Sweets vs. energy gels in endurance sports events
We’re less than a week away from the London marathon. On Sunday 28th April, the ultimate endurance running event will begin. The London marathon is an event that can be achieved by all (even if you don’t believe it!). You don’t need to be a seasoned athlete to participate but you do need to be energized.
Many athletes, both elite and recreational, opt for sports energy gels when it comes to racing endurance events.
Why? Because extended periods of exercise place demands on your body that require protein and carbohydrates.
Sports gels provide on-the-go nutrition that does not require chewing and is “practical” to consume while racing.
Other athletes, both elite and recreational, choose not to opt for sports gels and instead go for more standard foods.
In essence, sports gels are carbohydrates, they contain glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltodextrin.
But sweets feature these ingredients too, right? So could sweets play a role in endurance events?
While we don’t want to get too scientific (we’ll leave that to the sport’s science experts), let’s just consider the pros of eating sweets instead of energy gels through your endurance event.
Sweets can be used instead of energy gels
Sweets do contain the easily digestible carbohydrates needed during a marathon and, therefore, can be used instead of energy gels.
Here are a few bonuses of eating sweets through your endurance event:
#1 They taste nice.
Starting with the simplest reason, who doesn’t like sweets? They’re invented to taste great and they don’t fail us. Sports gels may not be as nice-tasting as sweets (although they have been adapted to taste as nice as possible, of course).
Jelly babies or a synthetic chocolate-flavoured gel? We know what we’d choose- Jelly Babies are a classic!
#2 Sweets are less likely to cause stomach upset.
A big downside to using sports gels is the fact that they are renowned for causing a stomach upset. The speed at which these carbs hit your gut can be too fast to digest properly. The result? A bad stomach. And no one wins a race that way.
With sweets being more solid food but easily digestible, they can be that energy boost you need, without causing a stir in your stomach.
#3 Sports gels require practice.
Just like training for the miles, the nutrition should be practiced too. However, if you are thinking you’ve left it a bit late, then you’d be better off reaching for sweets to give you that energy boost.
This will avoid any complications with the gels. You don’t know which ones you will get on with and what the effects are until you’ve tried it.
Don’t leave trial and error for race day.
#4 Sweets are cheaper.
With so much research and science going behind energy gels, they do come at a price. Unless you’ve got a free one in a goody bag post-race, then you’ll no doubt have to dig into your pockets to stock up your sports cupboard with gels.
Penny sweets aren’t as expensive. Choose to buy one particular sweet in bulk, or go and choose your favourite Pick ‘n’ Mix!