GELS and Being Paleo

For those of you who've followed my blog for a while, you'll already know that there is  one non Paleo food in my diet, which is the carbohydrate gel.

Most of my clients, blog readers and twitter followers have seemed to accept this but every so often, I'll get an inquiry regarding the fact that I use something processed as fuel, and asking how I can justify it, while I'm so openly opposed to every other non Paleo food.

Here is my rationale:

  • During intense, long bouts of exercise when the heart rate is very elevated, and thus, much of the blood is diverted away from the GI tract, there is simply not enough time for the body to process a solid food and break down sugars to send from the gut into the bloodstream to the working skeletal muscles.  So, we need a liquid option.
  • There is not a Paleo option on the market for a carbohydrate gel (YET!  Watch this space!: ).  Yes, there are options that seem more natural, like Honey Stingers BUT the sugars in that product are not the right type needed during endurance training.  Following is the breakdown of the sugars in honey: Fructose: 38.2% ,Glucose: 31.3%, Sucrose: 1.3%,  Maltose: 7.1%.  The sugars in man-made PowerBar Brand Gel are maltodextrin and fructose which provides a balance of quicker and slower releasing sugars in order to have a steady stream of calories supporting the body.
  • No, I am not endorsed by the Power Bar brand; I simply like their product over some of the other options on the market because of the reason above as well as the fact that they have a superior electrolyte profile over the others, resulting in less need to take salt tablets as often.
  • Through MUCH trial and error during the last 13 years of my racing triathlon and ten since I began Ironman, I've found that the very simple nutrition plan of taking all my calories in via gel, drinking water and taking salt is the only method that not only supports me to go strong the whole day long, it also never lands me with unexpected GI distress and trips to the porta-potty.

Is gel processed and not Paleo?  Yes, and yes.  Until I develop (or someone else does) a Paleo gel, I will continue to use this as my source of calories during training.  Everything else in my entire diet is paleo, and alkaline and I feel fantastic, fit, fast and lean, so I do feel this is my winning formula.

Just as there is a school of thought that feels strongly that raw dairy is paleo and has a place in their diet, I suppose one could make the analogy about that with me and my gel.

Pre and post training remains paleo as well, as I found long ago that adding ANY grains or legumes to the plan is a sure fire plan for me to end up with one of those horrible race results due to being sidelined with GI distress.

Longer, slower aerobic efforts can be supported with whole, real foods, like yams, banana, some raisins, some raw nuts and some easily digestible protein.

If any readers know of a gel that I've missed that IS less processed that what I'm using, ping me! I'm more than open minded and always welcome learning from my readers, too!  It goes both ways!