Runner with energy gel

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Energy gels are convenient, individually packaged gels that contain a concentrated source of carbohydrates. Endurance athletes often use them in longer training sessions to improve performance and maintain adequate blood sugar levels (1).

Most energy gels are made from a quick-digesting source of sugars.

Gels may also include caffeine, which has been shown to improve exercise performance, as well as branched-chain amino acids, which can help relieve muscle soreness (2, 3).

We have picked the 11 best energy gels.

The best energy gels were researched.

  • Recommendations from experts. We spoke with running experts to get their takes on the best energy gels.
  • Reviews. We included gels with mostly positive customer reviews.
  • Price. We looked for energy gels to suit a range of budgets.
  • Ingredients. We included products to suit a variety of dietary needs and preferences, including gluten-free gels and ones made from all-natural ingredients.
  • Personal experience. Runner and dietitian Ellen Landes, MS, RDN, shared her thoughts on which gels taste the best and are easiest to digest.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.

A note on price

The general price ranges are indicated by dollar signs. One dollar sign means the product is one of the cheapest on the list, whereas three dollar signs mean the product is more expensive.

The prices range from $1.08 to $3.75 per serving, though this may vary depending on where you shop.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $1.50 per serving
  • $$ = $1.50–$2.50 per serving
  • $$$ = over $2.50 per serving

Best unflavored

Maurten Energy Gel 100

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: unflavored
  • Carbs per serving: 25 grams
  • Caffeine: caffeinated and non-caffeinated options
  • Sugar source: glucose, fructose
  • Best for: athletes who struggle to consume gels with overly strong flavors

Athletes who like strong, sweet flavors of gels are a good choice for the unflavored omerten energy gels.

According to their website, the patent-pending hydrogel can hold carbohydrates and behaves like a sponge.

There is currently limited evidence to support the claim that this allows for better transportation of Carbohydrates to the.

Many positive reviews mention that the gels provide energy without causing stomach upset.

Many people have great results with the gels of Monsanto Energy. You can get them with or without a cup of coffee. They claim to help you digest more food without causing upset.

The non-caffeinated gels contain 100 calories per serving.

Potential downsides: expensive; Jell-O-like texture may be off-putting for some

Best-rated energy gel

Gu Energy Original Sports Nutrition Gel

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: salted caramel, chocolate outrage, strawberry banana, tri-berry, jet blackberry, vanilla bean, espresso love, caramel macchiato, birthday cake, lemon sublime, campfire s’mores, and more
  • Carbs per serving: 23 grams
  • Caffeine: in some flavors
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin, fructose
  • Best for: athletes who are used to taking gels and enjoy sweet flavors

Gu Energy has a variety of sports nutrition products.

Gu energy gels are included on our list because they have more than 7,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon.

More than 25 flavors are available, some of which contain 20 or 40 mg of caffeine from green tea extract. Fans of the gels appreciate the flavor variety and pleasant taste.

Gu energy gels are vegan and free of wheat. They do contain somePreservatives, so they are not ideal if you prefer a more natural product.

Potential downsides: contain preservatives, may cause stomach upset in some runners

Best natural energy gel

Huma Chia Energy Gel

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: strawberries, blueberries, apples and cinnamon, cafe mocha, chocolate, lemonade, mangoes, raspberries
  • Carbs per serving: 21 grams
  • Caffeine: in some flavors
  • Sugar source: cane sugar, brown rice syrup, fruit
  • Best for: athletes with sensitive stomachs who prefer natural ingredients

The Tarahumara, a group of Indigenous people living in Mexico who are renowned for their ability to run long distances, inspired Huma, a sports nutrition company.

The Huma Chia Energy Gel is 100% natural and gluten-free. The ingredients include whole foods, such as fruit and chia seeds, which some runners may find easier to digest.

“Several runners said that chia gel is easier to digest and doesn’t cause stomach upset, so they were mostly positive. Many people appreciate the ingredients.”

Some flavors give 25 or 50 percent of the amount of caffeine in a serving.

What our tester says: “As a runner myself, this is my favorite energy gel. I enjoy all of the flavors and find them easy to take mid-run. I also like to alternate between caffeinated and caffeine-free gels for a bit of a performance edge without overdoing it.”

Potential downsides: may cause digestive discomfort if not consumed with enough water

Best organic energy gel

Clif Shot Energy Gels

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: mocha, double espresso, razz, citrus, vanilla, strawberry
  • Carbs per serving: 24–25 grams
  • Caffeine: in some flavors
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin, cane sugar
  • Best for: athletes looking for an affordable organic product

Clif Bar & Company is known for its bars and snacks, but it also offers a line of organic energy gels.

Clif Shot Energy gels are made from non-GMO ingredients.

The gels are less expensive than others on the market, which is positive. Some reviewers recommend double-checking the caffeine content of the flavors they consume, as some contain more than 50 or 100 percent of the amount of the drug needed to make a cup of coffee.

What our tester says: “I found the flavors of these gels to be pleasant, and they were easy on my stomach when I took them during long runs.”

Potential downsides: may cause stomach upset in some runners

Best keto-friendly energy gel


  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: orange, strawberry banana
  • Carbs per serving: 19 grams
  • Caffeine: no
  • Sugar source: SuperStarch
  • Best for: athletes who follow a low carb or keto diet

Ucan sells products that contain its proprietary SuperStarch, a low-GI complexCarbohydrate that is designed to provide steady energy rather than spike blood sugar levels.

Preliminary research has shown potential benefits of SuperStarch, although more research is needed (4, 5).

Because UCAN Edge uses SuperStarch rather than more traditional sugar ingredients, the company claims it may be a suitable choice for those who follow a keto diet.

The gels are vegan and non-GMO.

Several people have positive reviews of UCAN Edge, with many saying how easy it is to use.

Potential downsides: expensive, larger size than other gels, contains erythritol, not the best-tasting option

Best gluten-free energy gel

Honey Stinger Energy Gels

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: acai pomegranate, gold, fruit smoothie, strawberry kiwi
  • Carbs per serving: 24–26 grams
  • Caffeine: in some flavors
  • Sugar source: organic honey, organic tapioca syrup
  • Best for: athletes with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders

Honey Stinger is known for its use of organic honey in its sports nutrition products.

The energy gels are free of dairy, soy, and nuts, making them a good choice for runners with allergies.

These gels have added electrolytes to help you stay hydrated during longer training sessions, but you’ll still need to take them with water.

Many runners find the honey-based gels easier to digest than other gels.

The only flavor that provides a lot of caffeine is strawberry kiwi.

Potential downsides: original gold flavor isn’t the best-tasting

Spring Energy Any Distance Fuel

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavors: canaberry
  • Carbs per serving: 17 grams
  • Caffeine: no
  • Sugar source: basmati rice, fruit, maple syrup
  • Best for: athletes who prefer natural ingredients and don’t mind paying a little extra for them

Spring Energy uses natural ingredients in its products.

The Any Distance Fuel has one flavor, canaberry, which is described as mildly sweet.

It’s also free of gluten-containing ingredients and produced in a gluten-free facility, making it a good option if you have a gluten-related disorder.

Spring Energy offers a variety of gel products, including Speednut, Hill Aid, and Long Haul, which have different calories, caffeine, and other ingredients.

Happy customers appreciate the gel’s whole-food ingredients, such as basmati rice and fruit.

Potential downsides: expensive, only one flavor available

Best vegan energy gel

PNG Refuel Gel

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: orange cream, watermelon cucumber
  • Carbs per serving: 21 grams
  • Caffeine: no
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin, dextrose
  • Best for: vegan athletes who also want a source of electrolytes

Pinnacle Nutrition Group (PNG) makes sports nutrition supplements, gels, and drinks.

If you have a disorder related to the wheat, you may want to be cautious if you purchase the Refuel Gel.

The gel has added electrolytes that can be helpful during long training sessions.

What our tester says: “I expected to particularly enjoy the orange cream flavor of these gels, but I was disappointed in the flavor and texture. Unfortunately, this gel didn’t sit well in my stomach during my run. However, every runner is different and many people enjoy this brand.”

Potential downsides: mixed reviews on the taste; sticky texture

Torq Energy Gel

  • Price: $$
  • Flavors: apple crumble, black cherry yoghurt, raspberry ripple, rhubarb custard
  • Carbs per serving: 21 grams
  • Caffeine: no
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin, fructose
  • Best for: vegan athletes who want a source of electrolytes

Torq offers various products in the form of gels, chews, bars, and powders.

In addition to being vegan, Torq Energy Gels are wheat-free and contain added electrolytes.

Torq energy gels are thinner than others, which may make them easier to digest. It is still important to drink plenty of water with the gel for optimal absorption.

“Many reviewers agree that the gels are easy to use on the stomach and don’t cause any problems during exercise.”

Most reviews mention that the unique flavors taste great.

Potential downsides: expensive

Best variety of flavors

Hammer Energy Gel

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: apple cinnamon, banana, chocolate, espresso, huckleberry, hazelnut, orange, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, raspberry, tropical, vanilla
  • Carbs per serving: 22 grams
  • Caffeine: in some flavors
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin, dextrose
  • Best for: athletes who prefer to portion out their own gels for full control of dosing

Hammer Nutrition sells various types of sports nutrition fuel, supplements, and bars.

There are 12 flavors of Hammer Energy Gels.

The espresso and tropical flavors contain some caffeine, so be sure to check the content before purchasing.

It is not clear whether the gels are processed in a facility that also processes gluten.

The website says that every flavor is vegan.

Hammer Energy Gel can be purchased in larger containers so that individuals can portion out their own gels, which may be more cost effective.

Reviewers like the wide variety of flavors and feel that the gels have a pleasant taste.

Potential downsides: may cause stomach upset in some runners

Best for convenience

Science in Sport (SiS) GO Isotonic Energy Gels

  • Price: $
  • Flavors: orange, lemon and mint, salted strawberry, apple
  • Carbs per serving: 22 grams
  • Caffeine: no
  • Sugar source: maltodextrin
  • Best for: athletes who don’t want to have to take their energy gel with water

SiS offers endurance nutrition products, including gels, powders, drinks, and bars.

“Unlike most other gels, the SiS gel doesn’t need to be taken with water.”

Science in Sport has an energy gel that is supposed to be consumed without water. If water stops when you take your fuel, this can be helpful. Amy Goblirsh, a dietitian for runners, says that most gels require water to be consumed at the same time.

Keep in mind that while you won’t need to time your water intake with your gel intake, it’s still important to hydrate during your workout.

Athletes with allergies can use these gels because they are free from dairy, nuts, animal products, and wheat.

“Many of the 4,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon mention the fact that SiS isotonic gels don’t cause any problems, and that it doesn’t require water to take the gel.”

What our tester says: “I personally did not enjoy these gels and felt that the consistency was a little runny and the flavor wasn’t great. While not needing to time the gel with water intake is convenient, this wasn’t an issue for me as I carry a water bottle along with gels anyway.”

Potential downsides: contains artificial additives and sweeteners, orange flavor could be better

Here is a quick look at how our top picks compare.

Price per serving Calories Carbs (sugar) Carb source Caffeine Key features
Maurten $3.60 100 25 grams • glucose
• fructose
0- and 100-mg options • easy to digest
• unflavored
Gu $1.30 100 23 grams • maltodextrin
• fructose
0-, 20-, and 40-mg options • gluten-free
• vegan
Huma $2.37 100 21 grams • cane sugar
• brown rice syrup
0-, 25-, and 50-mg options • natural ingredients
• gluten-free
Clif Shot $1.15 110 23–25 grams • maltodextrin
• cane sugar
0-, 25-, 50-, and 100-mg options • organic
• non-GMO
UCAN Edge $2.62 70 19 grams SuperStarch no • keto-friendly
• gluten-free
• non-GMO
• vegan
Honey Stinger $1.42 100–110 24–26 grams • organic honey
• organic tapioca syrup
0- and 32-mg options • gluten-free
• allergy-friendly
Spring Energy $3.90 100 17 grams • basmati rice
• maple syrup
no • gluten-free
• natural ingredients
PNG Refuel Gel $1.35 80 21 grams maltodextrin no vegan
Torq Energy Gel $2.33 110 21 grams • maltodextrin
• fructose
no • vegan
• wheat-free
Hammer Energy Gel $1.40 90 22 grams • maltodextrin
• dextrose
0-, 25-, and 50-mg options • vegan options
SiS $1.16 87 22 grams maltodextrin no • can be taken without water
• allergy-friendly

It is important to consider the following factors when choosing a gel.

  • Carbs per serving. Most energy gels have 20–25 grams of carbs per serving. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends consuming 30–60 grams of carbs per hour when exercising for longer than 1 hour. You may need to do a little number crunching to determine how many gels you’ll need to meet this recommendation (1).
  • Sugar source. The carbohydrates found in energy gels often come from simple sugars such as dextrose, maltodextrin, glucose, or fructose, as these are easy to digest and absorb. Some gels contain other sources of sugar, such as maple syrup or honey.
  • Ingredients. In addition to a carbohydrate source, you may see other ingredients on the label, including gelling agents like xanthan gum and gellan gum, which help with texture. Some gels may contain artificial sweeteners and colors, as well as additives and preservatives, which may be a downside if you prefer a more natural product.
  • Caffeine content. Caffeine may help boost performance. However, some people are more sensitive to its effects, and too much caffeine may cause unwanted side effects. To balance your caffeine intake, you may want to alternate between caffeinated and non-caffeinated gels or skip the caffeine altogether (6, 7).
  • Electrolytes. Some gels contain added electrolytes that can be beneficial during training and workouts. This can be a convenient way to get in carbs and electrolytes together. However, if you typically use another source of electrolytes, it may be best to choose a gel without them.

Goblirsh says it is a good idea to experiment with a few types of gels to figure out what is in your stomach.

Goblirsh says that training runs give you the chance to train your gut and figure out what fuel source works best for you. Race day is not the time to experiment with a new fuel.

The importance of testing out gels is something that Kolbo agrees with.

If you stop by your local running shop, you can ask for recommendations on the newest products and what to do in case of weather or climate change.

What are running gels?

Research shows that consuming carbohydrates during endurance exercise such as running can improve performance and help maintain blood sugar levels (1).

Running gels, also known as energy gels, are designed to be quick and convenient to consume during long-duration workouts because they contain an easily digestible source ofCarbohydrate and are designed to be.

Are running gels necessary?

When exercising for shorter periods of time, running gels may not be necessary.

“I recommend using them on long runs. You can use them on shorter runs, but make sure you don’t ignore them when your runs get long.”

That being said, some athletes prefer to use a food, such as dates, instead of gels.

How do you use running gels?

As Kolbo suggests, it’s a good idea to incorporate fuel for any training sessions longer than 90 minutes, but you can use them in shorter sessions as well.

Goblirsh recommends taking a gel every 30 minutes. Some runners may find it easier to think about miles. Goblirsh says that this may mean taking a gel every 3–6 miles.

Goblirsh notes that everyone is different and that some athletes may find that they do better when they are more frequent in their fueling.

Water with gels is important. Goblirsh recommends taking a few sips of water before and after taking the gel to help with absorption and keep you hydrated.

What are the potential side effects of energy gels?

Energy gels can cause stomach upset in some athletes. This is especially true if you take the gels without enough water to help you digest them (8).

However, most people can train their digestive systems to tolerate energy gels during exercise without any uncomfortable side effects (8).

If you are new to energy gels, it is recommended to take half of a gel with water during a training run and gradually increase the amount over several days.

It is a good idea to experiment with different types of gels prior to the race day because some will sit better with you than others.

Energy gels are a quick source of energy.

Experts agree that it is best to experiment with different energy gels to find one that works best for you.

If you have an upset stomach, practice with gels before the race to avoid impacting your performance.