Midway through your long-run, signs of energy running low start to show as you find every stride getting heavier, slower, and pausing your run seems to be the most probable decision you would make as the water or isotonic drink you had is insufficient. Besides time wasted from stopping for a mid-run snack, time is also required for carbohydrates and fats to be broken down into glycogen for absorption. Thanks to constant development and innovation of sports nutrition, runners are spoilt for choices over sports supplements such as energy gels, capsules and drink mixes for effective and efficient energy refuelling.

What happens when you run?

2 primary sources of fuel in your body are being depleted as you run: Carbohydrates and fats. Although our body contain higher percentage of fats than carbohydrates, fats require a longer time to break down into usable energy as compared to carbohydrates. As such, carbohydrates are more efficient and stored as glycogen for easy usage. However, this energy supply has its limitations: it lasts from 30 to 90 minutes or more depending on the length and intensity of exercise. (Source: Sports Medicine) In addition, essential electrolytes such as Sodium are lost in the form of sweat when we exercise.

As such, the demand for easily digestible, convenient and efficient energy supplements has been increasing over the past decade, with many global athletes seen consuming them during their races to enhance their performance.

black man runner tired

Energy gels wakes your brain up

For glycogen to be used by muscles, it first needs to be digested, absorbed via the intestinal wall and then finally reach its destination. Energy gels compensates for this long process by acting as an alternative source of carbohydrates besides the glucose stored in our blood. When our brain receives reduced amounts of glucose as a result of usage by our muscles during exercise, our brain automatically goes into a ‘zone-out’ phase where you feel lethargic and sleepy. As such, the extra boost from energy gels gives our brain a ‘wake-up call’, resulting in a energized mind to complete the rest of the journey.

Energy gels such as those from GU Energy provide energy-dense calories in a portable packet which is convenient for runners to consume during a run. Besides containing carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) for easy absorption without causing major stomach distress, GU Energy gels hydrates your body with Sodium and reduces mental fatigue and reduces muscle damange with Amino Acids.

Timing is the key

Since supplements do not provide one-for-one replacement of the essential nutrients due to necessary metabolic processes in out body, runners should decide the appropriate time to consume these energy boosters. Everyone absorbs and utilizes carbohydrates at different rates; some  feel the effect within a few minutes, while others up to 10 minutes. Also, our stomachs react to these supplements in a variety of ways depending on the state of digestion activity; inactive stomach due to lack of blood flow after running for a long time might result in rejection of the energy gel by the body and cause some runners to throw up.

As such, consumers have been advised to take a single dosage at approximately 15-30 minutes before and at the 1 hour mark of a full marathon, when the body is not too exhausted and is able to process the carbs efficiently without stomach issues. (Source: Energy Gel Central)

Besides energy gels, GU Energy has also developed supplements in alternative and creative packaging such as Energy Chews, Electrolyte Capsules and Hydration Drink Mixes that deliver similar energy and hydration boosting effects, thereby catering to a variety of consumer needs.

Something new from GU

For the first time in 20 years, GU has updated the original formula in sync with the latest nutrition science.

New GU Energy Gel formulation is vegan and no longer contains antioxidants which have been found to inhibit training adaptations. Still taste great!

New GU Energy Chews are now exclusively available as a single serving packet (four chews), Chews are now easier to carry and consume with less waste.

GU Hydration Drink Tab new formulation is sorbitol free (easy on your gut), contains xylitol for oral health (does not decay teeth like other sweeteners) and dissolves faster


Created for athletes to refuel after a demanding activity, GU Recovery Drink Mix packs energy-dense whey protein isolate to promote protein synthesis and reduce muscle protein breakdown.

GU Roctane Energy Gel has been reformulated to replace histidine, which the body already has in abundance, with beta alanine, which the body needs. Antioxidants have been removed which are found to inhibit training adaptations. Same great taste!

Created to supplement additional electrolyte replacement needs, GU Roctane Electolyte Capsules provide added electrolyte support on top of the hydration-drink products. Take GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules before, during, or after exercise to replenish electrolyte levels from any energy-demanding activity resulting in sweat loss.

GU Energy is the Official Nutrition Sponsor of JRL Running Academy. Click here for more info.