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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the hot water to the jar, stir, and shake vigorously until well combined and no separation occurs. Let cool.
- 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 provides valuable minerals for electrolyte balance. A high-quality sea salt is rich in potassium, magnesium, sodium chloride, and trace minerals.