Dumb down or nerd out?
While I applaud Maurten’s effort in the flavor department, the brand popularized a trend that I’m not a fan of — complicating things with science to market energy gels at higher prices. As a former manufacturer of sports nutrition products, I know the cost of many ingredients, plus energy gels are essentially just concentrated sugar water. Should they be so expensive? (Here are some affordable alternatives)
Like many of you, I do enjoy nerding out on the science behind the energy gels we take. For example, the different pathways of glucose and fructose or how technologies such as hydrogels and isotonic solutions can speed up the processing of carbohydrates. It’s all very educational, and I appreciate all the great videos and articles the brands create.
I just wish they didn’t leverage the content and marketing strategy to justify charging more.
Carbs Fuel, a new brand on the block, is bucking the trend. Their product design and marketing message are also science-driven, but they “dumb it down” to simplify the science and provide affordability.
I hope we see more brands democratizing sports nutrition instead of fostering exclusivity via pricing.
Separation instead of integration
There are energy gels that integrate a boatload of extras: branched chain amino acids (BCAA), plentiful electrolytes, vitamins, exotic ingredients, etc. And then there are gels that strip it down to the bones and contain just a few items such as water, sugars, and thickeners.
Several brands following the latter direction typically separate their products into two categories:
- For replenishing carbohydrates
- For hydration and maintaining electrolyte balance.
Their energy gels provide sugar and very little else. And if you need something for hydration, they have separate product lines, usually near-zero sugar drink mixes and tablets packed with sodium and other essential electrolytes.
They reason that athletes should be more precise with their fueling. By dividing carbohydrate and electrolyte intake into separate products, you can better keep track of what you consume to prevent over-fueling that could cause stomach issues and electrolyte imbalances.
There is truth to that, but it’s also clever marketing. Instead of buying one item, you now need two. And the stripped-down energy gels aren’t necessarily cheaper than options with all the bells and whistles.