After tweeting and receiving a lot of exclamation about home-made gel, I decided to forgo delaying this to be part of the race report as intended (plus, I don’t know what I was thinking because it doesn’t really fit in there anyway). Here y’all go!

I know you aren’t supposed to do anything new on race day, but screw it. I tried a gel in my last race [a 5K last fall–I gotta get more races into my life]. The gel was awesome, it kicked up the energy, and I highly enjoyed my first CarbBoom experience. Also, the gel was free, so I was all over that. After trying my first gel, it’s easy to see why so many athletes use them. However, they come with a hefty price tag [$1.50 per pouch], so I set out to make my own. After a bunch of googling of nutritional breakdowns of things, I loosely based it on this recipe from No Meat Athlete, but did some additional googling and this worked out okay for me:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp water (can be omitted, I added it before the lemon juice and it is extremely thin)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp raisins

It, obviously, worked out to just over a quarter of a cup.  Soak the raisins in a bit of water for as long as you are patient to (mine were in an hour and a half), but mine didn’t all blend completely, which is whatever. The NMA recipe calls for dates, but I don’t think those existed in my house. Also now my entire kitchen smells like raisins.

It doesn’t look super appetizing, but it tastes better than it looks. Also, it’s not full of artificial things, so that’s cool.


Nutritionally, the issue is, it’s extremely high in sugar thanks to the syrup. I originally intended to use honey, which while higher in some vitamins, was much higher in sugar. Also the honey was granulated, thus the first batch of gel I attempted was gross. Plus I don’t actually like honey, but that’s beside the point. However, Maria pointed out that the point of gels is kind of the sugar. So hooray syrup? I’m also not expecting to down this all in just over two hours [the anticipated time it will take us to walk the 10K–fingers crossed for shorter].

Nutrition Facts 

Serving size: 90g

Total Fat 0.2g – 0% DV

Cholesterol 0mg – 0% DV

Sodium 242mg – 10% DV

Total Carbohydrates 58.0g -19% DV

Sugars 50.6g

Protein 0.2g

Calcium 6%   Vitamin C 4%    Iron 6%

Some rationale:

The majority of energy/carb gels are obviously simple carbohydrates for energy, salt to make up for what your body is losing through sweat, and potassium (the raisins contribute 70.1 mg!) which is used and therefore lost by your muscles during exercise. Obviously the more pure the carbs [this case, glucose in the form of maple syrup], the less work your body has to do to use the carbs [ATP holla!]. Some sites also said that maple syrup packed a more sustained energy source than others (but I can’t be bothered to research the validity of that information–I don’t start school till Wednesday, yo). Fat can slow down digestion and requires more energy to break down, so nutrition before and during exercise should be extremely low-fat or fat-free.

It tastes decent, and the lemon juice gives it a nice bit of a kick to take the edge off the maple syrup.

I’ll report on the actual use of it in the race report tomorrow!

Have you ever made homemade energy gel? What did you put in it, and how did it work?

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