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I want to kick commercial gels and sports drinks and run with real food. I’m trying to make my own honey gels and fruit-veg purées to recapture some of the convenience of ready-made products. Can you offer any advice?
—Emily, via Facebook
The endurance author and creator of the Vega line of food products Brendan Brazier recommends starting with quick-release sugars, like dates, which are mostly glucose. “Then add a slower-release sugar such as agave or maple syrup (fructose),” he says. The next step is to add some bitterness, so it’s easier to ingest when warm. Brazier suggests lemon and lime zest. For longer, slower events, add a bit of protein and fat, since the body will burn more than just carbohydrates on those outings. “Add coconut oil, cashew milk (just blended raw cashews) and/or hemp protein,” says Brazier.
If you are someone who sweats a lot, add more salt to your concoction (see “What You Need to Know About Electrolytes” for more). The downside to do-it-yourself gels is that the fresh ingredients usually go bad much quicker than store-bought counterparts. So make small batches for big training weeks and keep an eye on them.
This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue. Have trail-running questions for the coach? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.