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  1. #1
    WEK
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    Sugar free energy gels?

    Anyone know of any sugar free energy gels out there? Or is that just a contradiction in terms? I did a bit of Googling but didn't come across anything.

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    If you are not diabetic, I would just use regular energy gels, but I use them to feed my brain when I start to get drifty(I'm not diabetic but they do help me get my focus back on long rides.) Brain needs glucose. You can have too much glucose and still live, up in the 1000s but you will have problems with other parts later on but it takes a long time for the other parts to degrade(years.) If your sugar hits 0, you will die since the brain will stop functioning. Typically when your sugar hits in the 30s, you will start to wig out and be all crazy, out of your mind, until someone hits you with some dextrose(usually the squad) or if someone with you can get some kind of easily absorbed sugar into you, but that can be more difficult since you probably won't cooperate and will be combative since you don't know what you are doing since you are wigging out. Non-diebetics don't have this problem since their insulin system is working correctly, diabetics need to usually take some kind of insulin to absorb the sugar that is in your system. You can still have sugar in your blood but not being able to use it if your body doesn't produce enough insulin.

    You can consume sugary gels on rides and not have problems with weight loss as long as you are riding long enough to justify using them. If you are only out for an hour or two, they are not necessary. If you are doing three to four hours, they are not really necessary but can be helpful but that depends upon the individual and how your food plan is set. Like I said earlier, I use them but I'm riding for four hours and I like the little pick me up they give me when I'm out that long.

    Cliff shots are only 100 calories. Check the calories of your preferred gel. You will probably be able to use them if you are riding enough and still not have problem with weight loss.

    I would doubt that there are sugar free energy gels but not sure myself. I think the energy in them comes from some form of sugar.
    Last edited by WrightVanCleve; 07-13-14 at 05:34 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    It's not necessarily a contradiction but some sugars like fructose are absorbed more slowly. Complex carbs may be useful for long rides but useless for a two hour ride. Sugar free...as in...artificial sweetner with no calories is of course worthless. Do some research on the various gels and cross index some ingredients to learn a bit about how they vary and then try some different ones to see how you like them. On a one or two hour ride, simple sugars are probably about right for most people but not the best for long rides where you want energy delivered over time. Different folks react to these things uniquely so you'll simply have to try some things out and see what works for you. For one hour rides nothing is needed. For two hours almost any type of sugar will do if your body tolerates it.
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    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I rarely use gels... and if I do, it's on the tail end of a really long, really hard ride (like a century with lots of climbing)

    It's entirely possible you can do without gels of any stripe, but it really depends on your riding style.

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Tried Gels when I first started riding.

    They didn't seem to do anything for me.
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    I'm an insulin-dependent diabetic and I use Hammer Gel. It's one of the few gels that doesn't spike my blood sugar through the roof. The Apple-Cinnamon flavor, which I prefer, has 21g of carbs and only 2g of sugar per serving. Keep in mind that the lack of sugar means that it's not going to give you a quick "jolt" of energy, which is what most people are looking for in a gel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WEK View Post
    Anyone know of any sugar free energy gels out there? Or is that just a contradiction in terms? I did a bit of Googling but didn't come across anything.
    carbohydrates = energy (at least for exercise).

    As mentioned, any ride less than about an hour and you dont' need them.

    If you are going maximum effort (racing) for over an hour, you will need carbs to continue to perform well.

    I don't race, more long charity rides, and I prefer real food to sugar pills.

    If you're talking about caffeine and other stuff, I don't know if there are sugar free versions. I don't use anything like that.

  8. #8
    WEK
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    Much appreciated all, thanks.

    I'll check out the Hammer Gels since they seem to have high carbs with limited sugar. That's generally what I'm looking for--long term energy from the carbs without as much sugar.

    As for ride duration, I've used gels before but only on very long rides. That's still my plan going forward.

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    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digibud View Post
    It's not necessarily a contradiction but some sugars like fructose are absorbed more slowly. Complex carbs may be useful for long rides but useless for a two hour ride. Sugar free...as in...artificial sweetner with no calories is of course worthless. Do some research on the various gels and cross index some ingredients to learn a bit about how they vary and then try some different ones to see how you like them. On a one or two hour ride, simple sugars are probably about right for most people but not the best for long rides where you want energy delivered over time. Different folks react to these things uniquely so you'll simply have to try some things out and see what works for you. For one hour rides nothing is needed. For two hours almost any type of sugar will do if your body tolerates it.
    I'm trying to use longer carb sources to level out my ebb and flow... I tend to only consume after my speed as dropped off.

    Bean sandwiches seem to provide a slow trickle of carbs, combined with others like apples, oranges, bananas, and of course figgies.
    This has in last few long rides at least prevented the really low (and slow) periods.

    Still experimenting.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WEK View Post
    Much appreciated all, thanks.

    I'll check out the Hammer Gels since they seem to have high carbs with limited sugar. That's generally what I'm looking for--long term energy from the carbs without as much sugar.

    As for ride duration, I've used gels before but only on very long rides. That's still my plan going forward.
    You may want to review what is "sugar"... Legal definition is quite sketchy.


    If I remember correctly maltodextrin is legally not a sugar, but a carb. It has a GI of 130, and digests rapidly as 2 glucose...

    Great short term ride fuel... Great way to address low blood sugar. If you're quite low, you can feel it kick in... but it fades as rapidly.

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    Seriously, sugar free gels? I fill my 24 oz water bottle with 1/4 cup of sugar and water when I ride. That chemical sweetner will give you diabetes, give you pancreatic cancer, make you fat, and kill you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Null66 View Post
    If I remember correctly maltodextrin is legally not a sugar, but a carb. It has a GI of 130, and digests rapidly as 2 glucose...

    Great short term ride fuel... Great way to address low blood sugar. If you're quite low, you can feel it kick in... but it fades as rapidly.
    My glucose meter suggests that Hammer Gel works like a complex carbohydrate. At least for me, it is definitely not a short-term fuel. Their "long-chain maltodextrin" claim sure sounds like marketing BS... but in this case it appears to work.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WEK View Post
    Much appreciated all, thanks.

    I'll check out the Hammer Gels since they seem to have high carbs with limited sugar. That's generally what I'm looking for--long term energy from the carbs without as much sugar.

    As for ride duration, I've used gels before but only on very long rides. That's still my plan going forward.
    If you aren't looking for a quick hit, you'll be better off eating real food than using gels. Whatever you choose, bear in mind your gut can only absorb around 60g of carbs per hour. That's about 240kcal. Eating any more than that while on the bike is a waste of time, you'll still be digesting the surplus long after the ride is over.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    If you aren't looking for a quick hit, you'll be better off eating real food than using gels. Whatever you choose, bear in mind your gut can only absorb around 60g of carbs per hour. That's about 240kcal. Eating any more than that while on the bike is a waste of time, you'll still be digesting the surplus long after the ride is over.
    Gels are easier for the body to digest and fit into a jersey pocket much better than "real food"...

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    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    My glucose meter suggests that Hammer Gel works like a complex carbohydrate. At least for me, it is definitely not a short-term fuel. Their "long-chain maltodextrin" claim sure sounds like marketing BS... but in this case it appears to work.
    "Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly asglucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless."
    "Maltodextrin consists of D-glucose units connected in chains of variable length. The glucose units are primarily linked withα(1→4) glycosidic bonds. Maltodextrin is typically composed of a mixture of chains that vary from three to seventeen glucose units long."
    Maltodextrin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So might both be true and marketing BS... You're meter supports that it might be both true and marketing.


    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Gels are easier for the body to digest and fit into a jersey pocket much better than "real food"...
    Easier to digest also implies quick hit... If you don't want the quick hit, you want slower to digest...

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Gels are easier for the body to digest and fit into a jersey pocket much better than "real food"...
    I don't know how big your jersey pockets are, but 1000 calories worth of (for example) flapjacks don't take up much space in mine.

    And gels are not necessarily easier to digest. Plenty of people find them less easy on the gut than more solid alternatives.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  17. #17
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    I like Hammer Gel. Huckleberry and Rasberry and my favs. I also like their Perpetuem. It's liquid fuel. Biggest problem with it is that it supposedly doesn't last long in the bottle on hot days. It's also hard to mix a new batch whie on the road as the powder can take a while to disolve in water. When I use it, I make a bottle the night before and stick it in the fridge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    I don't know how big your jersey pockets are, but 1000 calories worth of (for example) flapjacks don't take up much space in mine.
    I tried that, but the Mrs. Butterworth's bottle kept falling out.
    Last edited by indyfabz; 07-14-14 at 10:06 AM.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    i triend that, but the mrs. Butterworth's bottle kept falling out.
    lol
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    I don't know how big your jersey pockets are, but 1000 calories worth of (for example) flapjacks don't take up much space in mine.
    Hammer Gel is 90 calories/serving. I can easily fit three 5-serving flasks = 1350 calories) in one jersey pocket. If you feel the need to gorge, it appears that their 26-serving jug (= 2340 cal) also fits quite nicely in a single pocket. Google leads me to believe that you'd have to stuff 36.5 one ounce flapjacks in a single jersey pocket to have the same number of calories. That sounds like a time-consuming (and messy!) process to me.

    And gels are not necessarily easier to digest. Plenty of people find them less easy on the gut than more solid alternatives.
    Everybody's stomach is different, but I guarantee you that a sandwich or banana has more molecular bonds that need to be broken down than a gel does which means that digestion will take longer. There's a reason you see team cars in the Tour de Franc handing out gels by the dozens rather than sandwiches, pizza, and flapjacks...

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    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    Check out ucann superstarch. I really like this stuff. Claimed to have no sharp insulin spike, I'm not a scientist, but this seems true.

    I used some on a recent triathlon. Works great. When I got done I was not hungry at all, also it kept me full of energy the whole time.

    I started with three servings half an hour before the race. During the bike to run transition I slurped down one serving. The first five minutes I was experiencing some very minor cramps (chest cramps, intercostal muscles I think) which is something I get as a begi. re runner. I think consuming the food may have accentuated this. Within a moment they were gone and I was feeling better than ever on a run.


    Finished after about 2h45m time of being at around 150 beats per minute. Finished very strong (could have gone much longer) and wasn't hungry at all. Consumed 320 calories of superstarch before and during the event. Burned near 3000 calories.

    .5mile swim
    17 hilly mile bike (including 4000feet at near 9% the whole way, and two scary descents approaching 55mph)
    6.2 mile run


    had a blast.

  22. #22
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    I rarely use gels... and if I do, it's on the tail end of a really long, really hard ride (like a century with lots of climbing)

    It's entirely possible you can do without gels of any stripe, but it really depends on your riding style.
    We doing the Dos Equis commercial thing now?
    I rarely use gels... and if I do, it's on vanilla ice cream. Nothing better that Hammer Chocolate on some Breyers vanilla.
    #Epic (Did that for @black walnut)

    22g carbs with only 3g of that being sugar in a serving of chocolate Hammer Gel. <like thumb>

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