As I’ve not been able to run I’ve at least been able to read about running and do a little research. I’ve been eatily pretty healthily lately, plant based and non processed but it occurred to me that the energy gels and bars I use while on long runs are maybe not all they seem. Why do I use them? Cheap, convenient and so does everyone else would appear to be my reasons. I know I need to fuel during longer runs so it makes sense right? These products are designed for athletes by sports scientists right? So who do these sports scientists work for? I’ve never paid one directly so they work for the companies selling the gels right? So I would say they have a vested interest perhaps not in lying but embellishing the truth to increase sales?
I’m very wary when it comes to corporations, experience and just having open eyes is enough to tell me that the bottom line is profit for the shareholders. When it comes to running they couldn’t care about what actually happens to you but rather how much of their product they can get you to consume. Of coure its not just running products it’s endemic in virtually everything we buy. Never forget the bottom line is profit in the vast majority of cases (there are ethically run businesses of course)
Sooo energy gels – top ingedient is maltodextrin – Take a look at the ingedient list on Gu’s page – What is it?
From wikipedia (Yes I know it’s not fact therefore but come on it’s close)
“Maltodextrin is used as an inexpensive additive to thicken food products such as infant formula. It is also used as a filler in sugar substitutes and other products”
So it’s essentially a sugar substitute and here’s the interesting bit – It’s not included as a sugar in the ingredient breakdown – sports nutrition companies label it as a carbohydrate
“Maltodextrin is a corn-derived oligosaccharide source of carbohydrates, and it is commonly added to commercial ready-made protein shakes and other products. Oligosaccharides contain between three and 20 linked sugars, but they qualify as complex carbohydrates. Some products include maltodextrin as a sweetener because it is not technically a sugar, allowing companies to call their products “sugar-free.”
Nice work guys!
So as I see it in order to drive profits we have a cheap as chips sugar subsitute being the main ingredient in energy gels and being labelled as carbs. No wonder gels give me a boost and then I fall off again quickly – Quick take another gel to keep running – Finish running spend more money on gels!
Am I being cynical here?
I came across this site 33shake who have exactly the same thoughts but are selling their own healthier version. I haven’t tried their products I’ll admit but I was intrigued. Then I saw the gels were £2 a pop. Ok so even if I didn’t consume them at the same rate as other gels I’d still be coughing up probably over £6 per run and more!
My next step – I’m going to make my own using chia. I was intrigued by chia from reading books such as Born to Run and Eat & Run. Seems ideal and from the reading I’ve done it seems I stand a good chance (even with my culinary skills) of making somethnig edible, natural and likely to fuel me on long runs.
I’ve ordered a load of chia and will pick up the other ingedients this week and let you know how it goes!
If this post has bored you beyond belief it’s not my fault it’s my ankles – I want to be posting photos of beaches! But at least think about what you’re fuelling with on runs and have a think if you follow a high — crash — high — crash cycle due to instant sugar hits?