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Muscle Fueling: GU Energy Gel

Last updated 2012-02-23 - Send Feedback
Related: Nutrition, training

Think maltrodextrin products for higher intensity events over time.

My favorite energy gel — Gu
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On rides under 2.5 hours, I take most of my calories with energy gel, which is 80% maltodextrin. Sometimes I use GU, and sometimes I use Hammer Gel.

For endurance rides of 2.5 hours or longer, I favor Hammer Perpetuem, and I also take electrolytes.

Remember, the body can take in no more than about 300 calories of carbohydrate per hour, so don’t overdo it. And to avoid cramps, minimize conventional complex carbohydrates* or fructose— these become serious no-nos (very uncomfortable cramps) as dehydration increases.

My energy gel of choice is plain or vanilla flavor of Gu, though I also like Jet Blackberry. Most of the Gu flavors are excellent, but your best bet for serious riding is to pick one or two flavors you like, and stick with them, understanding that what tastes good at the start of the ride might not taste so good later.

What I like about Gu is that most of the flavors have 20mg caffeine, a few have 40mg caffeine, and a few have no caffeine which lends flexibility in caffeine intake. Most of the time, I want caffeine as it is proven to help in endurance, and works well for me, but I also don’t want too much caffeine (not every Gu packet consumed should be 40mg caffeine!), so mixing in a flavor without caffeine can be a good strategy.

GU comes in both regular and Roctane versions— the Roctane is twice the price, and while I like the Roctane version, I’m not persuaded that it’s better than the regular original Gu.

* Maltodextrin (found in GU and Hammer Gel and similar) is technically a complex carbohydrate but the body can turn it into blood glucose very rapidly, making it ideal for certain types of fueling.

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Favorite flavors

I like most all of the Gu flavors, but the ones below are my favorites. I’m not a big fan of the chocolate or mint chocolate.

Some have 2X caffeine and some have no caffeine— choose appropriately. I prefer the Roctane, but the Roctane are twice the price typically, and I tend to reserve them for longer efforts and use the double caffeine ones intermixed with regular ones.


Favorite Gu flavors
Flatlands near Mountain Warfare Center of eastern Sonoma Pass in the Sierra Nevada

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