It’s easy to grow tired of eating packaged energy gels, blocks, chews, and bars. The good news: You can create your own delicious, all-natural versions—and still receive the same performance benefits. Presenting five easy recipes to make your workouts taste great.
Makes 12 servings
- ¾ cup milk, warmed
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp cane sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
- ½ cup melted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- Small bowl of pearled (or course) sugar
Place milk, yeast, cane sugar, and 1 cup flour in a bowl, and mix into a soft dough using an electric mixer. Let dough rest for about 15 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, maple syrup or honey, butter, and vanilla. Add egg mixture to dough, along with the remaining flour and salt. Mix well into a soft, sticky dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Punch down the dough into 12 portions, shape each into a small ball, and roll each ball in pearled sugar.
Heat waffle iron. Press dough into the iron, and cook until color is golden and waffle feels crisp to the touch. Or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. You can freeze dough until ready to cook.
Benefits: Each waffle contains 228 calories, 10 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs and 6 grams protein, making them a great source of energy while you bike, hike, or climb. “These all-natural waffles can also be sandwiched with whatever flavor you’re craving the day of your workout—peanut butter, Nutella, jam, etc.,” notes Lim.
Bitter Chocolate and Sea Salt Sticky Bites
(Makes 12 servings)
- 1 cup uncooked sticky rice
- ½ cup uncooked rolled oats
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate (chips or shaved)
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- Dash of sea salt
- 2 Tbsp shaved bittersweet chocolate
- ½ tsp sea salt
Combine oats, rice, and water with a dash of salt in a rice cooker and cook. Let cool to the touch.
In a medium bowl, combine the cooked rice and oats with the remaining ingredients. Stir to incorporate the flavor throughout the sticky mixture.
Press into an airtight storage container or shape as individual bites. Sprinkle lightly with chocolate and salt.
Benefits: “These delicious bites are energy dense to help replace calories when you’re on the move,” says Allen Lim, co-author of Feed Zone Portables and founder of performance nutrition company, Skratch Labs. “They contain 2 grams of protein and 197 milligrams of sodium per serving, but the key ingredient is actually white rice, a rich source of quick-absorbing carbs (20 grams) that’s also known for being easy on the digestive system.”
Mint Mocha Energy Gel
(Makes 2 servings)
- 8 dates (pitted), soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours
- 1 tsp coconut oil (unrefined)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup (unrefined), or raw honey
- Sprinkle of sea salt
- ½ tsp ground coffee
- 1 tsp cacao/cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp finely diced fresh mint leaves
Combine Mint Mocha ingredients with the maple syrup from the Base Gel recipe in a food processor, and pulse until the mint leaves are well blended. Add remaining Base Gel ingredients, and pulse again until smooth.
Pomegranate Lime Gel
- 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
- 2 Tbsp pure pomegranate juice
- 2 tsp lime juice
Blend above ingredients with the Base Gel ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth.
Benefits: “These gels are made from whole food, plant-based sources, so not only do they give you easy-to-digest energy during tough workouts, but they also naturally contain vitamins, minerals and electrolytes,” says Emma Andrews, a registered holistic nutritionist and the national educator for vegan supplement and nutrition company, Vega. Pack in a sturdy plastic bag or hydration flask, and consume one serving (45 grams) every 45 to 60 minutes for activities lasting over an hour.
Makes 2 servings
- 3 cups water (or maple water)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Place all ingredients in a 24-ounce bottle, and shake vigorously (or mix everything together in a blender).
Benefits: “The vitamin C in citrus fruit may help reduce inflammation from the chronic stress of exercise. Citrus zest is also rich in fiber and flavonoids that protect your heart by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol,” says dietitian Tara Mardigan, co-author of Real Fit Kitchen. Drink this beverage before, during and/or after your workouts.
Turmeric Carrot Protein Shake
Makes 1 serving
- ¼ to ½ tsp turmeric powder (or ½-inch fresh turmeric root)
- ½ cup grated carrot
- ½ cup mango
- ½ cup ice
- 1 cup water
- 1 serving vanilla protein powder
Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
Benefits: “This vibrant post-workout protein recovery shake gives you an antioxidant boost with turmeric, and a sweet taste of the tropics with mango and grated carrot,” notes Morgan Shupe, head chef at Vega. For best muscle-rebuilding results, try to drink within 45 to 90 minutes of finishing your workout.