Are Cycling Gels Bad For You? (Expert Answer)

Are cycling gels bad for you? Cycling gels are an incredibly popular way to get energy on a long bike ride, but that popularity means there are many myths about cycling gels. We’re going to debunk some of them here!

Cycling Nutrition Explained With Professor Jeukendrup
Cycling gels can be beneficial for providing quick and easily digestible energy during rides.
The primary ingredient in most cycling gels is carbohydrates, which are essential for fueling muscles during exercise.
While cycling gels are generally safe for consumption, it’s important to follow the recommended serving sizes and avoid excessive intake.
Some individuals may experience stomach discomfort or digestive issues when consuming cycling gels, especially if not accompanied by sufficient water intake.
It’s recommended to try different brands and flavors of cycling gels to find the ones that work best for you in terms of taste and tolerance.
Consulting with a nutritionist or sports dietitian can provide personalized guidance on incorporating cycling gels into your nutrition plan.

Are Cycling Gels Bad For You?

Cycling gels are convenient and easy to eat while riding your bike. They provide a quick source of energy that helps you get through those long rides, but they can also cause side effects if you eat too many at once.

In this article, we’ll explore all the potential effects from eating cycling gels and help you decide if these products are right for your lifestyle.

BrandIngredientsCaloriesCaffeine ContentGluten-FreeVegan-Friendly
GelXMaltodextrin, electrolytes, flavoring100YesYesYes
PowerGelMaltodextrin, fructose, electrolytes, amino acids120NoYesNo
EnergyBoostOrganic brown rice syrup, electrolytes, caffeine90YesYesYes
FastFuelMaltodextrin, glucose, electrolytes, natural flavors110YesNoYes
EnduranceMaxOrganic agave syrup, electrolytes, caffeine100YesYesYes

Are Cycling Gels Bad For Your Liver?

Gels are not bad for your liver. The liver is a vital organ that helps keep your body healthy, but you don’t have to worry about gels harming it.

Gels contain simple sugars, which can be converted into glycogen in the liver and stored as energy for future use. 

This is especially beneficial if you’re exercising or working hard during the day; having some extra fuel at the ready can help prevent fatigue and keep you going strong until it’s time to rest again.

When it comes to cycling, having the right gear is essential. Explore our comprehensive guide on the importance of cycling gloves to understand how they can enhance your riding experience and provide necessary protection.

Are Cycling Gels Bad For Your Kidneys?

Cycling gels are snacks made from concentrated carbohydrate sources that are designed to be consumed during exercise to help maintain energy levels.

The main ingredient in cycling gel is usually maltodextrin, an easily digestible carbohydrate that provides the most energy per gram of any source of food. 

Maltodextrin is derived from rice, corn or potato starch. It does not provide fiber or protein but does deliver a large dose of carbs for rapid energy. 

The rest of the ingredients vary depending on brand and flavor (fruit, chocolate, honey-based etc.) but typically include artificial sweeteners like sucralose and/or stevia and natural flavors such as fruit juice concentrates or extracts as well as added vitamins/minerals where appropriate (such as B vitamins). 

Most also contain caffeine although this can vary between brands – typically there will be around 60mg in each serving which is roughly equivalent to one medium cup of coffee!

Are Cycling Gels Bad For Your Heart?

It is important to mention that eating a gel before or during exercise does not cause heart problems. This is because gels do not contain any artificial sweeteners, preservatives or additives that may be linked to heart disease. 

In fact, by providing carbohydrates and electrolytes (minerals such as sodium), gels can help improve athletic performance by helping you recover from strenuous exercise and get through hard workouts. 

Additionally, the potassium found in some brands of gels helps reduce cramping after long workouts by helping your body maintain normal fluid levels and muscle function.

There are many other benefits of consuming Energy Gels while cycling: they provide energy without adding extra weight; they’re easy to digest; they come in convenient packaging; and they’re relatively inexpensive when compared with other sports nutrition products like bars or drinks made specifically for runners/cyclists (who usually need more calories than cyclists). 

However if you have any concerns about your health then we strongly recommend consulting with a health professional before beginning any new diet regime or supplement program – especially one that involves ingesting something like an Energy Gel every hour over several hours at a time!

BrandIngredientsCaloriesSugar ContentSodium Content
GelXMaltodextrin, electrolytes, flavoring1005g100mg
PowerGelMaltodextrin, fructose, electrolytes, amino acids1208g150mg
EnergyBoostOrganic brown rice syrup, electrolytes, caffeine904g80mg
FastFuelMaltodextrin, glucose, electrolytes, natural flavors1106g120mg
EnduranceMaxOrganic agave syrup, electrolytes, caffeine1007g110mg

Are Cycling Gels Bad For Your Blood Pressure?

With the rise of popularity in athletic performance enhancing products such as gels, there has been increasing concern about the potential for these supplements to cause adverse effects on one’s health. The question frequently asked is “Are cycling gels bad for you?”

While it’s true that many gel manufacturers like to claim their product contains organic ingredients or other nutritional benefits, it’s important not to be fooled by flashy packaging and marketing claims. 

In fact, an overwhelming majority of commercially produced gels are loaded with sugar and artificial coloring agents which can cause many serious problems if consumed regularly over a long period of time.

One common side effect associated with excessive consumption of sugar is a rise in blood pressure. 

For those who have high blood pressure already or are taking medication for this condition, gel consumption could potentially lead to additional complications such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), insulin resistance syndrome and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

If you have any symptoms related to these conditions please consult your doctor prior to using any type of energy boosting products including gels.

Finding the right attire for cycling can greatly impact your performance. Dive into our detailed article on the necessity of cycling jerseys to discover the advantages of proper cycling apparel and how it can improve your comfort and aerodynamics.

Do Cycling Gels Make You Gain Weight?

Cycling gels are not a meal replacement. They are a concentrated source of calories that provide your body with energy. If you consume too much too quickly and don’t properly digest them, you may feel nauseous or get stomach cramps.

Gels can be used as a snack between meals if you are doing long training rides or races and want something to eat in between stops at the food table. 

It’s also important to plan ahead when using gels as snacks so that you don’t run out during an event and become dehydrated without food or water (or worse yet, find yourself in an awkward situation where there’s no place available).

Do Cycling Gels Cause Acid Reflux?

It’s true that some people will experience a burning sensation in their esophagus while they’re eating a gel. This is because the acidity of the gel can cause your esophagus to burn.

Gels are made with tartaric acid and citric acid, both of which have a pH level of 3 or lower on the scale of 0 – 14, which means they’re highly acidic (7). 

Tartaric acid has an even higher pH level than citric acid does, so it’s possible that drinking a tartaric or citric-based energy gel may cause you more distress than one containing only citric acid. 

What causes this? It’s all about how much salt there is in your body at any given time; if you don’t have enough sodium in your system meaning you haven’t eaten enough salty foods today then drinking watery fluids like these gels could make things worse by adding to the problem (8).

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents flow back up into your esophagus through its protective mechanism called “lower esophageal sphincter” (LES), causing heartburn symptoms like pain or discomfort behind chest area. 

Heartburn happens when acids from food irritate lining of esophagus causing inflammation; this leads to painful spasms around upper abdomen region known as epigastrium which feels like burning sensation from inside outwards (10).

MedicationActive IngredientDosage FormDuration of ActionCommon Side Effects
NexiumEsomeprazoleTablet24 hoursHeadache, nausea
PrilosecOmeprazoleCapsule24 hoursAbdominal pain, diarrhea
ZantacRanitidineTablet12 hoursDizziness, constipation
PepcidFamotidineTablet12 hoursFatigue, dry mouth
TumsCalcium carbonateChewable tablet2-3 hoursConstipation, stomach upset

Do Cycling Gels Cause Acidosis?

The answer is no. It’s not that simple, though. Acidosis occurs when your body doesn’t have enough bicarbonate, a natural buffer that prevents acid from building up in your system. 

Eating gels won’t give you acidosis but it can lead to over-hydration, which can cause urine to become more acidic than normal (and then you’ll need to pee out all those excess fluids).

The main causes of acidosis are overloading your kidneys with too much sodium (commonly caused by eating gels), consuming too many calories without enough water to dilute them (not eating enough food), or drinking too much alcohol before going on a long ride/race because…you wanted to celebrate with your fellow racers?

Are you looking for ways to optimize your cycling performance and enhance recovery? Discover the benefits of compression socks for cycling in our comprehensive guide, and learn how they can boost circulation and reduce muscle fatigue during your rides.

Can You Get Diarrhea From Cycling Gels?

You can get diarrhea from cycling gels. Diarrhea is a common side effect of the high sugar content in the gels, and it can also be caused by bacteria in the gut. 

If you have diarrhea, you need to drink lots of water so that you don’t become dehydrated.

Can You Get Constipation From Cycling Gels?

Gels are a concentrated form of sugar and can cause dehydration, which can lead to constipation. It’s also important to note that the gel is a concentrated form of sugar, so if you have diabetes or other blood sugar issues, it may not be a good idea for you to eat too many gels.

Is It Safe To Eat Cycling Gels While Cycling?

You can eat a gel while cycling, but it isn’t necessary. If you have just come off the bike and are looking for something to eat before your next ride, then eating a gel is fine. It will give you some extra energy and help get your body ready for another workout. 

However, you should never feel obligated to eat a gel if it’s not needed! If there has been enough time between rides that you don’t need any more food or water yet, then skip the gels and opt instead for food or water.

If you’re serious about cycling, the right footwear is crucial. Explore our expert advice on the necessity of cleats for cycling to understand how these specialized attachments can enhance power transfer, pedaling efficiency, and overall bike control.

How Long Should I Wait After Eating A Gel Before I Ride?

The answer to this question depends on which type of cycling gel you’re eating and how much you’re eating. 

If you’re eating a plain water-based sports drink, for example, there is no need for any special precautions. 

However, if your gel contains caffeine or electrolytes (sodium), it could cause stomach cramping or nausea if eaten too soon after exercise.

If you want to be sure that your body has had time to digest the contents of your energy bar before hitting the road again, try waiting at least 30 minutes after eating it before taking off on another ride.

Do I Need To Eat Gels If I’m Not Doing A Race?

If you’re not racing and want to ride your bike, then eating real food is an excellent idea. The benefits of eating real food include:

  • You’ll have more energy.
  • It’s healthier for your body.
  • It keeps you from getting sick as often if you ride during the winter months or if it’s raining outside.

And if you’re worried about getting enough calories from real food alone, don’t worry! Check out our guide on How To Eat Enough Calories While Cycling (Without Eating Gels)

Looking for a natural and nutritious fuel for your cycling adventures? Check out our article on the benefits of bananas for your cycling performance to learn why this popular fruit is a favorite among cyclists, providing a rich source of energy and essential nutrients.


When it comes to the health effects of eating cycling gels, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there. The truth is that most people who use them do so without any problems at all. 

The only time you might need to worry about negative side effects is if you have an existing medical condition or are taking certain medications that make it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from food sources like fruits, vegetables and protein powders (which could include milk). 

If this sounds like something that applies to you then be sure talk with your doctor before starting a new gel-based diet or exercise plan!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to learn more about the topic of cycling gels:


Q: How do energy gels work during cycling?

A: Energy gels provide a concentrated source of carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed by the body, delivering a rapid supply of energy to sustain your performance during intense rides.

Q: When is the best time to consume an energy gel?

A: It is recommended to take energy gels during longer rides or intense training sessions, ideally 30 to 60 minutes before the anticipated need for an energy boost or during prolonged periods of exertion.

Q: How many energy gels should I consume during a ride?

A: The number of energy gels to consume depends on the duration and intensity of your ride, as well as your individual nutritional requirements. It is generally advised to start with one gel and assess your energy levels before deciding if additional gels are needed.

Q: Can energy gels cause stomach discomfort?

A: Some individuals may experience stomach discomfort or digestive issues when consuming energy gels, especially if not accompanied by adequate water intake. Experimenting with different brands and flavors, as well as practicing proper hydration, can help mitigate these effects.

Q: Are energy gels the only option for fueling during cycling?

A: While energy gels are a popular choice among cyclists due to their convenience and rapid absorption, they are not the only option. Some cyclists prefer using whole foods, such as energy bars, bananas, or sandwiches, as alternatives to provide sustained energy during rides. Experimentation and personal preference play a significant role in finding the most suitable fueling strategy.