I was given the opportunity to use and review a myriad of products from one of my new favorite companies, GU Energy Labs. When what can be best described as a big ol’ box of energy stuff arrived at my door, I was admittedly a Clif disciple. I loved (still do) the Clif Bars, and I just figured if one was good, the others would be too so I just blindly chose Clif Shot Bloks as my running fuel of choice…at first. That is until the aforementioned big ol’ box of energy stuff entered my world. I got it right around September, just in time to make it the exclusive training aid for my run at the Philly Half Marathon. For those of you who may not familiar for whatever reason: new to running, just starting out on your weight loss efforts, or just haven’t checked out the energy supplements, let me break it down for you (as I understand it in it’s simplest terms) when you work out, your body has built up a certain amount of energy, or fuel it can tap into at the ready almost all the time. After you have been working out for a while, lets say 45 or so of really vigorous effort, the fuel that you had at the ready is going to begin to get empty. Now obviously everybody’s different but it’s around this point where you will start to see diminished returns unless you put more fuel in the tank, so to speak. These products are that fuel. And for those newer to running, if you have ever been in a conversation with a more established runner and the start talking about their “goo”, this is what they are taking about. Speaking of which, “goo” is not only a fun play on their name, it’s also the best way to describe the consistency of the gels. I know it may not sound appetizing now, but imagine the consistency I a super smooth toothpaste or even better, the filling of a Boston Cream donut. I know that’s not the best analogy to draw on a blog dedicated around weight loss, but hey, it’s where my mind went when I was looking for a match. But not appetizing right now or not, you are not breaking these out as hors d’oeuvres at your next dinner party, you are using these to kick ass while you are working out, and by that ass kicking measure, you will appreciate the goo’s “goo-iness”. A quick squeeze of the packet and wash it down with a big swig or two of water and you just keep on going.
Like I said, GU sent me a variety of products, but the central focus and bulk of the samples were the energy gels, or goo. The scientific talk is that it is a specifically formulated mix of carbohydrates designed specifically with the athlete in mind, with the sole intention of being an easily digestible, easy to use source of energy to be used during athletic performance. The simple talk is that it’s energy in a foil packet. Think of it as a portable kick in the ass. To be honest, it’s not really necessary when you are running a 5k (although it still could be beneficial) but once you start progressing past that distance and get into the higher mileage of the longer runs it’s one of those things that once you use it I guarantee you that you won’t ever want to be without it again.
Ok, so the big ol’ box arrives, I crack it open and this is what I find inside…
Like I said, the vast majority of what they sent me was different favors of the gels, but then also some recovery drinks as well. I’ll get to those in a little bit though.
So the gels. There are 2 different types: the standard GU gels and a relatively newer product called Roctane. This is is the regular GU’s big brother. This stuff is everything to the extreme, up to and including twice the caffeine. By the way, did I mention some of these have caffeine in them as well? Remember what said about a kick in the ass? I meant it. So I’ll talk about the Roctane first, then the standard GU gels. They sent me Island Nectar, Vanilla Orange, and Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gels. Now the reasons there are so many different favors is because everybody has their own preferences, but the Island Nectar and Vanilla Orange were both on the sweeter side of things. I have found that I am not as much of a fan of the sweeter side of things while I am running and sweating my ass off, so while the were insanely beneficial, I was not crazy about the flavor that much. The Chocolate Raspberry, however was really good! I know that flies in the face of what I just said about the whole not being down with the sweetness, but this had a good balance and I like it. The energy kick was enough that I could actually feel a surge of energy hit about 10-15 min after I ate it. Maybe it was a mental thing, maybe it was purely physical, I’m honestly not sure I care which because the end result was me feeling better and performing better in my runs, which in turn helped me perform better overall and burn more calories, so I was losing weight and improving myself physically. everybody wins. The Roctanes are more expensive than the regular gels, but that extra kick might be worth the extra cash if you are looking to maximize the benefit. (and we’re talking approx $2.50 per gel for the Roctance vs. approx $1.25 per gel for the regular GU)
The regular GUs were very well represented in my samples, and truth be told I actually prefer these to the Roctanes. They sent me Chocolate Mint, Lemon Sublime, and my personal favorite, Vanilla Bean. All three of these favors were preferable to me over the Roctane. Maybe it has less going on and it does not need as strong of a flavor combo to go along with it, but these just tasted simpler and better. The chocolate mint was close to a candy bar tasting gel, the Lemon Sublime, think the filling of Lemon Meringue Pie (and close to that consistent too, come to think of it), and Vanilla Bean is just plain old Vanilla… and that Vanilla is bangin. I really like that one. So much so that when I ran out just before my Half Marathon, I just went out and bought a box of them, figuring I’d use them in the Half and then for all my maintenance runs coming up in the future. On a personal note, I was not provided any in the samples but I grabbed a couple of gels in a flavor I have not seen before when I bought the vanilla: I discovered Peanut Butter, and let me tell you, it is really challenging vanilla bean as my overall preference, because it’s really damn good. Vanilla Bean edges it out based on the fact that Peanut Butter does not have any caffeine and Vanilla Bean does. But Peanut Butter, try it out. Really freaking good.
In addition to the goo, I also got a lot of GU Brew electrolyte tabs, alka-seltzer looking tabs that you drop into water and they become a electrolyte replacement drink meant to be used during or after a strenuous workout and it’s designed to basically put back in what you sweat out. Full of electrolytes which (again, in plain english) are minerals that your body needs, especially while working out but can be depleted by things like sweating heavily. Keeping up on these will prevent things like cramps and aid in recovery time. Think of it as a competitor to Gatorade. Again, multiple favors, and all were really good. Peach Tea and Pink Lemonade were my favorites, but Tri Berry and Pink Grapefruit were both pretty good too. It’s lighter, on a scale of mixed drinks I would put it more than Crystal Light, but less than the premixed sports drinks you can get at the supermarket- the Gatorades and Powerades of the world. Also, It’s got a whole “fizzy” thing going on with the alka-seltzer style tab drop and bubble action, which really works for me. I like the bubbles. And it’s made to be used in 16 oz of water, which is coincidentally roughly the same amount that comes in your standard issue bottle of water. This is another product I wold highly reccomend checking out, especially if you are like me and aren’t crazy about things being super in your face flavored and sticky sweet. Let me put it this way, if I spilled this GU brew at a picnic, I wouldn’t be as worried about being swarmed by a pack of sugar crazed bees looking for their next fix.
Last but not least, the final product they shipped me was some GU Recovery Brew. This is a drink powder meant to be used after those long and severely depleting workouts, and it’s chock full of things like protein, carbs and sugar. Designed specifically to aid in recovery. Again: in plain English, on the days after my 10, 11, 12 mile training runs I was not in nearly as much pain as the last time around.I’m talking about muscle fatigue, cramping, and general soreness here, all the things that can ruin your day after a long run. I had a great frame of reference because this was my 2nd half that I was training for in a matter of months, so I was in a position where I could remember the last time around for each of the milestones in the training and the differences in how I felt was refreshing. I was provided both Strawberry Watermelon and Chocolate Smoothie. My main fears going into drinking these bad boys were: 1) it would taste like chalky nastiness. 2) it would be this thick heavy drink ( and therefore the last thing I would want to drink after a long run), and 3) it would be more of a gimmick and not really work all that well. I am happy to report I was wrong on all accounts. Not too hard to mix, was not super thick, and they both tasted damn good. I experimented with the chocolate smoothie, once with water as the directions indicate, once with milk, also as recommended in the package to “enhance the smoothie experience”, and then I took a “mad scientist” turn and used milk, a banana, some PB2 and Ice and turned my 12 mile training run recovery shake into a insanely good mega smoothie. Holy shitballs was that good. The Strawberry Watermelon I was less adventurous, but to be honest I didn’t even need to be, it was that good in and of itself. No need to monkey around with it. I really liked these a lot. Very impressive stuff.
So all in all, I am now a huge fan of GU, the gels are standard issue part of my gear, and the Brew, both the electrolyte and recovery varieties are highly recommended. Pick some up. Try it out. You will not be disappointed.
***And in an effort to help you do just that, I am very happy to announce hands down my coolest giveaway to date: your very own Big Ol’ Box of GU products! You’ll get gels, Roctane, recovery drinks, and electrolyte brew. The specific mix will be left up the the marketing company to put together, but these guys are no joke when it comes to hooking you up. I loved mine and you will love yours too. ***
So one lucky reader is going to get their hands on a whole bunch of free stuff, and here’s how it works:
All you need to do to enter is answer me this one simple question in the comments section. ___________________________________________________
Would you ever consider using this type of product to enhance your training? …and if you already do, what flavor do you prefer?
I will assign a number to each entry as they come in and then use a random number generator to select a winner once the deadline is here. -Also, if you want extra chances to win you can go to the Facebook page HERE and Twitter page HERE as well for extra entries. All you need to do is follow the links, like the facebook page and follow them on twitter for extra entries. You have to come back and leave me a comment that you did it, though, because that’s the only way I have to track it. So to recap: answer the question = 1 entry. Like the facebook page and leave me a comment telling me you’ve done so = 1 entry. Follow them on twitter and leave me a comment telling me you’ve done so = 1 entry. Got it?
Ok, the deadline is in One week. So get your entries by 11:59 PM on Monday, 12/10. Tue morning I’ll select the winner and hopefully you can be using the goo during your post-holiday runs burning off all those extra egg nog related calories.
Hope all is well and you can expect 2 more reviews in the next 2 days, each with their own sweet ass giveaways as well, so come back and check them out after you enter this one!
Talk to you soon and take it easy.
I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.
One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.
**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**
Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.
**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**