What is the best energy gel for sport ?

The market for energy gels is very specific because it only concerns sportspeople, yet there are many nutrition brands offering them (High5, SiS, Powerbar, Gu energy…). It’s sugar packaged in a small tube that provides a fairly immediate energy boost during intense activity, such as cycling up a mountain pass or running a marathon every 10km. You don’t eat this type of carbohydrate for pleasure as a snack like a cereal bar. Let’s see which is the best energy gel for sport?

What is an energy gel ?

A carbohydrate energy gel – that’s the official term – is a concentrate of different carbohydrates packaged in a small, easy-to-carry tube or sachet. It generally consists of a blend of several sugars with different glycaemic indexes to provide athletes with the glycogen stores they need to maintain or increase their effort and avoid muscular problems.

The glycaemic index (or GI), which has become very popular in recent years, is a criterion for ranking carbohydrate-containing foods from 1 to 100, based on their effect on blood glucose levels during the 2 hours following ingestion.

Some carbohydrates, such as glucose or rice syrup, have a very high glycaemic index (GI100) and release energy very quickly for an immediate but short-lived effect. This is the famous “whiplash” or “boost” effect.

Others with a lower GI, such as agave syrup (GI 15), release energy more slowly and therefore last longer.

You’ll understand better the composition of our Mulebar recipes, in which brown rice syrup, agave syrup and fruit concentrate are blended to provide 2 types of energy ideal for endurance sports.

When to use an energy gel for sport ?

Carbohydrate-containing foods enable the human body to build up glycogen stores to provide energy for the muscles. The more intense the physical activity, the more the body will use these stocks, burning calories. That’s why it’s highly recommended to consume specific products, such as energy gels, during training or a competition.

The human body doesn’t like gaps in its energy intake – the famous “energy crash” or craving – which is why it’s best to take a moderate, regular dose during exercise. A sip every 15 minutes during a marathon, for example, or one gel per hour, is a good frequency. If the pace is very sustained, you will need to take more. Don’t forget to drink a little water immediately afterwards to remove the sweet taste in your mouth and aid digestion.

You should never wait until you feel tired, and even less until your legs feel like cotton wool, before recharging your batteries. That’s too late! Taking in too much sugar at a time when your body is in short supply can even lead to reactive hypoglycaemia – also known as the “yo-yo” effect – and cause you to miss your competition.

Energy gels can create reactive hypoglycaemia curve

Reactive hypoglycaemia generally occurs after too much sugar intake, leading to a sudden rise in blood sugar levels. In response to this hyperglycaemia, the body releases a large amount of insulin (a hypoglycaemic hormone that allows glucose to be stored in the cells), which causes blood sugar levels to fall, sometimes too much.

Many ‘beginner’ runners experience this problem and very often fail their race. For safety’s sake, out of fear of running out of energy and above all because of a lack of preparation during training in the months leading up to a race, they consume too many gels or energy drinks (sometimes both combined). On the other hand, some well-known brands offer 8 gels in their marathon pack, in addition to powders to be diluted in drinks. A folly from a physiological point of view, but very profitable from a commercial point of view!

Which sport are concerned ?

There are, of course, some sports where the nutritional approach is key and where consuming an energy gel makes perfect sense. These are generally endurance sports such as trail running, cycling, running or triathlon, which combine the two, where it is not possible to chew a solid product such as an energy bar.

Read the article : What energy gel to run a marathon ?

Trailer of the Outdoor Paris team drinking a Mulebar energy gel

How long does it take to feel the effects of an energy gel for sport ?

Whereas a quality energy bar will take around twenty minutes to start being digested and therefore pass into the bloodstream, an energy gel or an energy puree, which are very fluid, pass into the bloodstream within 5 minutes of ingestion. These are much more competition-oriented products, as they give a fairly immediate boost before a difficult run, such as climbing a mountain pass by bike or every 10Km during a marathon.

What is the best sport energy gel ?

The Mulebar brand, created in 2008, offers a range of 5 energy gels, 4 of which are vegan (there are traces of milk in the salted caramel), which have revolutionised a market dominated by pharmaceutical laboratories offering products that are certainly effective (that’s not the most complicated part) but not always natural and above all tasteless.

Mulebar’s DNA is to offer quality products, 100% natural, with premium ingredients, a liquid texture that’s easy to swallow when you’re exerting yourself, and highly original flavours. We also make sure that the price of our products is in line with the market.

Many of our sports customers tell us that a Mulebar bar, purée or gel is a comfort during the effort, a reward along the way. Enjoying yourself is one of the most important things in sport, because when the body gives up, it’s the mind that takes over so that you can go all the way.

Discover our 5 original recipes and how to use them ?

As with energy bars and energy compotes, Mulebar has pioneered the gel market by inventing original recipes using quality ingredients.

The low number of ingredients in our recipes and the absence of preservatives, colourings and other synthetic flavours mean that our gels are easy to digest, even for the most sensitive stomachs. Of course, it’s 100% natural!

Here are our 5 energy concentrates in a tube and how to use them :

This is the gel to take at the start of the race. Its cherry juice concentrate provides valuable antioxidants at the start of the race to prevent cramp.

It’s also a great gel to take at the start of a run. Its apple juice concentrate also provides valuable antioxidants to help prevent cramps.

Gel plutôt recommandé pour le milieu de course après ca dépend des goûts 

This gel is recommended for the middle and the end. Its 50mg of natural caffeine from Guarana is a great kick in the butt when the going gets tough!

This gel is recommended for the end and night-time events. Its 100mg of natural caffeine from coffee make it the most caffeinated gel on the market. “This stuff would wake you up,” a pro cyclist who used it once told me! Ultra-effective, but not for wimps!

A unique energy gel on the market !

Mulebar brand in 2015, we wanted to innovate in the gels market, which was dominated by pharmaceutical companies and was losing ground because it didn’t meet new expectations for practicality and naturalness.

The first thing we noticed was the pollution caused by the use of single-use, non-reclosable plastic tubes from which a little ultra-sticky product always leaks out, even after it has been used. Far too many people prefer to throw them on the floor rather than dirty their gloves, pockets or bags. And we’re not even talking about the little plastic rods that have to be broken off berlingots or ‘topettes’, which are so small that they almost always end up on the floor.

The second was the demand from sportswomen for products that were smaller, less sweet, less pasty to ingest and with more natural ingredients to avoid the stomach upsets so common during races.

So we came up with several solutions to meet each of these needs :

  • Tubes fitted with a truly reclosable cap that prevents the gel from leaking once it’s finished and, above all, allows it to be taken in several batches due to the excess sugar seen above.
  • Reusable tubes: a world first ! Long before recycling and #noplastic became fashionable, thanks to the invention of our range of eco-refills.

Trailer filling a tube of Mulebar gels with an eco-charge

  • Rounded edges so that our tubes don’t pierce the very fragile technical textiles that cost a fortune. Those of you who have experienced this will appreciate!
  • A fluid texture that’s easy to swallow during exercise when your mouth is very dry, without needing to drink too much to get it all down.
  • Easy to dilute to make a drink. Powders end up drying out and always leave a very acidic undiluted deposit at the bottom of the can. So our gels can also be diluted like a syrup. 2 in 1!
  • Pink Himalayan salt, the richest in trace elements (magnesium, potassium, zinc…) in the world. This compensates for the loss of mineral salts through perspiration. Take a close look at the composition of the recipes and the level of sodium in your usual gel. If there isn’t any, then change!

How much does a Mulebar energy gel cost ?

A 37g dose, or a Mulebar tube, is sold for around €2.5. This price is in line with the market, but be sure to compare the products, as they don’t all weigh the same. The smallest are 25g and the largest 80g. The price per kilo on the market therefore ranges from around €40 to over €140! Mulebar is positioned at 67€/Kg for tubes, but only 45€ for eco-refills, making it one of the best value for money.

Where is Mulebar energy gel made ?

Mulebar gels are still made in England. When I bought the brand in 2015 after having distributed it in France for 6 years, I looked for a French service provider. Unfortunately, none of them was capable of filling our very specific tube – you need a special machine that’s hard to pay for with our volumes. So we preferred to keep our real difference, our competitive edge, rather than give in to the siren calls of made in France, which would have suited us just fine since the Brexit. The British factory is only 600 km from Paris, whereas many of the brands sold in France come from much further away by boat or plane.

Gels with no preservatives !

When choosing a food, I recommend that you check the list of ingredients. If there are any terms you don’t know, don’t wait to ask your pharmacist – run away!

Some sports nutrition brands add vitamins or BCAAs on top of the natural ingredients, even though these vitamins are already present in the food. This is an interesting marketing argument that appeals to certain nutritionists who only look at the labels. Generally speaking, these vitamins need to be taken as a course of treatment over several weeks to have a beneficial effect on the body, and a gel weighing just a few dozen grams taken episodically is not going to change anything.

If all that hasn’t convinced you, I invite you to have a look at the reviews on forums, social networks or on the Mulebar website, where you’ll see just how much our gels have been highly appreciated since 2008.

If you don’t need a gel for your sport, try our energy fruit purees or our protein energy bars, other very good sources of quality carbohydrates for sport.

Mulebar sport energy gel lineup, the best energy gel for sport

Une Mulebar ne s'arrête jamais

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