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gu roctane gels and drinks

No matter how many fancy new products come out that try to reinvent the wheel (with the wheel in this case being energy gels, not a bicycle wheel), there is one thing that doesn’t change – GU gel being my #1 go to fuel for high performance.

I don’t think anything could steer me away from the original GU energy gel. Maybe if GU released a newer version of gel that contained even more goodness, such as BCAAs, but that’s it, no other exceptions.

Oh wait, GU did exactly that! It’s called GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel.

The Roctane gel contains the same proven ratio of simple and complex carbohydrates found in regular GU, but it contains more of the ingredients that matter for your longer events, such as ultra marathons, Ironman triathlons, stage races, etc.

Roctane contains:

  • 3 times more Branched Chain Amino Acids
  • 10 times more Histidine
  • 2-3 times more electrolytes
  • Ornithine Alpha-Ketaglutarate (OKG)

It also presents a higher price tag. GU Roctane is $2.50 per gel, while original GU is $1.35 or less.

I’m not surprised to see this update. GU is great, but with the increasing popularity of ultra-distance events like ultra marathons, and multi-day events like mountain bike stage races, your body just needs more!

It’s up to you to decide which GU you need. So let’s take a look at Roctane…

GU Roctane Health and Nutrition Analysis

Here are the ingredients for one of these gels:

Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Water, Fructose, Histidine, Leucine, Sodium Citrate, Valine, Citric Acid, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Green Tea (Leaf) Extract (Contains Caffeine), Isoleucine, Gellan Gum, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), D-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Natural Vitamin E).

[Note: Blueberry Pomegranate, Chocolate Raspberry, Vanilla Orange, Island Nectars and Cherry Lime flavors contain 35mg of caffeine.]

Gu Roctane vs regular Gu

Roctane provides the same 100 calories and sugar content of regular GU, but with more electrolytes and lots of added BCAAs.

Essentially this gel is going to provide you with even more fuel than you’d expect from 100 calories of carbohydrates, do more to keep you hydrated, and prevent muscle breakdown that’s oh so common during endurance events.

Those are all awesome benefits!

I’m especially interested in the Ornithine Alpha-Ketaglutarate (OKG). GU says it is included to “support recovery by helping block the catabolic effects of various hormones that cause muscle trauma.” From my research, it appears Ornithine is one amino acid that would be especially beneficial to consume immediately before or during workouts.

No other energy gel I’m aware of comes close to this. If you look at a Hammer gel, you’ll see the same BCAAs listed. But then you look at the amounts and see that Hammer Gel contains 6mg of the amino acids while Roctane contains 1220mg!

On the other hand, if you look at Roctane compared to a BCAA supplement like Scivation Xtend, that puts things in perspective yet again. Xtend is about $1 per serving, and it gives you 10 times the amino acids that a Roctane gel does! (I don’t believe it contains any form of Ornithine, though.)

You end up in one of those situations where you can pay the price and get the convenience of having all this great stuff in each Roctane gel, or you can take the time to analyze what you need, when you need it, and determine your own supplement regimen.

Either way, you can buy the Roctane gels, or you can use their formula as a baseline for building your own homemade version.

gu roctane gel packet

My GU Roctane Taste Test

I was really surprised at just how many different flavors they have, as well as how interesting they are.

Strawberry Kiwi

It tastes like I just bought a strawberry kiwi fruit smoothie from a smoothie stand. You can taste both fruits, and both taste fairly natural. Still not my favorite gel, but I think I could enjoy this one quite often.

Cherry Lime

n/a

Lemonade

This one is very sweet – it tastes just like fresh-squeezed, over-sugared lemonade you get from the county fair! It’s actually really good if you like lemonade. The downside is that the flavor dissipates instantly. It’s there and gone in a flash. I finished the packet and wasn’t sure of anything else to say! (Not only is there no aftertaste, the initial taste is fleeting.)

Vanilla Orange

Tastes like a mix of orange, vanilla, and caffeine (since there’s a little bite to it). The caffeine bitterness isn’t too strong though. Overall, a fairly mild flavor. Perhaps even more mild than the Hammer Perpetuem drink of the same flavor. Not bad, but I’m not interested in another.

Chocolate Raspberry

Tastes like a gourmet dark chocolate bar with a hint of raspberry filling. “OMG that’s delicious” was my first thought. And it was delicious in 90 degree heat – I can only imagine if I had pulled it from the fridge! It’s almost too much like a dessert for eating during a ride, but the taste dissipated quickly after washing it down with water. No real aftertaste. A must try!

Sea Salt Chocolate

n/a

CHAi LATTe

n/a

Island Nectars

I think I taste tangerine and mango, as well as a few other flavors I recognize (but can’t pinpoint). There’s some “bite” to it too. It’s not a bad flavor, but not one that I really want to have again.

Pineapple

This one is super good and truly tastes like pineapple! It’s sweet but not outrageous. It’s the only pineapple gel I’ve ever had, and if it was a blind taste test, I’d tell you I’m 100% sure it’s a Hammer gel, since it seems exactly like something Hammer would do.

Blueberry Pomegranate

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! This is my new favorite flavor!! Reminds me of good juice drinks and smoothies of the same flavor name. (The good ones, not the McCafe smoothies that taste like corn syrup.) The flavor is ‘just right’ (like Goldilocks would say). Just right, not too sweet, but still plenty of flavor. And it went down easy without interrupting ride.

If I was buying a 24-pack, it would be the Blueberry Pomegranate flavor.

Looking back on all the flavors, I’m definitely noticing a trend here. These flavors remind me very much of how Hammer Nutrition does their gels. (Which is good, because I’ve always been impressed with how good Hammer Gel tastes.)

The best part, though, was that there was no graininess (which can be an issue with certain BCAA supplements).

Real-World Testing and Experience

Due to limited time and a limited number of GU Roctane gels, my testing consisted mostly of 3-4 hour workouts. In other words, normal workouts where the regular GU gel would be sufficient.

However, I did my best to make the conditions a little tougher. Most of my workouts were in the middle of the afternoon in 85-95 degree heat, my breakfast consisted of nothing but coffee, and I was already sore going into each workout!

In every single situation, the Roctane gel tasted great and definitely gave me energy. There’s no doubt about that. I wanted something more, though, because regular GU already does all that!

There were two key workouts where it seems the Roctane may have had a more potent effect.

One was a hilly, 3-hour road bike ride I did on a Monday after two days of strenuous lower body workouts (a squat workout and hill intervals on Saturday, and a hike on Sunday). Getting on the bike, my legs felt absolutely dead. Especially my quads – they had nothing!! I rode for 58 minutes including two solid hill climbs, yet my legs never opened up. So at the one hour mark, I had a Roctane. Five minutes later, my brain felt so much better, but my legs were still kinda rough.

Fortunately, about 30 minutes after the gel, I finally felt great!! And then I did another 90 minutes of hilly riding, fueled by Roctane gels. Despite the extreme heat and my previous physical exhaustion, I felt surprisingly fresh and happy afterward!

The next week, I did an even tougher 3+ hour ride. Especially tough when you consider that I had nothing but coffee for breakfast, and my ride did not start until 1:00 PM! I was hungry, the ride was hilly, and it was super hot! But the day was going to be 100% fueled by Roctane gels and drinks.

I ended up using three Roctane gels and one bottle full of the Roctane drink. From my first sip of the drink till the end of the day, I felt awesome!

So hopefully Roctane is even better for 6+ hour events!

My final verdict is…

The GU Roctane flavors are excellent, the gel consistency is what I know and love, the energy boost is there, and I’ve never had a better-tasting source of BCAAs. Awesome! But man is it expensive!

Personally I’ll stick with regular GU gels and then drink a BCAA recovery drink post-workout, because that’s enough for my needs. But if you’re doing a lot of ultra-distance events, the convenience of GU Roctane is worth the price.

Official website: www.GuEnergy.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com | www.REI.com


Product Review Details
Company: GU Energy Labs
Product: GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2017-08-10
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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3 Comments
  1. I’d be curious to see what you think of Frog Fuel. I recently started adding these along with my regular Gu gels on some longer, tougher rides.

  2. @Bryant

    I have reviewed those, but never considered using them alongside GU, which could almost be a Roctane alternative. More protein but also more money. (Or less money, since you wouldn’t need as many Frog Fuels per session.)

    Me personally, if I was going to fuel long rides with one or the other, I’d go with Roctane. I like the flavors more and have had good luck using BCAAs during workouts. You could probably do well with either one though!

    It would come down to personal testing.

  3. I appreciate your great review — have been searching for good fuel sources for my 3 to 4 hour rides, but also for longer rides as I prepare for 2 spring centuries. I’ve been trying to figure out if pricier “whole food” options from companies like Spring are truly better, or just good marketing… I love Huma Chia gels, but again — pricy when I ride a lot of miles. Have been using Shot Bloks with Scratch hydration mix, but gels are quicker to get down than chewing the Bloks.

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