Yesterday, I was fortunate to be able to share my recipe for a natural, homemade chia energy gel with the folks at NoMeatAthlete. It’s a great recipe, especially for the cheap frugal among you. I strongly recommend you check it out.
One of the first comments mentioned something I’d been thinking about myself. My gel recipe, unlike the majority of commercial gels, doesn’t contain any caffeine.
Caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance, especially in endurance events. Why not include it in my recipe?
To be candid, I hate that there are so few gels that are caffeine free. Call me a hypochondriac, but I stopped taking caffeine before events last year after the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA) announced that they suspected caffeine in the majority of marathon deaths and cardiac episodes.
What surprised me was the relatively small amount they implicated in these episodes: 200 mg, or just over two cups of coffee.
Of course, we have no way of knowing for certain that over-caffeination is actually a persistant problem among runners. After all, many more runners take caffeine than experience complications from it.
In that spirit, I thought I’d add a quick supplementary to the chia gel recipe to add a bit of caffeine for those who like their gels with a bit of zip.
All the tea in China
For a caffeine source, I chose to use green tea concentrate. This was partially at the suggestion of the commenter, and partially following the example of Clif (the most natural energy gel I’ve found on the market).
It’s long been known that the antioxidants in green tea confer a whole host of health benefits. In addition to the added caffeine, the green tea will also lower your risk of hypertension and protect you from certain forms of cancer. Not bad for some water and a leaf, eh?
The recipe is incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that I almost feel dumb writing it. I promise, Midpack Readers, I know you’re smart enough to brew tea.
However, in the interest of completeness, here’s the recipe anyway!
2 tablespoons green tea
1 cup water
- Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Pour the boiling water into a measuring cup or other heat resistant glass. Let the water sit for approximately 7 minutes, or until the water temperature drops to between 120° and 140°. Alternately, use a food thermometer to achieve this temperature without letting the water boil first.
- Pour the water over the tea, and allow the tea to steep for between 4 and 6 minutes. Longer steeping times and higher temperatures will extract more tannins and make for a more bitter mixture.
- Remove the bags, or loose leaves, and refrigerate the concentrate until you’re ready to use it.
Once you have the concentrate, you will substitute it for the water in the gel recipe. Keep in mind, you may have to dilute it to achieve the desired flavor.
So, what do you think of all this? Are any of you pre-race caffeinators? Does the IMMDA study change your opinion on pre-race caffeine? Leave me some love in the comments!