Making a Connection With Your Gels


I’m not saying that cyclists need to take energy gels or bloks, but if you’re going to take them I do feel that you need to use the ones that work best with your body.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t promote a product just because they support this website or pay to advertise here.  A perfect example of this is my connection with Clif Bar and their products.  They are a great supporter of Loving the Bike, but there is absolutely no requirement by me to do any articles or online promotion for them as part of this relationship.  When I talk about them, it’s simply because of how I feel as a customer.

A couple years ago I had flirted with gels, but every time I took them I seemed to get a cramp in my stomach while out on a ride. Because of this, I rarely used them.  About a year ago I formed this great relationship with Clif Bar and have been given the opportunity to try out all their products.  I started taking their Clif Shot, but was a little concerned that they would cause the same problems I had experienced with other brands in the past.

I’m completely honest when I say that the Clif Shot is the first gel to not cause any stomach issues for me.  Because of this (and because I am overloaded with them) I use them on more rides than I probably need to.  I started off taking them only on long rides, but now take them on days when I feel I need a little extra boost (physical or psychological).

The same thing goes for their Shot Roks.  I’ve had no stomach issues with them either.  Shot Bloks are quite similar to Shots in that they provide carbohydrates to supplement exercising muscle glycogen supplies, but I tend to prefer taking the Shots.  The one advantage of the bloks is that you can take them in smaller doses and space them out as needed.

If you’d like to learn more about how to schedule shot bloks or gels on a ride, here is what our nutritionist Kelli recommends (3 Bloks are about the equivalent of 1 Gel or Shot): Scheduling Shot Bloks.

I have nothing against the other brands out there and I’m sure you’ll personally connect to one in the way that I did with Clif.  Try out a whole bunch of different types and see what works best with your body.

On top of the stomach cramps there were also some brands that I just didn’t really like the taste or consistency of.  Each brand seems to have their secret formula so you’ll also need to take a look at what they put in their ingredients in making your decision as well.  Some include caffeine, ginseng, honey, and other additives so use the ones that agree with your body and include the things you’re personally okay with.

I’m not here to tell you why you should use gels, just wanted to explain that all gels are not equal.  If you’re going to use them…..make your selection based on connection rather than good marketing.

Enjoy Your Ride

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13 Responses to “ Making a Connection With Your Gels ”

  1. Martin Miller Poynter on November 8, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I never use gels just whole fruit, apples and bananas.

  2. Paul Kirby on November 2, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I’ve tried Gu and Clif gels and blocks. I like the stuff from Clif better. I also really like their bars…well, some of them. Thanks for the review.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Yeah, I’m totally serious when I say all the things I do about Clif. I may be one of their ambassadors, but that’s not why I promote them. I like their products and what they put out there. Thanks for your comments, Paul.

  3. Shawn McAfee on October 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Darryl, it is so great how open and honest you are with your product reviews. That’s one of the best things about loving the bike, I never feel like I’m being sold to when reading it.

    Personally I have only had stomach problems after using a Hammer brand gel. Every other gel has set well with me.

    I am particularly fond of the Honey Stinger gels though I use the Powerbar gels most often since I get them at a major discount from my local race team.

    I am an new convert to those Clif Bloks though, the samples you gave me are amazing.

    Thanks again man!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      I kind of feel like a drug dealer….I gave you a just a little sample of the bloks and now I’m going to get you addicted for life. Hahahahaha.

  4. Michael Moriarity on October 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    All – I’m in the process of researching just fruit, and maybe a little caffeine from time to time on the trail and on the road. Just blend it and/or concentrate it and put it in a little gel-sized baggy (available online in several sizes). Bite a hole in a corner and squeeze it out just as you would a gel. You can make your own fruit juice concentrate pretty easily. Just Google it. Also, medjool dates, bananas, date/nut bars and chia/fruit bars are pretty awesome. Raw is the way to go if your stomach gets upset! All these suggestions get used as fuel super fast! Don’t forget electrolytes. Pill form or in your drink, you need them for long distances and super hot days. Also, just like gels, you need water to re-hydrate concentrated fruit juice.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      I’m all for raw, so i’m with you on your reasoning for this. I’ll check with Kelli and see what her thoughts are on some of this. Great comments, Michael. Thanks.

  5. James on October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I started using honey stinger when it first came out because I liked the idea of having honey used in the ingredients. But then I found that I didn’t really like the taste or consistency and I also didn’t feel they were doing much for me. I switched to clif and sometimes hammer and found both of these to taste good and they seem to provide more benefit to my riding and endurance.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks James….good marketing and popularity are great, but I stand by my opinion of finding the right gel that works for your own body. Glad you found something that worked for you.

  6. Tom on October 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I saw the title and thought you were going to recommend the best type of gels for cyclists but now I see that it depends on the make up of each person. It’s good to see advice like this instead of just promoting the brand you like best. I’ve tried a few different gels but will try out more and see what works best for me. Thank You.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Yeah, I don’t think it makes sense for someone to tell you which product is best. I really do feel it’s an individualized thing and that one gel type will work better for you than others. Thanks, Tom.

  7. Nick on October 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I had the same problem with a brand I was using. Then I switched to a different one and haven’t had problems since. I pass this same advice on to other cycling friends I know.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

      Thanks Nick. As with many things with Nutrition, we have to find out what works best for us personally. Thanks for your comment.


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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to

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