Sports Drinks vs. Bars and Gels
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Researchers have found that sports bars and gels are just as effective as sports drinks when it comes to delivering carbohydrates to your body during exercise. If you typically workout longer than two hours a session, then you'll need to down about a half gallon of a sports drink every hour to keep your carb intake optimal so that your body doesn't have to dip into its energy reserves. All that liquid is probably going to be cumbersome in more ways than one; thus, the bar and gel alternatives.
The study, which was published in the American College of Sports Medicine's journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, involved eight athletes who cycled in three-hour sessions at moderate intensity. Compared to a sports drink, “the bar provided the same amount of energy in a very similar fashion” among the cyclists, says the study's senior author, Asker Jeukendrup, who is a triathlete and director of the Human Performance lab at the University of Birmingham in England.
A bonus about bars and gels, besides portable convenience: They don't cause “gastrointestinal distress,” as the scientists say.
Photo courtesy of Flickr