GU Energy Gels: Do They Really Work? Are They Good For You?

GU Energy Gels: Have You Ever Used Them?

Have you ever seen those energy gel packets at the supermarket or in your local bike shop?

I had seen them in the past, but I had never actually tried any of them for myself. That is, until I was recently sent a sampler packet for the entire line of GU energy products.

Inside the sampler pack were 2 GU Electrolyte Brews, 1 GU Recovery Brew, 2 GU Chomps, 9 different GU Energy Gels, and 3 Roctane Ultra Endurance Enery Gel packets.

The company sent this to me in hopes that I would write a review on my website and share my findings with you, but the truth is, I don’t really know how to review a product like this. I just don’t know that much about the products and I feel a little uncomfortable reviewing food products as a whole.

So, here’s the deal: I want to know what you think of these things.

  • Have you ever used GU energy products for yourself?
  • Do  you use them now? If so, what do you think?
  • Have they given you more energy?
  • Do you think they increase your athletic abilities?
  • Do you like or dislike how they taste?
  • Do you think they are healthy and safe?
  • What do you think of the products overall?

I’ve tried a few of the products thus far and I’m not sure how I feel about them. I was raised with a doctor father who told me that I shouldn’t eat something unless I can recognize all the ingredients in it. And while that is getting harder and harder to do in today’s world of processed foods, there are a few ingredients in these GU products that I am certainly unfamiliar with.

The texture of the gels is another thing I feel a bit torn about. When I opened my first packet of GU Energy Gel, I expected it to have a texture very much like that of yogurt, but the gel was a whole lot thicker than that (more like glue)… and a whole lot sweeter. The gels I have tried thus far have all tasted pretty good (my favorite is the Strawberry Banana energy gel), but the texture is strange. It might just be one of those things that you have to get used to. I don’t know.

Anyway, since I don’t feel comfortable reviewing a product such as this, I’d like to hear what you think. Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve used these products in the past, what you think of them, and tell me whether or not products such as these are something you would recommend for others. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

The products featured in this article were sent to Bicycle Touring Pro at no expense for the purpose of this review.

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0 thoughts on “GU Energy Gels: Have You Ever Used Them?

  1. dpeach says:

    I haven’t used a lot of the GU products, but I have used similar gels. They make a noticeable difference during an endurance event when you are really cranking out the miles at a high speed. As a bike traveler, I don’t think they would be something I would use much other than to have in case of emergency. when I needed some fuel but nothing was available.

    I have used them mostly while running. The do make a big difference, but I don’t think any more so than eating anything on a run. When you are on the road or trail for 2+ hours it is nice to be able to carry an extra 100 calories with you without taking up much space. However, if you have access to an apple or banana every so often, that is probably just as good and more healthy.

  2. Amy says:

    I have used them a several times. I don’t think of them as “food”, but rather as necessary calories. The times I use them are when I am exercising for long periods and eating food to provide necessary calories is not practical. Some examples of this include climbing Mr. Rainier, participating in an Adventure Race, and extended bike rides.
    Anyone who has ever experienced “bonking” has reached the point where energy expenditures exceed caloric intake. My personal experience is that when this happens I often don’t feel like eating (especially at high altitudes, I’m a little nauseous). But I know if I want to continue my efforts I need calories. Gu is a great option in these circumstances.

  3. Alan@TreeFort says:

    I’m a big fan of these energy foods, they are easy to digest during rides, super easy to store, and don’t taste bad (some of them are actually pretty good!). Here’s my bread down:

    1. Yep, I’ve used GU, which I think generally taste the best.
    2. I use them on long road or mtb rides, generally 35+ miles on the road or 15+ miles on the trail. I also use them before races.
    3. In my experience, they don’t really provide an immediate energy kick, but definitely do help further down the road. They help kill hunger, reduce headaches (which I get on long, hot rides), and keep muscles from getting sore. What I notice most about them is not so much how I feel on the bike when using them, but afterwards. After the ride and the following day my muscles feel less fatigued when I use proper nutrition during the ride. It doesn’t have to be GU, but you are expending a lot of energy and calories, so it must be recouped in some way.
    4. They do increase athletic abilities, though I can’t say how much. Basically I feel better when using GU or any kind of nutrition during long rides for the same reasons listed above.
    5. Some flavors are better than others. Coffee and chocolate are usually pretty aweful, fruit flavors are generally pretty good.
    6. Comparatively GU is one of the safest ones out there – it doesn’t provide as much of a kick or buzz as some of the other brands, most likely because its mostly natural ingredients.
    7. GU is just another way to get nutrition and energy while out on a ride. For long rides, good nutrition is necesarry. You can do it many different ways – bananas, sports drinks, fig bars, or power bars and gels. I like GU, not always, but on occasion.

    ?Do you like or dislike how they taste?
    ?Do you think they are healthy and safe?
    ?What do you think of the products overall?

  4. Jim Hammond says:

    I’ve gotten several packages at century rides, etc. and never even tasted the stuff. The name “GU” looks to much like “goo”. I do see the empty packages frequently by the side of the road, so I guess many bicyclists think the packages are biodegradable like banana skins. What’s the matter with real food?

  5. Clay says:

    I have used just the Chocolate Energy gels and they taste fine to me. Nearly every ride longer than 1.5 hours I’ll use them. They are good for long rides because they are fairly energy dense for the weight, which makes them less heavy than most regular food. Another advantage over ‘real’ food is that the gels will dissolve completely and because of this there shouldn’t be solid waste to for the digestive system to deal with.
    I like the Gu and I think they have a place for long rides where time is very important, and they are also handy way to have additional calories on hand.

  6. Jeff says:

    I use Gu energy gels on long runs. I have a voracious appetite and become exceedingly unpleasant when I am hungry. Gorging before a long run just weighs me down and makes me run slow. But I can eat light before a run if I have a Gu to help me along about an hour into the run. I don’t notice any energy spike. It just satiates my hunger and keeps me humming along.

    I might use them on a bike ride if I was racing, but my rides tend to be more casual. Given the option, I’d rather put a sandwich into the panniers and stop for lunch along the way. Carrying a sandwich on a run isn’t as easy. On a bike, there are a host of options for how to carry food. Even eating while riding isn’t that difficult. I’ve put crackers, sliced cheese, and sliced sausage into a ziploc in my bar bag and munched along the way. I would only use Gu in those situations where I really needed a small snack in a package that could be easily carried and consumed while under great exertion. Otherwise, I’ll eat real food.

  7. Larry Hodgin says:

    I have tried GU, CarBoom, and Stinger products..my favorite is a small bar that our group discovered on a recent cross country tour..Raw Rev(olution)..rawindulgence.com brings up their website. These small bars taste great, aren’t sticky, and don’t encourage large amounts of water to ingest..plus, they incorporate ingredients that are recognizable..

  8. Gregarious Raconteur says:

    I used to use protein bars when on longer rides, but after I tried some free samples of the GU gels I got at a local bike shop, I use them instead. Unlike food that you take on the trail, it doesn’t leave you with that uncomfortable feeling you get when you exercise with a full stomach.

  9. Hooter says:

    I use them a good bit, I’m a Type-2 diabetic, Gu-Gel provide excellent recovery during day rides and endurance rides. Gu chomps vs. Cliff blocks??? Cliff’s are cheaper… Haven’t tried the other two products, but as a diabetic its all a balancing act by the numbers and Gu Gel helps me stay in my zone and thats what counts..

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I like GU, but it doesn’t give you energy very quickly. Though it says 15 minutes before, for me it usually takes 20-30 minutes. As for the taste, some of them taste better than others.

  11. Monika says:

    Gu is great fuel for long endurance races where you burn more calories than usual and you need to eat and fuel your body to actually survive the race. There is also regular food necessary but if you go for a 12 or more hours GU is an option. I don'( know if the ingrediences are healthy or not, it contains sugar, sodium, vitamins some of them caffein… It does provide better endurance and energy.. And probably prevents from cramps. The tste is good, I like the strawberry (no caffeine) and the jet berry (2X caffeine) – use it after ride for recovery purpose.

  12. Adam Sukiennik says:

    I’m not a biker, but I run marathons and my training runs/workouts get very long and intense.

    I tried a powerbar gel a couple years ago on a run and could not stop gagging while trying to get it down. After that I was afraid from gels and stayed away from them. A couple days ago i decided to give GU a shot because I’ve heard good things about them. I tried chocolate outrage and vanilla bean.

    Not only did these taste great, but I felt a HUGE difference in my performance. I had a 24 miler with the last 10 miles being about 25 seconds faster then my projected race pace for my marathon in less then a month.

    I’m able to say that the GUs made a difference because I do similar runs like these all the time and I usually start feeling it in my legs towards the end of runs. However this time I didn’t feel anything really. I felt great. I’m definitely using GU gels from now on and after this race I’ll start experimenting with more GU products.

    I hope this is helpful…

  13. Lane says:

    I am a daily runner of 3-7 miles on average. I have tried GU before and during runs and noticed I had more fatigue than runs only prepped with water. I did not even experience a psychological boost that many people do. I stick with a high carb and protein shake before the run. I have not done any runs over 2 hours so I am not sure if this product could help I can see it’s potential for a lightweight nutritional substitute.

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