What do sports drinks, gels and bars contain?
Sports drink contains about 82-99 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of powde The portion size to be mixed with water, as stated on the package, may vary, so 500 ml may contain varying amounts of carbohydrates.
Here are some examples of sports drinks, where 500 ml of prepared drink contains:
Enervit isotonic drink 25 grams of carbohydrates
Vitargo 46 grams of carbohydrates
Isostar Endurance + 75 grams of carbohydrates
Maurten drink mix 360 80 grams of carbohydrates
Umara, U Sport 1:0,8 90 gram kolhydrater (kan blandas så det blir mer/mindre kolhydrater)
This is just a small selection of the sports drinks on the market and be aware that you will consume different amounts of carbohydrates depending on which one you choose and how you mix it. Want to be in control and mix according to what suits you best?
Make your own sports drink! It's easy and quick to make, read more here. The advantage of sports drinks is that it's easy to consume a little at a time throughout your ride.
Energy bar: Most energy bars, for use during exercise, contain 40-67 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, but a packet is rarely 100 grams so most contains 21-43 grams of carbohydrates per pack. Be aware that some brands, such as Flapjack, have larger packs, so the amount of calories can be very high if you don't exercise very much.
You can also make your own energy bars. There are lots of recipes, so just try them out. I make one that´s called Runekakan that the Swedish long-distance runner Rune Larsson came up with. It contains about 70 grams of carbohydrates/100 grams (about 35 grams of carbohydrates per piece/cake). Recipes are available online. I think it's tasty, easy to make, and has an ok content with a mix of fast and some slower carbs. Energy bars are good but may be used mainly during longer sessions, if you want to supplement the sports drink with something to eat.
Gel: the amount of carbohydrates varies in different brands with most containing 45-80 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams. However, a gel is rarely 100 grams but a packet contains about 25-60 ml. So one gel provides about 20-28 grams of carbohydrates per pack and "lasts" about 30 minutes.
Gel is easy to ingest and is often used towards the end of the session to get a "kick". Gel is like a more concentrated version of sports drink. But gel can be used earlier and I would say that it is better to consume carbohydrates continuously (with sports drink and/or gel) and not wait until you feel you really need that "kick" (because then you have waited too long).
Other options to have with you:
Dried apricots 40 grams of carbohydrates/100 grams
Dried dates 70 grams of carbohydrates/100 grams
Raisins 65 grams of carbohydrates/100 grams
Banana 21 grams of carbohydrates/100 grams, a banana without peel weighs about 110 grams and is then about 23 grams of carbohydrates in a banana