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Energy Gels & stomach cramps...

Does anyone have any ideas about realistic, effective alternatives to gels that won't leave you feeling like you've eaten a brick? Every time I've tried gels (so far only GU gells in fairness) I get savage stomach cramps as soon as I finish that last a good 24 hours! It might be I don't like GU or maybe that gels in general aren't for me but I'm trying to figure out a good alternative just in case....I can't see eating flapjacks every 1/2 hour on a 1/2 iron being a feasible option. Thanks


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Be glad the cramps are after not during.

    Try different manufacturers gels. Iso or Isotonic gels generally don't require water with them (that doesn't mean you shouldn't drink if you feel thirsty) but most others do. So check out the type. Do your gels have caffeine? Maybe give it a miss next time

    Could try energy drinks instead of gels but be wary of mixing the two as too much carb per hour can cause distress. What about more solid food such as energy bars rather than flapjack as less fibre to process. Some use jelly babies or similar.

    Practice lots in training and see what works. The solution is likely to be unique to you
  • Thanks I'll give the bars and isotonics a go.

    The cramps (so far) have always been after but they're pretty unbearable at their worst. If it happened during it'd make completing a serious struggle.

    So if I can find a way around then I'll definitely take it! Although possibly I just need to toughen up!

    Yeah the gels I've used have quite a lot of caffeine so possibly that is the issue...although they're also pretty thick so that may not help either!

    Thanks again!
  • I had a similar problem although my gels didn't contain caffeine. I have switched to Nakd bars without problems although I am also experimenting with Soreen bars.

    Hope you get it sorted ????
  • Gu gels from my experience taste great but are incredibly thick. If you want to persist with the brand (and I think they are great) drink water with them. The more solid/less liquid a gel, the moisture it takes from the gut to break it down and absorb, which is likely what will cause the cramps.
  • I haven't tried the GU gels personally, but I've never had a problem with the SIS Go gels and stomach cramps. As Harry says the solution will likely be unique to you so try loads of things: different brands of gel, water bottle, hydrate more on the bike and use less gels on the run....

    I'd be really interested to see what you find out?

  • Thanks all, really appreciate the feedback!!

    I'm going to buy a bunch of different gels, test them & see what happens, then switch to non-gel and see what works best. I'm hoping different gels will work as they seem to be the most convenient.

    The GU gels are super thick so possibly it's down to not taking enough water with them but I'll test that.

    I'm also a big fan of malt loaf so I'll give Soreen a bash too!

    Hopefully I can find something that works but I'll keep you all posted with how it goes!!

    Thanks again everyone, very much appreciated!

  • risris Posts: 1,002

    similarly to a lot of other comments above, i find the standard gels too thick, particularly for running with. the hydro/go type seem to be more usable (high 5, powergel and sis do them). on the bike i don't mind so much but still tend to take the gels with water. 

    i really like soreen for cycling - sliced loaf with butter put back in its packet before stuffing it into a jersey pocket. i'm a little mindful of how much fibre there is in a loaf, though! 

    for a half iron i've used energy bars/soreen on the bike and switched to gels that i know i can stomach on the run. i usually carry a couple of gels for the bike in case i get fed up with the taste of the bars or want a little hit just before i come into t2. 

  • For bike nutrition you cant beat my ultimate flapjacks... 


  • Cheers buddy, I'll give those a go!! They look pretty awesome....
  • I did Day in the Lakes half Iron distance and started getting stomach cramps in the last 5km. This was down to mixing my normal SIS gels (which don't require water) and my brothers energy powder that I had never used before race day (bad drills)

    Tip 1. Train in good time with gels you're going to use.

    2. Alternatively identity what gels are given at the food stations on race day...saves money and weight, storage etc. Plus if you lose some you can supplement yourself.

    3. Combine solid food with gels

    4. Limit the caffeine on empty stomach
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