Monday, April 18, 2011

Homemade Energy Gel

I finally got around to concocting my own energy gel.  Its pretty simple too.  You're asking "why", right?  Well, have you ever read the ingredients on some of those store bought gels?  They may boast about all the amino's, or vitamins they have, but they also have long words that are found on some household products that you wouldn't eat--things you don't normally keep in your cupboard or pantry--why are they in food?  Some have laboratory-invented preservatives.  Sure, there are gels that are more natural than others, but I thought I would make one that is more natural than those.  Here it is:

Energy Gel
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
2 tbsp Raw Agave (I used Trader Joe's brand)
4 tbsp water
2 tsp lime juice concentrate (ie, Real Lime)
1 tsp lemon juice concentrate (ie, Real Lemon)
Measure out the tablespoon of chia seeds then grind them a fine as you can.  I used a Braun coffee grinder.  Do not measure out already ground chia.  Mix the water with the chia and give it some time to gel up--5-10 minutes.  It will get very gelatenous.  Mix in the agave, lemon, and lime.  Stir until its smooth.  You should end up with about 3 oz of energy gel.  All three ounces equal 180 calories (or 60 calories per oz).  You can add a pinch of salt if you think you need some sodium in your gel, but usually we get plenty of sodium thru our diets.  The lemon and lime also have vit C, B6, and other nutrients. If you want this gel chalked full of electrolytes you could replace the water with coconut water (not juice or 'drink'), just plain old 'young' coconut water.  This will also add a few more calories.  I have been using Zico coconut water lately for my longer workouts.
(Doesn't look the best, but it works great)

Agave nectar, as far as a syrup is concerned, is low on the glycemic index...meaning that you won't get the instant spike in blood sugar and instant energy boost you might normally get.  Instead, you'll get a steady amount of energy over a longer period of time.  If you want a faster energy hit, substitute brown rice syrup for the agave or even for half the agave. 

About lemon and lime. In addition to being a natural preservative, there's a long forgotten reason that lemon and lime is used in so many foods and beverages (like a wedge of lemon or lime in your ice water)--its because they act as antacids and calm the stomach.  "But they're citrus, that means their acidy."  Nope, just the opposite.  Lemon and lime are actually akaline forming once they enter your body. They may seem acidy-citrusy in their natural state, but that's not what they truely are once consumed.  With other gels that are cooked up in a lab, they may give you energy, but your body also has to work a little harder to process (digest and absorb) them--this homemade gel is made with ingredients that actually aide in digestion.  Sugar, cornsyrup, maltodextrin, and some of the other ingredients in store-bought gels are actually acidic/acid forming, and can block digestion.  That's why you may have had one that didn't "sit right" when you ate it or you had indigestion from it.   I'd be surprised if you felt any adverse affects from the recipe above.  Click here for more lemon/lime facts.  Click here for info on chia seeds.

Allergy note: not everyone has tried chia--if that's you, sample a fingertip worth of seeds to test them out.

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