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13 Best Running Gels to Fuel your Workouts (2019)

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Running gels are a really convenient way to replenish the energy which is depleted while you’re running. They're basically a supplement which tops up the carbohydrate stores in your body that start to run short once you train longer than around an hour. 

If your run lasts longer than 90 minutes, running gels (or energy gels) give a much-needed energy boost that will keep the power in your pace. Most people start to use energy gels for half marathon training. 

Check out the best running gels below and see the benefits of them for yourself. But first, we’ll quickly explain how they work.

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What Do Running Gels Do?

While you’re running, your body uses fat and carbs for fuel. It takes a while for your body to break fat down into useable energy, so fat isn’t really an effective source of fuel for a bigger race like a marathon or half-marathon.

Instead, your body uses carbs as the primary source of fuel. Your body stores carbs as energy in your muscles and your liver, this energy storage is called Glycogen. When you exercise, your body converts Glycogen into glucose which your body uses for energy.

The problem is that these stores of carbs are limited. Once you run over around 90 minutes, your energy stores become depleted leaving you feeling fatigued. 

Enter, the running gel! Running gels provide a concentrated source of energy, restoring the vital carbohydrates that have been depleted and giving you the vital spike in energy that will fuel you to the finish line.

 

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Best Running Gels UK

#1 KMC Mint Caffeine Gel

Kendall mint running gel

Amazon rating: 5 stars 

Price: £15.99 for 12 gels

This gel from the Kendal Mint Co has everything you could possibly want and more.

We’d definitely put this up there with the best because it’s packed with plenty of carbs (27 grams per gel) and contains 100mg of caffeine for added alertness as well as energy. 

If you’re looking for an option which is gluten-free, vegan and contains hydrating electrolytes, then this is the running gel you need to try. This gel also contains B Vitamins 3, 5, 6 and 12, which are effective at assisting with the breakdown of carbs into energy.

Probably the best thing about this gel is the natural mint flavouring. If you're like us and you find some of the fruity flavoured gels a bit sickly, this is definitely one to try. 

As well as being a completely different taste to other energy gels for running, mint has natural benefits for relaxing your muscles – leading to quicker digestion, and as a result, speedier energy release! The natural mint ingredient is calming and soothing and can even increase your pain threshold.

#2 SIS Go Isotonic Gel

sis running gels

Amazon rating: 4.4 stars

Price: £14.00 for 10 gels

If you’re completely new to using running gels, this option from SIS is a good place to start.

SIS, or ‘Science in Sport’ have developed a range of high-quality energy supplements that maximise performance. SIS is a leading sports nutrition brand so its unsurprising that this product made it onto our list of the best running gels in the UK.

SIS has created a range of isotonic gels for running, so they feel a little watered down compared to the texture of others. Because they’re isotonic, the flavour wasn’t quite as strong as other gels. But, in terms of the important stuff, each tube still contains 22 grams of carbohydrates, so they do the job just as well.

Isotonic gels are really easy to digest, and they ensure an efficient energy boost! They’re a good place to start if you’re new to running nutrition because the gel isn’t an overwhelming odd texture. And because you don’t have to drink water with them, it’s good to experiment with an isotonic gel to avoid getting bloated from drinking too much.

Because the gel is isotonic, you don’t need to take it with water. This helps you feel the benefits fast and it prevents you from over-drinking. Avoiding over-drinking is really important to consider in your running nutrition plan because on along run your body shuts your stomach down so drinking too much could make you seriously bloated or sick. 

This variety pack is relatively cheap for running gels in comparison to some of the others on this list. The pack comes with a range of fruity flavours, including Apple, Lemon & Lime, Tropical, Orange, Blackcurrant, Pineapple, and Pink Grapefruit. 

#3 PowerBar PowerGel

power gel energy gel

Amazon rating: 3.3 stars 

Price: £1.49 each

This one from Powerbar has been designed to help you reach your peak performance. Each PowerBar gel contains 26 grams of carbs as well as extra sodium which is the electrolyte that is lost when you sweat.

We tried the Strawberry & Banana flavoured gel which we really liked because they were a lot less of sickly-sweet fruit flavour for running gels in comparison to other brands.

The best part about this gel is the clever ‘trash chain’ design. The packaging has been designed so that when you tear the gel open the top of the packaging doesn’t rip completely off and end up on the floor. If you’re conscious of littering, we recommend this as one of the best running gels for you! 

#4 Huma Chia Gel 

huma energy gel

Amazon rating: 4.0 stars

Price: £21.99 for 12 gels

Huma running gels are made of finely milled chia seeds and they contain all 9 essential Amino Acids. They’re possibly the healthiest option on this list, packed with nutrients, antioxidants and high-quality protein.

All Huma products are 100% all-natural and they’re suitable for vegans, gluten-free and dairy-free. And, because all of the ingredients are real foods, they won’t upset your stomach like some of the options with added sugars, artificial sweeteners or chemicals.

A lot of people prefer to stick to a whole-food nutrition plan rather than using artificial substances, but when it comes to training for or competing in a big race, it’s not really practical.

The best energy gels for running are small and lightweight, so really handy and easy to carry, but still packed with all of the essentials you’ll need to fuel your run. If you want to steer clear of chemicals without having to compromise on convenience, Huma has created the best running gel for you. 

Our favourite flavour was definitely the Strawberry, so much that we’d consider going for a box of just the Strawberry flavour next time! We’d probably stick to the mixed box, though, because as well as the option of 6 different flavours, you also get a few caffeine options, too. The Raspberry flavour has 25mg of caffeine, and the Café Mocha has 50mg, perfect to speed up the spike in energy and give yourself that extra push when you need it most.

These running gels are a little on the expensive side in comparison to others but that really is reflected in the quality of the product.

#5 Clif Shot Gels

cliff running gel image

Amazon rating: 3.9 stars 

Price: £6.45 for 5 gels

The mixed pack of Clif gels are possibly the best energy gels for marathon runners because they come in a really good variety of non-caffeine and caffeine gels.

If you need that extra caffeine boost to get you through a long run, Clif has the best running gels with caffeine – the double expresso has 100mg of caffeine in a 34g sachet.

The rest of the flavours in the pack have a variety of different caffeine contents. The Razz (Raspberry) and the Chocolate flavour are caffeine-free, the Citrus flavour has 25mg of caffeine and the Mocha has 50mg of caffeine. The 100mg of caffeine in the double expresso is a lot so we loved having some caffeine-free options in the same pack.

As an added bonus, the gels are made of entirely natural ingredients and contain the essential electrolytes Sodium and Potassium.

#6 Named Sport Gel

sport energy gel image

Amazon rating: N/A

Price: £18.75 for 15 gels 

We loved the taste of the Cola & Lime Named Sport energy gel. The Named Sport gels are caffeine gels so they’re perfect for the final boost in energy that will get you over the finish line.   

The carbs in this gel will give you a gradual increase in energy so that the benefits are continuous. In addition to carbs, the extra caffeine kick will heighten your concertation and alertness, helping you to get your head in the game when you need to most. 

This gel is vegan, as well as lactose-free and gluten-free. You can take it without water before and during training depending on when you need an increase in your energy levels.

#7 HIGH5 Gels

high 5 energy gel image

Amazon rating: 4.4 stars

Price: £24.40 for 20 gels

High5 are another really popular option for running gels in the UK, they’re made with real fruit juice, so they taste great.

These gels are pretty similar to the SIS gel above, both are a similar size and contain 23g carbohydrates. We would say that this one is better because it’s a lot smoother and not as gloopy in texture.

Each gel is only 40g. We’d say the best running gels are the smaller ones because most still have enough carbs to use for energy but they’re easier to stomach. Most people can’t stomach too much liquid once they get into a long run, mainly because your body diverts your blood towards your active muscles, slowing down the absorption rate of your stomach. So, it’s best to go for a smaller gel, especially if you’re new to using them.

Another great thing about this pack is that it comes with a really good mixture of flavours as well as non-caffeine and caffeine gels. The variety is perfect whether you just want to try a caffeine gel without having to buy a whole box of them, or if you like to have the odd caffeine gel in-between other gels for an extra energy push. 

#8 HIGH5 Aqua Gel

high 5 aqua running gel

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Price: £25.00 for 20 gels

If you’re not keen on the consistency of gels, the Aqua version of the HIGH5 Gel might be the best option for you. This gel is more of a sports drink consistency so it’s not gloopy – something that makes a lot of people apprehensive about running gels. This aqua gel is a lot easier to consume and the consistency is really easy to swallow without having to drink a lot of water with it.

The HIGH5 Aqua is 66g, so slightly bigger than the standard HIGH5 gel. This is so that the gel still has all of the same benefits as the original with the more pleasant sports drink consistency. Each gel still has 23 grams of carbs, definitely enough to give you that extra push!  

#9 GU Energy Gels

gu energy gel image

Amazon rating: 4.5 stars

Price: £21.60 for 12 gels

This is a bigger pack than the others in the list so they might seem more expensive in comparison to others, but per gel, these are still a pretty reasonable option. 

In the pack of 12, there is a mixture of six different flavours. Unlike other brands like SIS and HIGH5, these gels aren’t just fruit flavoured. After a while, all of those flavours kind of taste the same. The variety of flavours from GU stopped us from getting fed up with the raspberry routine we got into when we were training with the HIGH5 gels. 

These running gels are the perfect way to maintain your energy levels during training and on the big day. The sachets are the perfect portable size, packed with energy-dense calories to keep you going. 

As well as being up there with the best energy gels for runners, GU running gels are also gluten-free and suitable for vegans.

#10 KETOActive Energy Gel

ketoactive running gel image

Amazon rating: 5.0 stars

Price: £12.50 for 10 gels

Following a Paleo, or Keto diet? Check out Keto Active for the best running gels for your diet.

A benefit of the KETOActive gels is that they double up as a sports energy drink. You can have the sachet alone like the other gels in this list or you can add it to your bottle of water and shake it for an isotonic sports drink.

This gel is slightly different from the others because it uses MCT oil as an alternative to carbs for an energy source. If you’re not used to the keto diet, this gel might not be so easy on your stomach so definitely try this gel in training before you use it for a big race.

#11 TORQ Running Gels 

torq running gels image

Amazon rating: 3.9 stars

Price: £24.00 for 15 gels 

Of course, we had to try the Torq energy gels for running, they’re possibly the most popular gel out there. 

Every gel in this pack is a different flavour so there’s enough variety to keep it mixed for your entire session. The variety is great, all of the flavours are a bit of a twist on the standard gel flavours you find, like the apple crumble rather than just plain apple.

If you do find a favourite (probably the Rhubarb & Custard – trust us, it’s really good), there’s the option to buy individual flavour packs, too.

A lot of people who are new to using running gels follow the ‘Torq Fuelling System’ which is basically Torqs’ own nutrition guide to how to use their products. The guide is really useful, it explains which products to have, how often and when. 

As well as the handy guide, one of the best things about the Torq gels is the smooth texture. The Torq energy gels for runners are hypertonic so they’re a good option if you aren’t a fan of the gels with a more watery consistency. But, hypertonic gels won’t give you as an efficient energy boost – something to consider in your training plan.

#12 OTE Sports Gel 

OTE energy gels image

Amazon rating: 5.0 stars 

Price: £1.50 each

If you’re looking for a product that’s flavoured with real fruit concentrates, then OTE has the best running gel for you. This particular gel is really tasty and refreshing thanks to the natural orange flavouring.

In addition to 20 grams of carbs, the gels contain essential electrolytes, including sodium, so they replenish the salt levels in your body which are diminished when you sweat. 

The most unique part of this gel is the two-tier tear design. You can choose to tear to sip or tear to gulp, depending on how you want to spread out your energy supply.

#13 Stealth Advanced Isotonic Gel

stealth running gel image

Amazon rating: 3.8 stars

Price: £17.50 for 14 gels

The Stealth products are also isotonic gels for running, so they provide a supply of energy quicker than the likes of the Torq gels which are hypertonic. They have a higher water content than the majority of other gels. This means you can consume them without having to wash them down with a bottle of water, and they’re lighter on the stomach and easy to digest. 

Each of these gels contains 22 grams of carbohydrates and they're made without any artificial colours or flavouring.

The Stealth gels are also suitable for vegans, and they’re naturally flavoured. This gel is the tropical flavour but there are tons of other options out there. But without a variety pack, committing to 14 gels in one flavour is a bit of a risk. So Stealth isn't the best choice for energy gels for half marathon runners who want some variety in their nutrition.

Top Tips 

If you’re new to using gels, there are a few things to know about taking them and a couple of things to look out to find the best option for you. 

Firstly, we can’t stress enough that the first time you take a gel should not be on the day of the big race! We’ve tried and tested tons of gels to find those that are easiest on your stomach, but everyone will digest them differently. Start using gels as part of your training to find your favourite.

It’s also important to note that taking a gel won’t give you an instant energy boost. Caffeine gels will give a spike in alertness, but your body has to breakdown carbs into Glycogen before the gel will provide you with any extra energy. This is another reason why you should incorporate running gels into your training plan. Training with gels will help you to figure out when you need to take them. Finding the right timing for you is key to your peak performance.

In terms of things to look out for in a gel, obviously, taste is a huge one. But, practically speaking you need to prioritise the gels with the right amount of carbs and those that agree with your stomach. It’s also worth considering some of the added extras like the caffeine options. For us, the best energy gel for running also has to have added essential electrolytes or B Vitamins, all of which will provide you with extra energy.

If you have any dietary requirements, we’ve highlighted the best running gels in the UK to suit you. We've tried and tested a range of gels to suit different diets. That included vegan-friendly, gluten-free and dairy-free options as well as gels that are suitable for a paleo or keto diet.

Before You Go!

Hopefully you found our running gels comparison helpful! Which is your favourite? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

If you liked this article, you'll love our guide to the best energy bars of 2019.

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Written by Abbie Watkins

Qualified Personal Trainer & Fitness Blogger

Abbie is a work-hard, play-hard qualified personal trainer and blogger. She loves a scenic run and a good upbeat exercise class. You can usually find her on the front row of a spin class on a Saturday morning.