Synthetic Energy Gels vs. Natural Energy Gels

I was thinking that athletes as a collective like to be healthy as possible with the choices they make. Some more vehement and vigilant than others.

I then got to thinking that I eat and drink pretty healthy - as naturally as possible. But when it comes to supplements to training all the rules go out the window - specifically energy gels, energy bars, recovery drink/powder. They are GENERALLY completely synthesised and don't sit well in many athletes' stomachs. Not to mention the chemicals that are then introduced to the body.

Is that because that's what is offered to us on the market? Of course we can get natural and organic foods that do a similar (or the same?) thing. But I think it comes back to readily available, convenient and proven products that draw people in that perform the role they want - energy on a long run or ride and recovery after.

My question is: If you could get a totally natural energy gel or energy bar that tasted good, was the same price and did the same as the synthetically produced products would you use it? Surely it's a no-brainer...

The only product I can find in the UK seems to be MuleBar.



  • Not that bothered to be honest.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Not bothered either. As long as they don't give me stomach cramps or worse ill go for any on offer that I know I can trust.

    If they did make them all natural I'm very sure they would end up costing a lot more.
  • I know of a gel that suits me - so any other would be a risk and I'm quite happy as is. If its not broken - why fix it.
  • Makes no difference to me - "natural" stuff is still chemicals made of all the same atoms, just formed in a living system - Just because something is synthesised doesn't necessarily make it bad (often the opposite - most drugs for example are better than their natural ancestors they are based on).  Plenty of "natural" compounds out there that give you cancer too.

    *If* it were available, same price and proven same effect and same taste then sure I might buy it - then it'd be down to which was easier to get hold of when I went shopping.  But no drive because of the "natural" tag.  Same with organic - I won't buy it as it more expensive and there is no evidence it's any better for you - at the same price as any other food, sure I might buy it - but no major incentive.

  • " They are GENERALLY completely synthesised and don't sit well in many athletes' stomachs. Not to mention the chemicals that are then introduced to the body."

    where's the evidence that they are completely synthesised??

  • I like mulebar... generally because my local shop can't shift them at full price, so they are always selling off "short dated" ones cheap !

    Find a gel that works for you and stick with it....

  • Thanks for your opinions.

    fat buddha: Here is the ingredient list for one of the top gel brands.

    Water, Maltodextrin (produced from partial hydrolyses of aspecial variety of Maize), Flavouring, Gelling Agents (Xanthan Gum,Gellan Gum), Antioxidant (Blackcurrant Anthocyanins, (1%), Orangebioflavenoids, Ascorbic Acid),Acidity Regulators (Citric Acid, SodiumCitrate), Caffeine,(1%), Preservatives (Sodium Benzoate, PotassiumSorbate), Sweetener (Acesulfame K, Sucralose), Sodium Chloride

    Synthesised can simply mean combining parts to form a new complex. But in this case most of these ingredients are synthetic or have been highly processed (less water and salt). This is similar for most gels on the market.

  • of those ingredients, I would say that there are very few synthetic ones.  Sweeteners definitely, preservatives and acidity regulators maybe but those chemicals (and a couple of others) can also come from natural sources so hw do you prove synthetic?  and whether synthetic or natural makes no difference chemically or biologically.

    Maltodextrin would be the major component of the gel (bar water of course) and that comes from a natural source (maize) that has been processed to break the starch down into a more usable and energy producing form.  what's wrong with that??  even if that was replaced by glucose or sucrose, they would have come from EITHER natural or sythetic sources - natural probably however as it's cheaper.

    of the other components, the gelling agents and antioxidants come from natural sources (processed of course).

    what we eat every day is chemical in some form or fashion and most of it is processed in some fashion (unless you eat everything raw) - even if you cook from fresh, you are processing the food to make it more tasty, edible etc.  

    if you would prefer to choose products that are not so highly processed or come solely from natural sources, then that's your choice but please get the facts straight when making claims about products being "generally completely synthesised"



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