Anyone who knows me well (or even a little) knows that I can put away food. Some days you’d think I am getting ready to hibernate. People run for a lot of different reasons, but one of my favorite perks is that I get to eat more. Don’t get me wrong. Putting in a few miles doesn’t always entitle me to a fat sandwich or a dozen Krispy Kremes–ideally you replace calories you burn with more good calories. I have my favorite foods to eat in anticipation of a long run or to recover from a long run, but lately something I have been experimenting with is what I eat during the run. I have not come anywhere near to sampling the whole spectrum of gels, gummys, and other energy boosters, but here are a few notable ones I have found in the Gu brand.
Gu Roctane (Blueberry Pomegranate)
This has been my personal favorite for a while now. It got me through the Prairie State Marathon in 2010 and a lot of my longer training runs. What’s nice is that each of these happy little fellows packs 100 calories, 120 mg of sodium, and 25g of carbohydrates. Those quantities keep my body moving for a long time. The bonus: 35mg of caffeine. That’s double the caffeine of a normal Gu gel. Very nice. The downside: They’re kind of expensive as far as gels go, with a price anywhere between $2-$3 per gel. Not bad on the surface, but it adds up after a while.
Gu Roctane (Pineapple)
Shame on Gu! (Sorry, couldn’t help the pun.) The pineapple Roctane has all of the same nutritional goodness as the blueberry pomegranate, with one exception…NO CAFFEINE! And they even say that on that little red ribbon like it’s a good thing! Truth be told, I just like a gel with some caffeine. I wanted to try a new flavor (it’s not bad) but didn’t realize there was no caffeine until I was about to take it. I suppose some may like that feature, but I’ll stick to double caffeinated thank you very much.
Gu Jet Blackberry
Flavor is decent. It has the same number of calories and carbs as the Roctane, but way less sodium with only 25mg. Still a good choice for a moderate run and around half the price of Roctane. And this one also has a healthy supply of caffeine!
Gu Chocolate Outrage
Poor chocolate Gu. If there was ever an ugly red-headed stepchild of the gel family, it’d be you. Anytime I’ve been in a race and have come up to the gel station, you can always tell who is handing out the chocolate gel because none of the racers are taking any of those. And 9 times out of 10 the volunteer holding them is a nice kid who thought he’d be a good helper and picked the chocolate gels to hand out because…hey! everyone loves chocolate. I had some pity on one such kid and grabbed one of these recently. Surprisingly pretty tasty! It is short by 5g in the carb department compared the the jet blackberry, but has 5mg more in sodium. For the right person this would be the way to go. Now I’ll move coffee/espresso as the flavor to avoid, then again chocolate surprised me, so that one might too.
Gu Chomps Cranberry Apple
I’d heard about Chomps for a while. They’re basically like a shapeless gummy bear. Hungry after work, but needing to run, I decided to pop a few of these to get me going. They tasted so good I ended up wolfing down the entire pack! Wow these are tasty! On to the nutrition. There are two servings per pack, with four pieces making up a serving. 90 calories per serving, 23g carbohydrates, and 50mg sodium. Kind of interesting that there is a lower calorie count per serving compared to the gels. Pretty close on the carb count, but a lot more sugar. The BP Roctane has 5g of sugar compared to 11g for the Chomps. I guess we know where the great flavor comes from! A pack runs around $2-$3.
There are still a lot of flavors and products to try in the Gu family. There are also some other great brands out there. I’ve been meaning to give the Jelly Belly Sports Beans a try. Plus Powerade and a lot of other notable companies make products for replenishment during exercise. God willing someday KFC will make the endurance/energy bucket, but until then I’ll be experimenting with what’s out there. Any suggestions?
Photos and nutrition statistics are from http://www.guenergy.com.