Thrive Raw Energy Gel

On my run today, I went au naturale, getting all my nutrition from raw, real ingredients.   I made two things from Thrive last night to bring along today—Lemon-Lime Sports Drink and this Lemon-Lime Gel.

[thrive supplements photo]

Interestingly, both of these were made from similar ingredients, just in different proportions.  I know they don’t look too terribly exciting (the lighting in my kitchen does them no favors either), but both of these were really tasty.  I like the drink as much as any commercial sports drink, though next time I’ll strain out the date pulp and whatever coconut oil doesn’t emulsify.

But the gel was the real surprise.  I absolutely HATE normal gels, gu’s, or whatever you want to call them—I’ve stopped even trying to eat them during runs.  But this one tasted so much better.  I can’t be giving all of Brendan’s recipes away, so I’ll just do the gel recipe, since that’s the one I’m most excited about.

Also, exciting news in NMA land—my interview with Thrive author Brendan Brazier is tomorrow morning!

Raw Lemon-Lime Sport Gel Recipe (from Thrive)

Ingredients (for 3/4 cup, twice as much as pictured)

  • 4 dates (I used dried dates, soaked for a few hours)
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp dulse (I skipped this, since I didn’t have it)
  • Sea salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor until desired consistency is reached.  Put into plastic zip-lock bag or gel flask.  (You can see that in my sublime hatred of carrying heavy or bulky things with me on runs, I chose the former.  Just bite off a corner when you’re ready to eat it.)

So easy, and so much better than what you can buy.  I wasn’t able to get the citrus zest and date pulp completely incorporated into the gel; it wasn’t an issue when I was running, but if this weirds you out, then you could just be careful and pour the gel off of the solid bits.

For more posts and recipes on natural sports nutrition, check out the Running Fuel page.



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  1. Aww cute puppy 🙂

    That’s so exciting that you’re trying to qualify for Boston. Keep at it! You can do it!

    Also what exactly IS a sports gel? I’ve never really understood them. Do you drink it? Eat it? While you’re running? After you’ve ran? I’m not a fan at all of the sports drinks but I love that this is made with such simple real ingredients. I’ll have to try making it.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..9k Race Results =-.

    • Hey Sagan, the gel is a way to get a lot of simple carbohydrates (sugars) quickly and in a small package. To my knowledge, it’s nothing you can’t get with sports drink, but by volume, the gel has a lot more calories so it’s sometimes more convenient. Sometimes they have caffeine too. You “eat” it by squeezing it out of the package into your mouth. I think people use them mainly during marathons; at a lot of races they’ll give them out somewhere between miles 15-23. Sometimes people eat them during half marathons, especially slower runners who are on the course longer.

      You can get them in any running store. Most people agree they are kind of gross, so I can’t imagine you’d like them much if you don’t like sports drinks.

      • Extreme Paddler says:

        Thank you so much for posting this recepie. Although I am not a runner, I am a long distance 6 Man Outrigger Canoe Racer. I am also Vegan. I have often gagged down the purchased goo’s and gels, trying not to read the ingredients for what I just swallowed. When you are out on the unpredictable ocean for 2+ hours racing, it is a necesity to have the added energy.
        I will be making this and trying to convince my team mates to give it a try!! AllooooooHA

  2. Matt – First of all HAHA! That Linus photo cracked me up! How hysterical. Dogs really can be so amusing sometimes.

    Second of all – Don’t self doubt! You rocked a THIRTEEN miler today! That’s awesome! Just take the time to be proud of that before you start doubting what your future holds. I think you’ll be awesome and I have a feeling you’ll definitely qualify for Boston. You’re going to have a crowd cheering you on, and, like you said, you’ll have eaten well, have water stations and just be running on pure adrenaline. Awesome job today buddy, I wish I could pull out a 1:35:36 half!
    .-= Cait (Cait’s Plate)´s last blog ..Flyin’ By =-.

  3. I love that you’re making your own sports drinks and gels. I feel the same way about that stuff as I do about granola bars and the like. In terms of saving some $ (who doesn’t wanna?) I bring 1 piece of whole wheat bread folded in half w/ pb&j inside instead of a granola bar. Probably half the ingredients of a bar and 1/4 of the price.

    Thinking about the ingredients in the gel– I guess simple sugars are the main thing he’s going for. Such a basic recipe, it’s great!
    .-= Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn´s last blog ..Vacation Running: How to Not Piss Off the Group =-.

  4. 1. Congrats on ROCKING your 13 miler!! You’ll have a great race in 8 weeks and you’ll be totally prepared. Don’t worry.

    2. Thanks for the gel recipe! I might have to try this out when I finish off the fruit snacks – it sounds so much more appetizing and, obviously, much less processed.

    3. My current favorite running song is ‘Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson. It came on at exactly the right moment in my first marathon, and it makes me smile when I remember the scene in Ghostbusters II with the dancing toaster 😉

    4. Linus is adorable!! We find our dog, Bodhi, in all kinds of ridiculous moments and can’t seem to get the camera out fast enough. Well done!
    .-= katherine´s last blog ..Weekly Workout Recap =-.

  5. Yes, do what it takes to get the possibility of heat stroke down to nil. We’ll wait.

    Dude, I just ran that pace for a 5K on Saturday – and no way was I going much further than that at that pace. Yeah, I’ll say you killed it! Rock out with your recovery socks out!
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Uncle! Uncle! =-.

  6. Linus is so dang adorable.
    .-= lee (journey to fitville)´s last blog smoothie virgin =-.

  7. Your dog is too funny! Looks like something mine would do. Congrats on your awesome pace!
    .-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..The Meatrix =-.

  8. dude, no doubting allowed. you will also have rested legs from the pre-race taper AND all the adrenaline/excitement of race day. you ran 7:21’s SOLO. you know how much the crowd/other races help boost you up!

    too funny of a pic!

  9. I’m glad you are doing so well in your training! That gel looks very interesting…
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Weekly Check In =-.

  10. Love your recovery sock. Where did you find them?
    .-= Jackie at´s last blog ..Gajar Halva (Indian Carrot Halwa Dessert) =-.

  11. Thanks for posting about the gels! I haven’t tried those yet and actually also usually HATE sports gels…so if you say they are good, I’m sort of more compelled to give these a try…hmmm…you know how much I love the Thrive Diet!
    .-= Jamie Walker´s last blog ..Overdose at the Salad Bar: My Dangerous Addiction =-.

  12. Love the Linus photos – his antics are worthy of Scooby himself! 🙂

  13. Linus it too adorable!
    No room for self doubt now that you are nearing the race! 😀 You totally rocked that 13 miles (at a pace I could only dream of :D) AND the calculator predicts your time will qualify so you only have to BELIEVE.
    .-= Mia {runs & rests}´s last blog ..Lake Night Rest and Early Morning Run =-.

  14. You are right to think that yesterday you couldn’t have run a BQ for a marathon. However, you are only halfway through your training program.

    So aside from all of the crowd support, nutrition, sleep, taper, etc that you’ll get to pump you up during the race, you are also going to just be in better shape all around when you toe the start line.

    Today’s run was just a piece that will ensure it happens.

    So yeah, no need to self doubt. You are on pace and doing great.
    .-= Blaine Moore´s last blog ..Beach to Beacon Becomes a Greener Race =-.

    • Thanks Blaine, good point. It’s funny that I didn’t think about that at all! I still have three 20-mile runs left, the fastest at 7:30 pace. So as long as everything goes well, I expect to gain a lot from those. I was thinking eight more weeks wasn’t much time, but with all those long runs, it is.

  15. AHHH! gimme yo dog! that is the most hilarious photo, and the one with the ball is adorable. love it. i love dog photos more than food or fitness ones, i must admit. linus is a cute name. i cant believe the qualifying pace. that is turbo fast.. and so are you. impressive.. i am a shortie slow poke when it comes to running!
    .-= janetha´s last blog whole body hurts. =-.

  16. This recipe makes 3/4 cup. Do you know how much a serving would be? I usually do a gel every 45-60 minutes of running and am trying to figure out how much of this I would need to carry at any given time.

    • Hey Chris, I just looked at a standard-size commercial gel and it’s 1.1 ounce. So if the recipe really makes 3/4 cup, that would be 6 ounces, a little more than 5 commercial gels. If I remember correctly, it makes about two baggies’ worth (like the one in the photo). I’d say one of those baggies is the equivalent of two standard gels. Why not try it out on a short run to make sure?

  17. Thank you soo much for posting this!! I can’t wait to try this out during my longer run this weekend!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Holy Guacamole! =-.

  18. Hey, I hate to be negative but agave nectar is NOT RAW! Do some research, as a sweetner it isnt any better for you than honey or sugar, in fact its pretty bad considering how processed it is!


  19. I love your gel and erg recipes. Everyone who has tried them love them too! I have done 3 marathons on them : )I love being a raw vegan athlete after 30 yrs of of the SAD diet!

  20. Hi Matt,
    Is there anything I can sub for the dates in this recipe?
    By the the idea of making your own gels and energy bars.

  21. I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks for posting and sharing about the book Thrive. I’m going to check that out also. My question: how long does this gel keep? Do you keep it in the fridge?

  22. I’ve been stewing for a better way to bring homemade gels on a run, and this morning I finally came up with a great solution. I have a FoodSaver that I normally use to package food for offshore sailing. I hauled it out, and took the roll of 8″ bags, and cut them down into 4″x4″ size, sealed the open edges, loaded each one up with 1.25 oz of gel, and sealed the last edge up. Then I clipped notches near one corner for easy-tear access and consumption. Worked great! I have photos of the process if you want to see. I now have 12-dozen little gel packs in the freezer, some Pineapple Orange Chia, and some Thrive Lemon Lime. Thanks for the recipes!!

  23. Natasha says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Wondering how many calories are there per serving? And how much is a serving …one cup? Thanks!

  24. Kristen says:

    Natasha….I was wondering the same thing. A half cup of agave nectar alone is 480 calories or so. If that’s two servings, that’s a lot of calories at one time!

  25. This looks great! I am curious how to make a natural gel that uses more protein/fats instead of sugar. I’m intrigued about the concept of burning fat instead of sugar for long runs as you talk about in this article: Lately I’ve been making my own bars for runs (similar to a lara bar) but I’d rather do liquids so you take out the chewing (aka choking) factor.

  26. christine says:

    I followed these 2 recipes to a tee and found them to both be disgusting. NMA is my usual “go to” site for recipes so I was very dissapointed. Not sure if it is just my taste buds or what. Needless to say, I am still on the lookout for a recipe that I can tolerate.

  27. Well, I tried the gel. I made it with half of the amount of agave it called for and added a little bit of organic green tea for some caffeine. Even with half the amount of agave it was WAY to sweet. I think I will cut it back even more and add more lime zest for a tangier gel. Anyway, I liked the bits of date. Can’t wait for this weekend and my next long run to try it again. Thanks. 🙂

  28. Thanks for this! I want to try this for my first marathon in 18 days! Hopefully I can find some agave nectar here in Istanbul or ask my parents to ship me some. 🙂

  29. Thanks SO much for the energy gel recipe. My husband has been training for his first marathon (coming up this weekend!) and trying out all the gu’s and gels … this one is by far his favorite – store bought or homemade. Thanks for posting and best wishes in your running!

  30. Lydia Ruiz says:

    just wondering: what is the CHO content in gm for this recipe? Would like to know if one batch would get me thru a 1/2 marathon.

  31. I’d suggest using something like this for packaging:

    Provides easier consumption and keeps waste down. We use em for apple sauce.

  32. Thanks Hojo, great idea for a reusable gel container. I’m trying to cut down on my plastic baggie use.

  33. How long will this gel keep?

  34. I’ve made both recipes. They are tasty and work well when I’m hiking. I just recently started putting the gel into 1 ounce silicone ‘gel flasks’. The switch has worked great!! Do you have any other gel recipes aside from whats in the Thrive book?

  35. Hi

    Ive been trying to use this natural gel recipe but just wonder what should i do if something is left? Can i freeze and use it on the next weekend ? How long i can still eat this gel before it expires?

  36. Has anyone tried this with honey? I am training for my first marathon and would love an alternative to the processed gels.

    • Here, here! I did! and tested during a 20-miler this morning: still alive… 🙂

      The sticky stuff ain’t pretty but tastes great, and… works! my stomach was a tad upset, but probably I didn’t get enough water to ease digestion. My fault!

      In the mix: honey, one impressive Medjool date, one Tbsp of lemon zest, a splash of water, and ground coffee. This, inside a Zip-lock baggie pinned to my shorts. 90 minutes on the go, I bit one of the corners of the bag and sucked the gel. I ended up like a sweet mess, but was fun… and tasty, I insist!

      Thanks for the inspiration, Matt! and have fun on your first marathon, Jamie!

  37. Do you know about the hack for pinning a commercial gel to running shorts? (See: Do you know of a way to do this with a ziploc or other disposable container?

  38. I’ve been experimenting with using either this or the chia gel recipe for my marathon. Based on my weight in ideal conditions I’m going to need about 130 calories/hour. The chia gel recipe says it’s 110 calories/serving. How many calories are there in a serving of this recipe?

  39. mscreation101 says:

    Goodness, but this was delicious. I used this recipe to fuel my marathon and I had no gastric troubles at all. The lemon zest is so addicting that I wanted to keep eating before each hour mark. This has now become my go to staple for my long runs! Thanks so much!

  40. Matt I have recently read on another website a rather damning article on Agave nectar.
    Basically saying that most agave nectar on the market is artificial in it’s ingredients and no better for you than high fructose corn syrup. The Thrive recipes use Agave Nectar extensively.
    Any thoughts on that?

    Also any reason you could not use an organic honey instead of agave?. I’m looking at making gels and energy bars for a 7 hour plus endurance race. Not sold on the agave nectar after reading that.

  41. How long does it keep? How should I store it? I just made the chia energy gel and will try it today!

  42. Mélissa Bernier says:

    Can I remplace agave sirup by Maple Sirup?

  43. I am excited to try this. As an endurance runner, I have had such bad experiences with all gels, gu etc, where they bloat me almost instantly followed by severe pain across my chest and arm. Imagine experiencing all that discomfort while trying to finish 26.2 or more miles! YIKeS!!


  1. […] nutrition products, such as gels, in favour of making their own. Do a quick Google search (click here, here and here) and you will easily find a vast array of homemade gel and sports nutrition product […]

  2. […] Fuel:  The longer into your run, the less efficient or “awake” your digestion becomes.  Anticipate this decline by making sure to get your first round of fuel into your gut at the 1-hour mark.  From there, aim for 30-60 grams of carbs per hour.  Spread it out evenly in small doses at a time to avoid cramping (i.e. ¼ of a gel packet or a bite of food every other mile).   Vega makes a pretty “clean” gel.  Real food alternatives: banana, a few pretzels, handful of raisins, two dates or dried apricots, or try this DIY gel recipe. […]

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