You already know we’re not fans of conventional energy gels that upset the stomach and make racing a feel like a chore. So, for the last month I’ve been trying out the more natural energy gels from High5, one of UK’s leading sports nutrition brands. Read on to find out if their gels live up to their simple and no-frills name, EnergyGel.
In the field…
I’ve used EnergyGel ahead of my long runs in January without any problems. Therefore I didn’t hesitate to fuel up with one of these just before my first Spartan Winter race. Even Helena, the other Grit Camp editor and one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to sports nutrition, used one gel for extra energy towards the end of the same race which turned out to be a 5-mile climb into a Czech mountain.
Both of us experienced quick energy release with no gastric distress at all. You know the type you get from the conventional energy gels wrapped in shiny, neon labels. These usually also have an ungodly amount of calories. To some endurance athletes this might sound like a win, however you should consider that the average athlete can only stomach 200-300kcal at once. This in addition to the high amounts of sugar, causes performance to crumble as your stomach acts up.
Unlike the neon concoctions, the High5 EnergyGel is packed with natural juice and not the typical 2:1 fructose gel. It also has no artificial sweeteners, i.e. sugar alcohols, which would ferment in your stomach causing bloating and discomfort. Helena in particular is susceptible to such discomfort, suffering with IBS, so it was a great relief when she crossed the finish line smiling and trouble-free.
Let’s look at the pros and cons in more detail:
- Natural real juice content – no artificial sweeteners, no gluten and no caffeine (though you can also buy a caffeinated version – my favourite flavour is raspberry which I put on top of my pre-race Macho Waffles instead of jam).
- Comes in a variety of flavours: raspberry, banana, lemon, orange, etc.
- Comes in a much thinner packet than energy gels from most other brands. Don’t be fooled though – as Helena saw this gel packet is still durable enough to survive the drops and rolls of a brutal race. The best bit is that it’s also easy to open, which we could really appreciate during the winter race given our freezing cold fingers and lesser gripping power.
- The packets aren’t biodegradable. To be fair, we haven’t yet come across any energy gel manufacturer that does make their packaging biodegradable, but this is still a big problem in obstacle racing. Seeing green fields and parks littered with used energy gel packs infuriates not only race organisers, who are liable for the venues, but also fellow athletes like myself. So to those of us out in the trenches, it seems like a natural step for companies to start producing biodegradable wrappers.
Overall still, EnergyGel is fantastic for race fuelling. I now add them to every run longer than an hour which I do on my endurance-training days. Along with IsoGel energy, these gels give me a boost very quickly, allowing me to double my running effort and my running distance:
*Although this product was given to us for free as a PR sample, our review is 100% honest and not sponsored. In the context of obstacle course racing, we tested this product out thoroughly with different gear and in both training as well as racing conditions. As ever, we’re dedicated to bringing you only the best news and advice to help you become a champion in your next OCR–so stay tuned and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any feedback or questions.