I have experimented with the recipe over the past couple of years and have come up with what I believe is a better tasting and a better product than you will find in the shop for a fraction of the price.
The main ingredient in sports gels is Maltodextrin. This can be found in most homebrew stores or some health food stores. The recipe below makes the equivalent of four standard sports gels you will find in the shops.
• ½ cup Maltodextrin
• 2 tablespoons of fructose
• One saltstick (please see notes when it comes to adding Saltsticks)
• ¼ cup, plus one tablespoon of water
• ½ tablespoon of vodka (helps combine everything)
• One scoop of Endura Optimizer (for flavour and for everything else that is in Endura Optimizer)
This is how to make it:
Combine maltodextrin, fructose, saltstick and Endura Optimizer in a bowl. Stir well with a spoon. Put water in a saucepan and heat till you see steam. Do not let it boil. Add 1/3 of the dry content into the saucepan and stir well till all lumps disappear. Add vodka. Add another 1/3 of the dry content and stir well and then add the remainder of the dry mix. Pour into a coffee mug and place into fridge.
From start to finish, including cleaning, takes around 15 minutes.
On top of the one saltstick added, I will also add the saltsticks needed for the bike into my gels.
When I am racing Ironman or 70.3, I take two saltsticks every hour on the bike and on the run. The way I use it is I start to gel and use saltsticks after the first hour on the bike so for example if I had planned to ride 180km in 6 hours I would have enough gels and saltsticks for 5 hours of riding, (double the recipe and add an extra 10 saltsticks to the gel formula. If I was aiming for a 5 hour bike split, I would add 8 extra saltsticks).
There are a couple of reasons why I use Endura Optimizer in my gels now. The flavour alone makes the gels taste better then you buy in the shops. The second reason is that when my Coach Allan Pitman is racing Ironman, he has two bottles of Endura optimizer with two scoops in each bottle during the bike leg. He carries with him gels but aims not to use them. Allan got me to test this but I found I needed more in the fuel tank to stay at my peak during a race or high volume training days.
Since adding Endura Optimizer to the Gels I have noticed a massive jump in my endurance performance. I have raced a number of Ironman and a 70.3 races with the exact gel mix as well as many training sessions and have found it works better than anything else I have used.
I do the gels for the bike and for the run in separate batches as I tend to want a little more salt on the run than I do on the bike. If the weather is hot for race day I will add an extra couple of saltsticks to the bike and run gel bottles.
How I use the gels
I store the gels in a drink bottle on my bike and an easy to carry small bottle to run with. For myself, I will sip (half a mouthful) on the gels every 20 minutes and always wash it down with water. If it is a hot day, take water before and after each sip of gel. Never take gels with or near sports drink or cola. This will only give you gut problems. Rule of thumb, when using gels, water is king.
Use this recipe and change it around until you find something that is going to work for you. When I tests new things or make changes to anything I do, I always do a 100km time trial on the bike with a 10km run off the bike to give me a good indication as to the whether the changers are working or not.