The season of endurance road races (10km, 20km, half marathon and marathon) is starting again. Eating during a race is really crucial during physical effort, especially if it lasts a long time. As it is very difficult to chew while running, the consumption of energy bars is limited to before the race, 30 minutes before the start and after the race in case of hunger with a protein bar. During the race, it is better to consume liquid gels. Here are some tips on how to choose and consume your energy gels for the marathon.
How to choose an energy gel ?
Firstly, it is important to remember that energy gels are designed to provide a quick source of energy during exercise. They usually contain simple carbohydrates and electrolytes to help maintain water and electrolyte balance in the body.
It is important to read labels carefully to understand the carbohydrate and electrolyte content. It is recommended to choose gels with an average carbohydrate content of at least 20-30 grams and Sodium content of 50mg per dose. This is sufficient to provide a quick source of energy during exercise and to replenish mineral salts lost through sweating. Look at the list of ingredients and avoid those that are not natural, your stomach, which is put to the test during the race, will thank you.
Read labels carefully and check ingredients
For each Mulebar gel, we use only quality and all natural ingredients. For the carbohydrates, it’s a blend of 27g of very fast energy releasing brown rice syrup and very slow releasing agave syrup. There is also fruit juice, coffee or salted caramel concentrate and 200mg of pink Himalayan salt (sodium). This mine salt is indeed the richest in the world in trace elements, much more than sea salt. The list is very short because this is more than enough energy for you, despite the absence of added vitamins. The opinions of our sports customers have been unanimous since 2008.
Beware also of health claims in sport. The law forbids sports nutrition and dietetics brands to communicate (but many do so anyway) on the benefits of an active ingredient whose Reference Nutritional Values (NRV) are less than 15%! Some speak for 100g of product and not for 1 gel because with 100g, they are more or less sure to be on the mark (an average gel is between 25g and 40g)
It is also important to take into account your personal preferences regarding flavour and texture. Mulebar energy gels are available in 5 flavours: cherry, apple, salted caramel, lemon ginger and coffee and their texture is very fluid to facilitate absorption without having to drink too much afterwards. Drinking too much while running can be annoying in terms of bloating, so it is better to drink often and in small quantities.
The practicality of the packaging is also important
Finally, the practicality of the packaging is also very important. Mulebar is the only brand that offers energy gel tubes that are really reclosable, easily, with a real snap cap like on your toothpaste. The ones that advertise that the little break-off piece can be turned upside down to reseal the tube are deceiving you. This is very impractical and impossible to do on the run because the piece and the hole are so small.
What is the point of having a reclosable cap ?
- Consumption in several intakes without the risk of the product leaking into your pocket or running belt. This will avoid the “yo-yo” effect of taking in a lot of sugar at once and its side effect of reactive hypoglycaemia or “cotton legs”. It is better to take 1/3 of a tube every ¼ of an hour to maintain a stable blood sugar level.
- When the tube is finished, there is always some gel left in it. If the packaging is not resealable, the tube will leak into your pocket or belt. This is the reason why so many empty tubes are littered everywhere.
Mulebar gels do not leak, so you can take them home and reuse them. A very good way to get rid of single use plastic tubes while saving money. Isn’t it ? Here are 3 pictures taken during last Paris marathon. What a shame !
Our gels are also reusable, it’s a world 1st ! Once empty, simply rinse them with hot water and refill them with our eco-refill bottles. At €20 each, they are much more economical (they cost 33% less than 12 tubes bought individually at €2.5 each) and much more eco-friendly.
Mulebar gels are the only ones to be packaged in rigid tubes with rounded edges. Why is this? Simply because the sharp edges tend to pull the mesh of technical textiles or running belts and when you see the price of your sports articles, you avoid damaging them stupidly. Those who have alreay experienced this will appreciate for sure !
How many gels to use on a marathon ?
For a half marathon or marathon, it is recommended to consume an energy gel every 45 minutes to 1 hour on average during the race, depending on the intensity of the effort and your own energy needs. It is also important to drink water or an isotonic drink after consuming an energy gel to facilitate the absorption of nutrients and remove sugar from the mouth. It can quickly become unpalatable.
Some brands like to offer their marathon pack containing several products: energy cake, pre, during and post drinks and up to 8 energy gels. That’s too much… But it pays off!
Don’t take gels on a race without first trying them out in training. During these tests, you should decide how much you want to take and at what intervals. To test and make your own opinion on our Mulebar gels, we have put together a discovery pack with 2 tubes of 37g of each flavour.
There are several types of energy gels
The sportsman’s body undergoes many stresses during sustained training or racing: repeated muscle contractions, inflammation of tendons, tissues and joints, production of CO2 and lactic acid… This results in poor recovery, increased fatigue and even the risk of injury. Antioxidants are the solution.
Muscular effort leads to the production of free radicals by degradation of oxygen. These radicals attack and destroy our cells, we speak of “oxidative stress”. This is why the body organises its defence by producing antioxidants. Antioxidant intake is necessary when the effort is intense because oxygen consumption increases. This is the case for endurance sports in general and marathon running in particular.
Antioxidants are found in fresh fruit and vegetables through vitamins C, E, A, omega 3, zinc, potassium, magnesium, BCAAs and many others. Hence the famous “5 fruits and vegetables a day” program.
Our Mulebar vegan energy gels with cherry and apple contain antioxidants because these two fruits are full of them. They are recommended for the beginning of the race.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It has a stimulating effect on the brain, which can improve alertness, concentration and the ability to react quickly. Caffeine can also increase the production of adrenaline, a hormone that increases heart rate and blood pressure.
In addition, caffeine can help improve physical performance by reducing the perception of pain and increasing the body’s ability to mobilise fat for energy. It can also help reduce mental and physical fatigue and improve the ability to withstand it.
Energy gels containing caffeine can be particularly useful for marathon runners who need an extra boost in the middle/end of the event, when fatigue begins to set in, the so-called ‘marathon wall’. Caffeine can also help reduce the perception of pain during exercise, which can help runners maintain a steady pace.
Our Mulebar energy gel lemon ginger flavour contains 50mg of natural caffeine from Guarana. This is the equivalent of a strong espresso. No risk of acidity with lemon. Blindly, you’d almost think it was honey. It is the ideal gel for the middle of the race.
For coffee lovers or those who really need a ‘pick-me-up’ on the last few kilometres, our coffee gel is the ultimate weapon. With 100mg of caffeine, it is the highest dose on the market, equivalent to two strong espressos. It’s also ideal for night runs where sleep is not an option.
Caffeine can affect each person differently with varying effects. It is therefore recommended that you test before the race to determine the dose of caffeine that best suits your needs and preferences.
Finally, caffeine can have undesirable side effects, including sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, tremors, palpitations and increased diuresis. People who regularly consume large amounts of caffeine may also become addicted. It is not suitable for people with heart problems, pregnant women and children.
These are simply more liquid gels and therefore diluted. Generally the price per kg/carbohydrate ratio is disastrous!
The trick if you prefer more fluid gels is to use a small re-sealable silicone vial. Pour in the equivalent of one or two tubes of gel and top up with water. The consistency will be close to a very slightly diluted syrup at a low price.
Note also that our gels can be diluted at the rate of a 37g tube for a 500ml bottle of water. You can therefore consume them pure, slightly diluted or as a sports drink.
Now you know all about choosing a gel and how to use it in a race. If this format or texture does not suit you, we have created a range of quality fruit purees, two of which are organic, slightly more nourishing, but so fruity. A discovery pack of 6 purees is also available. A real comfort during sport. Don’t hesitate to give us your opinion, especially on the red fruit and beetroot puree.