I have been a long time Gu sports gel user. Gu uses 80% maltodextrin (most flavors) along with 20% sucrose, and this blend has worked really well for me for moderate to high intensity exercise— immediate energy with 10 minutes, and no stomach issues— ever.
Glucose to the muscles
The composition of an energy gel is critical, because only glucose equivalents (maltodextrin) can be turned quickly into glycogen for muscles.
Whereas sucrose and fructose require processing by the liver, and that can be done only at 60-90 cal/hour. For that reason, sucrose/fructose products are poor choices by themselves for moderate to high intensity exercise as they cannot supply immediate energy, but ut they are useful to supplement other energy sources such as maltodextrin (which is quickly available as glucose).
In general, a mix of about 80% maltodextrin and about 20% sucrose/fructose maximizes the amount of total glucose that can be assimilated and metabolized for fuel, assuming adequate hydration.
Therefore, choosing an energy gel appropriate for one’s purposes requires knowing what the proportions of carbohydrate are.
ClifBar ClifShot — mystery composition
Always ready to give another brand a fair shot, I contacted ClifBar about their ClifShot sports gel, after reviewing the uninformative web site— plenty of marketing prose, but not much to go on for making a choice.
What I asked about was the proportion of maltodextrin and sucrose/fructose in ClifShot, so I could evaluate its suitably for my purposes, especially longer events.
On the phone, the ClifBar represented adamantly refused to disclose the maltodextrin/sugar proportions in ClifShot, citing it as a trade secret. I asked how athletes could then judge the suitability of the product... blank out.
The ClifBar position is ludicrous. Sports nutrition requires knowing what’s in something, so its applicability to any purpose can be assessed. That goes for sugars, caffeine, protein, etc. Know that such ingredients are present is not enough; the proportions matter.
My advice is to avoid products from any vendor that won’t explain the basic facts needed to make an informed decision. In short, steer clear of ClifBar products until they figure out they are not serving their customers by making product composition opaque.
Yes, we know it has maltodextrin and cane juice (sucrose), but what proportions?
Nutrition information for ClifShot
HOW MUCH of what type of sugars ClifBar will not disclose
Here’s what Gu Energy Labs says about Gu energy gel
See the Gu Ingredients and Benefits page.
Complex carbs in the form of maltodextrin (70-80% of the complex/simple carbohydrates blend) help you maintain glucose levels over time.
Whether or not you prefer the blend in Gu, at least you know what you’re getting.