much carbohydrate is it every single one of these gels off the top of my head. It’s like my superpower, but I'm not really sure if that's such a cool skill. But there's lots of products coming on the market all the time too.
So it's just saying across that, but they all are similar-ish, but are different as well. Alright, Libby has said, “Are chews better for women rather than gels?”
Good question Libby. So chews like, I don't have any here. Like GU Chomps and Clif blocks and Winners do chews and who else does chews? Powerbar do gel blast is quite a number of like sports lollies. They are basically like a gel Libby but hard little sports lollies. So neither is better than the other for women. It doesn't really matter if you're using blocks or chews versus gels. Whether you're male or female. It really just depends on what your overall nutrition plan is. So a lot of people are kind of gravitating towards blocks and chews and stuff because you can kind of just have one. So one block is usually around sort of 8g of carbs, whereas the gel is sort of 20g to 30g. So they're much easier to sort of spread out a little bit across time. But it's the practicalities of can you carry it? And can you chew it while you're running? I don't think I could chew while running at the bow but because I can't breathe through the nose. So just some ideas around or some thoughts around the practicalities of using them. But I wouldn't say that they're better for women or worse for women. It really just depends on what your overall plan is.
Burkey said, “My goal is to use as few as possible.” Yeah, so I have definitely seen a movement from people away from gels over the last sort of 5 years. And people are starting to play around with more real food options as well and finding which is good. Which is why I actually designed that Fuel Your Adventure book. I created a little recipe book that's got some real food sports nutrition products. You know, I don't have one here. But it is on my website or the recipes tab right down the bottom. If you wanted to have a look at that and that includes lots of little energy balls and bars and some savoury options as well if you want to tip stop making some of your sports nutrition products yourself.
Libby said, “I tried chews, but it was awkward.”
My hot tip for chews Libby is to bite it in half with your front teeth. And chipmunk either half. So you've got half of this cheek half and this cheek and kind of just leave it in your cheek pocket. So it's outside your teeth. Rather than try to have to chew it and breathe and exercise. You can kind of just leave it here and let it dissolve a little bit because carbohydrate starts breaking down in your mouth, so your saliva can start to do some of that work for you. And that might help because they can be quite sizable, like some of these things are quite big. So don't feel like you've got to swallow it like a tablet or a pill. And also don't feel like you've got to chew until it's gone. You can kind of just bite it in half chipmunk it. That's a technical term. And then leave it in your mouth for a while so that you can run and breathe while it sort of works its way into being digested.
Andre said, “Thank you.” You're welcome!
Burkey said, “Winners make a good raspberry tree.”
There you go. I've actually not tried the winners chews. I've tried so many products, but I've never actually tried the winners one so they might be relatively cost-effective to Burk because you could just get those from the supermarket.
Penny said, “Is that where I find your recipe for your famous Vegemite sandwiches? Ironman Dan joke.”
Yes! That is where you can find the recipe for my secret Vegemite sandwiches, they are not just simple sandwich. You've got to get your fuel your adventure book or come and see me to find out what that secret is. Secret, secret. Although most of my clients know what it is but yes. Libby said, “Thank you.” You’re welcome.
Alright guys, if there's no other questions, I might jump off and blow my nose if I can. Beautiful! Full of class here. Hopefully I could talk for next week. But I hope that's helped give you some insight into gels. It was pretty fun discussion. Maybe we'll talk something about like choose a bar or something another time. But I guess not all gels are created equal. Their carbohydrate content varies so widely from 19g up to 45g of carbs per gel. So it's really about finding something that you like and forms part of your overall nutrition plan as well. Penny said, “Thanks, legend.” You're welcome. And Nicola gave me a fist bump. Yeah!
Alright guys, I might jump off then if there's no other questions. But thanks for joining me. I'll send out the replay a bit later. And if you do want cycling kit, please send me an email, send me a DM. This is your last, last chance. I've just got to hit send on the email with all the orders. So final call for custom Dietitian Approved Cycling Kit cost price. And Burkey, if you want another set, this is your opportunity.
Alright! Bec said, “Cheers!” I'll sign off now. But thanks for joining me guys and I'll see you next week!