When do you take gels for Training?

So far I have avoided gels of any kind, except for longer bike training sessions for the transition to running.

How often, or rather with which workouts do you take a gel, is it really essential, does it really help?

There are even gels for before training!

Do you only notice the difference when you take some or do you even notice an improvement?

What about the weight gain?

as I said, I have absolutely no experience with it!

They’re useful if you want to get some carbs onboard fast. For example, on a trainer ride first thing before you’ve digested your breakfast, smash a gel and have the glucose in your system by the time the warm up’s finished.

Generally they’re more convenient to get carbs in on a whim. If you feel terrible during a session, you may not want to get off the bike, make up some home made carb mix (usually involves boiling the kettle to disolve sugars into water properly). Keep a couple by the trainer to guzzle when needed.

Also for longer outdoor rides, I generally take 1 or 2 in my jersey to hold off any pre-bonk vibes. I did a 4.5 hour ride last weekend and on the hour mark I had real food for the first 2, and gels for the second 2 as well as 2 bottles with 90g of carbs, which I sipped throughout. The beauty is, if you don’t need a gel, you don’t have to throw it away!

If you’re training hard enough, then I wouldn’t worry about weight - these things take care of themselves IMO. On my endurance ride I burned over 4000 kjs, so no way I could even physically eat enough food that day to keep the cals out of deficit.

For me, there’s no difference between a gel and carb mix if you consume the same amount of carbs out of it, so notwithstanding the above, choose your poison!

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Only really needed for longer sweet spot or threshold intervals. Don’t need them for endurance shorter than 2:00 hours (can vary) or VO2max. However taking them during VO2MAX can help reduce the RPE, but you don’t really need them.

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The only benefit they offer me is ease of consuming/convenience of storage. So I only really use them for racing


I’ve started using them for all training sessions of 90min+ (give or take.) this could be just bike, Bike/Run or long run.

The reason for this is I have seperated out my nutrition…

  • Water to Drink
  • Salt Tabs
  • Gels for fule

I used to only use Gels for racing or really long sessions but found I was having gut problems. So I was advised to train with them - train my gut to cope with gels.

The frequency I use them varies session by session, form every 30mins to every 20mins (in a long race)

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thanks for all your answers, think now i have enough input!

i train mostly in the afternoon, so 3-4h after my lunch, so i think i have a good advice now!

the only thing, i often have a prob with a long run in the morning when i can’t do a breakfast 1-2 hours before, you think i can use a gel instead of a breakfast for long runs in the morning and run immediatly?

I normally grab a sweat, strong coffee and a piece of chocolate before heading out the door - get into the groove then start my gel regime at 20mins.

Also on top of that - I make sure I dont go to bed carb depleted the night before

For training…never. only races personally


Everyone’s different when it comes to fueling choices but I don’t understand the fear of fueling a workout. I take gels whenever I know I’ll need one. When the ride or workout had a duration of 2 hours or more I know that I need to take in carbs to perform the way that I want to. Shorter duration high intensity efforts as well. Sometimes I will avoid gels or drink mixes entirely and rely on solid food choices or nothing. When I start using gels etc it’s like rocket power. Don’t believe the marketing hype though, research yourself and find what works for you. There’s no shortage of fueling information on the TR podcast and you’re only going to hear the same thing, fuel the workout.

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Depending on how long your ‘long run’ is and what your stomach is comfortable with, I would probably still eat a breakfast and then if I find that I don’t feel good until 30+ min into the run because that breakfast hasn’t hit my system, then I would consider using a gel. I would probably still eat the breakfast but then just take the gel soon before heading out the door. My theory being that the gel will help to spike your blood sugar at the start but the food in your stomach will slightly blunt the spike and smooth it out for the rest of your run.

How long is your run and at what time?

You may find that a decent meal the previous evening is enough

arround 100 til 120 minutes, but without breakfast nearly impossible, i need 3 strong coffees in the morning to really wake up, mostly i eat cottage cheese with 3 crushed bananas and
cinnamon, but then i have to wait arround 1 hour to start

EDITH: mostly i wake up arround 05:00 in the morning, so pallend to run arround 06:00

I don’t think 3 bananas should be the difference between a run being possible and impossible, especially at an endurance pace, atleast in my experience.

My approach would be to eat a good meal with carbs the night before, and then take a snack out with me on the run in case I need a top up

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Cottage cheese is gonna slow your digestion down too…

For morning training I try to eat something before I head out. Usually a small bowl of oatmeal or a bun/sandwich. 1.5-2hours into my ride, I will take a gel. That will get me through a 4hours ride. Depending on intensity might grab something at 3hour mark.

For morning indoor session, it will be the same but instead of gels, I will have gummy bears on standby for a boost. More cost effective. lol

For runs, I can’t run with food in my stomach. I havent tried gel as I dont run as much anymore.

For night rides less than 3hours, I dont need any gel as I do it after dinner.

Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

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Personally, here is my routine for harder/longer FTP workouts which I’ve been doing a lot lately:

  • 15-30 minutes before ride – banana;
  • during/after 20-ish minute warmup – gel or 1/2 package of Cliff blocks;
  • during 3-minute rest period - additional gel or the second half of the Cliff blocks, eaten near the half-way point of total interval work;
  • constantly during the workout – drinking 2-2.5 total bottles of cold Skratch labs hydration mix, 1-1.5 scoops per bottle.

I did the rough math on a recent nearly 2-hour FTP workout (warmup, plus 5x15 or 2x35), in which TR reported I burned 1400-1500 calories. In total, I consumed between 600-700 calories total during the ride. If you count the banana before the ride, I may be somewhere in the 800-900 calorie total to “fuel the workout.” In terms of carbohydrates, it’s probably in the neighborhood of 120-150 grams. Whether I actually “need” that much or not, it has definitely helped to lower the RPE and give me the confidence that I have enough carbs on board to complete the work.