Making Our Own Energy Gels

A couple of weeks ago, one of the books I was reading talked about making home made energy gels out of honey and sea salt (a recipe was not provided). Energy gels in our neck of the woods are $2.39 each, or $53.99 for a box of 24; even if I buy them online, the best price I’ve been able to get was $44.99/24, with free shipping if you spent over $100 (we ordered 2 boxes and a race belt).

Now, that works out to almost $2 a gel! And on a long training run or ride, I can go through FIVE or more of the silly things! Now, as much as I love Vanilla Bean GU gels, $10-$15 worth of gels for a 24+ mile run starts to add up, especially when both Bruce & I are running. Add in cycling and swimming, training 5-10 times per week, and you can see how expensive this could get.

So the idea of using honey to make my own is appealing. Last week we dropped into our local cycling store and found flasks that hold five servings of gels, perfect to fit into the back pocket of a cycling jersey, and perfect to try experimenting with making gels! (And if none of this works out, bulk Hammer gels are sold at our cycling store for about half of what we pay right now for individual GU gels – we’ll try a few flavours and switch!).

I searched on Google, and found several sites that recommended mixing honey with molasses and salt. I had already purchased a large bottle of liquid honey, and I had molasses in the cupboard, so yesterday I mixed about three tablespoons of honey with not quite 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1/8 tsp sea salt. I then added 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (hey, I love my vanilla gels!). I poured it into the flask, making about 2.5 servings, and went to run.

So, good news, bad news. I had a very upset stomach, but I’m not sure it was the gel – I wasn’t feeling well before I started, so the gel may have made it worse, or may have had nothing to do with it. As well, the gel was SUPER sweet – way more sweet than a GU. I’m going to have to play with the flavour/sweetness significantly if I’m going to use this on a regular basis. I need to get the taste to be less sweet.

However, it definitely went down easy (the consistency was actually a little more runny than a typical GU gel), and you can’t beat the cost – it works out to less than $.10 a serving! As well, it seemed to provide enough energy and calories for my short little weight session and 4 mile run.

So I’m searching for more recipes (a lot of them call for brown rice syrup or maltodextrin), and thinking about experimenting with flavours – maybe using unsweetened cocoa powder would add a nice flavour plus reduce the sweetness of the honey. I also read one recipe where the person used Tang for orange flavoured gels – not my thing, but Bruce might like them. I’m going to experiment with this a couple more times and see if the stomach issues were related to the junk food I ate all weekend, or it really was the sweetness of the gel that got to me. If I can find a flavour I like, this is a very inexpensive way to fuel during training sessions!

I’ll post a follow up after I’ve tried a few different ways/flavours along with some photos and comments on flavour and taste.

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