How to Make Energy Gel From a Few Simple Ingredients

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Articles

Our bodies can only store that much nutrients, and if you run a marathon, some of those tend to get depleted before you reach the finish line. That’s where energy gels come in, to give you a boost and help keep you going ’til the end. There’s just one major problem: energy gels can be quite expensive.

I’ve been able to survive my two half-marathons without depending on them, but I don’t know if I can finish a full without some form of energy booster, especially since I’m so thin and get tired easily to begin with. Looking around for prices, I saw an ad on Sulit about Agave Chocolate Energy Gel. It sells for P75 per 29.5g pack. Ouch. If you buy a box of 24 (708g total), it costs P1,500 or P62.5 per pack. Still expensive, since you’ll need to consume several during a race, and much more during training.


Thankfully, I came across an article on making your own energy gel. One mountainbiker tried to approximate the nutritional content of one using simple, easy-to-find ingredients (roughly 25g carbs, 45mg sodium, 35mg potassium, plus vitamins and minerals). It turns out that honey packs a lot of carbohydrates and is nutritionally similar to energy gels. This makes sense, as I’ve personally felt the rush after having a tablespoon of pure honey served at KM17 of the Corregidor International Half Marathon. If you go around message boards, it seems that other runners use honey as a substitute for energy gels and it works fine for them.

However, by itself, honey lacks potassium and sodium. Now sodium can quickly be added by a dash of salt, but how about potassium? Add banana in a blender? Hmmm… maybe, but that probably won’t last long. The article suggests using blackstrap molasses which is very high on potassium. The recipe looks like this:

  • 7 and 1/3 tablespoons of honey
  • 3/4 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses
  • 1/10 teaspoons (just shy of 1/8 tsp) of table salt

So I went out to the grocery and got myself raw wild honey at less than PhP80 for a 350ml bottle. My dad got me molasses from the late Ernie Baron’s shop at PhP100 for a 500ml bottle (yes, they still sell his products, apparently). And well, I got some iodized salt from the kitchen. Mixed everything well and voila! My own energy gel!

In all, this recipe is up to 90% cheaper than buying off the shelf. It’s probably best to put the mixture in a flask that you can carry with you, but since I don’t have one, I packed a heaping tablespoonful per small plastic bag (the one they use in making ice candy). The article said they could last a week unrefrigerated, so I’m hoping they’ll keep twice as long if kept inside the ref. I’ve already used them twice running a 15K then an 18K. I’d say they probably helped because I was able to set new PRs.

The author went a step further and tried adding protein to the mix using soy protein isolate. I have no idea what that is. I might try adding Enervon HP instead, but for now I’m quite content with the original mixture. I’m sure I’ll be using this a lot from now on.

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