product courtesy of 2xSFB Sports

Science in Sport (SIS) has been at the forefront of high-performance sports nutrition in Britain since 1992. SIS founder and director Tim Lawson, an elite athlete, collaborated with champion British cyclist Chris Boardman to expand the company’s range of nutrition products. Today, SIS supports and supplies its products to a broad range of athletes within the British and international sporting fraternity – these consist not only of endurance sportspersons, but also proponents in martial arts, track cycling, rugby, snow sports, motor racing, and adventure sports.

For this review, we were given the opportunity to try out SIS’s Go Gel and Smart1 Energizer energy gels. Testers sampled them on-the-go on mountain biking and trail running training sessions.

The Go Gels are available in three flavours – ‘blackcurrant’, ‘tropical’, and ‘orange’; the caffeinated Smart1 Energizer gel is only available in ‘berry’. Each 60-gram sachet looks relatively bulky compared to other gel brands, but the contents feel watery. How watery? A simulated cold weather test where a sachet was left in the refrigerator overnight, then taken out, revealed almost no apparent thickening  – definitely a boon for athletes using these gels in cooler climes.

Ripping off the pull tab of a sachet with fingers or teeth is easy. As expected, the contents are low in viscosity and need to be chased down with very little water, if at all. This tester was particularly impressed with the ‘orange’ Go Gel; while another favoured the berry-flavoured Smart1. It is one thing to nibble on a gel when you are fresh and less than an hour into a workout, but we had been on the trail in excess of three hours and could really appreciate the ease with which the SIS products slid down parched throats.

Apart from its ease of digestion, the effectiveness of these gels is based on its isotonic nature. Each Go Gel has 9 grams of sodium and 22 grams of carbohydrate (only 1 gram of which consists of sugars) – essentially an isotonic solution that is easily portable in serving-sized sachet form. Each sachet, as per manufacturers’ recommendations, is good for at least 20-30 minutes of high-intensity exertion, depending on the user’s body size and energy expenditure. By this merit, hydration is actually enhanced when these gels are taken in conjunction with plain water – as opposed to ingesting plain water alone, or having to contend with a heavy isotonic sports drink in a separate bottle.

The Smart1 Energizer retains all the isotonic properties of the Go Gel range, with the inclusion of 50mg of caffeine and 13mg of blackcurrant anthocyanins. The latter antioxidant additive is touted as being able to boost night vision and counter the side-effect of blurred vision caused by caffeine. Additionally, it contains citrus bioflavenoids, another antioxidant that enhances caffeine absorption. This product would definitely stand out as ideal the ideal primary energy source for long-duration overnight events.

Overall, we were impressed with how the SIS gel range was so easy to ingest – whether in warm or cool weather – and how light it was on the stomach even under the fatigue resulting from exercising for long periods of time.