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GU Roctane Energy Gel is similar to GU Original Energy Gel in terms of carbohydrate content, taste, and consistency but with three times the sodium and branched-chain amino acids. At 32 g per packet, the energy gel provides 100 calories and 21 g of carbohydrates, 30 mg of calcium and 125 mg of sodium, and an array of amino acids totaling 1425 mg.

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Energy gels from GU Energy Labs have long been a staple of my race fueling. With a wide range of decent flavors that have been tried and proven effective, it’s no accident that the brand is highly popular amongst endurance athletes.

I started using its Original energy gels (big fan of the Vanilla Bean, which we have reviewed) more than a decade ago, and have stuck with them despite newer options from the company. However, with several running buddies constantly raving about Roctane, I decided to test the Strawberry Kiwi flavor on a 30 km run. Below is our GU Roctane energy gel review.

 

Marketing claims – what is GU Roctane?

Before sharing my experience, let’s look at what GU’s website says about its Roactane Energy Gels. Below are several points the company underscored.

  1. Three times as much sodium (depending on the flavor) and as many branched-chain amino acids as Original.
  2. Provides the same amount of carbohydrates as Original since the body can only absorb so many calories at a time anyways.
  3. Contains taurine, which can maintain heart contractility and improve cardiac output.
  4. Contains beta-alanine, which can promote the formation of the intramuscular buffer carnosine to delay fatigue onset.

What are the nutritional facts and ingredients of GU Roctane?

At 32 g per packet, the Strawberry Kiwi energy gel delivers 100 calories and 21g of carbohydrates, with 6 g of sugars. Electrolyte content includes 30 mg of calcium and 125 mg of sodium. It also provides a blend of amino acids totaling 1425 mg.

There are many ingredients, with maltodextrin, water, and fructose topping the list. Lots of chemically sounding items, but they’re there to provide electrolytes and amino acids.

What are the taste and consistency of GU Roctane?

No surprises in this department. Just the same decent flavor and familiar texture as other GU energy gels. The Strawberry Kiwi flavor tastes light with a pleasant tartness kick. One of the better fruity gels I’ve tried.

How’s the packaging of GU Roctane?

Roctane gels are the exact same size and packaged the same way as Original. It fits in any running belt, vest, or pack. The standard GU affair.

Does GU Roctane work?

I wanted to practice eating energy gels while running at near-marathon to marathon effort. I had four gels with me – two Maurten Hydrolgels and two Roctane Strawberry Kiwi gels – and took one every 25-30 minutes.

I alternated the gels (Maurten, GU Roctane, Maurten, GU Roctane) to compare the two products. The Maurten Hydrogel review is one of our most read pieces.

Some takeaways:

  • There is something different about GU Roctane. That surge feeling was stronger than that of GU Original I’ve had in the past. It was also more noticeable compared with Maurten.
  • When I took the first Roctane, my stomach grumbled a bit. I thought, oh no!…but nothing bad happened. Everything settled eventually.
  • Though I prefer the relatively tastelessness of Maurten, the tartness of Roctane wasn’t horrible. My taste buds had no complaints alternating between the two energy gels
  • I kept my hydration tactics the same despite GU Roctane’s much higher sodium content. I was well-hydrated and felt good during the run. However, my urine color was slightly darker than usual after the workout. In the future, I might increase my water intake to balance the increased sodium.
  • My body responded better to Roctane than Original. Perhaps there are some truths to the hefty dose of amino acids.

 

Conclusion

I give Roctane Strawberry Kiwi high marks.

GU Original has always worked for me, and Roctane is essentially strapping on rocket boosters to a tried-and-true fuel. Taste, texture, and packaging are all familiar.

No surprises. If you’ve had GU Original gels before, Roctane should be a good option for going hard and far.

GU also recommends using Roctane as a pre-race for efforts that are less than one hour. It’s clever marketing but also sound advice. Most endurance athletes won’t need to refuel for workouts or races under 90 minutes. Still, it certainly can’t hurt to top off your carbohydrate and sodium levels before the gun goes off.

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Update: I tried two caffeinated versions, Chocolate Coconut and Blueberry Pomegranate

November 17, 2023

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of running the Javelina Jundred. GU was one the main sponsors and provided unlimited Roctane gels, Roctane drinks, and energy chews at all four aid stations along the looped course. Most of the GU Roctane gel flavors were caffeinated, including Chocolate Coconut and Blueberry Pomegranate.

They are similar in nutritional profile as Strawberry Kiwi, but with 35 mg of caffeine added.

GU Roctane is thick in consistency, and these two flavors are no different. The race was located at Arizona’s desert climate. With temperatures soaring to 30°C during the day and low humidity, heavier gels weren’t the most palatable when operating at a slightly dehydrated state.

Chocolate Coconut was essentially a thick chocolate paste. Too rich and too thick for me at the time. The flavor wasn’t bad and I might have liked it under different circumstances.

I preferred Blueberry Pomegranate, which had a lighter, fruity taste better suited for hot weather. But the heavy consistency still wasn’t ideal. Full disclosure: I slammed down quite a few Roctane gels along with other sugary sports fuel, so sweetness fatigue definitely affected how I thought about their taste.

Regarding performance, the gels were effective in sustaining my energy level and without causing stomach issues. They did their jobs.

It was my first time running in the desert. I’m typically a fan of GU products, but if I ever race in low-humidity, high-temperature locations again, I would select more watery options to power me forward.

(The start of 2023 Javelina Jundred)

Looking for more energy gel recommendations? Here are a few energy gels reviewed by us recently.

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels, Instant Surge

Spring Energy CanaBERRY – Even Energy Flow From Real Food

PowerGel Original Lemon-Lime, a Solid Option

GU Liquid Energy – GU Plus Water Equals Drinkable Energy

32GI Guarana Caffeine Shot, Separating Energy Gel & Caffeine

Huma All-Natural Energy Gels, Eat Chia Seeds and Run