The Best GU Energy Gels Reviewed

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As time goes on we find more and more ways to take running to the next level. One of the ways we’ve advanced our sport is through energy gels. Where runners used to rely on things like sports drinks and soda for an extra boost, we can use energy gels to get that same replenishment.

GU (pronounced “goo”) is a company started by a biophysicist from Berkley who was looking to create a better way for his daughter,who is an ultra marathon runner, to get energy while running. It’s the company that started it all and is still one of the leading brands of energy gels for runners to choose from.

We’ve compiled a list of the best GU energy gels that are sure to give you that little extra punch while running. They are packed with nutrients, amino acids, and carbohydrates that assist in reducing fatigue and muscle damage while increasing your endurance. If you’re new to energy gels or just want a better way to carb-load, check out our custom criteria to see how we selected the best GU energy gels and to learn more about energy gel in general.

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By Max Knapp:

This update brings no less than four new flavors to our list of best GU energy gels, including another great caffeine-free option in a fruity pineapple flavor. Sea salt chocolate, Tri Berry, and Vanilla Cream all join that line-up, replacing flavors that are no longer available.

Tri Berry
  • Tri Berry
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Subtle Flavor
  • Price: See Here
Vanilla Bean
  • Vanilla Bean
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Branched-Chain Amino Acids
  • Price: See Here
Sea Salt Chocolate
  • Sea Salt Chocolate
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rich Chocolate Taste
  • Price: See Here

The Best GU Energy Gels

Tri Berry

The Tri Berry energy gel is for those who need some extra fuel with a mild taste and easy delivery.
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Energy
With two great sources of energy in each packet, the Tri Berry energy gel is part of the original GU energy gel line. It’s perfect for routine workouts and short runs.

Nutrition
Each packet contains 450mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, 20mg of caffeine, and at least 21g total carbs. Tri Berry is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Many of the flavors from GU pack a sweet punch, but the Tri Berry energy gel strikes a good balance, lending just enough flavor to make the gel palatable without being overly sweet or overpowering.

Cost
Compared to other gels on our list, this one is about the same if not slightly cheaper and is available in both the 24 count pack and the 8 count pack.
Pros
  • Caffeine, sodium, potassium
  • Original formula
  • Amino acids to reduce fatigue
  • Portable packets
  • 24 or 8 count available
  • Less sweet than other flavors
  • Dual source energy
Cons
  • Taste will vary by user

2. Vanilla Bean

Gu Vanilla Bean energy gel allows for a steady amount of energy instead of a huge sugar rush followed by a crash.
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Energy
This GU Vanilla Bean energy gel is best used when taken 5 minutes before your run, and every 45 minutes during it. It is typically used for longer runs.

Nutrition:
It has 20mg of caffeine. Each packet contains 450mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, and at least 21g total carbs. Vanilla Bean is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Most reviewers liked the taste of the Vanilla Bean GU energy gel flavor, which a very small amount of users claiming it to be chalky.

Cost
The price per 24 pack is much more cost efficient and will be of great value.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Decreases chances of  muscle damage.
Cons
  • Taste will vary by user
  • Contains Caffeine

Sea Salt Chocolate

The GU Sea Salt Chocolate Roctane energy gels are strong enough to get you through your most intense routines and runs while being easy to carry and having a great taste.
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Energy
The Sea Salt Chocolate energy gels have a little more caffeine kick and are packed with nutrients that help deliver long endurance energy. This gel is part of the Roctane line of energy gels and offers great extra fuel for longer runs or more intense workouts.

Nutrition
Each packet contains 1425 mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, 35 grams of caffeine, and at least 21g total carbs. Sea Salt Chocolate is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
People who love the Sea Salt Chocolate say it’s because of the true chocolate taste and the subtle salt flavor. It’s sweet and rich and will make this easy energy delivery feel like a treat.

Cost
The cost is comparable to other gels on our list, although these are only available in the 24 count pack, so you’ll have to make a bit of an initial investment.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Extra caffeine, sodium, and potassium
  • Dual energy source
  • Sweet flavor
  • Added amino acids for extra endurance
Cons
  • Taste will vary by user

Pineapple

Pineapple
The Pineapple energy gel is a fruity fuel option from GU that is sure to keep you going through marathons and intense workouts.
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Energy
This energy gel is part of the Roctane line from GU which means it has a little extra in the way of additives to give you even more fuel for longer runs and more intense workouts. Unlike other Roctane options, however, there’s no caffeine.

Nutrition
Pineapple is a great caffeine-free option that also contains 125mg Sodium, 55mg Potassium, and 1425mg of amino acids. This helps with mental fatigue and muscle recovery.

Taste
If you like citrus the Pineapple energy gel flavor makes a great alternative to your typical lemon or lime taste. It’s comparable to the fruity flavor of sweet gummy candies.

Cost
This flavor is more expensive than the other flavors on our list and is only available in a 24 count pack. It’s definitely worth the initial investment and is sure to be one of your favorite ways to carb-load during a big run.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Dual fuel source
  • Fruity taste
  • Sodium, Potassium, and amino acids added
  • No caffeine
Cons
  • Taste will vary by user
  • A little pricey

5. Chocolate Outrage

5. Chocolate Outrage
Runners are looking for a supplement which allows them to meet the energy demands created by challenging runs which are often over a long time period.

This Chocolate Orange Gel serves for reducing psychological fatigue resulting from challenging activity, greatly decreases the potential for muscle damage and enables an athlete to give maximum performance.
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Energy
The packet gives calories at 100%, dense fructose and maltodex (carbohydrates) which results in energy.

A sound hydration is balanced through the inclusion of a primary electrolyte in the form of sodium, decreased potential for muscle damage through amino acids such as valine, leucine and isoleucine.

Nutrition
Caffeine although a stimulant can also be regarded as a conceptual nutrient when it is combined with nutrients which serve to maintain high levels of glucose while fighting the effects of free radicals through the addition of camomile (anti-oxidants) which can reduce the potential of inflammation.

Taste
This combination of energy giving ingredients are topped of with tasty orange flavor.

Cost
The cost is standard among energy gels, affordable.
Pros

Anti-oxidents
Ginger to relax the stomach
Dense fructose
Helps reduce inflammation
Boosts energy when needed

Cons

Ok for those who prefer caffeine

6. Strawberry Kiwi

6. Strawberry Kiwi
Looking for a GU energy gel that will boost your endurance without all the caffeine, you might want to give the Strawberry Kiwi flavor a try.
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Energy
This GU Strawberry Kiwi energy gel is best used when taken 5 minutes before your run, and every 45 minutes during it. It is typically used for longer runs.

Nutrition:
It has zero grams of caffeine. Each packet contains 1425 mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, and at least 21g total carbs. Strawberry Kiwi is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Although taste is a preference, most reviewers liked the taste of the Most reviewers liked the taste of the Strawberry Kiwi GU energy gel flavor, with a very small amount of users claiming to not like the flavor.

Cost
The price per 24 pack is much more cost efficient and will be of great value.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Caffeine Free
Cons
  • Taste varies by user

Vanilla Orange

Vanilla Orange
The Vanilla Orange energy gel is a sweet way to pack on energy for those who need that extra boost on especially long runs.
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Energy
The Vanilla Orange energy gel is part of the Roctane line from GU. It is a little more heavy duty than the original and has caffeine content, so it’s typically used for longer runs or more intense workouts.

Nutrition
Each packet contains 1425 mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, 35 grams of caffeine, and at least 21g total carbs. Vanilla Orange is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Although taste is a preference, most reviewers liked the taste of the Vanilla Orange energy gel, claiming it tasted like a creamsicle or orange soda. If you could use a sweet pick me up during your run, take this flavor for a spin.

Cost
It’s available in a 24 count which is a larger investment initially but is comparable to most of the other options on our list. Buying in bulk also saves you money in the long run.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Extra caffeine, sodium, and potassium
  • Dual energy source
  • Sweet flavor
  • Added amino acids for extra endurance
Cons
  • Taste varies by user

8. GU Energy Gel Mandarin Orange

8. GU Energy Gel Mandarin Orange
Delicious tangy mandarin taste.

A good performance gel (energy food) to keep you going through training or long challenging runs, don’t drop your pace and you can eat this while still on the move.

Packed with nutritious fuel and round off with ginger which will gently sooth your stomach, check out this good and proven gel with it’s specialized formula for carbohydrates. Works nicely with recovery time products for runners.
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Energy
This gel contains a combination of high level nutrients in doses which work together to maintain the bodies glucose level so that performance energy remains constant and fatigue is kept at bay.

Caffeine a known stimulant will give that needed boost as and when needed.

This gel is produced as gluten free.

Nutrient
For a good combination of nutrients you get calcium, vitamin E, Vitamin C, Potassium, sodium, citric acid, sea salt, chamomile to sooth the stomach, cola nut, paprika, ginger, GU anti-oxident blend, filtered water just to mention the basics.

When ingesting this gel it can be followed up with a drink of water, the sachets can be taken just before a long run and during a long run to maintain a balanced energetic performance and contributes towards a nice recovery time.

Taste
Great taste with fruity Mandarin Orange.

Cost.
Nice on the running budget and you get energy in return
Pros

Great taste with fruity Mandarin Orange.

Pros

Gluten Free

Use before and during a race to maintain energy level

Caffeine for added energy boost

Easy to carry

Cons

Not for runners if they prefer caffeine free gels.

9. Blueberry Pomegranate

9. Blueberry Pomegranate
Looking for a GU energy gel that will boost your endurance, you might want to give the Blueberry Pomegranate flavor a try.
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Energy
It has 35 grams of caffeine. Each packet contains 1425 mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, and at least 21g total carbs. Blueberry Pomegranate is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Although taste is a preference, most reviewers liked the taste of the Blueberry Pomegranate GU energy gel flavor, with a very small amount of users claiming to not like the flavor.

Cost
The price per 24 pack is much more cost efficient and will be of great value.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
Cons
  • Taste varies by user

10. Assorted Flavors

10. Assorted Flavors
It might be a good idea to try an assorted flavor pack so that you can find out which flavors you like best.
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Energy
This GU Tastefully Nude energy gel is best used when taken 5 minutes before your run, and every 45 minutes during it. It is typically used for longer runs.

Nutrition:
Caffeine varies by flavor. Each packet contains 450mg of Amino acids, 100 calories, and at least 21g total carbs. Tastefully Nude is filled with carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly. It also contains amino acids that help limit muscle fiber damage, increase your speed of recovery, and it has electrolytes that help maintain your water balance.

Taste
Taste will vary by user. Assorted flavors is a great way to figure out which flavors you will like best. Flavors include: Vanilla Orange, Cherry Lime, Lemonade and 6 packets each of Blueberry/Pomegranate, and Strawberry Kiwi.

Cost
The price per 24 pack is much more cost efficient and will be of great value, plus you get to try lots of flavors.
Pros
  • Portable packets
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Reduces mental fatigue
  • Caffeine & Non-Caffeine flavors
Cons
  • Taste will vary by user

Taste is a personal preference, but with all these options for GU you’re sure to find one that satisfies your taste buds. It’s important to note that there were not reports of the product not working, therefore it seems like a wise investment to enhance your workout or races.

Here Is What We Looked At

What Is It, And What Does It Do

If you have any experience in high endurance or marathon racing, you’ve most likely heard of “carb loading” or a similar technique of eating pasta or other carb-heavy foods before the race to have the additional energy for the longer distance. The problem with this method is that it can be unhealthy and ineffective as the body can only hold a limited amount of reserves. GU addresses this by providing only the critical carbohydrates for energy and essential amino acids for muscle support in a gooey gel that’s convenient for the runner. Let’s take a look at some of the qualities we looked for so that you can determine which gel is best for you. We know that our readers are always looking for that additional edge that can make the last mile a walk in the park.

Real World Reviews And Feedback

We went through a metric ton of user feedback and recommendations when searching for the best energy gels, and we determined that the original innovator, GU, has the best chance of working for you. Time and time again, we found that the company’s proprietary formula seems to have the right mixture to delivery energy effectively to marathon runners and endurance athletes. It’s important to note what type of activities the testers reported during their use to determine the best match for what is expected from the product.

Taste

Quite simply, no one wants bad tasting nutritional supplement. Our buying guide features the best flavors that the company has to offer according to testers that have tried a variety of flavors. The good news is that overall; the gel is a lot better and more convenient than a thick shake or a grainy, gritty bar. Additionally, it won’t make you bloated either, which is great. Great tasting flavors make sure that runners aren’t left with a bad taste in their mouth.

Use For Competitive Activity

We made sure to listen to the feedback that came from marathon runners, long-distance cyclists, and high endurance athletes to make sure the effectiveness of the supplement can do the same for your activities. Make no mistake, these energy gels are meant for the high performing and demanding athlete. You may not notice a difference during a light gym workout because that’s not what they are designed for, they are meant to give you a boost when you feel like you have depleted your energy.

A Good Fit With A Runner’s Lifestyle

Runners spoke, and we listened. They don’t want to mix powders, measure fluids, or worry about pounding carbs before they run for the energy they need to go the distance. However, we wanted to make sure that there wasn’t a sacrifice on performance to gain convenience. Testers were more than pleased with the positive gains they achieved with GU Energy Gels, and they were happy they give the supplement a serious consideration.

 

Other Important Things to Think About

The above factors are important to consider to find the best energy gel for you. We know that you are eager to try it out for yourself and get that second wind of energy for your next marathon, but here are some additional points that will help you while shopping for an energy gel.  Keep reading to learn about some factors to consider before choosing which GU Energy Gel is right for you.

Manage Your Expectations

Like any nutritional supplement or athletic additive, these energy gels will not turn you into a superhuman that will fly through finish lines and cartwheel past competitors. Most of the negative feedback we encountered regarding this product was from users that had unrealistic expectations about what this supplement can do for them. Remember that nothing will replace training and hard work, and there is no supplement that will instantly transform you into a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete.

A Selection For Your Activity Level

Be sure to make a selection based on the activity that you need it for. This will ensure that you take full advantage of the subtle differences in formulas of the energy gel. For weight training and gym workouts, make a choice with higher amounts of amino acids for quicker recovery times and less muscle fatigue. If you’re planning on running a marathon, reach for a gel with higher carbohydrates for that long-term energy that can help you during the last mile. We made sure to list the selections with different amounts of nutrition makeup to take the guesswork out of your selection.

Choose Between Caffeine Or No Caffeine

This is mostly a personal preference, however, it should not be overlooked. Some testers enjoy the additional jolt of energy that is provided from the inclusion of caffeine in their supplements, while others simply do not. While there are claims that caffeine aids in mental sharpness, there are also reports of a “crash” once it wears off. This means that making that selection should be based on your personal feelings and what you’re looking for. The good news is that they come in both varieties to give everyone a choice.

Try A Variety

Based on the differences in user reviews when it comes to taste and flavor, we would recommend trying a variety of flavors in order to choose your favorite. In addition, so that you don’t get bored with your supplement, it’s always a good idea to have different flavors. Users typically stay with one favorite taste and have additional options to switch up their routine.

Make The Gel Part Of Your Regimen

These energy gels are in no way meant to replace a meal or hydration from the water. In fact, if you’re using an energy gel you definitely need to follow it up with a healthy amount of water. Instead, they are meant to be part of a healthy nutritional lifestyle that can serve you better when you need energy from carbs and muscle strength form amino acids. Much like all nutritional supplements, we recommend that you establish a well-rounded diet and engage in a healthy lifestyle to achieve the maximum benefits of your workout plan.

Try Them Out And Take Stock Of Their Effect Time

Since things like supplements and other nutritional energy sources may take different times for different people to take effect, it’s a good idea to try them out during your next standard run and see how long it takes for you. This way when you really need them during your next marathon, you can make sure that you have the timing that works for you.

Keep Them Handy At All Times

Even if you plan on using only one of them during your next outing, runners reported having a better time when they brought two along for the ride. According to feedback, it also makes sense to have one of these post marathons to help combat any fatigue that may set in afterward.

 

FAQ

Finding the right fuel can be tricky, but we know that by considering the factors presented in this guide will help you make a better choice when choosing the right energy gel.  We know you still might have questions, so we have put together the most frequently asked questions that runners have when choosing a fuel that works for them.

Q: Why are energy gels becoming so popular?

A: There are a bunch of reasons. Every athlete can work and train to up their personal level of endurance but no matter what level he or she reaches it is human nature to push yourself to your limits in a competitive event. It’s like running towards the distant horizon, you never actually reach it, there is always further to go and athletes train to increase personal endurance but they find if they regularly compete that there is always room to further increase a personal level of stamina.

Any method to go that extra mile faster and efficiently and better than those you are competing against must be worthy of trying. Gels give the option to boost your performance regardless of how you fit you actually are but the boost is temporary so your timing to use them needs to be an exact judgment because you are taking your body beyond its general stamina or endurance level and the effect of the gel will wear of because it is temporary.

Most of us have very little understanding of which types of foods and in which portions and combinations we can eat to get this quick acting short-term boost but the makers of gels put in a lot of professional work and testing to ensure these factors are in exactly the correct balance. Therefore they do the thinking for us, they package what we need into a convenient method for quick consumption and a very quick effect, this is why these gels are becoming ever increasingly popular, they work at those important moments when we need them.

Q: Can I just eat some almonds, apples, or a bunch of pasta for my next marathon?

A: Not if you need high-quality carbohydrates that will work most effectively for your long-term running. Here’s the main point: empty calories are your enemy, and not are a healthy way to prepare for a marathon. These energy gels have about 100 calories and give you the carbs you need without anything that you don’t need.

Having said that, we are talking about the gels being a way to access 100% energy-rich food which digests very quickly into the body and gives you a boost of stamina and energy. If you were to consult a dietician it is certain that they could advise a diet which you could follow in the days building up to a race and this diet combined with training would be another way to improve your endurance and stamina but though dieticians are excellent you need to keep in mind that they will charge a fee.

If you are very regularly competing in physically demanding races at a professional level diet is a very important factor. If you occasionally enter a marathon run then the energy gels are a perfect alternative to get needed energy at exactly the time you choose to need it.

Q: Sodium isn’t great when eating, why is it great for a marathon?

A: Sodium is the primary electrolyte lost in sweat. Additionally, it aids in hydration by maintaining proper water balance. This is such a crucial part of any type of endurance training that it should be a top priority when selecting a nutritional supplement.

When running a challenging race you are going to sweat and when you sweat you lose salt and that salt works towards maintaining a healthy balance for your body so the more you lose the more your balanced body functionality is impacted. Replacing the loss of sodium keeps the bodies functionality in check which also means your body is more up to the task of taking on any enduring challenges. If you lose too much sodium and your electrolyte balance gets adversely affected there will be a gradual string of additional complications both physically and mentally.

Q: How much do I eat at one time?

A: This is the easy part. Just rip open a packet and squeeze the whole thing in your mouth. That’s it, you’re done. Don’t save half for later, use a spoon, or add salt. There is simply no way to make this product any more convenient for the user.

However, pace your consumption, do not use too often as overindulgence in any type of food or drink can have adverse effects. For example, even too much water which is vital for our bodies can become negative if you consume too much. Coffee is a globally favored quick pick me up but imagine what would happen if you consumed far too much.

Energy food is good for those times when you need a boost of stamina such as during a competitive race but if you take too much your body will show signs of overuse and this could put pressure on the heart. Like everything in life it is about balance, we consume what we need for the correct purpose and in the correct amounts.

Q: How often should I eat GU Energy during a marathon?

A: According to user feedback and testers, for a marathon, you want to eat a packet every thirty to forty-five minutes. The human body can digest about 350 calories an hour, so figure that two single serving one hundred calorie packs will be exactly what you need. They will start to work immediately to make sure that you keep an eye on your time.

Each product will carry instructions indicating the amount you can consume and how often and these instructions are designed to be exactly right for those in a competitive or challenging activity but after the activity it is a good idea to switch back to natural food sources to maintain your body and only use the  energy gels for the purpose for which they are made.

If you make the gels part of your daily regular diet they are good for getting energy but they do lack other things which we get naturally from our daily natural foods and in order to maintain a healthy body we are dependent on natural rather than manufactured food sources. Like all foods, it is important that we consume them in context.

Thanks for reading this guide! We hope the information we provided has answered all your questions and will help you choose the best GU Energy Gel for you!  Before you head to the store, make sure to take into account all the above factors.  We know it will help you find the best fuel for your runs!


Sources

Sources

  1. Amazon, Amazon, Product Reviews,
  2. Runner’s World, Runner’s World, Running Website,
  3. Competitor, Competitor, Running Website,
  4. Runners Connect, Runners Connect, Running Blog,
  5. Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Online Encyclopedia,
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