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Swimming Energy Gels

Dive into a world of endless energy possibilities with our wide range of swimming energy gels, available in an array of shapes, flavours, and sizes. Designed to replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores during intense workouts, races, or whenever you need that extra boost, our energy gels are a game-changer for your performance.

Swimming Energy Gels: Insights

READ MOREWhy should swimmers use Energy Gels?

Possibly the most convenient and effective way to fuel your body during long swim sessions or competitions is with energy gels. Whether you're training for a 5K open water swim or an Ironman triathlon, understanding how energy gels work with your body and knowing when and how to use them for maximum performance benefits is crucial.

WHY USE AN ENERGY GEL FOR SWIMMING?

Your body uses fat and carbohydrates as fuel sources. While fat is available, it's slower to break down into usable energy, making it less effective when swimming for extended periods over 1-2 hours.

This means your body will rely primarily on carbohydrates as fuel. But your body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates in the muscles, known as glycogen.

For example, when swimming at race pace, you can expect to use up your glycogen stores in about 90 minutes. For longer endurance swims, you're looking at around 120 minutes (2 hours) before needing additional fuel. These are the key facts to understand when and why you need to start fueling.

HOW CAN AN ENERGY GEL HELP SWIMMERS?

Energy gels provide simple sugars that are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream as glucose, giving you a spike in energy. This glucose is then absorbed by your active muscles.

Each gel provides between 15-45 minutes of energy with approximately 25g of carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, an accessible energy source for your body to process.

However, it's not just about the carbohydrates. Depending on the energy gel, other ingredients have been included to boost your performance:

CAFFEINE - Can improve alertness, concentration, reaction times, and the ability to push harder for longer by lowering the perception of effort.

SODIUM (ELECTROLYTES) - Lack of sodium can cause muscle cramping, heat illness, inability to properly rehydrate, and increased risk for hyponatremia.

AMINO ACIDS (BCAAs) - Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Low levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may contribute to fatigue or the perception of fatigue through a process called 'central fatigue'.

Note: As caffeine is a stimulant, consider alternating between caffeine and non-caffeine gels to ensure you don't take on too much.

WHEN SHOULD SWIMMERS TAKE AN ENERGY GEL?

Getting your fueling right is key; don't wait until you need fuel, as this is too late. This is the main reason people say they are "crashing" or "hitting the wall." The ideal time to consume an energy gel depends on you and your body.

The normal calculation is that you will feel the effects of an energy gel roughly 15 minutes after consumption.

Doubling the intake is not the answer. Taking two at a time doesn't mean you'll get twice the energy burst; instead, you're likely to crash as your body attempts to process the sugar.

As an example, for swimmers in longer open water races or pool events, this is a useful guide for when to take an energy gel using a 45-minute consumption gel:

5K OPEN WATER SWIM (2 gels)

  • 15 minutes before start
  • Halfway point

10K OPEN WATER SWIM (4 gels)

  • 15 minutes before start
  • Every 45 minutes during the swim

You will be looking to take on fuel via gels approximately every 45-60 minutes between gels, ensuring not to overload your stomach with too much simple sugar at once.

WARNING - Guides based on gels to be taken every 45 minutes.

Always check the packaging on energy gels for consumption information.

Some brands of energy gels recommend a gel every 15-20 minutes (3 per hour), while others are designed to be taken every 45 minutes. Think about that; would you really want to take on 12+ energy gels over the course of a 10K swim? Or would taking 4 of a different brand work better? The big issue here is when someone under fuels - 1 energy gel doesn't always equal 1 energy gel.

WHAT ARE GELS LIKE FOR SWIMMERS?

This is a common question, and everyone has different tastes. Although usually water-based, gels vary in consistency from chewy and thick to a drink-like consistency with varied taste strengths.

With so many flavors on the market, from citrus fruits to decadent dessert flavors or your favorite coffee, the only way you will really know is to test a few different brands to see what consistency and flavor works best for you.

SHOULD SWIMMERS TEST DIFFERENT GELS?

Practice, practice, practice. With all nutrition, you want to ensure you have a tried and tested method to get your required fueling on-board long before race day, and this is no different with energy gels.

Throughout your training, you will be increasing your yardage and distance. The best time to test products is during long swim sessions to ensure you know when and which energy gels work best for you.

SHOULD SWIMMERS CONSUME GELS WITH WATER?

It's always best to take energy gels with water, but it's not necessary with some energy gels.

Without water, some energy gels will take longer to digest and enter the bloodstream, causing a delay in performance. Additionally, don't take energy gels with a sports drink unless you are consuming as part of a planned intake; the combined intake of energy gels and an energy drink puts you at risk of taking on too much sugar at once.

ENERGY GELS OR ENERGY CHEWS FOR SWIMMERS?

Energy gels and energy chews are both popular choices among swimmers looking for a quick and convenient source of carbohydrates to boost energy and endurance. Both products have their own benefits and drawbacks, and choosing the right one for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs.

Energy gels offer a quick and easy way to consume carbohydrates and electrolytes, but may not be suitable for those who dislike the texture or taste.

Energy chews, on the other hand, offer a more appealing taste and texture, but may take longer to consume and may not be suitable for those with dietary restrictions.

To find the best option for you, it's important to keep track of your experiences with different products, take note of what works and what doesn't, and make adjustments as needed.


Swimming Energy Gels: Brands

  • GU Gels GU Energy Gel XMiles
    Offer
    GU

    GU Energy Gel

    From £2.00 - £39.75 GBP

    A mix of carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) to maximise carbohydrate absorption and reduce GI distress, sodium to maintain hydration levels...

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  • Maurten Gels Box of 12 / GEL 100 GEL 100 XMiles
    Maurten Gels GEL 100 XMiles
    Maurten

    GEL 100

    From £2.70 - £32.40 GBP

    GEL 100 by Maurten is utilized by athletes globally for fuel during their workouts. Each gel features a custom combination of fructose and glucose...

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  • Torq Gels Apple Crumble TORQ Energy Gel - 45g Gel XMiles
    Torq Gels TORQ Energy Gel - 45g Gel XMiles
    Offer
    Torq

    TORQ Energy Gel

    From £2.15 - £29.50 GBP

    Each gel packs a punch, delivering 30 grams of carbohydrate (significantly more than many other brands) allowing it to function as part of the uniq...

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  • Maurten Gels Single Serve / GEL 100 CAF 100 GEL 100 CAF 100 (40g) XMiles
    Maurten Gels Gel 100 CAF 100 Gel 100 CAF 100 XMiles
    Maurten

    GEL 100 CAF 100

    From £3.25 - £38.95 GBP

    GEL 100 CAF 100 from Maurten is the perfect endurance supplement. Get 100mg of caffeine plus a balanced 0.8:1 ratio of fructose and glucose for fa...

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  • Precision Hydration Gels Single Serve PF 30 Gel XMiles
    Precision Hydration Gels Single Serve PF 30 Gel XMiles
    Offer
    Precision Fuel & Hydration

    PF 30 Gel

    From £2.25 - £29.99 GBP

    Engineered with the athlete in mind, this gel provides a quick and efficient way to replenish your energy levels with 30g of carbohydrates. Whethe...

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  • Spring Gels Bag of 20 Awesome Sauce (Vegan) Load of Healthy Carbs XMiles
    Spring Gels Awesome Sauce (Vegan) Awesome Sauce (Vegan) Load of Healthy Carbs XMiles
    Spring

    Awesome Sauce

    From £3.55 - £66.00 GBP

    Load of Healthy Carbs. Spring Awesome Sauce  is a delicious and highly energizing energy gel packed with healthy carbs, sodium, and Vitamin C, per...

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