Ask Grettie: Sports Gel Alternatives

Gretchen April 8, 2011 4
Ask Grettie: Sports Gel Alternatives


I am training for my first marathon in July. I depend on Gu packets and Shot Block packages to get me through my runs. From what I’ve read on your blog it seems that they are processed, syrupy no-nos, and now by eating these I feel like I am undoing the steps I’ve taken before my run!

What do you recommend as fuel during hard workouts and long runs? What can I put in my pockets for my main event? 26.2 miles is a long way and I want to support all my hard work the best way I can.

Thank you so much for all you share!

~ Rhea

Congratulations on tackling a marathon!

When it comes to exercise nutrition questions I always pull out my very well used copy of “Thrive” by Brendan Brazier. Brendan is a Professional Ironman Triathlete and the Formulator of Vega. I highly recommend this book.

You are right to question the commercial sports gel products on the market. As you stated, many of them contain artificial colors and flavors, and are not always made with the highest quality ingredients. It is super easy and way less expensive to make your own gel. Brendan suggests blending dates and agave nectar as a healthy nutrient rich substitute to the sports gels currently available in stores.

The basic recipe calls for 4 dates and 1/4 cup of agave syrup and makes about 3/4 cup which will fill two 4-ounce gel flasks. You can flavor the gel with anything you’d like.

Let me know how the marathon goes.

Happy training!


Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at .

Image of Brendan Brazier courtesy of GLiving

Gretchen Tseng is a Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. At a young age she experienced a series of illnesses which propelled her to seek nutrition based solutions. Gretchen is absolutely passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and can be found doing so through her website Veggie Grettie at . Gretchen lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and 4 legged best bud. She dreams of living on a farm someday surrounded by animals and the most amazing organic garden she can imagine.

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  1. MaryNYC April 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm -

    also, most commercially available gels are NOT vegan…

  2. Rhea April 11, 2011 at 1:13 am -

    The thought of making my own gel fuel has never even occurred to me. I love the simplicity of the recipe, and appreciate your specifying how many flasks it will fill. I’ll buy the ingredients and use the homemade gel starting with this week’s training regime. Thank you so much, Gretchen!

  3. Ask Grettie April 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm -

    Thank for the question Rhea…keep them coming!

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