You may have seen AFL players sucking on sachets at half time or quarter time breaks and wondered what they are taking. In fact Scott Pendlebury takes up to 8 a game! The players are consuming energy gels, a nutrition product becoming increasingly popular as footballers seek different ways to combat fatigue and improve their performance. Below we give you the low down on what energy gels are and how they improve performance.
What are they made of?
Energy gels are a substance made up of simple carbohydrates, such as fructose and glucose, as well as electrolytes. They are easily broken down by the body and provide a quick source of energy.
What is their role?
Energy gels are designed to reduce your fatigue during a game and help you to maintain high performance. The body uses carbohydrates for fuel during exercise, but only has carbohydrate stores to last for around 1 hour. If you don’t replace these carbohydrates you will tire, you will find physical exertion harder and mental performance will drop. To stop the depletion of carbohydrate stores it is recommended a footballer should consume around 60-80g of carbohydrates per hour of exercise.
As energy gels are broken down more easily than solid foods they are the perfect way of topping up these carbohydrate stores whilst exercising. The electrolytes play a role in maintaining body function and mental performance. Generally you can feel the energy gel working within 15mins of consumption.
I find it is really important to monitor my energy levels during exercise. If I’m feeling tired I know I need to take a gel and some chews to refuel the muscles and mind.” – Luke Shuey, West Coast FC
How many should I take and how often?
Every person will have different energy needs throughout a game – even amongst our elite ambassadors their intake varies. Scott Pendlebury will take 2 gels throughout every quarter, whereas Daniel Hannebery takes them during the breaks and Marc Murphy will have them only at half time.
We recommend taking the gels at half time and then at other breaks as you feel a need. Try taking them at a few different times to see what works best for you.
Your body size plays a big role in determining how many gels you should take. For an average sized senior footballer, 1 or 2 at half time and 1 at the other breaks is a guide.
I pride myself on running when my opponent has stopped, but this doesn’t come by chance. Hard training and good nutrition, like taking Winners Energy Gels helps give me the edge.” – Gary Ablett, Gold Coast FC