New Flavors, New Cause.
About a month ago the GU Energy rep sent me some samples of their new gel flavors – French Toast, Birthday Cake and CHAi LATTe. Prior to that they had also sent a few samples of their Stroopwafels.
Personally, my stomach can’t handle real sweet nutrition or hydration products, so my go to GU has always been Vanilla Bean. When I got my sample packets, I knew the Birthday Cake would be too sweet and I’m not a fan of chai. So, I enlisted my two friends to be test monkeys for me and I took the French Toast for myself.
All three gels come in single serve 100 calorie packets, two are designed to be used for daily training/competition and one for demanding training/competition.
French Toast – Gives You energy and Money to NICA
Many companies are engaging in corporate responsibility. Recently I wrote about Mint Cycling socks a new company that gives a percentage of sales to the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) to get more kids on bikes. GU Energy has added a special-edition French Toast Energy Gel to the “GU Gives” family of products with 10% of sales being donated to NICA.
The flavor of the French Toast gel tasted more like maple syrup to me and wasn’t overly sweet. I used it prior to one of my group rides and it did not upset my stomach. I did like the fact that there was no caffeine, because during evening training rides, I don’t want the caffeine, or I’ll be up all night. Now I have an option, Vanilla Bean when I want a boost from caffeine (20mg) and French Toast when I don’t.
Birthday Cake Without the Candles
My friend Tracy tried the Birthday Cake flavor which she felt didn’t quite taste like birthday cake but was good. The GU rep at CBDA said it was more like the sprinkles on birthday cake. Tracy also liked the idea of having a caffeine-free option. Her normal go to sweet flavors are Salted Carmel or Vanilla Bean (both have caffeine). For test purposes Tracy used the gel just prior to her 5-mile run and it worked just fine.
No Spill, CHAi LATTe
Margaret tried the Chai Latte flavor (with 35mg of caffeine) that’s designed for more demanding training and competition than the other two flavors. She used it prior to a race and didn’t experience much of a jolt from the caffeine. Her comment was “I’m a coffee drinker so that may be why I didn’t feel the jolt.”
The chart below shows a comparison of key components between the Roctane Energy Gel with caffeine and the gel without.
Single Serve Stroopwafel
The Stroopwafel are designed for daily use before/during training and competition and was inspired by an 18th century Netherland treat. It is made of two thin wafers with a syrup in between. The Stroowafel provides the same amount of carbohydrates, electrolytes and amino acids as the gel packs but in an easy to eat waffle. It is also easy to digest and if you want, warm it up over your morning cup of coffee.
I like the flavor and texture of the Stroopwafels, having tried Campfire S’mores, Hot Chocolate and Coconut. I used them on a couple of my rides putting it in my rear jersey pocket. Storage was an issue because I found that the edges of the waffle were fragile and crumbly. I made the mistake of opening it in the car on the way to a ride. Crumbs went everywhere when I opened the packet and ate it.
From sweet to mild, GU Energy makes gels and Stroopwafels for every taste. I’ve been using Vanilla Bean for several years before and during rides without any stomach distress. Choose the caffeine flavors for an added boost during a hard training ride or race. The non-caffeinated gels work nicely for your regular training. Most bike shops, athletic stores and online sell both the single pack and boxes of each product. Some even offer a box of mixed flavors so you can test a few yourself.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.