Posted by: Joe English | June 1, 2010

Training — Energy Gel vs. Energy Drinks — The Face-off

running-advice-bugLast month at the Boston Marathon, the good people from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute put me through the paces of some endurance testing. It was an interesting experience with one key learning — although not a big surprise — I burn a heck of a lot of calories when I’m running all out. In fact, they found that I burn close to 1,000 calories an hour while running at my marathon pace, which is a whole lot of calories.

Coach Joe English During Fitness Testing

Gatorade Scientist Kim White suggested that I replace about 250-300 of those calories in an hour, rather than the entire 1,000 calories, because there are limits to the number of calories that can be absorbed by the body during hard exercise. You can listen to the conversation in the episode of our video series on the subject of sport nutrition for athletes.

Then we turned to the method of replacing those calories. The question: would it be better to use an energy gel or an energy drink to get those calories into my system? It sounded like a good challenge and I’m always up for a challenge. So today I present the energy gel vs. energy drink face-off.

I should also add that many runners feel that they absolutely must use an energy gel in order to get their calories in and that there is not enough carbohydrate in energy drinks to support their needs. I think after the outcome of this experience, I’d say I can debunk that myth, but that a balanced approach using both products might be a better approach.

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