Gels, Caffeinated vs Non.


I guess if you use energy gels, you probably have your favourite brand and flavours sussed out, and I am wondering if people are going one way or the other with caffeinated ones? I ask because I did an event a couple of weeks ago with a mix of the two. At the 4hour mark I noticed that I was starting to fade a fair bit, and then also noticed that the last two gels I’d had were non-caffeinated after the first two being full o the good stuff. I went back to caff and held on for dear life, but I wonder if those hours without it helped dig my hole? I’d trained with only caff over that distance and duration without feeling quite as low. Inconclusive experience, but it got me thinking.

I know there is a lot of anecdotal stuff online about this, but was wondering if there are people that have played around a bit with it?

My questions:
Have you had a noticable performance difference between caff/non-caff gels that are otherwise the same?

Have you mixed them during a race and felt any difference in energy levels (other than just fading as time wore on)?

Not quite related - Has anyone had good experiences with hammer perpetuem solids? If so, I have a bucket of them that I can send to you.

No answer to your question, but your mention of perpetuem reminded me of randos drinking Ensure on 600K rides and then this:

Take advice from a non-nutritional role model: Kent’s Bike Blog: What Long Distance Cyclists Really Eat :wink:

start with non, move on to the hard stuff. it ain’t healthy, but it’ll do the job.

ha! yeah, Kent speaks the truth, but solids are no good for me.
I’d heard of starting with non and moving on to caff and should have tried it the other day.
Is there any reason not to just go caff the whole way? Just trying to some-what limit the caffeine intake?
I have zero ambition to be healthy while giving it stick for hours on end.

the effect isn’t as strong if you keep using them. better to save them til you really need the boost. often soigneurs will slip a coke into the musette at the end of the race, or even some flat coke in the bottles.

caffeine also functions as a diuretic, which means you get dehydrated quicker. you can push that a bit in the last hour, but it’s not great to do so for the whole race.

also, those hammer solids are vegan. i’ll take em. if i don’t eat them, StM will.

There’s a limit to how much caffeine you can have before it starts doing bad things - I think that’s the other reason for saving it til the second half. Especially when the gels are an intense kick instead of a sustained burn.

I don’t use gels, but if it’s a proper ride/race I’ll keep one bidon with a mix of energy drink, staminade and water. I take little sips of it along the way but never too much at one time - there’s a lot of sugar in there and you don’t want to have a sudden peak and then plummet.

Gossy had a few too many caff gels at this moment
Orica-GreenEDGE Backstage Pass - Tour of Slovenia Stage 2 - YouTube

What he said. And what he said later, echoes my experience with them.

I’ve got a piece floating around somewhere on caffeine strategy, put together by a guy who was doing his PhD in sports performance nutrition. I’ll see if I can find it.

this? Using Caffeine to Improve Athletic Performance

Just on gels… Chemist Warehouse seem to have the GU ones at $2 all the time. Which is cheaper than the bike stores.

are you using it for most rides or just races?

Never while training on the bike, and only during offroad races, which rarely happen for me.

I’ve been using heaps recently while running. Foot placement is a massive thing in latter parts of races offroad. Its amazing how bad things get when your head is fuzzy and you are heading down 40% grades on loose rocks. I think caffeine gels, as mentioned in the powerbar article above, keep my head together for longer and I can pick lines a lot better.

I asked here as I guess cyclist go longer as a matter of course than runners, and would have more experience with many gels in a session.

I’d be V keen to read the caffeine strategy paper. One thing that I didnt pick up from the powerbar article is how quickly caffeine levels drop, ie, if i am taking gels in the first hour, are those 25mg still with me 6, 7, whatever hours later?

No that’s not it although the message looks broadly similar.

The best Gels that I have used are GUs. Haven’t tried the Torqs, but if they are anything as good as their bars I think they would be worth checking out. Steer well clear of Powerbar or Winners. Leppin squeezys were very popular with the Multisporters I knew years ago back in NZ, but I think the Leppins might be a little different to Gels? In any case they smashed them all the time for their races and training.

I have found they, caf/non caf, both work very well. The one and only time, I have taken a caffinated GU was about 80kms through a 100km ride. It whether it was the copious amount of caffiene it contained, or just that I really needed some sugar and salt, whatever the case, the effect it had on me was redulous. Much more noticable than a non-caf, I rocketed through the last 20kms, and was like someone had turned the lights on. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep a wink that night - not at all - in spite being quite tired. I will only take the caffinated ones if I plan on during a 24 hr race from now on. Otherwise I’ll be sticking with cold coffee and flat Coke.

As for GU flavours I just went for the fruit flavours, but they’re all a bit urgh.

i’ve eaten caffeinated gels as a snack (more than once).

I adopt my own caffeine strategy in my everyday life.