Gu Review

19 Feb

So I love Gu. I heart their products so hard. And guys, no one is even paying me to say that (although, you know, you can if you want). I thought about my love for Gu at length during yesterday’s 28k. Well I alternated between thinking about Gu and being convinced that the noise the wind was making was actually murderers and/or ghosts. But my insanity can’t be that interesting for you, so back to Gu

I love their gels and their electrolyte drink mixes and I’m not ashamed of it. I know there are some fancier brands out there with all-organic ingredients and natural sweeteners but eff that I love Gu. Tried Clif Shots and they gave me the barfs. Gatorade and Powerade make my intestines cry. Powerbar Gels — that doesn’t even make sense. You can’t be a bar and a gel at the same time. Gu is where it’s at

My favourites in particular, and the products I am most familiar with, are the gels. As someone who generally tries to limit sugar, taking a shot of pure liquid carb gel is like committing adultery (also known as the most fun sin). But even I have to admit that not all Gu gels are made the same.

So I present to you, dear reader, a completely subjective and unscientific review of Gu gel flavours. I do not pretend to have any real understanding of how the gels make me not want to die during three-hour runs. I don’t care about their patented recipe or the carb mix or whatever. All I know is that some taste like heaven and some taste like balls.


First off, the winners:


Sublime happiness in portable packaging.

Chocolate Outrage:

My absolute go-to. I’ve bought several 24-pack boxes of these babies. I used to be able to knock out a whole pan of fudge in my better days; chocolate was my thing. After shaping things up food-choices-wise, I don’t get quite so much chocolate in my life. These taste like how I imagine Nutella would taste without the hazelnut. Or like Betty Crocker chocolate icing but better. Just pure chocolatey, sugary, goodness.


Mint Chocolate:

The obvious next step. Just as good as plain chocolate, but with mint. Like downing molten Peppermint Patties. Perfection.



Tastes how I think the specialty drinks at Starbucks and TimmyHo’s should taste.  Just thicker. Which makes it sound gross. But if you can’t get over the texture of a gel now you never will.


Vanilla Bean:

Like vanilla pudding. Enough said.


Peanut Butter:

Just found out yesterday that they’re introducing this flavour. Promptly went into convulsions of joy. Peanut butter is my ultimate, numero uno, favourite food in the world. Beating even chocolate. I know.


And the losers:

Anything fruit-related:

Strawberry-Banana, Lemon-Lime, Orange, Tri-Berry, Jet-Blackberry… all taste like dollar-store candy. Like something’s not quite right. Like somebody cloned the fruit in a laboratory and it turned out to be evil so they made carb gels out of them. I do not recommend these ones.


Gu Roctane:

I don’t dislike the idea of the Gu Roctane line; they call these products ‘race day gels’ and they’re supposed to give an extra boost with double the caffeine and other scientific crap like amino acids or whatever. It’s just that the flavours they came up with are terrible! The Vanilla-Orange tastes unholy, the Pineapple like the tears of leprechauns, and Blueberry Pomegranate? UGH. Island Nectar? What does that mean?



Never tried it. Can’t get over the idea of just plain sugar goo. I need some flavour to provide at least a sheen of reasonableness, like I’m not just dipping a soup spoon into the sugar bag and downing the mountain of calories that comes out.


So that’s my roundup of the Gu gel product line. It’s incomplete but I live in Canada and don’t get all the cool flavours okay? Jeez. You may have different thoughts but those are mine.

Disclaimer: You don’t need gels or electrolyte drinks or protein bars unless you’re running many kilometers a week. Don’t waste your money. When I first started running I would read all these articles about proper carbo-loading and electrolyte imbalances and get myself worked up about it. Truth is, you’re probably fine with a bit of carbs in your belly and a piece of fruit and some protein as a post-run snack. I personally only use gels if I’m running 12-15k+, and then only sparingly. So relax.

Do you have a favourite brand of energy gel? Do you even use them or prefer something less Frankenstein-like (raisins, homemade carb bars, something like that)? Any recommendations? Looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinion!

6 Responses to “Gu Review”

  1. Happy Runner February 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM #

    Your winner list is funny (to me of course only) as I HATE all the chocolate GUs and the coffee GUs and rather run under-fueled than taking those. My favorites are Strawberry-Banana and Tri-Berry. So, I would probably like going GU shopping and running with you as we’d never take each other’s last GU. 🙂
    I do have to go and try Peanut Butter though – that one sounds delicious.

    • thetortoiseruns February 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM #

      Ahhhahaha the perfect energy gel partership! Don’t understand your preferences though but that’s okay 🙂

  2. Bill Dowis February 20, 2012 at 6:41 AM #

    I also love GU. I have tried a few different flavors but my favorite and go to is the Tri-Berry. I know you’re not bug on the fruits but for some reason the Tri berry is the smoothed flavor for me and one of the few flavors that I can stand using 3 or 4 times during a run.

    The chocolate and espresso flavors are good for the start but I can’t use them I’ve and over during a run.

    I also use GU recovery brew and GU sports drink.

    • thetortoiseruns February 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM #

      I’m the exact opposite clearly! I could only handle maybe half of a fruit flavoured gel — the chocolate ones are the only ones I can take again and again.

  3. Caitlin February 23, 2012 at 4:36 PM #

    The tears of leprechauns! Ha!

    Your favorite GU flavors are the same as mine. I’ll choke down the fruity ones when they had them out on race courses but I don’t seek them out or anything. The vanilla and espresso ones are supertasty though.

    Off topic but not really – we were walking past the 10-mile mark after a recent half-marathon and the clean-up crew had a whole box of leftover GUs. We are shameless so we asked if we could take a couple. They told us to open our bags and dumped in like $40 worth of GU! Score!

    • thetortoiseruns February 26, 2012 at 1:27 PM #

      That exact situation is a big part of why I linger at the Expo after the race! Always hoping for free castoffs. That much free Gu might send me into joy seizures!

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