What’s your poison?

On 17th July 2015 by Rachael

Or that’s how I refer to the necessary, but hated, sports gels. But could there be an alternative?

I’ve always disliked sports gels and sports drinks, marketed in such a way to make many people assume they need to down a full drink simply to step in foot inside a gym.

That said, I realised when I undertook the London Marathon in April 2015 and intended to go for a fast time, that there was no alternative. Chewing sweets or knocking back trail mix, my former snack of choice, was just not going to cut it. Moreover, it could be dangerous – ever tried chewing while running fast?

At the London marathon, I used Science in Sports Gels, which kept me mentally active in that I was always trying to guess the flavour I was gulping as I ran. But were they nice? No, they leave a film in your mouth and while they say you don’t need to drink water, I wanted water so I could wash my mouth free of the taste in my mouth.

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with High 5 Isogel in berry flavour and prefer them. No gunky, super sweet taste, easy to get down, and no need for water. It does the job. But I just don’t like taking ready made up gunk.

So, I was interested to hear today of a recipe book, Feed Zone Portables by Dr Allen Lim. A former director of sport science for Garmin and Radioshack pro cycling teams, he worked with expert chef, Biju Thomas to create real food portables for cycle teams during the Tour de France.

‘It is a myth that something engineered is better for you than something natural,’ explains Lim. ‘Fresh homemade apple pie probably has the same fat and carbs as an energy gel, but with more nutrients and taste.

‘Digestion actually begins when we smell, think about or see beautiful food. We start salivating and that triggers a cascade of hormonal and physiological processes which prep your stomach ready to digest the food so it can then be absorbed. Even the simple act of chewing releases enzymes (like amylase) which help break it down.’

From Blueberry and Sticky Coconut Bites to Cashew and Bacon Rice Cakes, the real food alternatives sound good, although it remains to be seen whether they are as effective for endurance athletes off the bike. ┬áBut I’m all for real food and over the next four months, I’ll be trialling some of their recipes and devising some of my own natural sports gels.



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