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How to Make Energy Gel

When you’re going the distance, you’re going to hit a wall at some point. Rather than face-planting on the trail because your blood sugar is dangerously low, try the following recipe for homemade energy gel. Its makeup of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat surpasses that of your standard mass-market, simple-sugar gel, and it eliminates the need to throw out packaging after every run, bike, ride, or hike.

Origin Nutrition’s Energy Gel Recipe

  • 1 cup brown rice syrup (try Lundberg’s Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup)
  • 1/2 cup barley malt (try Eden’s Organic Barley Malt Syrup)
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup organic creamy peanut butter, all natural variety (without hydrogenated oils or sugar added)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  1. Create a makeshift double boiler by placing a glass jar inside a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so the jar is a little more than half immersed.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except for the hot water, in the jar. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it’s runny and well combined, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the hot water to the jar, stir, and shake vigorously until well combined and no separation occurs. Let cool.
  4. Fill gel containers as needed for workouts. Store extra gel in the jar with a lid in a cool, dry place.

Yields 18 fluid ounces

If the gel becomes too thick during cold winter months, you can add a little water to thin it or simply store it next to your body. The heat from your body will cause the coconut oil to liquefy and will change the overall consistency of the gel.

Lowdown on Nutrition

One ounce of this gel contains 150 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1.8 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat—a ratio of approximately 64% carbohydrates, 5% protein, and 30% fat. While mostly carbohydrates, there’s enough protein and fat to balance your blood sugar and keep it from spiking or dropping during a workout or race, which is crucial to maintaining your energy.

Brown Rice and Barley Malt Syrups

Brown rice syrup, the main ingredient in the gel, is 46% complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), 29% maltose (a disaccharide), and 25% glucose (a simple sugar). Brown rice syrup also provides .46g of protein in 2tbsp. The barley malt syrup is 76% maltose, 16% glucose, 6% sucrose (a disaccharide), and 2% fructose (a simple sugar). Barley malt syrup also provides nearly 3g of protein in 2tbsp. Both of these syrups are slow and easy to digest and provide the body with an immediate burst of necessary energy (due to the simple sugars) and then lasting carbohydrates (the poly and disaccharides) to refuel your cells. These syrups are about half as sweet as sugar to the taste.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

Coconut oil belongs to a special class of fats called medium-chain fatty acids. These fats are not normally stored in your body as fat, but are instead quickly converted to energy. They also boost your metabolism. This makes unrefined coconut oil excellent for weight loss and athletic performance, as it helps produce lean body mass.

Organic Peanut Butter

Peanut butter supplies the energy gel with valuable monounsaturated fats, protein, and flavor. Choose an all-natural variety that only contains organic peanuts and salt. Avoid peanut butters with added sugars and hydrogenated oils (trans fat).

Sea Salt

Sea salt provides valuable minerals for electrolyte balance. A high-quality sea salt is rich in potassium, magnesium, sodium chloride, and trace minerals.


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Here's what the community has to say.

Kelly C.

Kelly C.

Some sources advise against brown rice syrup because of its very high glycemic index (98) and trace amounts of arsenic. Why is it recommended in this recipe?


Ryan Conklin

Ryan Conklin

Thanks! I made this recently for cycling fuel. Love that it's DIY, inexpensive, and easy to throw together without any fuss. I bought a hammer nutrition 5oz squeeze bottle to carry it on rides, otherwise I store it in a mason jar in the fridge. Thanks again for the recipe and all the specs!


Backpack Rat

Backpack Rat

Thank you SOOO much for this! I made it today and was worried it was going to be not very nice... but I had to stop my self licking the spoon and spatula! And the flavour is nice and light, not too sweet, I think it will be perfect. Trying it on a long run tomorrow. The recipe was also really simple, took only 15mins. I use a snap down, old fashioned lid, glass jar. Probably a 1 L capacity, which filled it about 3/4, leaving enough room to shake. It did come out a tiny bit when I was shaking but the shaking only took 30 secs so it didn't matter... more for me to wipe off and taste! I've put about 2 ounces/50ml in a liquid travel container, similar to a GoToob design. Totally stoked! I'll put a short video of a few pics and how I did it up on my travel vlog youtube channel in the next week or so if anyone needs visuals. See 'Backpack Rat travel Advice' section.




Great article Michelle. Could you comment or make some recommendations on what is the best way to store the homemade gel? Also, what do you use to carry it around on longer trail runs that won't spill around in your pack and is easy to eat?