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Energy Gels and Maltodextrin

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 04, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Hey there Paleo Pals, I am a male 45, have been engaged in mid to long distance sports for a decade now. I went paleo over a year ago and LOVE IT!!!. I have lost body fat, feel better..etc. I have layed off doing the chronic cardio training for half marathons but have been doing triathlons for 2 years. I was doing sprints which did not require too much chronic cardio. This year I decided to bump up to Olympic distance. Because of the bumped up training, I reverted back to using energy gels, E-Gels being my favorite. I realized I needed some energy on the go as eating a sweet potato during my training would not feel so good on my stomach. Now to the meat of my question. Maltodextrin is and ingredient in most gels. I understand it is a sweetener and will cause insulin spikes. My body relies on the other key ingredients in the gels, ie. potastium, sodium, b6 etc...but what about the maltodextrin? I know it may not be paleo approved. How bad it is for me? I believe I am burning it off during a race/training before it can be stored and kick my insulin into high gear.

What is your opinions on Maltodextrin and is anybody else using gels just for race or race training?

Kind Regards, Richard

86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 18, 2013
at 06:24 PM

Ya I bring bananas on my runs usually, but these packets are much more convenient. And I like the "puree" idea because it makes it that much easier for my body to use quickly

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on April 18, 2013
at 06:20 PM

They had these at the race expo in Boston this year, interesting, but I still wasn't sold on them as a "natural" fuel source enough to put it in my body. Stick to the whole banana IMHO!

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5 Answers

1
048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

on April 04, 2013
at 03:44 PM

I've used them on the Marathon twice. I see them as a compromise. What I mean is that I do have the believe, as most people here, that simple sugars are best avoided and try not to touch the stuff as much as possible, at least from a health point of view.

BUT, when you're running beyond lactate threshold, or not beyond but for so much time that your muscle and liver glycogen reserves will get really depleted for sure (as it is in the marathon when ran at a demanding pace), then it's unquestionable that a fast sugar sugar deliver will boost performance. That's why it's used in the gels targeting endurance sports or in some pre-workout formulas for other training like fitness and the likes.

The point here, as I see it, would be to try to not get never ever through that point where you are forced to have the gels. On regular trainings, I've found that this is most likely never. I've done some 30+ Km runs at near marathon pace without any gel and not nearing the wall feeling at all. But this will depend a lot on how adapted are you into using your body fat stores in order to get your ATP to fuel your running.

If you either:

  • a) are pretty relying on high-carb meals or
  • b) not doing lots of endurance running without carbs or in a fasted state to get used or
  • c) not been into long endurance sports for very long

... then chances are that you rely too much in carbs to fuel your run. Trying to get rid of them as much as possible should aid in your running economy in the long run, and start using more fat instead of available glycogen, although common sense may come to think the opposite.

So, if the training session will be hard, having some starchy carbs or several amount of fruit 2 to 3 hours prior to the session should suffice. Then carb-loading post workout may come in handy if you are starting to feel pretty drained, and will sure help with recovery.

Then, only on the key race day I think that putting a fast-acting-packaged-formula from some manufacturer may have a real benefit, because on that day you're willing to get the most out of your performance, and putting this before you're health concerns (probably). If you're doing ultra-events, then as the pace is not likely to be so aggressive, then maybe you can afford to have some solid meal as nuts or fruit, then there's also no much need for hi-tech gels IMHO.

If you haven't, you could have a look at the 'The Paleo Diet for Athletes' from Loren Cordain, you may find it useful!

0
Ec77127d82e0733b2faa70c07c0cee23

on September 02, 2013
at 10:20 PM

Hey Richard,

I'm right there with you. I love e-gels, and I still take them with me as a back up, in case things start getting hairy and i start going through emotional ups and downs nearing the 'bonk'.

To your question - how bad maltodextrin is.. sorry I don't have the answer, I have been wondering the same myself. It's a fairly complex carbohydrate and it will not send you down the sugar high spiral, releasing energy little by little. If you race only a couple times a year - I say take it with you. It's your race day, and if your stomach tolerates maltodextrin, don't let us be the paleo police here. You can eat perfect for the rest of the day. It's not like our endurance events are paleo in the first place :) - but we eat right to be able to do this.

I do 12+ hour events where I have to integrate a lot more real food then just quick gels, here's my plan:

  1. Healthy alternative to the above mentioned Powerbar product (which has a couple weird ingredients) = baby food packets available at any supermarket – 1x every hour (about 80 calories, and only natural ingredients). Yep - they are a lot heavier than gels, but very mild for stomach.

  2. Dates – 1 or 2 every hour

  3. Cantaloupes, watermelons and berries – every 2 – 4 hours at the aid stations if available. I also mash strawberries and stuff them into the hammer gel flasks and drop them at aid stations.

  4. Coconut water and grapes

I wrote a blog post on this with more details: http://www.paleoflip.com/bacon-sweet-potato-muffins-and-ultramarathon-paleo-snacks/

0
C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

on April 18, 2013
at 06:18 PM

I run Marathon (just ran the 2013 Boston Marathon on Monday), have been running marathon for three years, paleo for almost a year now and fuel as follows:

Week leading up to race: food as per usual, no changes made, lots of clean eating!

24 hours prior to race: this is when I quit eating a lot of fruits and vegetables with high fiber content - it just goes right through me once I start running!

Pre-race dinner: SUSHI! White rice and raw fish makes for EXCELLENT pre-race "carb-loading".

Morning of race: Coffee, Sweet potato (about 1 1/2C mashed), 3 eggs 1 hour prior to race: 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

DURING race: dates and water, banana if available on course or given out by spectators.

Post race: Banana, sometimes a chocolate milk (not paleo!), and resume eating as per usual just in much larger quantities for a day or so!

0
61848fb3934eb0f08abacf0b920bf81b

on April 18, 2013
at 06:14 PM

I run Marathon (just ran the 2013 Boston Marathon on Monday), have been running marathon for three years, paleo for almost a year now and fuel as follows:

Week leading up to race: food as per usual, no changes made, lots of clean eating!

24 hours prior to race: this is when I quit eating a lot of fruits and vegetables with high fiber content - it just goes right through me once I start running!

Night before race: SUSHI! White rice and raw fish makes for EXCELLENT pre-race "carb-loading".

Morning of race: Coffee, Sweet potato (about 1 1/2C mashed), 3 eggs 1 hour prior to race: 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

DURING race: dates and water, banana if available on course or given out by spectators.

Post race: Banana, chocolate milk, and resume eating as per usual just in much larger quantities for a day or so!

0
86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 18, 2013
at 04:27 PM

Check this out...although it may be lacking, it's natural and tastes delicious

http://us.powerbar.com/Products/performance-energy-blends-banana-blueberry

86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 18, 2013
at 06:24 PM

Ya I bring bananas on my runs usually, but these packets are much more convenient. And I like the "puree" idea because it makes it that much easier for my body to use quickly

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on April 18, 2013
at 06:20 PM

They had these at the race expo in Boston this year, interesting, but I still wasn't sold on them as a "natural" fuel source enough to put it in my body. Stick to the whole banana IMHO!

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