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The Science In Sport Beta Fuel Gel crams a ridiculously high amount of carbs into an easy-to-consume and perfectly edible product. The ratio of carbs to fructose aims to be kind on the stomach, and during testing I've been thoroughly impressed. And though the price seems quite high, for what they deliver they actually work out quite good value – if you need the carbs.
You've probably already heard of Beta Fuel; the ultra-carb-dense drink has been around for a few years now and is still a racers' favourite thanks to packing a whopping 80g of carbohydrate into a 500ml bottle yet still being perfectly consumable. SiS has now extended the range to include gels and energy chews to make it even easier to get in the necessary fuelling during long and intense exercise.
The gels are available in packs of six (as tested) or a bulk box of 30, although buying the larger quantity still works out at the same price per gel. They're available in either Orange or Strawberry and Lime flavour, and like all SiS gels are 60ml per serving.
Per gel you get a helping of 158kcal and 40g of carbohydrate, of which 19g is sugar; these quantities are without question impressive. The Kendal Mint Co NRG gels, for example, are a similar size and provide 108kcal of energy from 27g of carbohydrate, of which 10.7g is sugar. OTE's Blackcurrant gels are a little smaller but have a fairly typical offering of 82kcal, 20.1g of carbohydrate and 5.2g of sugar, while SiS's own GO Energy + Electrolite gels contain 86kcal and 22g of carbs.
The numbers are impressive then. The Beta Fuel gels contain roughly 40-50 per cent more carbohydrate and calories than similarly sized gels, and that means you can carry a hell of a lot less. In my three-hour road races, for example, I would usually pack my skinsuit pockets with gels and still need extras taped to spare bottles; with the Beta Fuel gels I've been taking one or two an hour when combined with an energy drink.
SiS says that optimum fuelling is between 80-120g of carbs per hour, but from personal experience I'd say most people will require a fair bit of practice to take the upper end of that without stomach discomfort. My personal preference is about 90g per hour, which can easily be achieved with a single Beta Fuel gel and a bottle of decent energy drink.
To get the body to absorb this many carbs is the job of the fructose. Many energy drinks, Beta Fuel included, use a 2:1 ratio of maltodextrin (carbs) to fructose, whereas these gels use a ratio of 1:0.8. Upping the ratio of fructose supposedly increases the amount of carbs that can be ingested, by 12% according to SiS, while reducing symptoms of stomach fullness. It should be noted that all of the figures come from a single study by O'Brien et al in 2013, so there isn't a whole lot of data behind them, but during testing I have found the gels kind on the stomach and provide impressive amounts of energy, backing up the claims.
At £12 for a box of six, some pretty simple maths will show that's £2 per gel. While that sounds expensive – it's 40p more per gel than the OTEs mentioned earlier or a standard SiS Go Isotonic Energy (£9 for six) – they pack seriously more carbs, so do work out better value when considering kcal per £.
For me, this means that Beta Fuel gels are best saved for racing. When the tempo is lower and there's more time for fuelling I'll stick with something cheaper. But in the heat of a race or when pocket space is low, where the carb concentration is needed, they're worth it.
There is no funny consistency, they're easy to get down and the flavours are great. As a result, they have become a race day essential for me.
Energy-dense gels for maximising performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SIS Beta Fuel Gel - 6 Pack
Size tested: 6 x 60ml
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
SiS says: "Part of an entire world-leading fuelling solution range that includes drinks and chews, our Beta Fuel Dual Source Energy Gel is optimised with a brand new 1:0.8 ratio of 40g carbohydrate to enhance your power output, increase your body's carbohydrate usage efficiency, and limit gastrointestinal discomfort to deliver a scientifically superior fuel."
I have been very impressed with the gels. They offer very high carbs per gel and caused no stomach issues during testing. A great product for anyone looking for carb-dense gels.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1:0.8 maltodextrin:fructose ratio
158kcal per gel
Easy to open packets and can leave a little bit attached so you don't lose the tab; makes a large enough hole to consume quickly and mess free.
No stomach issues consuming two per hour, which is impressive for something quite so carby.
At face value they are more expensive than most other gels out there but they also offer a lot more: in most cases you will need to take two alternative gels to get the same effect, and the Beta Fuel gels are less than double the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well: easy to open, drink/eat and digest. Energy levels are impressive to keep you riding faster for longer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Not having to take as many gels in my pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Could include caffeine...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're absolutely great. Easy to consume, I liked the flavours, easy on the stomach, and I've never seen so much energy in a gel. This not only benefits performance but also pocket space. It's one of the few products that I went straight out and bought more of.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,