In the middle of an ultra endurance race or a long training session, conventional dietary rules no longer apply. Rather than protein and healthy fats, the body needs fast absorbing carbohydrates to fuel the muscles that need them. Sports nutrition research recommends consuming around 60-80 grams of carbohydrates per hour to optimize race performance.
While gels are a convenient way to get in some energy, some athletes struggle to choke them down and some even find that gels can cause an upset stomach due to the amount of fructose and caffeine in them. If you’re tired of energy gels, take one of these 4 alternatives on your next long workout or race. You’ll power through those dreaded final miles!
1. Maple syrup
Maple syrup has more uses than drizzling on top of pancakes. This ingredient is delicious, vegan, calorically dense (about 104 calories for 2 tablespoons), and minimally processed, meaning that all of its minerals are left untouched. Because endurance workouts deplete glycogen stores, taking in easily absorbable calories, like those in maple syrup, goes a long way for maintaining energy. The consistency of maple syrup makes it easy to swallow. Plus, because maple syrup is water soluble, it is easy to digest and quick for the body to absorb!
2. Dried fruit
Whenever you need a burst of energy, a handful of dried fruit is a great option to keep you going. Dried fruits are especially calorically dense, meaning that it’s easy to get in a lot of calories. They are also easy to chew and high in simple sugars and carbohydrates while providing good sources of antioxidants and other nutrients.
In fact, a study even found that raisins were just as effective during endurance-based workouts as sports jelly beans. Dried fruit is simply a natural and cost-effective carbohydrate alternative to commercial gels. Popular favorites include dates, raisins, and apricots.
3. Chia seed gel
Instead of buying expensive gels, you can make one at home with chia seeds (by combining 1 part chia seeds to 7 parts liquid) for a more natural and less sickly product. Natural whole foods may agree better with your stomach during long training sessions and races. Chia seed gels are a particularly good choice during ultras since they provide fuel for stamina and endurance as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Näak energy bars
Primarily catered towards ultra endurance athletes, Näak energy bars are a mixture of all the ingredients listed above, giving you long lasting energy for your racing needs! These energy bars are made with all-natural ingredients with no preservatives and come in 7 different delicious flavors. Click here to learn why Näak energy bars are the ultimate fuel for ultra endurance athletes. Bonus: their soft texture makes them easy to chew and swallow while on-the-go!