Oct 26, 2018Drexel’s Dragon Gels gives athletes an energy boost
In 2011, members of the men’s soccer team at Drexel University told students and staff at the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) that they were taking a squirt of honey for extra energy at halftime. When Nyree Dardarian, MS, RD, LDN, Assistant Clinical Professor in the CNHP at Drexel, measured the team’s honey after a game, she found that each player ingested only about 10 grams — not nearly enough for the boost they needed.
According to an article by The Philadelphia Inquirer, that set the ball in motion for a new way to fuel the team. Dardarian and her team of nutrition interns wanted to find a carbohydrate-rich snack that would be tasty, easy to chew, and easy to package.
After spending a few years testing flavors and consistencies, the newly made Dragon Gels were ready to roll. The blue raspberry-flavored gels are made from a mixture of gelatin, filtered water, fructose, glucose, and blue powder that is like sugar and has the berry flavor, along with a couple of other ingredients. Each of the Dragon Gels has 36 grams of carbohydrates, 149 calories, and one gram of protein.
The nutritionists with Drexel’s department of athletics work with student-athletes to determine how much of a gel they should consume. They are always taken with water to help deliver the carbohydrates.
Although there aren’t plans to expand marketing to the public, Drexel’s student-athletes aren’t the only ones using Dragon Gels. The Philadelphia Union soccer team has been using them since 2015, and the Philadelphia Flyers and U.S. Squash Team are also fans.
“They are not heavy on my stomach,” Union captain Alejandro Bedoya, a midfielder, said. “I tend to take them at halftime to give me that extra energy and I feel like that has helped me.”
Students in the CNHP make the Dragon Gels in the CNHP Metabolic Lab Kitchen, averaging between 300 and 500 gels per week based on demand. One batch consists of 36 squares and takes about 20 minutes to make. Moving forward, they are hoping to experiment with more flavors, such as strawberry or sour watermelon if the nutrient levels check out.