Standing between you and victory, there it stands. It can hit you like ten tons of bricks, insurmountable… impassible…. dreadful…. It can happen at any time. Your legs fail, your senses take full leave and a full-blown bodily insurrection takes hold – you’ve hit “the wall”. Hitting the wall or “bonking” is an unmistakable sensation. It’s caused by the depletion of glycogen stores resulting in sudden fatigue and a loss of energy during exercise. The good news is that it’s also completely avoidable.
GU, the Berkeley-based sports nutrition company, started in the early 80s with their original GU Energy Gel, a revolutionary product and an effective method to keep athletes fueled during exercise. Since then, GU has continued to improve the recipe, incorporating the latest scientific research into its products, adding GU Electrolyte Brew, GU Recovery Brew and Chomps Energy Chews to the product line, and striving to do one thing: help athletes go faster and longer than ever before, and helping them to avoid that “hit the wall” moment.
For those who spend countless hours in the saddle, pounding the pavement (or trail) or simply chasing the black line for hours in the pool, there’s a problem. You want to replace the vital nutrients your body loses during training while helping to rebuild the muscles that break down in the process. Understandably, you want more than just an average performing, mediocre tasting, energy solution to aid in your performance and recovery.
GU Energy kicks mediocrity to the curb with a full line of supplements. GU strives to use the highest quality raw ingredients and claims to have perfected the production process to ensure batches of GU products are carefully blended and accurately measured ensuring that the texture, taste, and pH levels are always of the highest standards.
GU sent our team a selection of products from their Electrolyte Brew (formerly Gu2o) including Electrolyte Brew Tablets, Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Drink and the GU Recovery Brew Drink to trial.
GU Electrolyte Brew Tablets…
Research has shown that a variety of sources, colors and flavors of beverages is just as important as a variety of food in nutrition. Diversity stimulates greater levels of consumption when it comes to both food and beverages. Fueling up the right way before, during and after training can make a big impact on how you feel and perform no matter what you’re tackling.
For those looking for quick low-calorie electrolyte replacement, simply drop a GU Electrolyte Brew Tablet into 20 – 30 oz. of water. Providing an optimal blend of sodium and potassium with just 10 calories and a natural plant-derived sweetener, brew tablets are specifically designed to provide athletes with the electrolytes they need to excel in extended training sessions.
With the Electrolyte Brew tablets you have a deliciously refreshing alternative to fulfill your body’s all-important electrolyte requirements. The great benefit is these tablets offer athletes the convenience of simply dropping an effervescent tablet into their sports bottle and help bodies literally rejuvenate and replenish vital nutrients. Furthermore, the tablets are also a convenient alternative to carrying bulky powders or additional bottles when embarking on extended workouts.
The only critique from our team was that in our experience the GU Electrolyte Brew Tablets didn’t dissolve as thoroughly as some other products on the market, and some members of our field team felt the tablets left a slight aftertaste to the water.
Flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Peach Tea, Tri-Berry, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon-Lime, & Orange. Comes in a tube of 12 tablets ($6.50) or a box of 10 tubes ($65.00).
Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Drink …
GU’s Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Drink is a carbohydrate intensive drink formulated for long-duration and shorter-duration but intense workouts. A single serving contains 240 calories of performance supporting carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) and electrolytes which is dissolvable in a 20 oz. bottle.
According to GU Energy, the mixture of fructose and maltodextrin allows the athlete to tap into multiple carbohydrate transport proteins, increasing the rate of carbohydrate transport by the gut, promoting increased carbohydrate oxidation compared to maltodextrin alone.
Wanting to help athletes get the highest performance possible out of their efforts, Gu has included a few other key ingredients to support your athletic endeavors including: taurine (aides heart and muscle performance), beta-alanine (improves muscle buffering), branch chain amino acids – Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine – (reduces muscle damage, enhance recovery and delay fatigue). In addition, the tropical fruit and lemon-lime flavors contain 35mg of caffeine, which has been shown in studies to reduce pain perception, delay fatigue, and ultimately increase performance.
If you generally like GU’s Roctane line of gels, you’ll like the ease and taste of their endurance drink. The powder completely dissolved within 20-30 seconds with no fuss and no mess, and no chalky after taste.
While GU suggests consuming between 240 to 450 calories an hour depending on the duration and intensity of your activity, our field team found that for their particular fueling needs, alternating between drinking Ultra Endurance and consuming GU’s Roctane Gels worked well and kept their nutrition from the realms of the mundane.
Flavors: Lemon-Lime, Tropical Fruit and Grape. Comes in both in single serving packet and 12 ($24) and 24 ($45) serving canisters.
GU Recovery Brew Drink…
It’s no secret that over the course of an intense training session, long ride, or grueling run your body doesn’t just burn calories. Muscles break down and vital nutrients leave the body in the form of sweat. GU Recovery Brew is designed to replenish your energy and help rebuild muscle so your body can recover properly.
In training and simply living our normal life, free radicals, unstable molecules in the body that can cause DNA mutation, also build up. Free radicals aren’t necessarily villains–they’re by-products of a basic metabolic process called oxidation– however too many free radicals and your normal antioxidant defenses become overwhelmed, leaving you vulnerable to cell damage and disease.
With over 100% of daily allowances of vitamins C and E in every serving the GU Recovery Brew isn’t only helping your body restock essential nutrients, it’s helping crush free radicals cruising around your body like crazy taxi-cab drivers.
In their efforts to utilize only the highest grade of ingredients, GU uses whey protein isolate in GU Recovery Brew rather than whey protein concentrate. In addition to the whey isolate, you will find Arginine and Glutamine to promote recovery after intense training and to promote a healthy and strong immune system.
With a few easy shakes of the bottle, GU Recovery Brew mixes easily with water providing a smooth drinking brew that goes down easy without any chalky residue or taste.
We know that some athletes can be finicky with their caloric intake and may quibble with the 250 calories in single serving of this drink. But when mixed with 2800mg of glutamine and 1400 mg of arginine, Brew’s got a lot to give and can make a positive difference for triathletes and endurance athletes, or those who like to crank out multiple training sessions in a single day.
How to use it: GU suggests that for optimal results, drink 16-24oz of GU Recovery Brew directly following training or racing.
Flavors: Chocolate Smoothie, Strawberry -Watermelon, & Orange-Pineapple. Comes in single serving packets, boxes of 12 packets (Chocolate Smoothie – $44.50; Strawberry -Watermelon, & Orange-Pineapple $32.40) and canisters of 13 servings (Chocolate Smoothie – $45; Strawberry -Watermelon, & Orange-Pineapple $33)
Bottom Line …
If your idea of training or racing is giving it your all in a multi-hour adventure and pushing your physical limits to the extreme, then the line-up of GU Roctane, Recovery Brew Drink and Electrolyte Brew Tablets will serve as a valuable if not indispensible part of your training and race day toolbox.
*Note: Your results may vary. As with most performance products, personal preferences and other variables, such as weather conditions, workout intensity, duration and other variables will contribute to your performance.