Energy gels - making your own

One of the problems of exercising more, is that you need to eat more, now that's just a good thing when you're at home after a hard work out as I can continue my lifetime love affair with the roast potato without worry. However you also need to eat food whilst exercising, and that's harder. The foods you can eat whilst exercising need to be easy to carry, easy to eat and easy to digest. A great many products are sold to help you do this, from powders you mix with water and carry on your bike, to solid bars, and sweet like looking things only with even more calories. My favourite though is the energy gel, very concentrated, easy to eat. Energy gels have a problem though, they cost about a pound a time, and I eat 4 an hour or there abouts. Inspired by the stories of Maryka of making her own sports food, I decided to follow suit. Maryka though likes to eat a paste that I've heard described as baby food. I've written up my first attempts at creating a home made Energy Gel, but I'll probably continue to blog as I attempt more things. I'll probably try to recreate "Clif shot bloks" - small sweet like things with lots of calories, very easy to carry and eat. A gel that contains protein - Hammer say they don't create these due to problems with shelf life amoung other things, which won't be a problem for home made. I've also got more interested in all things gel like after reading the excellent collection of hydrocolloid recipes in researching how to make gels. Read more about making cheap home made energy gels .


  1. the fit girlfriend Says:
    Actually, maltodextrin's big advantage is that it's a complex carbohydrate with high osmolality (the former means it breaks down without a blood sugar "spike", the latter means it can be mixed in higher concentrations and still not cause digestive distress as simple sugars would). See Hammer's articles, (15 Ways to Improve Performance) and (Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make) for more info. As for the paste-eating... I use gels too but prefer in longer workouts, especially on the bike, to use their powdered products Sustained Energy and Perpetuem which include soy protein and some fat. For me, both the cost and delivery of their products were prohibitive (as I was living in the Netherlands), so I started experimenting with recipes myself. As I like to keep my hydration and fuel needs separate from each other, I mix my powders with water into a pancake-batter-like consistency, hence the paste-eating. I'll put some of those recipes on my blog as well, including my recovery mix which I dare say is way better than Nestlé Quik, Jim!
  2. dbb Says:
    great article and obviously a lot of work has gone into this. have you tried using apple squash to save the work from reducing the apple juice?
  3. Jim Says:
    I've not tried squash, thanks for the idea, my first thoughts are the artificial sweeteners that always get added to squash. Maybe one of the "high juice" options might do it. I may well try it with my next batch! Glad you enjoyed it.
  4. david williams Says:
    hi thanks for this informative gel recipe - i have been looking around for a year and this is the first time i have found something that suits. now i just have to make the stuff! my question is - once you have made the portions - how long will they keep? thanks again dave
  5. Jim Says:
    Hi Dave, Glad you think it's worth trying. I'm afraid I do not yet know how long they keep. I get through them pretty quick (10 or more a week) so far I've not had any problems with batches lasting 3 weeks. In fact, because I just spent a week in holland before the Rotterdam 10km, I had my bottle of Apple Cinnamon out of the fridge for a week, 10 days after making it. And I used it on my ride today and it's still tasting fine, and with no ill effects. The gel is essentially a Jam - a preserve, although the sugar content is not as high as in a proper jam, so you do not get the full preservative effect. If it's stored in an airtight previously sterilized container, and bottled above 80C then I cannot see much bacteria growing. However I've no qualifications in this area, so all I can really say is use it as quickly as possible! I'll update the page once I know how long this current batch lasts. It would be nice to get it tested one day maybe to find out.
  6. Tim Jukes Says:
    Thanks so much for the gel recipe - Apple with Caffeine is about the only shop flavour i can stomach so I was keen to try your version. I made a batch up for an Easter mountain biking trip to the Lake District and it got me up many a hill. I thought originally that the mixture was a little runny and a bit sour but in practice it tasted perfect for heavy work when you don't want anything too sweet. I added a sachet of vit c powder and some electrolytes to the mix as I had already them but not sure they added anything. I got most of the ingredients from Myprotein as you suggested, the pectin from a large Sainsburys and the Citric Acid from Boots. The gel containers came from Hammer. Cheers Tim
  7. Jim Says:
    Good to hear Tim. Sweetness is I think a big personal thing, I tend to not like things too sweet, and the recipe is obviously tailored to me. Adding a bit of fructose (available in supermarkets as well as myprotein) will sweeten the mix up a lot for only a little change to the basic recipe - it shouldn't change the science much, as many gels believe in different ratios of fructose to malto than the recipe has. I don't think there's much conclusion. The runniness is probably my biggest problem with quality control between batches, with the same recipe, it doesn't always come out the same. I don't know if it's down to temperature when it starts to cool, or rate of cooling or what, but you seem to get pretty different results. Adding more pectin will make it gloopier. The electroyltes and the vitamins - common ingredients, some manufacturers certainly think they're useful. For me I like to manage electrolytes seperately from food, so I use Hammer's Endurolytes for that. As for vitamins, I'm not convinced they make much difference, but I've not heard of any negative correlation, so maybe why not :)
  8. Mark Says:
    What is the consistency of this gel similar to? Is it just like the Hammer gel? I tried a different recipe online and it came out to watery. I will try this one next.
  9. Jim Says:
    Yep, it comes out very similar consistency to Hammer Gels, it's a bit darker in colour - maybe because of the juice used? - but otherwise it's pretty much identical to the Apple Cinnamon. It was the lack of gelling in other recipes that made me pursue this recipe, they all just made pastes, not gels.
  10. Tim Jukes Says:
    I'm already well through batch 2! I increased the batch size by 50% and this came out gloopier but tasted the same. I think I may have left the juice to cool a bit more as the powder didn't seem to dissolve quite as well. Trial and error. A cracking find and wholly recommend. How are your plans coming along for a carb/protein mix Jim?
  11. Jim Says:
    I just heat the mix up again if it's not dissolving too well, that and lots of whisking adding in a bit at a time. I'm trying the carb/protein mix one at the weekend, the "Fit Girlfriend" is off training in the Ardennes, so I'll have plenty of time and the kitchen can be messier without any moans! ;-)
  12. Tom Says:
    Not tried the gel recipe yet, but it looks just the thing i was searching for - thank you. But then i started thinking about how to pack and carry the stuff, when suddenly i noticed how perfect the 50 ml plastic bottle that you buy M&S anti-bacterial hand gel in might be. As they are designed for securing and dispensing hand gel, which I imagine is about the same consistency, and they have a nice snap shut lid, they ought to be perfect. Remember to use the blue anti-bacterial stuff first! Just a thought.
  13. Ethan L. Says:
    Whats with the Beta Alanine? Why does this get added to the mixture? Also, whats a good place to get some?
  14. Ethan L. Says:
    Also, why not just keep it a liquid?
  15. Jim Says:
    Ethan, you can certainly leave it as a liquid, or more a paste really, there's no reason other than how it feels in the mouth and ease to get it down to have it as a gel rather than a liquid. Simply personal taste. Beta Alanine has been shown to improve central nervous system fatigue, it's a component of both Hammer Nutrition and GU gels. see e.g. or other pubmed articles on it.
  16. Hugh M Says:
    Just tried the Apple cinnamon recipe on the weekend, it worked well but was a little sweet for my liking, i ended up making it a little thinner by re-heating and adding some more water to make it flow better. I made about 1/4 quantity and it served me for 4hrs (60km) mountain biking. I wasn't game to use all of it because I worked out the caffiene quantity to be approx 400mg when my usual diet is approx 40mg/day (1 coke)! Next time round will definately get a proper GU flask and possibly add some magnesium (not sure how yet) to help with muscle cramping.
  17. michael maisonpierre Says:
    My experiments have so far yielded a decent gel and two good flavoring options. The gel is: 4 cups water, 10 cups maltodextrin, 3/4 tsp. salt. I stole the salt proportion from Hammer Gel. The best flavoring I have found so far is pure pomegranate juice. It is not sweet, so doesn't add to the sugariness of the gel, and has a tart, somewhat nondescript flavor, meaning that you don't get sick of the flavor after consuming a lot of it. It is also very high in potassium. Since pomegranate juice is perishable I only add it when I am preparing a new gel flask. I will also add a shot of espresso to the flask to mix with pure gel. I might also add a few drops of vanilla to the coffee for variety. Adding it to the hot coffee first dissipates the alcohol in the vanilla extract. Thanks for the posts. I
  18. Tim Says:
    Thanks for taking the time to work this all out. I can't afford the high cost of the commercial products so this will be a great help. I've just been making up a batch of sweet sushi rice and dried fruit cakes for this weekends 200km ride. Got the recipe of the team garmin website. I also make fruit leathers which roll up nicely and fit into the back pocket.
  19. Harris Says:
    Jim Thanks for the recipes. Going to give them a shot for the ride this weekend. Just wondering if you have successfully tried to introduce some sort of electrolyte replacement into this recipe too? Suppose it would be more useful than salt tabs (and better tasting!)
  20. Jim Says:
    Harris, I think you could certainly put in some electrolyte powder, I think the biggest problem you'll likely face is the taste of the gel being heavily impacted, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work. Personally I always use Hammer Endurolyte caps for my electrolytes don't like to mix it with food or water as you don't always want the same amount.