e-GEL BY CRANK SPORTSElectrolytes and gel in one

I remember when energy gels first hit the market in the mid '90s. The company that got the big head start was "Gu" and for awhile people would just ask for Gu and we assumed they were talking about gels.

Very few companies get so lucky to have their brand name become the product name. Today, for instance, people still refer to inline skates as Rollerblades, facial tissue as Kleenex and soft drinks as coke.

Unfortunately for Gu, a wave of competitors soon flooded the market and choosing an energy gel became more confusing than sorting through the vitamins and supplements shelf at your local health food store.

What's the difference? What do I actually need? Which tastes better? Will it upset my stomach? The questions are endless.

But one area all gels were missing the boat was on electrolyte supplementation. As more and more research showed that electrolytes were a key factor for endurance performance, Mike Mathewson recognized the need and created e-Gel in January 2002 under his company, Crank Sports.

Before e-Gel, many endurance athletes were carrying electrolyte tablets in old film containers and supplementing at different stages of their training or racing. With e-Gel all the hassle of carrying extra tablets or products goes away.

Now you get the calorie and glycogen replacement benefits of a gel with electrolyte replacement benefits of a tablet in one product.

"I truly believe that gel companies that supplied purely carbs, really missed the point of a balanced supplement," says Craig Turner, founder and owner of Nytro, an Encinitas, Calif. multi-sports retail store. "Electrolytes are so essential, that I was thrilled to see e-Gel hit the market. E-Gel is a top-seller for Nytro, and they definitely have the lead."

I've tried e-Gel on numerous bike rides, and can attest I haven't bonked or cramped on any of those rides. That said, anytime I've ridden for five hours or more in the heat, I've used other calorie and mineral supplements in conjunction with e-Gel and can not attribute results to just the e-Gel.

I can, however, tell you that I'm a big fan of all their flavors and like strawberry the best. I've been mixing an e-Gel into a water bottle with either Sustained energy from Hammer Nutrition or Ultimate Advantig from Advantig Health. The mixtures tend to give me a rich formulation of serious calories and energy.

The e-Gel package opens very easily because of the perforation at the top and I've never found myself fumbling around trying to tear one open while riding my bike.

Of course, I also carry a separate water bottle with plain water to consume in similar amounts. The idea is to drain both bottles at the same rate.

Crank Sports claims their patent-pending formula of simple and complex carbohydrates, plus the electrolytes offers the ideal balance for endurance athletes and you don't need to mix other products the way I have.

Many athletes are using just e-Gel and water and getting excellent results. As with anything, you should experiment with different mixtures and amounts during training. A race is not the time to try something new.

If you compare the other leading energy gel companies, e-Gel has 50% more calories and nearly four times the electrolytes. A packet of e-Gel nets 150 calories while other leading gels get you about 100. You'll also find no fat, no caffeine and less sugar in e-Gel.

Suggested retail is $1.49 and best way to get more info on e-Gel and other Crank Sports products is to check out their Web site at www.cranksports.com or call them at (949) 248-2600 or outside California: (866) 800-CRANK.

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