I’ve spent the past 3 months staging a comeback from my initial IT injury, while safely trying to build a solid base for my impeding 50k training. The savvy bookworm that I am, I’ve also spent this time researching the types of supplements I want to use, GU Energy gels being one of them.
I never write a review on a product that I haven’t used consistently and in differing situations, which is why I don’t churn these suckers out like a vending machine. I’ve used GU energy gels for several months now on EVERY medium to long-distance run (6-13 miles) and can confidently add my 2 cents.
GU: The Ben & Jerry of Energy Gels
Peanut butter, Espresso, Chocolate, Peppermint…with 12 flavors to choose from, it’s hard not to find AT LEAST 1 flavor that you wouldn’t like. My personal favorites are mint chocolate, jet blackberry, and mandarin orange. …and out of the 12 flavors, I’ve tried 8 of them and LOVED them all! I personal prefer the caffeinated ones over the ones with no caffeine because of the extra kick. Sometimes I just can’t have a cup of joe before a run OR I don’t have time for that cup of joe to work…if you know what I mean. :P So I make sure to shove several Jet Blackberry gels into my pack before heading out. They give me that extra “oomph” that I crave at 6:30 in the morning.
Like frosting or melted peanut butter (but thicker), they go down smooth and easy, nothing sticky or runny about it. It dissolves instantly and washed down easily with no left behind residue. I personally love this because I never have to worry about getting squirted in the face on a run, which happened to me once when I tried the Powerbar gels. Nothing like a sticky face decorated with splotches of gnats.
Their latest flavor is peanut butter, which I wasn’t quite sure about. I mean, I love peanut butter sandwiches, but could GU actually make a peanut butter, flavored gel taste good? Skeptical, I tried it out, and I was NOT disappointed! It DEFINITELY tastes like peanut butter! So for you peanut butter lovers, you gotta give it a try!
Does it work?
YES! It DEFINITELY gives you the energy you need to get through those challenging or long haul workouts. A mixture of complex and simple carbs means your body is better able to absorb the energy it needs without diverting as much blood away from your muscles to help in digestion. You’ll get a nice, steady drip of energy much like an IV, meaning you won’t crash and burn from an instant sugar rush. That being said, I’ve never timed it to see how fast it works, but I would say along the lines of 5-10 minutes.
GU recommends taking it 15 minutes before you begin your workout. Personally, I ONLY do this when I haven’t had a chance to have a pre-run snack before my evening run, missed my morning meeting with Joe, or prior to a long run. The rest of the time, I like to take it every 5-6 miles. So on a 6 mile run, I’d take one at mile 3-4 just to have that extra boost. A normal 12 mile run equals 2 gels. For races, I take them more frequently. For instance, at the Country Music Half, I popped a GU at the 5k, 10k, and 10 mile mark. The heat was on that day, and the sun gave me a SUPER NICE runner’s tan. Won’t I look hot in a bikini this year? :P
Everyone is different. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works for you. I have running buddies who will easily go 8-10 miles before they even consider taking a gel.
***Make sure to chug some water (not just a sip, be generous) after you take one. It assists in absorption. Some have commented that they end up with cramps when they didn’t take it with water. I’ve never had that happen. Then again, I’ve always drank water with it as well. ***
Ease of Use
For the most part, I have little difficulty using gels. Think of yourself as a lion or as a lioness for my gals out there. Forget about daintily trying to tear the tip off with your fingers. Put on your big girl panties and rip into it your teeth! That’s pretty much the best way I’ve found to do it, especially when your fingers are like a sweaty slip n’ slide.
***Please be considerate of the environment and consider stowing your empty gels in a pocket or pack instead of on the ground.***
If you’re looking for a reliable source of energy that’s easy to stomach, tastes great, and works fairly quickly, check out GU’s selection of energy gels. Start with a few to see if you like it. I’m sure you will, so after that, check out their online store OR head over to runningwarehouse.com. Both sites will offer special pricing at various times.
They also have a Roctane line meant for high-intensity workouts and long-distance runners. I haven’t tried those yet but am looking into it for my 50k training come July. I’ll make sure to post a review of those AFTER I’ve tried them out myself. Nothing like letting someone else be the guinea pig! J
For more detailed information about GU gels, their recommended usage, and key components click HERE.