Cycling Nutrition - Jelly Babies or Gels?

by Graeme Hilditch

Cycling Nutrition can be confusing.

With so many different opinions on what you should and shouldn’t eat whilst in the saddle, deciding which nutrition strategy to use when out on a long training ride isn’t easy - especially if you are new to the world of cycling.

So what should you be munching on to keep your energy levels up and help you avoid “bonking” (the term used for low blood sugar levels) in the latter stages of your ride?

Like so many answers in sports nutrition, there is more than one. No single nutrition strategy is necessarily “better” than another one, it all depends on you as the individual.

A common dilemma facing new or novice cyclists training for their first sportive, is whether to choose sweets to snack on during rides, or if the aggressively marketed “Energy Gels” are the better option.

Here’s our take on it.

Jelly Babies or Energy Gels?

As far as GH Training are concerned the answer is simple - whatever works for you!

We’ve helped to train countless people for cycling events, many of whom have very different preferences when it comes to their nutrition.

For their convenience, low cost and taste, some riders opt for Jelly babies or other similar sugary sweets, whereas others dare not venture out for a ride without 2-3 Energy Gels in their back pocket.

One notable example, is someone we helped to prepare for the RideLondon 100. He trained and raced snacking on jelly babies and flapjacks, because that’s what he liked and was familiar with.

He finished in the top 8%.

Avoiding Abdominal Cramps

The key thing to remember when eating gels or sweets during a ride is not to consume too many in any given period.

Our digestive systems can only assimilate a certain amount of sugar in a given period and if you consume too much, it can cause uncomfortable stomach cramps and severely impact your ability to ride with any level of comfort.

For this reason, Gels are ideal, because the guidelines are that you should consume no more than 3 Energy Gels in an hour, to avoid “overdosing” on sugar and risk abdominal upset.

Jelly babies on the other hand are not as easy to measure out, meaning that you run the risk that if you inadvertently have a few too many, it may bring on stomach cramps.

Although both choices of Jelly Babies and Energy Gels are good ones, if you are new to cycling and want to avoid the risk of abdominal upset, then it’s worth looking into buying some Energy Gels.

Science in Sport manufacture a range of flavours and are a very popular brand with recreational and professional cyclists.

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